Fasting boosts longevity in animals

Fasting may help some species of animals to live longer, according to research that highlights a key gene which alters the way glucose is processed.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, found that mice which had been made to fast had higher levels in their livers of a protein called SIRT1.

Part of molecular cascade
SIRT1 is part of a molecular cascade that switches on genes that produce glucose.

It has been implicated in ageing, through a cell-damaging process called oxidative stress, and in potentially fatal disorders involving glucose metabolism, such as diabetes.

Previous research has linked the equivalent gene for SIRT1 in yeast and nematode worms - two standard species used in laboratories - with a longer lifespan.

A long way to go
This is the first time the proximity has been made among mammals, which are far more complex organisms. However, a long way has to go before establishing any link between fasting and longevity among humans.

The study appears on Thursday in the British weekly science journal Nature. – (AFP)

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