Gene Tweaking Dramatically Extends Life

Altered yeast microbes live 10 times longer than control group
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2008 5:33 PM CST
A lab technician works with Yeast agar (Yeast glucose chloramphenicol) in this undated file photo.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – In a breakthrough that may have implications for humans, researchers have made the lifespan of yeast 10 times longer, doubling the previous record for life expansion, LiveScience reports. Genetic alteration and a low-calorie diet prolonged the microbe's existence from the typical 1 week to 10 weeks. The scientists involved have turned their attention to Ecuadorians with similar mutations.

"We expected a small boost in longevity, but not a 10-fold increase—it’s remarkable,” said the lead researcher. He said he believes organisms are designed to pool their resources into growth and reproduction. When genes involved in growth and cancer development were disabled, that caused the yeast to shift its resources to protecting the body. (Read more yeast stories.)