Scientists are announcing the discovery of the presence of an anti-aging gene in humans called klotho that is attributed to longer life, increased levels of brain function and slows down the chances of brain maladies like stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. Published in the scientific journal Cell Reports, the study also shows that those with one protein of the klotho gene called KL-VS tend to have longer lifespans and a decreased chance of stroke compared to those who carry two forms of the KL-VS protein. The study also found that those with the single protein scored better in cognitive tests among senior citizens.
In a three-year study, American scientists from the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California San Francisco are convinced that the anti-aging KL-VS protein found in klotho among 700 people researched between the ages 52 to 85 has the ability to slow down the aging process. The KL-VS protein is also shown to improve cognitive brain functions, raising IQ levels by as much as six points regardless of sex or age.
For years, health care professions would attribute the slow down in memory and cognitive brain function as a normal part of the aging process. This new discovery serves as good news for those looking for answers in the fight against conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists say now that the protein klotho has been identified, researchers can now look into ways of isolating the anti-aging gene in a way that helps to possibly administer and boost the protein in senior citizens who carry lower levels of the gene and find relief from the mental trappings associated with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. According to the organization Alzheimer’s Disease International, the condition currently afflicts over 44 million people and is expected to grow to over 75 million by the year 2030.
While scientists are not quick to say that low levels of klotho are the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, they do now understand how variant levels of the protein play a role in the memory decline as a person ages. Alzheimer’s disease does get categorized into three phases of progressive dementia ranging from mild, moderate and severe Alzheimer’s. While early on-set Alzheimer’s disease is prevalent in those aged 30 to 60, the majority of Alzheimer’s disease is considered late on-set, starting to manifest after the age of 60-years-old. Researchers are also convinced along with this newly found anti-aging genetic code that lifestyle and environment are contributing factors to mental decline. Lifestyle practices like poor diet, lack of physical activity and mentally stimulating activities can keep the brain from actively functioning at peak levels.
Much has been studied about the gene klotho and its biological components in laboratory rats and worms. Now identified as an anti-aging gene, scientists and medical researchers are looking to Klotho and the KV-LS protein as the holy grail in the ongoing search for youth and longevity. With this new discovery, scientists can better help those with a declining brain function live better lives and help those who care for individuals suffering with dementia.
By Hal Banfield