The intestines of fruit flies could help put breaks on aging and age-related diseases, suggests study.
Scientists at the Salk institute of Biological Studies have found that modifying a gene known as PGC-1, which is also found in human DNA, in the intestinal stem cells of fruit flies delayed the aging of their intestines and extended their lifespan by as much as 50 percent.
"Fruit flies and humans have a lot more in common than most people think," Newswise quoted Leanne Jones, a lead scientist on the project as saying.
"There is a tremendous amount of similarity between a human small intestine and the fruit fly intestine," she said.
Jones and her colleagues used genetic engineering techniques to boost the activity of the fruit fly equivalent of the PCG-1 gene.
They found that boosting the activity of dPGC-1, the fruit fly version of the gene, resulted in greater numbers of mitochondria and more energy-production in flies - the same phenomenon seen in organisms on calorie restricted diets.
When the activity of the gene was accelerated in stem and progenitor cells of the intestine, which serve to replenish intestinal tissues, these cellular changes correspond with better health and longer lifespan.
The flies lived between 20 to 50 percent longer, depending on the method and extent to which the activity of the gene was altered.
"Their intestines were beautiful," Christopher L. Koehler, a doctoral-student at University of California San Diego who conducts research in Jones' laboratory, said.
"The flies with the modified gene activity were much more active and robust than the other flies," he added.
The study has been published online in Cell Metabolism.