New York / London, Feb.6: A pill to help people live to 100 years is set to "revolutionise" ageing, experts said, says a BBC report. The pill to help people live free from debilitating health problems is set to "revolutionise" ageing, experts said. The breakthrough has come after scientists identified three “super-genes”.
People born with the genes are 20 times more likely to reach a century – and 80 per cent less likely to develop the senility disease Alzheimer’s.
Even being overweight or a heavy smoker does not stop a third of those with the genes living to 100.
Now US researchers are working to produce a drug that can mimic the genetic benefits and hope it will be ready for testing within three years. Their work features tonight on a BBC TV ¬documentary.
Life expectancy for men in the UK is 77, for women it is 82. At the same time nearly half a million Britons are affected by Alzheimer’s.
Lead scientist Dr Nir Barzilai said: “The advantage of finding a gene that involves longevity is we can develop a drug that will imitate what this gene is doing. If we can imitate that, then long life can be terrific.”
Professor Judith Phillips, president of the British Society of Geron¬tology, said the discovery would change how people look at growing old.
She said: “It’s a huge opportunity because the ageing population is growing anyway. They would be a huge resource because people would be able to work longer and they would have a healthier life, and it would r¬evolutionise the way we look at older people.
“And it would reduce costs in terms of care.”
A US study looked at 500 Ashkenazi Jews living in New York with an ¬average age of 100.
They were chosen after previous studies found the group to have a very specific genetic footprint because their bloodline had been kept very pure.
Although a third were obese or had smoked two packets of cigarettes a day for more than 40 years, they shared three “super-genes” that extended life expectancy.
Two genes produced “good” cholesterol, which reduced the risk of heart disease and strokes, while a third gene protected against diabetes.
Those with the longevity genes had a one in 500 chance of reaching 100, compared with a one in 10,000 chance in the rest of the population.
Dr Barzilai, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said: “Because our centenarians have ¬longevity genes, they are protected against many effects of the environment.
“That’s why they do whatever they want to do and they get through anyhow.”