The genetic secret to a longer life than the average population lies in the natural augmented ability to fix DNA.
A team of scientists in Italy noticed a strange phenomenon. In the vicinity of the University of Bologna, where they normally work, there is a group of people who not only reach 105 years of age, but achieve this without getting sick almost ever. It could be that the key is in a genetic secret, never before explored by contemporary science.
Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean.
What feature do the longest-lived people share in Italy?
The world’s longest-living organism shares a common factor. It appears that, at the genome level, they hide genetic secrecy to have a longer life than the rest of the planet, according to a recent study published in the scientific journal eLife.
This ‘extreme longevity‘ is encoded on a genetic level. The team of scientists involved in the research managed to decode it in such detail that they got keys to why these people live so long. Not only that: they also managed to see why they get sick less than the bulk of the world’s population.
Paolo Garagnani, associate professor in the Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialized Medicine at the University of Bologna, says that aging is a risk factor for certain chronic diseases:
“We chose to study the genetics of a group of people who lived more than 105 years and compare them with a group of younger adults from the same area in Italy, as people in this younger age group tend to avoid many age-related diseases and therefore represent the best example of healthy aging.”
Together with Swiss scientists, Garagnani and his colleagues recruited 81 semi-supercentennials and supercentenarys. This means that they were people 105 years of age or older, throughout Italy. They took genetic samples from each and compared them to those of younger people in the same country, who were on average 68 years old.
In this way, they obtained the sequencing of the entire genome, to look for differences in genes between the older and younger groups. Thus, they identified five common genetic changes that were more frequent, between two genes called COA1 and STK17A.
OA1 and STK17A: the genetic secret to living longer and better?
From the results of the study, the Italian scientists realized that this genetic variability “probably modulates the expression of three different genes,” according to the Science Daily coverage.
The most notable changes were observed in the activity of STK17A gene, with respect to some tissues. This is responsible for modulating three areas in the cells health, according to the findings:
- Coordinate the cell’s response to DNA damage.
- Encourage damaged cells to undergo a scheduled cell death.
- Control the amount of dangerous reactive oxygen species inside it.
Naturally, these processes prevent diseases such as cancer, as well as their growth and spread in the body. Also, genetic changes involve COA1, which is noticeably less active in some tissues of the body.
People over 105 years in Italy have this double capacity to a much greater extent than the rest of the elderly in the world. For this reason, they can live longer without serious complications, such as old-age illnesses or chronic conditions that prevent them from functioning normally.