Fountain of Youth: Progress in Slowing Aging, at Least in Mice

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This particular protein has been demonstrated to suppress tumors, so the possibilities are tantalizing. Could it be that simply injecting this longevity gene into a senior could someday be enough to fight cancer and rehabilitate the blood supply? It's too soon to know that, but the study ends with a positive note, suggesting that this protein – SIRT3 – may play a huge role in the years ahead.

"We speculate that SIRT3 may regulate stem cells in other tissues," the report says. "Given that adult stem cells are thought to be central to tissue maintenance and organismal survival, SIRT3 may promote organismal longevity by maintaining the integrity of tissue-specific stem cells."

But the scientists caution that "future studies" will have to decide that.

So is it the fountain of youth? It may be at least the first sip.

However, it should be noted that there is a great deal of skepticism among experts over whether human longevity can be increased significantly. Aging is a very complex process, and it is not well understood.

Thus, any discussion of the matter usually shifts quickly away from longevity. Even if we can't extend our lifespans, it should be possible to maintain the quality of life for much longer, and on that issue there is much more optimism. This kind of research may be part of the solution.

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