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Two of the health issues that worry people most–aging and cancer–both involve inflammation, and scientists have known for years that these three factors are interrelated. Now researchers at New York University School of Medicine have discovered a single gene that controls aging, inflammation and cancer, which the principal investigator Robert J. Schneider, PhD, associate director for translational research and co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at NYU Langone Medical Center, has called “an exciting scientific find.”
Part of healthy aging involves lifestyle modifications that can help control factors that have an impact on lifespan and quality of life, including a nutritious diet, exercise, and stress management.
However, there is also a genetic component to aging, as well as for inflammation and cancer, but until now scientists did not know that one gene family controlled all three factors.
The family is called AUF1 and it consists of four related genes that control the inflammatory response and have an integral role in preventing accelerated aging. “The two [inflammation and aging], if not regulated properly, can eventually lead to cancer development,” explained Dr. Schneider.
Schneider has called AUF1 a “medical and scientific trinity.” Discovery of the gene will allow researchers to further explore genetic alterations in the AUF1 gene that are associated with factors that affect aging, cancer, and a variety of diseases.
Pont AR et al. mRNA decay factor AUF1 maintains normal aging, telomere maintenance, and suppression of senescence by activation of telomerase transcription. Molecular Cell 2012 May 24