Anti-aging study finds blocking enzyme increases worm lifespan by 45%

Though humans haven't yet discovered the fountain of youth, many researchers have been busy trying to solve the puzzle behind aging. One of the newest studies published on the topic has detailed research that successfully extended a worm's lifespan by 45-percent via blocking a particular enzyme, indicating a new avenue of exploration for future anti-aging research.

The study comes out of Scripps Research, where scientists utilized small roundworms called C. elegans that are key to all anti-aging studies. These tiny, simple creatures features a genome similar to humans; as well, their natural lifespan is short at only two to three weeks, which is enough time to conduct research but short enough to observe the effects on how long the worms live.

The work involved using a molecule to block the enzymes serine hydrolases, which are described as 'major metabolic enzymes.' This is important because of the role overall metabolic processes play in aging and, ultimately, how long a particular creature will live. The researchers looked at around 100 compounds that are known to block these enzymes.

Some of the tested enzyme-blocking compounds extended the lives of the worms by at least 15-percent, but one in particular called JZL184 was found to extend lifespan by 45-percent when given at an 'optimal dose.' Though nearly all untreated roundworms died from old age by the 30-day mark, more than half of roundworms treated with this compound were still alive and appeared healthy.

The compounds were tested on worms that were between 1-day-old up to adulthood. The most successful compound, JZL184, was designed for use with mammals, not worms, to inhibit an enzyme the roundworms lack called MAGL. In the worms, the study found the compound worked using a different pathway with similar functionality, shedding light on the connection between these two pathways that may help future research.