Fly Way to Stay in Your Prime Longer; Research on Insects Will Produce a Drug That Lets Us Live in Good Health until 160 ... at Least

By Burns, Emma | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), July 14, 1999 | Go to article overview

Fly Way to Stay in Your Prime Longer; Research on Insects Will Produce a Drug That Lets Us Live in Good Health until 160 ... at Least


Burns, Emma, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


THE alarm goes off and you wake up. Still half-asleep, you reach out for the bottle of anti- ageing potion you placed on your bedside table last night, pour out a carefully- measured dose and swallow it.

Out of bed and into the kitchen for a couple of anti-ageing capsules before your cereal and fruit juice.

You can't manage lunch, but you have to make time to bolt down a sandwich because your next dose - it's an injection this time - has to be taken with food.

And, though you are exhausted by bedtime, you never forget to take your night- time dose.

This is the sort of daily routine we can look forward to, allowing us to live in good health well beyond the age of 100.

And it's all thanks to an amazing similarity between the genetic make- up of fruit flies and humans.

Pharmacologists are just 10 years away from producing the first scientifically- based anti- ageing product, according to Michael Rose, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of California.

These aren't vitamins, or food supplements - we can expect different products which will give us a healthy life much, much longer.

Professor Rose, who has worked out how to double the lifespan of fruit flies, won't even estimate how long he thinks we could live for.

He says: "The age of 160 will be just the start. It will go on and on and on. If you had asked the inventor of the internal combustion engine in the late 19th century how fast he thought it could go, he might have said 20 miles an hour. But look at Formula One, look at Concorde.

"I know that if the will is there aggressively to postpone human ageing, we can do it. Once you start, it becomes obvious how easy it is. It is not like trying to grow a third leg. It is changing something the organism is happy to change. But the public will to do it has to be there."

The important point is that these anti-ageing products will give us a much longer prime, rather than a much longer old age.

British scientists first came up with the theory that natural selection - that is, the survival of the fittest - works best during the childbearing years.

Mother nature has no interest in keeping us alive after we have reared our young.

Fertile

Professor Rose, a Canadian who went to school and university in Britain, only allowed the fruit flies to breed fairly late in their lives.

He says: "I denied them the opportunity to reproduce until they were successful career women. Natural selection did the rest. The ones which were no longer fertile did not reproduce."

The genes which allowed the females to breed later in life were crucial to their ability to live longer to nurture their young. By constantly choosing them, the lifespan grew longer over the generations.

The results apply to us because the genes which Professor Rose identified as contributing to longevity and good health are also present in humans. …

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