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Biotech Medicine Science

Cellular Compound May Increase Lifespan Without the Need For Strict Dieting 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-you-want-to-live-forever? dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Every day, our cells manufacture small amounts of a molecule that, in higher doses, might be the key to leading a longer, healthier life. A team of researchers has found that this molecule boosts the lifespan of worms by more than 50%, raising the possibility that it will increase human longevity. Dietary supplements that contain the molecule and allegedly build muscle are already on the market. The study drops a barbell on their use, however, by suggesting that the molecule may actually thwart muscle growth."
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Cellular Compound May Increase Lifespan Without the Need For Strict Dieting

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  • which (Score:5, Interesting)

    by faldore (221970) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @07:41PM (#47004865)

    which dietary supplements contain the molecule?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Marketed to bodybuilders as 'Creatine Alpha-Ketoglutarate'. Just google for it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      which dietary supplements contain the molecule?

      Spam.

      It's what Slashdot serves and what you crave.

    • Looks like Frank Herbert had a prescient moment with the Dune series. Maybe that molecule will make us all turn into sand worms.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      When you see this:

      They hit the jackpot with the first molecule they tried

      you know almost for sure that this is one of those rush-to-publish-first articles that will be retracted in a few years. That is, you're still better off just living a healthy lifestyle. And believe me, the elixir of life won't be discovered anytime soon and even when discovered won't be available to the likes of you.

  • TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @07:47PM (#47004913)

    -ketoglutarate (-KG), an intermediate in a metabolic cycle that helps a cell extract energy from food -how hard is it to put a little more information in the summary?

    oh right, this is about clickbait, not information...

    This is as bad as the local news 'Tune in tonight to find out which foods could kill you'.....

    -I'm just sayin'

    • by esldude (1157749)
      Oh I hate how the local news and some entertainment newsy shows have become. I have timed a few and they literally on one or two stories spend more time telling you about the story coming up than they do the story itself. As in, "Bruce Springsteen talks to us about his latest tour, and you will be surprised what he says." They do this 15 second spot 6 times and then the actual footage only takes about 80 seconds. Facepalm time for me. The medical breakthroughs like the subject of this slashdot thread ar
  • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @07:56PM (#47004963)

    Humans live insanely long lives for mammals: twice the average. The average mammal lives a billion heartbeats, humans live two billion. "Heartbeats" are a convenient normalization that accounts pretty well for differences in size, etc.

    There are fairly plausible evolutionary reasons for this. Grandparents are the primary mechanism by which culture is transmitted, so if your grandparents (or the grandparents of your close kin) lived a long time you would have a better chance of reproducing yourself, assuming cultural knowledge is useful in your local environment. And people with long-lived grandparents tend to be long-lived themselves, so the trait gets selected for.

    As such, animal models for human aging are extremely hard to come by, and ones as distant as worms are very unlikely to produce results that are generalizable to humans. This is why so many things cure cancer in rats but have no effect on humans: rats will get cancer from a dirty look, so their cancers tend to be relatively easy to knock over. Cancers that survive all the clever molecular tricks humans throw at them are much harder nuts to crack.

    We don't even know if calorie restriction works in humans (not enough people have been starving themselves for long enough to tell) so this article is way, way out on a speculative limb. Good science, I'm sure, but the hook should be "Scientists learn something about metabolic control pathways" and not "You may live forever!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745)

      "We don't even know if calorie restriction works in humans "
      we do, and it doesn't.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What? Citation is needed here, and no, after looking through the primary google links what I have seen for calorie restriction more or less has meshed up with the basics behind these studies. What they did talk about failing in humans was that nifty molecule from grape skins that doesn't affect our species as well as mice and flatworms.

        So besides a molecule specific study could you help us out here?

      • It may do, and I'm not joining in.
    • by Eris13 (647245) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @08:54PM (#47005323)
      Not so. Nematodes are used because they have a very fast life cycle and you can study multiple generations. Perfect for mitochondrial studies such as this and mitochondria are pretty much mitochondria no matter the species.

      The summary is bad because its a c&p of TOA summary which seems to be just a pulp piece on various ageing research topics. That's not what the original paper was about. The original paper in Nature was kinda cool in itself. Simple summary - Nematodes lasted 70% longer when fed a ton of ÃZ±-KG. Some new areas to be studied, but nothing much to see here.
      • by Calavar (1587721) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @11:37PM (#47006151)
        Nematodes and certain flatworms that have their gonads removed can live for twice the normal lifespan. Do eunuchs live to be 150 years old? No? Then I don't think aging studies in worms translate very well to humans. This paper is an interesting bit of insight into cellular metabolic processes, but the main factors that drive aging (metabolism, sex hormones) in worms seem to be only secondary factors in human aging. TFS's claim that this might translate to humans in a tangible way is overblown. It's just another piece of a puzzle that has millions of parts.
        • You don't seem to understand what worms are useful for. They have specific uses, you're knocking them for not being useful for all types of research. That's like saying a hammer is useless because it can't fuse fiber optic cables very well.

          Studies in worms don't DIRECTLY translate to humans, which is why medicine doesn't attempt to do so. You find something basic in worms, you next see if it is true for mice. Then finally you see if it's true in humans.

          Incredibly, this is directly stated in TFA:

          There’s no guarantee that -KG will have the same effects on aging in people as it has in worms. And before researchers can even address that issue, they’ll have to figure out if the compound also extends the lives of laboratory organisms such as flies and mice.

          T

          • by cellocgw (617879)

            You don't seem to understand what worms are useful for. They have specific uses, you're knocking them for not being useful for all types of research. That's like saying a hammer is useless because it can't fuse fiber optic cables very well.

