National Geographic : 2013 May
GHR FOXO3a APOC-3 APOC-3 CETP 20% 31% 65% 40% 50% 100% 55% 100% 69% Cancer Alzheimer’s disease Hypertension GENE WITH MUTATION Cardiovascular disease Diabetes REDUCTION IN OCCURRENCE OF DISEASE, MEASURED AGAINST CONTROL GROUP Genetic clues to long life Scientists studying groups of people genetically isolated by location or culture have found gene mutations that seem to prevent the diseases that most often shorten life. The mutations aren’t limited to these groups, and not all group members have them. Learning how these genes work could help extend life for us all. John Tomanio and maTThew TwombLy, ngm STaff; megan caSSidy. Source: nir barziLai, inSTiTuTe for aging reSearch, LongeviTy geneS proJecT, aLberT einSTein coLLege of medicine *a differenT APOC-3 muTaTion appearS in aShkenazi JewS. ASHKENAZI JEWS descendants of central european Jews, most in new york city in this study, have mutations that guard against high blood pressure and also lower risk of alzheimer’s. lAroN SyNdromE EcuAdorIANS This gene’s mutation suppresses an insulin- like growth hormone, causing Laron dwarf- ism. but it also inhibits diabetes and cancer. old ordEr AmISH* members of this tight- knit faith, studied in Lancaster, pennsylva- nia, carry a mutation that dramatically low- ers fat in the blood. JAPANESE AmErIcANS in males a mutation in this gene lessens the chance of cancer and heart disease. vari- ous FOXO genes are suspected to be major factors in longevity. That began to change in 2005, when Val- ter Longo, a cell biologist at the University of Southern California who studies aging, invited Guevara to USC to describe his re- search. A decade earlier Longo had begun to manipulate the genes of simple organisms like single-celled yeast, creating mutations that allowed them to live longer. The reasons for this varied. Some mutants could repair their DNA more effectively than normal cells; others demonstrated a heightened ability to minimize the damage from oxidants. Still others became better able to derail the type of DNA damage that would promote cancer in humans. Others were studying the same processes. In 1996 Andrzej Bartke, a scientist at Southern Illinois University, tinkered with mouse genes that are involved with growth. He showed—not surprisingly—that shutting down the growth hormone pathway resulted in smaller mice.