Four cousins of a known longevity gene have been found to extend lifespan as well, suggesting that the entire family influences longevity and providing targets for new drugs that fight aging.

The gene, SIR2, is thought to play a role in the life extending benefits of a low-calorie diet.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Davis have now discovered that four cousins of SIR2 also extend lifespan.

“We think these new Sir2 genes are as important as any longevity genes discovered so far,” says molecular biologist David Sinclair, coauthor of the new study. “There is a growing realization from the aging field that we might finally understand how to control certain aspects of the aging process and one day have drugs that can fight some of the disabilities the process causes.”

Sinclair’s research group previously reported a genetic link between environmental stresses and longer life.

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