Ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1 signaling regulates mammalian life span.
Scientists in the UK claim to have discovered a genetic fountain of youth (for women at least). These geneticists became interested in the increased lifespan conferred by caloric restriction, the process of eating very little throughout one's life - not to be confused with conventional 'dieting' or starvation, mice on a calorie-restricted diet live up to 10% longer than those with a standard calorie diet. While searching for changes in the activity of genes associated with metabolism and caloric restriction, the researchers stumbled upon a gene that, when removed from the mouse's genome and thus permanently disabled, conferred a nearly 10% longer lifespan to female mice on a normal diet. These mice also had healthier bones, immune systems, and other bodily functions. They also exhibited decreased body weight and a lower level of the hormones associated with hunger.
Guys, you're out of luck - only the ladies get to take advantage of this one. Therefore, it seems that a different gene in men (or combination of genes) must be responsible for the increased longevity conferred by caloric restriction. What do you think? It is a good idea to develop drugs targeted at this gene product to artificially increase our lifespan and health (and perhaps help us lose weight)? Would it be ethical? Assuming that any drug was deemed safe for human use through extensive testing first.