Forever Young

Forever young, forever young… Thanks Rod Stewart

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

For millennia, we’ve searched for a fountain of youth. Has it finally been found? 

Enter Zhen Zhou and team at UC San Diego

They discovered that cells age in two ways. One: DNA, which holds the cell’s genetic information, slowly loses stability. Or two: their mitochondria, the cell’s power source, deteriorates. However, because of a genetic switch – called a mutual inhibition circuit – cells can’t age both ways at once. Normally, a cell will only age one way. 

The team altered the genes responsible for that switch in yeast. Instead of sticking to one aging method, the cell continuously switched between the two. They monitored this process across the cell’s lifespan.

And? The yeast cells lifespans’ were extended by EIGHTY-TWO percent! While the cells aged both ways, the aging process was much SLOWER. 

This is no fountain of youth just yet. But this research shows that genetic engineering COULD increase life expectancy!

Two-hundred here I come! Just 20 years to go.


Zhen Zhou et al. Engineering longevity—design of a synthetic gene oscillator to slow cellular aging. Science. 380, 376-381(2023). DOI:10.1126/science.add7631