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Live Long and Prosper, If You're a Mouse

We plan on living forever, but for those who have more or less accepted their mortality, researchers at the US National Institutes of Health have uncovered a gene whose expression levels affect lifespan, at least in mice.

As they write in Cell Reports, changing the expression levels of the gene mTOR increased the average lifespan of a cohort of mice by about 20 percent — the equivalent of increasing the human lifespan from 79 years to 95 years, a press release from NIH notes. The mTOR gene is involved in metabolism and energy.

The mice also exhibited a reduction in a number of aging-related tissue biomarkers. However, those changes were inconsistent.

"While the high extension in lifespan is noteworthy, this study reinforces an important facet of aging; it is not uniform," says lead researcher Toren Finkel from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in a statement. "Rather, similar to circadian rhythms, an animal might have several organ-specific aging clocks that generally work together to govern the aging of the whole organism."

Ninety-five, anyway, is closer to forever.