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Motor Aging Target Found in Worm Model Organism

In PLOS Biology, researchers from Sichuan University and the Huazhong University of Science and Technology report on an approach that shows promise for stretching out healthy lifespan and dialing down motor aging in Caenorhabditis elegans. Using a genome-wide RNA interference screen, the team searched for genes influencing motor aging in the worm model organism, highlighting a set of nearly three dozen suspected regulators that included the PI3-kinase VPS-34. The findings pointed to a motor function-related regulatory role for VPS-34 in older C. elegans — a pattern that appeared to reflect the gene's inhibitory influence on neurotransmission in older motor neurons. Similarly, the authors saw enhanced neurotransmission and improved muscle function in worms and mice with VPS-34 levels that were dialed down genetically or using inhibitory drugs. "Global increase of life expectancy is rarely accompanied by increased health span, calling for a greater understanding of age-associated behavioral decline," the authors explain, noting that "our genome-wide screening revealed an evolutionarily conserved, actionable target to delay motor aging and prolong health span."