The secrets of a key gene that helps us to live longer and fight disease have been unlocked by University of Birmingham researchers.
With the breakthrough, boffins believe developing drugs that slow the ageing process could be a possibility, reports The Daily Express.
They reckon a drug based on the gene is a real possibility for cutting how quickly the body ages.
Dr Robin May, who led the research, said: "I think there is definite potential, within our lifetime, that we will be able to develop drugs to slow the ageing process based on this gene. Although stopping the ageing process may not happen, slowing it down is quite realistic."
The research team found that higher levels of the gene - called DAF-16 - are directly linked with longer life.
In the study, boffins found that DAF-16 was strongly involved in determining ageing and average lifespan of laboratory worms.
Dr May said: "We wanted to find out how normal ageing is being governed by genes and what effect these genes have on other traits, such as immunity.
"To do that, we looked at a gene that we already knew to be involved in the ageing process, called DAF-16, to see how it may determine the different rates of ageing in different species. If you have more of that gene, you have got a better chance of living longer. Exposing the worms to a short burst of higher temperature, a quick bit of stress, increased the activity of this gene.
"It leads to the idea of what doesn't kill you, does you good. If we have some moderate level of stress or challenge, that might be sufficient for us to live longer."
The study has been published in the journal PLoS ONE.