Roundworms helped open up a new mechanism to prolong youth


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Aging can be considered as a natural process or as a logical development of an organism during its life cycle. However, mankind throughout its history tried to find a “medicine of eternal youth” or at least as much as possible (as far as possible) to delay the onset of old age. And, quite likely, the answer all this time was, one can say, “under our feet.” After all, recently a group of researchers from the University of Michigan discovered a special substance for roundworms that prevents aging of the body.

As is known, roundworms (nematodes) are one of the most numerous species on our planet. They are of very different sizes and inhabit the soil, as well as fresh and marine waters, where their numbers can exceed 1 million individuals per 1 cubic meter.

Studying one of the species of these animals, namely C. elegans, scientists have discovered, one might say, the “aging molecule”. First, experts from the University of Michigan studied the change in mobility of worms associated with age. It was found that in the middle of the life cycle in animals there is a decline in motor activity. On average, C. elegans live for about 21 days, and somewhere on day 10-11 there was a change in behavior. Scientists decided to find out the cause of these violations.


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Experts began to analyze the connection of motor neurons with muscle activity. It turned out that their interaction violates the molecule SLO-1. With its presence, there is a decline in activity and a gradual extinction of motor functions. Accordingly, the more SLO-1, the less activity.

Further, the experts decided to try to block this molecule. To do this, they used 2 methods of blocking (looking ahead, we say that both were successful). The first is the most radical. Blocking a molecule at the genetic level by editing the genome. The second is the impact on the “path” of the interaction of the molecule. With the help of Paxillin, scientists blocked the potassium channels involved in the allocation of SLO-1.


Moreover, the life expectancy of the studied groups increased compared with the control. But the most interesting thing is that the discovery concerns not only nematodes, since there is a similar molecule in the organism of other creatures (including mammals).


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