Scientists Reveal ‘Major Discovery’ That May Slow Down Aging Process

German scientists have made a “major discovery” that may slow down the aging process in humans. According to a study published in the journal Nature, researchers at the University of Cologne uncovered a new approach to gene transcription that could keep us from getting older, at least for a little while.

The researchers found that gene transcription, which describes a cell creating an RNA copy of a strand of DNA, speeds up with age. However, as the process gets quicker, it also becomes more likely to make mistakes. That’s when we notice signs of aging. They also found that there are a couple of different things that might be able to reverse this degradation.

Dr. Andreas Beyer, the lead researcher on the study, told Euronews that the discovery was the “only eureka moment of my life.” He and his colleagues are all incredibly excited about what their findings mean in practical terms and how they might change life as we know it.

This study was a bit different, as all previous research into the topic would “just look at different gene expression.” The German scientists, however, decided to ask different questions. They wanted to know how gene transcription changes with time. If we figure that out, we could be able to slow or even prevent the signs of aging.

As Dr. Beyer explains, gene transcription should leave no room for errors. At the moment, it does. “You need to create the right amount of transcripts for each gene and have an exact copy of the gene sequence, but also, you need to activate the exact genes that the cell needs to function as it should,” he explained.

There’s another way to prevent gene transcription errors, scientists say

Because there are so many different types of cells throughout the body, from nerve and muscles to skin and blood, genes are transcribed differently for each. However, as “bad” copies of those genes are created as we get older, that’s when we see poor health and an increase in illness.

Dr. Beyer and his team also looked into previous findings that low-calorie diets and ones low in insulin-signalling foods delay aging and increase lifespan in animals. They wondered whether less faulty gene transcription could also be an unexpected benefit.

Working with mice, worms, and fruit flies, they confirmed that the animals eating fewer calories and insulin-signaling foods had slower gene transcription processes which made fewer mistakes. In fact, those animals lived 10 to 20% longer than the control group.

While more research needs to be done, the findings are certainly exciting. The more we understand about the process, the more we can not only slow down aging but live longer, healthier lives.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill