HEALTH & SCIENCE.
(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
A mechanism that makes it possible to significantly extend life in mice has been developed at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan.
Prof. Haim Cohen, head of the Institute for Aging Research, and his team are currently trying to develop the drugs that will activate the mechanism in humans so they can live longer, healthy lives.
With age, the metabolic balance changes. This is reflected in a rise in obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and fats such as cholesterol, he said in just published research. Cohen demonstrated how by using this mechanism, he managed to extend the life of the mice by tens of percentage points, along with a significant improvement in their health.
“The mice showed a level of activity and health similar to that of young mice, which is equivalent to extending life expectancy in humans from 90 years to 120 years – and with good health,” Cohen said.
BIU’s Faculty of Life Sciences held an international conference on Ways to Extend Healthful Living, which focused on pioneering Israeli research on the biology of aging and its implications for extending a healthful lifespan by preventing age-related diseases. Others who spoke included Prof. Nir Barzilai of the Einstein School of Medicine in New York, Prof. Michal Schwartz of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Prof. Sivan Kornblit of BIU’s Faculty of Life Sciences, and the university’s Dr. Ilia Stambler, who is chairman of Israel Association for Extending Life.
They said that less than 1% of government budgets for scientific research is allocated to the study of old age. Schwartz suggested that the low level of funding discourages researchers from going into this difficult and expensive field.
Kornblit, describing her lab work, said her team is focusing on improving the system for folding protein in the cells, because this system is harmed when one gets older and promotes biological aging.
Stambler said: “We hypothesize that if we can cope with this folding problem, we will be able to take the first step toward developing drugs that slow aging. Because of the aging of the world’s population and the population of Israel in particular, there is a consequent rise in the economic burden.
“There is an urgent need to promote the study of aging and age-related diseases as a means of improving healthy lifespan for the elderly population,” he said.