Italian and English scientists have identified a specific gene in a group of centenarians, which appears to have a protective role against cardiovascular diseases linked to ageing. It can help keep the heart young.
A long life secret
Last October I spoke to you of the so-called "blue zones" of the planet. These are places where people tend to have a longer than average life expectancy. These areas include Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Icaria in Greece, Loma Linda in California, USA and others.
Not infrequently, indeed often, those who live in these areas reach the age of 100 or more in good health and without cardiovascular complications. A recent study has shown that a healthy genetic variant of the gene BPIFB4 it is particularly frequent in the centenarians of these areas. And this variant may protect cells from damage related to heart disease.
Interesting results, just presented in a study published in Cardiovascular Research that I link to you here.
Gene of the centenarians: a research with an Italian traction
Professor Paul Madeddu and his team at the University of Bristol found that just one treatment with this "anti-aging" gene halted the decline in heart function in middle-aged mice. When given to aged mice, the gene reversed the biological age of the heart by the human equivalent of more than ten years.
In parallel, Professor Hannibal Puca and his team at the MultiMedica Group in Milan conducted a three-year test-tube study with human heart cells. After receiving the gene, heart cells from elderly patients with serious problems, including transplant recipients, were compared with those of healthy individuals.
Using this test-tube 'centenarian' gene, the researchers observed a significant reduction in heart disease symptoms and a significant improvement in heart function, thus demonstrating the efficacy of this gene therapy as a possible treatment.
The discovery of this gene, as the researchers themselves announce in a press releasecould represent a major breakthrough in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.
A wave of new cures based on 'centenarian genetics'
It is as if centenarians could pass on their "equipment" not only to their heirs, but to everyone. The results of this study confirm that a healthy mutant gene can reverse the deterioration of heart function in the elderly: this could lead to an entirely new "arsenal" of treatments.
Professor Madeddu and the head of the IRCCS MultiMedica laboratory (as well as Professor of the University of Salerno) Hannibal Puca, are enthusiastic about the therapeutic potential of this gene, and hope to soon be able to test its efficacy on patients with heart failure.