Live Forever? With a Special Brain Protein, You Just Might

According to a new study, researchers have identified the mechanism "by which a specific protein operates in the brain to bring about a significant delay in aging and an increase in longevity."

But if you don't have the protein?  Both have also been associated with a low-calorie diet, reports today.

And we're not just learning this now.  The Web site notes that it was Japanese philosopher and scientist Ekiken Kaibara who first described the concept of dietary control as a method to achieve good health and longevity all the way back in 1713. He died the following year at age 84—a long life for someone in the 18th century.

Since then, science has proven a link between a low-calorie diet and longevity in a variety of animal models, explains. In the new study, researchers showed how this protein "prompts neural activity in specific areas of the hypothalamus of the brain, which triggers dramatic physical changes in skeletal muscle and increases in vigor and longevity."

In its study, the team found that “Twenty-month-old mice (the equivalent of 70-year-old humans) look as active as five-month-olds," with this particular protein in their brain.

But eating fewer calories can also cause the same effect, the scientists found. But the lucky ones with the protein -- and it's all in your genes -- can eat  whatever, and how ever much, they want, and still be guaranteed a very long life.

Mice are characteristically most active at night, according to The mice with the special protein, BRASTO, also "experienced better or deeper sleep, and both males and females had significant increases in longevity."

How much?  Sixteen percent for females and nine percent for males, translating to an extra 13 or 14 years for women, making their average life span almost 100 years, and men, seven more years, increasing their average lifespan to the mid-80s.

The protein also seems to spare you from death from cancer.  "What we have observed in BRASTO mice is a delay in the time when age-related decline begins, so while the rate of aging does not change, aging and the risk of cancer has been postponed," quotes Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, the study leader.

Most remarkable of all is the possibility, posits, of a “control center of aging and longevity” in the brain, which could be manipulated to maintain youthful physiology and extend life span in other mammals as well.


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