When it comes to health and nutrition, we tend to negatively perceive anything that’s artificial or chemical. But new research has found a special dye that when ingested, seems to counteract none other than the effects of aging.
The extension of life has been one of the most sought after scientific riddles of all time and it seems we’re one tiny step closer to solving it. A joint effort between scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Rutgers University and the University of Oregon have managed to successfully extend the longevity of roundworms.
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, reveals that 44,000 individuals were raised ingesting Thioflavin T, a special dye used to detect plaques in brains with Alzheimer’s disease.
The parasitic worms, which share surprising genetic similarities to humans (especially to politicians) managed to live twice as much as their counterparts that were not exposed to Thioflavin T.
The research says the dye extends the worm’s lifespan by preventing proteins molecules to deteriorate as they normally do as an individual ages.
“Proteins lose their 3D shape during aging, and as a result cannot function properly,” co-senior author Gordon Lithgow told Seeker.
“This is also a feature of many age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Thioflavin T prevents this, at least in worms. It also turns on lots of genes that are the natural defense system to prevent protein misfolding.”
The researchers came up with the idea to using Thioflavin T for longevity tests since they noticed the dye binds a certain type of unfolded protein (amyloid) characteristic of Alzheimer’s.
Tests on humans seem still far away at this stage since further tests must be performed to determine how the dye works, but the results so far are beyond promising.
Co-author Monica Driscoll added, “the real goal of aging research should not be longevity at all, but rather a person’s health span — how long they can maintain an active, disease free, high quality of life.”