Aging is a subject that everyone has a stake in, and finding ways to slow it down would help reduce all kinds of diseases. Now scientists have made a pretty substantial breakthrough, extending the lifespan of worms by a staggering 500 percent by tweaking a couple of cellular pathways.
C. elegans is a humble little worm that often finds itself at the heart of aging studies. That’s because it shares many cellular pathways with humans, and it typically lives for three or four weeks, meaning any changes to that lifespan are quickly apparent and easy to measure.
In plenty of past studies, scientists have managed to use drugs or genetic engineering to increase the lifespan of C. elegans by 50 or 100 percent. If directly applied to the average human lifespan of about 80 years, that would be like living to between 120 and 160 years. But in the new study, the team unexpectedly made the worms live five times longer than usual – the human equivalent of which would be 400 years.