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Lowering the levels of two proteins in a person’s blood can help them live a longer life

Lowering levels of two proteins in a person’s blood may help them live a longer — healthier — life, study shows

  • A research team from the University of Edinburgh has identified two proteins that may be linked to poorer health and shorter lifespan
  • Researchers found that people whose blood was high in LPA and VCAM1 tended to be less healthy
  • They believe that therapies that lower these levels in a person’s blood can reverse aging and extend a person’s lifespan.
  • A drug that lowers levels of LPA as a candidate to limit heart disease risk is currently being tested



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Two proteins found in a person’s blood may cause a person to have poorer health throughout their life and lead to a shorter lifespan, a new study finds.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland found that people with high levels of apolipoprotein (LPA) and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM1) in their blood often live shorter lives.

The team believes that developing drugs or other treatments that can lower these protein levels in the blood could help people live longer and healthier lives.

While it may be impossible to completely reverse the course of aging, identifying factors that lead to a shorter lifespan can slow down the aging process as a whole.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis that included 857 proteins, and found that two in particular, LPA and VCAM1, both correlated with shorter life span and less healthy living.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis that included 857 proteins, and found that two in particular, LPA and VCAM1, both correlated with shorter life span and less healthy living.

“Identification of these two key proteins may help extend healthy life years,” said Dr. Paul Timmers, the study’s principal investigator and member of the school’s MRC Human Genetics Unit, in a statement.

“Drugs that lower these protein levels in our blood may allow the average person to live as healthy and as long as people who won the genetic lottery and were born with genetically low LPA and VCAM1 levels.”

The research team, which published their findings last week in ‘Nature aging‘, conducted a meta-analysis on six studies examining links between genetics and aging.

A total of 857 proteins were analyzed and in particular LPA and VCAM1 were identified as the ones that most correlated with poor aging, unhealthy lives and shorter lifespan.

Blood protein levels are often a result of genetics, meaning it’s actually a factor of luck.

The first protein, LPA, has been linked to blood clotting and atherosclerosis — a condition in which fat clogs a person’s arteries.

“Our analysis suggested that the adverse effect of LPA may apply to aging in general, and rigorous colocalization and reverse MR testing provided additional evidence for causality,” the researcher wrote in the study.

The research team believes drugs that lower levels of these proteins in people's blood could help reverse the aging process and extend people's lifespan (file photo)

The research team believes drugs that lower levels of these proteins in people's blood could help reverse the aging process and extend people's lifespan (file photo)

The research team believes drugs that lower levels of these proteins in people’s blood could help reverse the aging process and extend people’s lifespan (file photo)

Located on the outer layer of blood vessels, VCAM1 can help prevent blood clotting and works as part of the body’s immune response when infected with a virus.

“In particular, VCAM1 levels in the blood are known to increase with age in both humans and mice, and treatment with anti-VCAM1 antibodies or an inducible deletion of VCAM1 improves cognitive performance in older mice,” they wrote.

A drug is already being trialled as a possible way to reduce the risk of heart disease that lowers LPA levels in a person’s blood.

No drugs are currently being tested in humans to lower VCAM1 levels, although trials in mice have shown that lowering levels of that protein could slow the aging process.

“This study demonstrates the power of modern genetics to identify two potential targets for future drugs to extend lifespan,” said Jim Wilson, chair of human genetics at the University of Edinburgh.

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