By GRAHAM SMITH
PUBLISHED: 06:41 EST, 3 July 2012 | UPDATED: 09:58 EST, 3 July 2012
- UCL scientists studying how genetics and lifestyle can be adapted to offset the effects of ageing
Eating 40 per cent less food could extend a person’s life by 20 years, according to scientists.
Researchers at the Institute of Health Ageing at University College London are developing a treatment they hope will combat the ‘disease’ of getting older.
They are looking into how genetics and lifestyle can be adapted to offset the effects of ageing and add years, possibly decades, to a person’s life.
Incentive: Eating 40 per cent less food could extend a person’s life by 20 years, according to scientists
Age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurodegeneration can also be combated, it is claimed.
One line of inquiry that the team is developing is how the life of a rat can be increased by up to 30 per cent simply by reducing its food intake.
Lead researcher Dr Piper told the Independent: ‘If you reduce the diet of a rat by 40 per cent it will live for 20 or 30 per cent longer. So we would be talking 20 years of human life. This has shown on all sorts of organisms, even labradors.’
The scientists are also studying fruit flies, which share 60 per cent of human genes and age in a similar manner, and mice.
They have already prolonged the healthy lifespan in both flies and mice by using drug treatments and a modified diet.
It is hoped that this combination will also work to extend human life.
‘If you reduce the diet of a rat by 40 per cent it will live for 20 or 30 per cent longer’
Dr Piper said: ‘If we discover the genes involved with ageing, we should be able to delay ageing itself. This is what we’ve found.’
He added that his team has extended the life of organisms by mutating single genes.
The researchers have also lessen the effects of a mutation which can cause Alzheimer’s.
However, Dr Piper cautioned that the field of research into extending life is only a decade old, so remains ‘theoretical’.
It is their unique approach to treating all age-related diseases as being caused by the ‘disease’ of ageing itself that sets their research apart, he said.
The research is being displayed at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London.