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Genes that slow ageing process 'discovered'

British scientists have taken a major step forward towards finding the key to elixir of youth by discovering key genes which slow the ageing process.

world Updated: May 26, 2009 16:12 IST

British scientists have taken a major step forward towards finding the key to elixir of youth by discovering key genes which slow the ageing process.

A team at University College London has pinpointed the genetic mutations, a key finding it claims could lead to fresh hope for people suffering from illnesses, ranging from heart disease to Alzheimer's.

In their study, the scientists have found that the mutations in genes that encode the protein components of the insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 signalling pathways extend the lifespan of animals like worms, flies and mice.

And, according to them, the genetic variants for these genes in humans have proved to be associated with lifespan. In fact, in mammals, insulin regulates blood sugar levels as well as metabolism in response to food intake, while the related Igf1 regulates growth.

Lead researcher Professor Linda Partridge said that tackling the very causes of ageing -- rather than treating the symptoms "piecemeal" -- offers the best prospects for dealing with the diseases.

She was quoted by 'The Daily Telegraph' as saying, "By tacking the causes of ageing we could treat or at least delay, a broad spectrum of conditions simultaneously. This research means a new approach to treatment of age-related conditions.

"The major burden of ill health is in older section of the population. The new discoveries about ageing have raised the prospect of increasing the number of years that people enjoy in good health, with broad-spectrum preventive medicines for the diseases of ageing."