Gen makes cells live longer in flies

Gen makes cells live longer in flies

Cell therapy increases the lifespan of flies

By activating a gene, Bern researchers were able to increase the lifespan of flies by 50 to 60 percent. The so-called Azot gene destroys unhealthy cells. Since the gene is also found in humans, the study results could provide information on how the aging process could be slowed down in the future. The study was published in the "Cell" journal.

Gen could slow down aging processes in cells "Our bodies are made up of several billion cells," study leader Eduardo Moreno is quoted in a statement from the University of Bern. "As we age, more and more random defects accumulate in them due to overloading or external disruptive factors such as the UV radiation from the sun." But these cell defects do not occur everywhere at the same time and with an identical intensity. “Some cells are affected more than others. We therefore came up with the idea that we can increase the health of the cell tissue and thus the lifespan of an organism by reading out the healthy cells and eliminating the damaged ones, ”Moreno continued.

To pursue this approach, they examined the cells of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. They discovered a gene that is activated more frequently in defective cells and less frequently in healthy cells, the so-called Ahuizotl gene (short: Azot gene). It destroys unhealthy cells to protect organs like the brain.

Typically, each cell contains two copies of the gene. To make the removal of the damaged cells more effective, the researchers inserted a third copy of the gene. The result of this cellular "quality control" was, according to Moreno, "extremely exciting". After the treatment, the flies had a healthier cell tissue and aged more slowly. In addition, their lifespan was extended. "On average, our flies lived 50 to 60 percent longer than their other counterparts," explains Christa Rhiner, co-author of the study.

The researchers suspect that the Azot gene in humans could slow down aging processes by counteracting the increasing degradation of tissue and nerve cells. (ag)

Photo credit: Martin Schemm /

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