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Longevity Briefs: Activating Klotho the “anti-aging gene”

Posted on 4 September 2020

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of a novel research that caught the attention of our Oxford researchers due, to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: The Klotho gene codes for the Klotho protein, which is found predominantly in the brain and the kidney. Klotho is notorious for being one of the most important genes in the aging process that has been discovered so far. It has been associated with protecting against many age-related conditions, including Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic kidney disease and it has even been strongly linked to intelligence. This makes it a very interesting therapeutic target.

In Greek and Roman mythology, any of three goddesses who determined human destinies, and in particular the span of a person’s life and his allotment of misery and suffering. Their names were Clotho (Spinner), Lachesis (Allotter), and Atropos (Inflexible). Clotho spun the “thread” of human fate, Lachesis dispensed it, and Atropos cut the thread (thus determining the individual’s moment of death).
The three Fates spinning the web of human destiny, sculpture by Gottfried Schadow, 1790, part of the tombstone for Count Alexander von der Mark; in the Old National Gallery, Berlin.

What did the researchers do: A researcher team based at Boston University’s school of medicine, aimed to find out whether they can increase the levels of Klotho in brain and kidney cells using a CRISPR complex. CRISPR is a gene editing tool which has revolutionised the accuracy, speed and ease of manipulating genetic information.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: Using the CRISPR technology, the team discovered two genetic components which they can control to successfully increase the levels of Klotho within human cells. These findings act as a promising foundation for Klotho gene therapy as a potential treatment against aging.

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