A protein that slows the aging process in mice and other animals may also help prevent diabetes and other obesity-related diseases from occurring.
Leonard Guarente, the Novartis Professor of Biology at MIT, first discovered the longevity-boosting properties of the protein SIRT1 in the 1990s while studying yeast, and has since explored its role in many different body tissues.
In his latest study, Guarente and colleagues removed SIRT1 adipose cells, which make up body fat, in mice. After feeding them a high-fat diet, they found that the SIRT1-lacking mice developed metabolic disorders much quicker than normal mice that were given the same food .
“We see them as being poised for metabolic dysfunction,” Guarente explained. “You’ve removed one of the safeguards against metabolic decline, so if you now give them the trigger of a high-fat diet, they’re much more sensitive than the normal mouse.”
The finding suggests that drugs that boost SIRT1 activity could help protect against obesity-linked conditions such as diabetes mellitus .
The study was published in the latest edition of the journal Cell Metabolism

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