Aging is one of those natural things that we’ve chosen to take issue with — we cover up gray hairs and consider creams and surgeries to get rid of wrinkles. We’ve been searching for the fountain of youth for a while now, and a new study may have just taken a great leap forward in this never-ending fight to look younger.
There are a lot of places one could start when trying to address this aging issue, but looking toward seemingly ageless animals is a pretty solid one. Certain animals, including naked mole rats and certain sea urchins, show what the present study calls “negligible senescence,” which means that they do not show any real increases of mortality or funtional decline with age. Knowing that these species did not alter their gene-expression profiles as they grew older, researchers collaborated with the new biotech company Gero to determine this cause of longevity.
"In our work, we analyzed the stability of a simple gene network model and found that gene networks describing most common species are inherently unstable." Gero's CSO Dr. Peter Fedichev said in a statement. "Over time, it undergoes exponential accumulation of gene regulation deviations leading to diseases and death. We conjectured, that the instability is the cause of aging."
The model that the team created shows that the stability of a gene network stems from several major factors. These factors include gene network connectivity, “effective” genome size, proteome turnover, and DNA repair rate. By hacking any of these paramters, the team suggested, one could increase their lifespan. This hypothesis is supported by the biological evidence previously gathered from evolutionary observations and various experiments led by top experts in the field.
For example, the team explained, "it's examined how by protecting mitochondrial genes by their transfer to the nuclear genome, or by establishment of the nuclear envelope, the effective interactions between the genes and the cellular environment was substantially reduced."
The study highlights that gene regulation from stresses encountered even at a young age can be relevant for a long time and influence life span. The team believes further research into the relationship between gene network stability and aging has the potential to create new therapies that could have long-lasting, strong effects on age-related diseases and the process of aging itself.
Source: Fedichev P, Kogan V, Molodstov I, Menshikov L, Shmookler Reis R. Stability analysis of a model gene network links aging, stress resistance, and negligible senescence. Scientific Reports. 2015.