New research now shows that some humans possess a genetic equivalent to [an anti-aging] drug. A small number of Amish people in the US state of Indiana have a genetic mutation that cuts their PAI-1 levels in half, and adds on average ten years to their lifespan. Even older people with the mutation have remarkably elastic blood vessels, an indicator of good vascular health.
“I think something like this could be part of the anti-ageing solution to extend the lifespan of individuals,” [researcher Doug] Vaughan says. If we can replicate this genetic mutation in other people, we could have found a way to fight the most inevitable of all illnesses – old age.
Vaughan identified 43 people with the mutation who, on average, lived ten years longer than other people in the community. By his estimates there may be up to 300 more people with the same mutation, around five per cent of the Berne Amish kindred.
The people he studied seemed perfectly healthy with half the normal amount of PAI-1, so at this early stage there is no real indication that inducing this mutation would be dangerous.
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