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August 26, 2019 Monday 10:57:24 AM IST

Genetic Discovery on Health, Longevity

Science Innovations

In a report published in Nature Communications, a new genetic discovery by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh suggests that there may be molecular switches that control lifespan and healthspan(mobility and immune resistance) separately.

The researchers focused on a protein called TCER-1 in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans. TCER-1 promotes longevity in worms and also is critical to its fertility. 
Longevity genes in many animals increase resistance to stressors, such as infection. The researchers expected that removing TCER-1 would make the worms less resilient. 

But when infected with bacteria, subjected to DNA-damaging radiation or high temperatures, worms without TCER-1 survived much longer than normal worms, showed improved mobility with age and were less prone to protein clumping that causes human neurodegenerative diseases. During its reproductive age, TCER-1 tunes all the molecular dials to ensure that the animal reproduces efficiently to propagate the species, partly by diverting resources meant for stress management.


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