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   May 16

Could a bodybuilding supplement increase life expectancy? Chemical could hold the secret to eternal youth, scientists claim

AKG increases the life expectancy of roundworms by up to 50 per cent
It does this by delaying ageing in a way similar to being on a diet

It is not known exactly how it works but the discovery could eventually lead to the development of a pill to prevent age-related illnesses

For much of human history, people have attempted to find the elixir of life.

And now, scientists believe they have found a chemical that could eventually get them one step closer to unlocking the secret to eternal youth.

They discovered that a supplement used by bodybuilders could increase life expectancy.

A supplement used by bodybuilders could increase life expectancy, new research suggests (file picture)

A study revealed AKG (alpha-ketoglutarate) increases the life expectancy of roundworms by up to 50 per cent.

And, scientists say this finding is offering new hope of an anti-ageing drug for humans.

The supplement is used to reach peak athletic performance and it can also help treat erectile dysfunction.

But now, researchers say the chemical – which is involved in the metabolic pathway that generates energy – seems to delay ageing in a similar way to being on a diet.

The discovery, reported online in the journal Nature, could suggest new strategies for the prevention and treatment of age-related diseases.

Dieting has been shown to improve longevity and stave off diseases in a range of organisms – including humans.

One study found reducing calorie intake by only 10 per cent could make people live longer.

And now, it seems AKG mimics dieting by helping people burn fat.

Drugs or gene therapy that disrupt nutrient or energy metabolism can also provide similar benefits, but although several chemicals that regulate ageing have been found, the details of how they work are unclear.

The latest experiments on the tiny lab worm Caenorhabditis elegans showed AKG delays ageing – and determines the mechanism by which it imparts these effects.

AKG can increase the life expectancy of the worm, Caenorhabditis elegans (pictured) by up to 50 per cent

The worm – the first animal to have its entire DNA mapped – has been widely used in studies of ageing and lifespan.

Worms are useful for studying ageing as they only have a life expectancy of two to three weeks so the effects of supplements can be established quickly.

Despite its small size, more than a third of the worms’ genes are also the same as humans’ – and many mutants are already known to lengthen lifespan.

The researchers said AKG acts on an energy producing protein to produce a body state that is the same as being on a diet.

Taking AKG extends lifespan in the worms by regulating energy metabolism – and this could offer a target for therapeutic intervention.

Professor Jing Huang, of the University of California in Los Angeles, said: ‘Metabolism and ageing are intimately linked.

‘Dietary restriction consistently extends lifespan and delays age-related diseases in evolutionarily diverse organisms.

‘Similar conditions of nutrient limitation and genetic or pharmacological perturbations of nutrient or energy metabolism also have longevity benefits. Here we show AKG extends the lifespan of adult Caenorhabditis elegans.

‘Our analyses uncover new molecular links between a common metabolite, a universal cellular energy generator and dietary restriction in the regulation of lifespan suggesting new strategies for the prevention and treatment of ageing and age-related diseases.’

While it could take years to extend lives dramatically the study raises the prospect of humans one day simply popping pills to live longer.

She said: ‘Longevity molecules that delay ageing and extend lifespan have long been a dream of humanity.

‘Metabolites such as AKG that can alter C elegans’ lifespan suggest an internal mechanism may exist that is accessible to intervention.

‘Whether this can translate into manipulating the ageing process in humans remains to be seen.’

Source: Daily Mail

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