“Superager” genes could shave a decade off heart age, scientists say

The genes of people living past age 100 could one day help others keep their hearts healthy for longer, according to an exciting new study.

A team of British and Italian researchers has discovered that a specific mutated gene in so-called “superagers” who live to their 100th birthday can be used to help people with heart failure turn back the clock 10 years, as described in a groundbreaking study. study published in the journal Cardiovascular examination.

Building on the discovery of the longevity-associated gene variant known as BPIFB4 in 2018, the researchers conducted experiments on human cells in test tubes and later on mice to see if the genes were still able to turn back the biological clock. to run when introduced into a laboratory. instead of being inherited.

Incredibly, they found that introducing it into damaged cells can both halt and even reverse heart aging.

“The cells of older patients, particularly those that support the building of new blood vessels called ‘pericytes,’ were found to perform less well and age,” said Monica Cattaneo, a researcher at the MultiMedica Group in Italy and co-author. , in a press release.

“By adding the longevity gene/protein to the test tube, we observed a process of heart rejuvenation: the heart cells of older heart failure patients function properly again and appear to be more efficient at building new blood vessels,” added Cattaneo up to it.

The researchers also found that those same cells also appeared to have reduced expression of BPIFB4. In other words, people who tend to develop heart problems can be missing this important protein for longevity.

Paolo Madedu, professor and co-author from the University of Bristol, says these findings suggest that introducing a protein into the cells of patients with heart problems could be an alternative to gene therapy, which, despite being a promising branch of medical treatment, has yet to be tested. always carries a number of associated risks, including the possibility of developing cancer.

“Our findings confirm that the healthy mutant gene can reverse the decline in cardiac performance in older people,” Madedu said in the press release. “We are now interested in determining whether giving the protein instead of the gene might also work.”

Clearly, this kind of potential treatment will take many years to perfect – but either way, this could be a huge victory in the war on heart disease.

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