The Amish gene, living 10 years longer and avoiding diabetes

IAS News 17 November 2017 | 0 Comments

A gene variant that arose decades ago within an Amish community seems to make people live ten years longer, as well as making it less likely that they will develop diabetes.

The gene is called Serpine1, and is known to create a protein that promotes ageing, known as PA-1. However, a faulty variant of this gene was discovered six generations ago in an Amish group, causing the carriers of the variant produce half as much of the age-promoting protein.
Researchers have speculated whether this might be linked to a longer lifespan in carriers of this gene.

Douglas Vaughan and fellow researchers of the North-western University, Chicago have now studied the gene in 177 members of the Old Order Amish Community in Berne, Indiana. From the 177 members, 43 people carried at least one copy of the variant gene.

The research team analysed candidates DNA, along with other signs of aging, such as insulin resistance which is linked to diabetes and the length of telomeres. They also discovered which of the 221 deceased relatives would have been carriers, and then analysed how long they lived.

The results presented that those who carried at least one copy of the gene variant, lived on average 10 years longer dying at the age of 85.

Candidates carrying the gene variant also had 30 percent lower levels of insulin whilst fasting, which is a sign of slower aging. None of the carriers of the gene developed diabetes, while 7 percent of those without the variant did. Vaughan stated “The carriers appear to be completely protected from diabetes”.

Reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao1617

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