A rare genetic mutation has been found in a remote Amish community that allegedly fights against the process of aging.
Scientists at Northwestern University conducted their research on an Amish extended family living in Berne, Indiana who have been isolated from the outside world for over a century.
"Ageing remains one of the most challenging biological processes to unravel. No targeted interventions currently exist to delay the ageing process and to promote healthy longevity," Douglas Vaughan said, a professor of medicine who led the study.
"Our findings demonstrate the utility of studying loss-of-function mutations in populations with geographic and genetic isolation and shed light on a novel therapeutic target for ageing," he added.
The research discovered the mutated gene, called Serpine1, also creates better metabolic health, lessens the chance of diabetes, prevents baldness, and allows the carrier to live a decade longer than others in the community, typically to the age of 85.
Out of the 177 residents of the Old Order Amish, 43 were identified as having one normal and one mutated version of the gene.
"The findings astonished us because of the consistency of the anti-aging benefits across multiple body systems," Vaughan said. "For the first time we are seeing a molecular marker of aging (telomere length), a metabolic marker of aging (fasting insulin levels) and a cardiovascular marker of aging (blood pressure and blood vessel stiffness) all tracking in the same direction in that these individuals were generally protected from age-related changes. That played out in them having a longer lifespan. Not only do they live longer, they live healthier. It's a desirable form of longevity. It's their 'health span.'"
The article published by Scientist Advances said Serpine1 affects a protein called plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, or PAI-1. The protein has been known for it's role in increasing blood clotting. The individuals who carried the mutated gene were found to have lower levels of PAI-1 in their blood, The Guardian reports.
However, scientists found the limited amount of PAI-1 has led to negative side effects, including a bleeding disorder.
"It seems that there's a sweet spot. You don't want too much PAI-1, and you don't want zero," said Vaughan.
According to New Atlas, Northwestern University has partnered with the Japanese company, Renascience, to develop new drugs which would reduce the blood levels of PAI-1 and achieve the same anti-aging benefits as Serpine1.
"We are very optimistic about its potential role not just in slowing ageing but in reducing age-related morbidities," Vaughan said.
What do you think about the newly discovered mutated gene?