Worms, flies and mice may help us age better

Scientist may have discovered the fountain of youth and it is not what you expect.

This week findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that chemicals made by intestinal bacteria help slow down the aging process in worms, flies and mice.

Experiments show that these chemicals, known as indoles, maintain mobility and resilience in these creates for longer in their life span. The Naked Scientist, Chris Smith says scientists hope this research can be adapted to help aging in humans as well.

Older people are less mobile, they're less independent, and if we can make people age better, the health burden of trying to look after a very considerably aging population could be reduced.

Chris Smith | The Naked Scientists

Smith says the the head researcher of this study, Daniel Kalman of Emory University is motivated by the fact that in the next 40 years or so the number of extremely old people living in the majority of countries around the world is set to rise by 350 fold.

According to Smith, the research is not looking at how to make people live for longer, rather how to make them healthier. This is so as they age, they will still have the vitality to do more without numerous health burdens.

They started looking at the chemicals inside microscopic worms first, as their biochemistry and many other process in their bodies are the same as ours, says Smith.

If you study a very rapidly growing worm that ages fast, then it tell you something about how we age. If we can cure these worms, then we can cure humans.

Chris Smith | The Naked Scientists

Smith says the experiment was done by feeding the worms bacteria, that either could or couldn't make that magic chemical called indoles. The worms who had bacteria that made indoles, aged much better than those who didn't.

The experiment was then repeated in flies, that are a bit bigger and complex. The results were the same. When it came to do the experiment on mice, they also found old mice behaving as if they were much younger.

Perhaps we can could use this sort of strategy as one way to keep people healthier into their old age and it suggests that the bugs that live in our guts have a strong influence on how well we age.

Chris Smith | The Naked Scientists

Listen to the full discussion below:

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