March 09, 2006
Life extension: Longevity modulated without disrupting life-sustaining function
The Salk scientists discovered the protein in studies with worms, a commonly used lab model in genetics; since this signaling cascade including the newly identified protein is conserved across many species, including humans, these findings raise the prospect that one day it might be possible to medically tweak this pathway to slow aging and improve the quality of life without harmful consequences to the body. The scientists individually manipulate the different functions of insulin/IGF-1 signaling without wreaking havoc on the organism's normal functioning. The Smk-1 gene is the first known gene that regulates longevity without affecting other vital functions of the insulin signaling pathway.