Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have found a molecule that they believe contains the fountain of youth, after 17 years of ongoing observations.
Scientists discovered the fountain of youth molecule, called indole, is capable of increasing the health span of living creatures. Daniel Kalman and his team from Emory University observed indole has health promoting capabilities has been seen in fruit flies, mice, and roundworms.
Indole appears to be capable of preserving fertility, mobility, and survival of creatures who have access to its benefits. Researchers also noticed that indoles seem to regulate stress sensitivity. The ability to handle stress is crucial to having an extended health span.
Health span vs. life span
Health spans and life spans are not the same things, and until now scientists have not studied health span in regards to living longer. Kalman and his team sought to understand why some creatures appear to stay healthy right up until they should display geriatric traits.
The researchers took a sample of Caenorhabditis elegans, or as they are commonly known, roundworms, and administered them with antibiotics. The antibiotics destroyed the gut microbes that occur naturally within roundworms. Next, they raised these roundworms in cultures that contain E. Coli. E. Coli colonized in the guts of the worms and synthesized indoles at a greater rate than the other strains.
Significantly enhanced health span
What the researchers discovered shocked them! Suddenly, the roundworms displayed characteristics of youth, even when they had aged significantly. While the roundworms still enjoyed around the same life span as their counterparts who did not have the benefit of indoles, their enhanced health was indeed extremely evident.
Roundworms utilizing the benefits of indole displayed health characteristics usually seen only in young worms. Their ability to process food was the same as in their youth, as the indoles strengthened their pharyngeal muscles. They could eat larger meals than other roundworms the same age.
Additionally, the roundworm’s ability to reproduce extended significantly. Furthermore, the worm’s limbs displayed what researchers described as “thrashing motility,” which means they exhibited the energy and mobility of young worms. The researchers then demonstrated similar health span increases in fruit flies and mice.
When the scientists gave indole-generating E. Coli to mice, the mice kept their youthful coats. As well, these mice had better mobility and were even more resistant to radiation. Tested fruit flies were able to withstand stress in 38-degree centigrade heat, compared to their untreated counterparts.
How could this help humans?
Humans have a similar receptor in their bodies to which indoles could potentially bind. This receptor absorbs indoles through plant based foods. And while they may not increase lifespan, they indeed appear to unlock the key to the fountain of youth.
Researchers, however, do stress that this study is just the beginning of a long road. Anti-aging drugs that contain indoles are still a long way off, as testing and development of such a drug have still not occurred. Scientists would need to test such a drug for safety and efficiency. Nevertheless, it is exciting news that humanity is one step closer to finding the fountain of youth.