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Longevity Daily: 1st September, 2020

Posted on 1 September 2020

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Everyday our team of researchers in Oxford are inundated with scientific, and medical research articles that have the potential to improve health, wellbeing, and longevity. In this blog we highlight a few of them that caught our attention today.

  1. What is the secret of exceptional longevity?
    • Why is this important: Centenarians are considered to be people with exceptional longevity by the virtue of living 100 years or longer. During their long lives they are also able to avoid most degenerative diseases of aging until very late in their lives. For many decades scientists have been trying to understand the secrets of their longevity. Are these people lucky to be born with perfect genetics, or are they born with genes that protect them from diseases?
    • What did the researchers do: A recent study by researchers in Israel, Germany, Netherlands, and the US analysed the genetics of 515 exceptionally long lived individuals, and compared it with 832 of their children, and 532 people without any exceptional longevity in their family.
    • Key takeaway(s): The researchers found that based on their genetics all three groups, regardless of being exceptionally long-lived or not, had the same disease risks. The researcher did notice that a few genes associated with cancer and Alzheimer’s were reduced in exceptionally long-lived people and their children. But overall the researchers think that exceptionally long-lived people have long and healthy lives because something in their genomes actively protects them against diseases of aging.

  2. Does having higher blood sugar levels increase our risk of cancers?
    • Why is this important: As we get older our body degrades and accumulates damage. This leads to the chronic diseases of aging the biggest of which are heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and dementia. In addition, if you have been diagnosed with one of these diseases of aging then you are more likely to be prone to others. For example it has been observed that people with type-2 diabetes have increased risk of cancer. Figuring out why this happens could help millions of people around the world who are currently suffering from type-2 diabetes.
    • What did the researchers do: Researchers from University College London, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine conducted a study of 379,253 type-2 diabetics to understand whether their blood sugar levels were responsible for their cancer risks. The researchers also tried to understand whether the type anti-diabetes medicine given to a patient had any impact on their cancer risk.
    • Key takeaway(s): After measuring the blood sugar levels of almost 380,000 type-2 diabetics for more than 7 years the researchers found no relationship between blood sugar levels and cancer risk. The only exception was for pancreatic cancer, people who had higher blood sugar levels were at higher risk of having pancreatic cancers. Finally, the researchers could not find any relationship between any anti-diabetic drug, and cancer prevention.

  3. Can existing drugs boost the expression of longevity genes?
    • Why is this important: A number of genes that appear to regulate aging have been identified. By influencing the expression of these genes, we might be able to reduce the incidence of age-related diseases. However, we have not yet found a safe and effective way of doing so.
    • What did the researchers do: Researchers studied the expression of longevity genes in 130 healthy middle-aged males taking small daily doses of valsartan (used to treat high blood pressure), fluvastatin (used to treat high cholesterol), or a placebo.
    • Key takeaway(s): Taken together, valsartan and fluvastatin significantly increased the expression of three longevity genes (SIRT1, PRKAA, and KLOTHO). Taken separately, the drugs only increased SIRT1 expression. It is therefore possible that this approach could be used to prevent age-related disorders.

  4. APOE genotype plays important role in extreme longevity
    • Why is this important: The APOE gene consists of a combination of two of the APOE alleles, of which there are three variations: E2, E3 and E4. The combination of which decides the APOE genotype; E2/E2, E2/E3, E3/E4 etc. The APOE genotype has not only been heavily associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s, but more recently, with longevity as well.
    • What did the researchers do: In a paper published in the Journals of Gerontology, a team of researchers compiled genetic data from seven different studies, including 28,297 participants from a diverse group of cohorts to run genetic models investigating the exact association between APOE genotype and longevity.
    • Key takeaway(s): The data showed that those with E2/E2 and E2/E3 genotypes are heavily associated with increased odds of reaching extreme old age. It was also found that carrying one or more copies of the E4 allele is associated with >80% increased risk for mortality and substantially reduced odds of reaching extreme old age.

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