Everyone wants to live longer and scientists are trying to fulfil this demand. There is a general belief that longevity of humans can be greatly enhanced using some novel medicine or even ancient herbs. But now a research team lead by scientists from UCL showed that limiting the activity of one enzyme is all it takes to live longer.
Although experiments were performed on fruit flies and worms, the enzyme in question, called RNA polymerase III (Pol III), is present in a huge variety of animals, including humans. Scientists knew about this enzyme and how it is important in protein production, but they did not know it was involved in ageing. Limiting its activity allows extending lifespan of worms and fruit flies by as much as 10 %. It is because Pol III negatively affects stem cell function and gut health. Inhibiting this enzyme allows improving these functions and because it acts the same in other animals, these findings could be relevant for humans too.
The effect of blocking Pol III is similar to the immune-suppressing drug rapamycin, which is also shown to increase longevity. Scientists think that these two phenomena can be related and researching Pol III more can reveal more about how does rapamycin work. This is huge news, but scientists are a bit retrained – there is a lot of hype about drugs that extend lifespan already, but nothing is known fully yet. All we know so far is that Pol III accelerated ageing, while at the same time promoting cell growth. Rapamycin could have something to do with blocking some of the signals of Pol III.
Both worms and flies contain Pol III, even though they are not closely related. Scientists used a variety of genetic methods, to limit activity of the Pol III enzyme. Scietnists found that inhibiting Pol III in guts of worms and flies was enough to significantly extend their lifespan. Dr Jennifer Tullet from University of Kent said: “It is amazing that we can make one genetic adjustment and positively impact on lifespan and intestinal health, understanding more about the underlying molecules at work here promises new strategies for anti-ageing therapies”.
Scientists will continue their efforts to improve their understanding of Pol III in adults and how manipulating it can result in an extended lifespan.