Scientists find path to fountain of youth

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Washington:  The fountain of youth may exist after all, as a study showed that scientists have discovered means to extend the lifespan of mice and primates.

The key to eternal - or at least prolonged - youth lies in genetic manipulation that mimics the health benefits of reducing calorie intake, suggesting that aging and age-related diseases can be treated.

Scientists from the Institute of Healthy Ageing at University College London (UCL) extended the lifespan of mice by up to a fifth and reduced the number of age-related diseases affecting the animals after they genetically manipulated them to block production of the S6 Kinase 1 (S6K1) protein.

Scientists have shown since the 1930s that reducing the calorie intake by 30 per cent for rats, mice and - in a more recent finding - primates can extend their lifespan by 40 per cent and have health benefits.

By blocking S6K1, which is involved in the body's response to changes in food intake, similar benefits were obtained without reducing food intake, according to the study published in the US journal Science.

The results corroborated those of other recent studies.

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"Blocking the action of the S6K1 protein helps prevent a number of age-related conditions in female mice," explained UCL professor Dominic Withers, the study's lead author.

"The mice lived longer and were leaner, more active and generally healthier than the control group. We added 'life to their years' as well as 'years to their lives.'"

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