The Speculist: Methuselah Yeast


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Methuselah Yeast

On the life-extension front, scientists at USC have produced a strain of yeast that lives 10 weeks, a lifespan they describe as being equivalent to 800 years in human terms. The trick is a combination of a tried-and-true life extension technique plus some genetic tinkering:

Longo and his team previously found two genes — RAS2 and SCH9 — related to growth and development of cancer that are similar in humans and yeast. They are so alike, in fact, that Longo said, "you can put the human gene in yeast and it works."

The scientists disabled the genes in the yeast but also put the organism on a low-calorie diet. Caloric restriction has prolonged the lifespan of yeast, worms, and mice in other experiments, and is thought to work by scaring the body into maintaining its genetic goods instead of growing.

Combining both age-fighting approaches, Longo said, led to a dramatically long lease on life.

"We expected a small boost in longevity, but not a 10-fold increase," he said. "It's remarkable."

Under caloric restriction, the growth of these genes and the aging of the yeast are slowed. The article goes on to say that a (human) population has been identified in Ecuador possessing a mutation very similar to the one that is being generated in this yeast. Two copies of the mutation result in a number of health problems, but the scientists expect to find characteristics of high disease-resistance and long-livedness amongst those with only one copy of the mutation. (Of particular interest is the fact that cancer is virtually unknown amongst this population. )

The real clincher here would be to get some of these genetically unusual Ecuadorans to go on a calorie-restricted diet. Or maybe just treat them with SIRT501. As we noted in the most recent edition of FastForward Radio, SIRT501 is a drug designed to produce effects similar to calorie restriction, without the subject having to restrict caloric intake. Interestingly, this drug is the product of some earlier research which also involved yeast:

Sirtris was co-founded by David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School researcher, who discovered SIRT1's role in regulating lifespan. His early work was in yeast, and he later showed that stimulating SIRT1 through a calorie-restricted diet helped animals live longer. Then, Sinclair found resveratol, which stimulates the same gene with results similar to calorie-restriction but without the diet.

The active ingredient in SIRT501 is Resveratrol, the life-extending substance which has been identified in red wine. Resveratrol has already been shown to be effective in extending the lifespan of mice. Its most recent round of tests shows positive results for using the drug to treat diabetes in adult human subjects. Now let's see if it can make a willing and genetically appropriate Ecuadoran live the human equivalent of 800 years.

That would be 800 years, by the way.

Meanwhile, if we see some positive results earlier on, perhaps some gene treatment could be developed for the rest of us even before we reach that milestone. Otherwise, we're going to need some other form of life extension therapy in order to wait out the time it will take to prove this form works. Of course, that's true even if we're talking about a "mere" 200 or 300 year human lifespan.

As with SIRT501, any implementation of that gene therapy will probably have to be introduced as a treatment for a specific disease -- cancer would seem a likely candidate. Funding bodies will back research into the treatment of specific diseases, but they are apparently very skittish about funding life extension directly. But that's all right, as long as the eventual treatments (if effective) can be made available to others who are at risk for these diseases. If life extension shows up as a "harmless side effect" of trying to prevent cancer and/or diabetes, I'm fine with that.



"That would be 800 years, by the way."

You know, we really need a full human computer simulation.

I wonder how close we are to having that kind of processing power.

Resveratrol Supplements can help you control your weight naturally
by increasing energy, reducing cravings, and limiting your appetite.
According to Wikipedia, Consumer Lab, an independent dietary
supplement and over the counter products evaluation organization,
published a report on 13 November 2007 on the popular resveratrol
supplements. The organization reported that there exists a wide range
in quality, dose, and price among the 13 resveratrol products
evaluated. The actual amount of resveratrol contained in the
different brands range from 2.2mg for Revatrol, which claimed to have
400mg of "Red Wine Grape Complex", to 500mg for Transmax,
which is consistent with the amount claimed on the product's label.
Prices per 100mg of resveratrol ranged from less than $.30 for
products made by, jarrow, and country life, to a high of
$45.27 for the Revatrol brand. None of the products tested were found
to have significant levels of heavy metals or other contaminants.

The price comparison excel sheet of over 80 resveratrol products (including Biotivia, and RevGenetics) is here:

It is a public forum, where you can help post better resvertrol prices as well. Come by and ask questions as well.


The price comparison excel sheet of over 80 resveratrol products (including Biotivia, and RevGenetics) is here:

It is a public forum, where you can help post better resvertrol prices as well. Come by and ask questions as well.


Resveratrol has made headlines as one of the essential ways of maintaining your body. There are many benefits associated with it, but the health benefits cannot be overlooked.

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