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BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 05 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:b5686

S6k1 is an ageing gene common to yeast, flies, worms, and mice

Clinical trials of antiageing drugs are still things of the future, but translational science is closing in.

In mice, deletion of the S6k1 gene (which encodes ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1) prolongs life, improves sensitivity to insulin in old age, and protects from degeneration of motor, bone, and immune functions, although not from cancer. Similar effects have previously been shown in yeast, flies, and worms.

S6k1 might alter energy metabolism by altering the activity of mRNA and AMP kinase in the conserved target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway, much like fasting, which is thought to prolong life through a similar mechanism. The TOR pathway, along with the insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 signalling pathway, has a major role in modulating longevity across the species studied so far.

Metformin and sirolimus (rapamycin)—two human drugs that target the TOR pathway—have been shown to prolong life in mice, although the effect of metformin was reserved for females. This sex specific effect warrants further study, as do the …

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