FOXO3A is old newsThursday, 4 September, 2008
According to The Australian, researchers have found a longevity gene. Researchers from Hawaii and Japan have found that men with the homozygous GG genotype of the gene FOXO3A live longer, have less cancer and cardiovascular disease, and maintain higher physical and mental abilities into old age.
If we read the actual study, we note that the researchers had a hypothesis that genes like this would be correlated to living longer. It’s involve in insulin signalling, which relates to caloric restriction and also the known life-extending modification in animals. So already, it was pretty obvious this gene would be involved in humans. All (all!) the researchers did was show it.
I might just point out that on my list of eight genetic modifications for dramatically increasing your chances of living forever, I said this (this was back in April):
4. Increase your expression of AMPK
And the introduction of this study mentions the AMP kinase (controlled by the AMPK gene):
A number of factors appear to extend lifespan in C. elegans in a DAF-16 dependent manner, such as AMP kinase, 14–3-3 proteins, the lin-4 microRNA, and heat shock factor.
The human homologue of DAF-16 includes four FOXOs: FOXO1, FOXO3, FOXO4 and FOXO6.
So really, what this study has found is that FOXO3A is a master regulator of the many little genes that have been implicated in ageing. Which was already expected based on homology, but it turns out this is really true in humans. And with a very strong correlation too – now we just have to investigate this further. Does it have this effect in women? Can we extend the lifespan of mice by genetic interventions, perhaps changing the alleles of this gene? And will this allow us to extend human lifespan past 100-120 years?
It’s a good discovery, but it’s not ‘the longevity gene’ – it’s a regulator of a set of longevity genes. And there will be many others too, probably with overlapping effects.