A direct link between a suspected longevity enzyme and the life-extending effects of a calorie restricted diet has strengthened the case for targeting the enzyme to increase healthy lifespan.

Researchers Blanka Rogina and Stephen Helfand at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington have found that an increase in an enzyme called Sir2 extends lifespan in fruit flies, whereas a decrease in Sir2 blocks the life-extending effects of a calorie restricted diet, suggesting a genetic pathway by which caloric restriction extends lifespan.

The findings could further the development of compounds that mimic the benefits of caloric restriction.

“The documentation of a molecular genetic pathway responsible for effecting calorie-restriction-related lifespan extension will be useful for identifying biochemical mediators and drug interventions that can mimic calorie restriction,” write the researchers.

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