Want to live to be 500 Years Old? Call the Buck Institute for Research Aging

Could humans someday live to be 500 years old?

Celebrating a birthday of that ripe old age may just become a reality, according to a team of researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California.

The researchers have been experimenting with some genetic-trickery on worms and they have discovered a way to dramatically extend their lifespan.

Their lengthy research experiment, which has been published in the journal Cell Reports, entailed blocking pertinent molecules that influence the formation and action of insulin and a nutrient signaling trail known as Target of Rapamycin (TOR).

It has already been discovered that single modifications in the TOR pathway extend the lifespan of worms by 30 per cent, and insulin-signaling mutations in fact double their longevity.

So, when the researchers connected the two together they discovered that lifespan of worms increased five-fold, which is the human equivalent of 400 to 500 years.

“When we got this result, it was kind of a shock,” says Pankaj Kapahi, the lead researcher on the study.

“What we have here is a synergistic five-fold increase in lifespan… The two mutations set off a positive feedback loop in specific tissues that amplified the lifespan. Basically these worms lived to the human equivalent of 400 to 500 years,” says Kapahi.

So, what’s the next step in their research?

Dr. Kapahi indicates that they want to experiment on mice first before testing mammals.

“The idea would be to use mice genetically engineered to have suppressed insulin signaling, and then treat them with the drug rapamycin, which is well known to suppress the TOR pathway,” says Kapahi.

Will their new discovery, if it all works out, have a negative impact on our environment with humans living way, way, way longer than they are now?

Malene Hansen, who is also involved in the study, states: “I don't study aging to find the Fountain of Youth or how to live forever. That would raise a whole set of societal and ethical issues.”

There’s no doubt about it, having humans on earth living that long would certainly not be a good thing for the environment.

And when it all comes down to it not many of us would want to live to be 500 years old anyway.