            You're using it wrong. I have these highly classified papers courtesy of an anonymous person with the initials "E.S." which shows how to use a hammer to fuse fiber optics just fine!

          • by Calavar (1587721)
            I understand why worms are used as research models. I'm not bashing the study, but complaining about TFS (not TFA), which does seem to imply that there will be applications for humans in the near future.
    • yeah..."fairly plausible" reasons would have to include the creation of health science and maybe, you know, hospitals?

      love em to death, but i don't see too many dolphin and bonobos building hospitals for their kin.

    • We don't even know if calorie restriction works in humans (not enough people have been starving themselves for long enough to tell)

      With billions of people and many, many different kinds of diet, you'd think there'd be more than enough data to validate or falsify CR for humans. For example, prisoners fed near-starvation diets have not been observed to live an extra 50 years.
    • The fact that life expectancy has, by some accounts, doubled in less than 150 years makes me doubt that we're seeing evolution in action in this case.

      The advancement of medical science might have something to do with it...

  • From the Jinx Institute of Knowledge, of course! http://larryniven.wikia.com/wi... [wikia.com]

    Also, might be alpha-ketoglutarate

    • by hguorbray (967940)
      yeah it's funny (I accidentally posted as AC) when I pasted into the comment window the alpha symbol showed up fine, but it disappeared after hitting whatever character coding is inside the database UTF-8 perhaps?

      -I'm just sayin'
      • by Narcocide (102829)

        It was pasted as UTF-8 from your browser because that is what the page is served with. It was then slaughtered on insertion into the slashdot database because the database tables are *not* stored in UTF-8. This is a very old bug in the slashdot code that I assume is not being fixed due to [reasons].

  • (1) So since it works in worms, it will work in humans? (2) And of course nature never thought of this before or tried this before. Reminds me of a TV character in the 80s (was it ALF? or Steve Urkel?) who was modifying car engines to get 200mpg. Trouble is, 500 miles down the road, the engine fell out of the car. (3) Maybe nature doesn't want us living for 200 years? See (2).
    • by geekoid (135745)

      1) Maybe, maybe not. Its a start to determine the mechanize. You need so sort of plausibility first.

      2) irrelevant, and underline your lack of understanding of evolution and nature.

      3) nature doesn't want anything. it does what it dos, and we tell it to fuck off, were going to hurtle people to the moon.

      Don't anthropomorphise nature, she hates it:)

    • Re:Riiight (Score:4, Funny)

      by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @08:54PM (#47005319)

      Don't anthropomorphise nature, he hates that.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        When you get done laughing at this, take a read of "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins if you dare to know more.

        I cringe every day at the amount of strongly science educated people who ask questions and imply that nature has some "Master-plan" which of course smacks of intelligent design. Intelligent design is not science, Intelligent design is a 'thinly veiled' political attempt to prove that the bible and christian creation myth is the un-assailable, unquestionable truth and that science that point

    • That was Viki from Small Wonder
  • by erice (13380) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @08:25PM (#47005127) Homepage

    From TFA:

    By studying the mitochondria from cow heart cells, the researchers found that -KG blocks ATP synthase, thus turning down the cell’s metabolism.

    Funny. You know what happens when you turn a cell's metabolism? It burns few calories. If you don't reduce calorie intake you get fat and suffer from a variety of obesity related illness that might kill you earlier than if you had not started taking the medication.

    So in exchange for a possibly longer life you get to eat little and do little. Surprise, surprise! That is just like Calorie Restriction, albeit without the consistency requirement. That means you might actually achieve some benefit for the sacrifice rather than making the sacrifice, not getting it quite right, and getting no benefit.

    Still, this doesn't sound like the fountain of youth. More like a prolonged living death.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @08:39PM (#47005213) Journal
    People who are eating this dietary supplement find all kinds of worms living in their guts living 50% longer.
  • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @09:18PM (#47005433)
    I'll stick with the blood of the young [theguardian.com], thank you very much.
  • Science breakthrough, posted by samzenpus == LIE
  • Foods-and-nutrition experts have known for decades that calorie restriction itself is a dead-end - and not for the reasons given so far in this article.

    Turns out that, while calorie restriction does retard aging, it also retards the functionality of the immune system.

    Calorie-restrict a rat in a lab, where it's protected from most pathogens, and it lives measurably longer and shows signs of aging later, in proportion. Calorie-restrict a rat exposed to an outdoor environment, and it dies young of disease.

    Thi

    • by arobatino (46791)

      Foods-and-nutrition experts have known for decades that calorie restriction itself is a dead-end - and not for the reasons given so far in this article.

      Turns out that, while calorie restriction does retard aging, it also retards the functionality of the immune system.

      Since most humans now live in an environment which is much more shielded than what we evolved in, and evolution hasn't had time to catch up, it's plausible that a tradeoff like that might be worthwhile.

  • A team of researchers has found that this molecule boosts the lifespan of worms by more than 50%

    That is great news for the leeches of our society.

  • quantities in every cell in your body. It is one of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (Kreb's cycle) intermediates produced from either the amino acid glutamate, or from isocitrate. It is not a limiting molecule in the Kreb's cycle, and giving it to humans will not have any effect on human longevity. As noted already, many bodybuilders take it every day because they think it will give them more energy. Worms and humans do not have similar life cycles. Many things that don't affect the longevity of humans increase the lifespan of worms. The research into making geriatric worms is really a waste of time and money.
  • Now we know; no need to click on those ads anymore!

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

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