Scientists have expanded the lifespan of rats by shutting down the production of S6K1 protein. All I have to say is, thank goodness. Now rats will live even longer! The most important implication is that we won’t have to replace them as often when we test things on them and such.
Yes, I’m joking. I’m sorry PETA. But here’s the serious part. S6K1 (S6 Kinase 1) is a protein that is involved in the body’s response to changes in food ingestion. And apparently, it cuts your lifespan by a fifth or so. Nobody knows why. They just know that it does. There are two ways to handle this. One is to eat a low, constant amount of food that limits the production of the protein naturally. The other is genetic manipulation that blocks the production of the protein at the cellular level.
Now, they’ve known since the 1930’s that reduced calorie intake by 30% for rats and primates extends lifespan by 40 percent. By blocking the protein, they were able to extend rats’ lives without reducing food intake. The genetically altered mice in the experiment lived over 160 days more than their normal counterparts, and at better health.
At 600 days old, the altered mice were leaner, had stronger bones, were protected from type 2 diabetes, performed better at motor tasks and demonstrated better senses and cognition, according to the study.
Here’s some not so good news though. These improvements were only observable in female mice. Male mice showed little difference in lifespan, although they did show some of the health benefits.
Females already live longer as it is! Not fair.