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Fly fountain of youth

Hanging out with younger flies helps mutated fruit flies stay young

10:35am, May 27, 2008

Make room in the pool, Wilford Brimley. Some fruit flies have discovered their own version of a youth-anizing “cocoon”: younger flies.

Researchers from the University of Iowa report in the May 27 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that some fruit flies with mutations in a gene that encodes an antioxidant enzyme can live a longer life simply by living with young flies that do not carry the mutation.

Understanding why young, healthy fruit flies keep old, ill Drosophila melanogaster vigorous might lead to a molecular explanation for why social interactions help people fend off degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Taken to an extreme, the research might even lead to drugs that could mimic the benefits of having buddies.

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