Israeli scientists said they’ve been able to extend the life expectancy of mice by 23 percent — and now hope they can do the same with humans.
Researchers at the Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel said they’ve been able to increase the supply of SIRT6, a protein responsible for DNA repair, in 250 mice, according to The Times of Israel. The scientists said that the mice who had the treatment done were also livelier and had lower instances of cancer than mice that did not.
"The change in life expectancy is significant, when you consider that an equivalent jump in human life expectancy would have us living on average until almost 120," Haim Cohen, the head of the Molecular Mechanism of Aging Laboratory at Bar-Ilan University’s Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, told the Times of Israel.
The team published their peer-reviewed findings in the journal Nature Communications. The paper describes how SIRT6 declined with age. This resulted in the mice losing their ability to get energy from their fats and lactic acid.
However, after being genetically modified to boost SIRT6, the mice could generate energy from those sources. They also were less susceptible to cancer, had lower cholesterol, and could run faster.
Building off of their research, Cohen said that his lab is now researching ways SIRT6 can be boosted in humans.
"The changes we saw in mice may be translatable to humans, and if so that would be exciting," Cohen said to the Times of Israel.
While SIRT6 levels in mice were boosted by genetically modifying them, Cohen and his team are looking into how drugs could do the same for people. He said that they might be just two or three years away from making this a reality.
"We are developing small molecules that may increase the levels of SIRT6, or make existing amounts of the protein more active," Cohen told the Times of Israel. "They may be used in the future to address aging."
Of course, this would be huge if we could extend the lives of humans to 120ish years. Humans would be able to enjoy life longer and spend even more time with loved ones. Plus, it could reverse the troubling drop in life expectancy across the world.
READ MORE: Israeli scientists extend mice’s lives by 23%, say method may work on humans [The Times of Israel]
More on life expectancy: Scientists Say This is the Maximum Human Lifespan
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