Scientists in Israel has successfully experimented on 250 mice, boosting their life expectancy by nearly 23 percent, something they believe can be replicated on humans too. Scientists achieved these incredible results by increasing the supply of SIRT6, a protein that starts declining with age. “These findings show that SIRT6 optimises energy homeostasis in old age to delay frailty and preserve healthy ageing,” read the abstract of the paper.
The study, “Restoration of energy homeostasis by SIRT6 extends healthy lifespan”, has been published in the journal Nature Communication. It shows that not only did the increased SIRT6 protein enhance the life expectancy in the subject, but also made them look more youthful and less susceptible to cancer when compared to ordinary mice.
Professor Haim Cohen of Bar-Ilan University, who led the research team, said that the change in the life expectancy of mice following the experiment is extremely significant. He added if the same jump witnessed in mice were applied to humans, we could see an average human survive for up to 120 years. “The changes we saw in mice may be translatable to humans, and if so that would be exciting,” Cohen told Times of Israel.
The research, a collaboration between international scientists including Professor Rafael de Cabo from the US National Institutes of Health, also showed that the jump in the life expectancy of mice was not limited to any particular gender this time. However, the percentage increase in their life expectancy among the male and female mice was different. While the male mice, in which the SIRT6 protein was increased, lived nearly 30 percent more, the female mice showed that they could live for almost 15 percent more than the mice that weren’t part of the research.
The new study is also significant in the light of the 2012 experiment carried out by Cohen, who then became the first scientist to increase the life expectancy among male mice. That experiment, however, had no impact on the life expectancy of female mice.
Cohen’s lab is now looking for innovative methods to perform a similar and successful experiment on humans as well. While the mice were genetically modified, scientists say that humans would require drugs as well. “We are developing small molecules that may increase the levels of SIRT6, or make existing amounts of the protein more active,” the scientist said. He expects concrete results in two to three years.