Scientists have paved way for helping humans live longer and healthier by creating baker's yeast capable of living up to 800 yeast years without apparent side-effects.
Since yeast's genes are similar to humans', the findings signify that even humans can have a manifold life extension.
The study, led by Valter Longo of the University of Southern California, achieved the important discovery through a combination of dietary and genetic changes.
"We're setting the foundation for reprogramming healthy life," Longo said.
In the study, the researchers put baker's yeast on a calorie-restricted diet and knocked out two genes, RAS2 and SCH9 that promote aging in yeast and cancer in humans.
"We got a 10-fold life span extension that is, I think, the longest one that has ever been achieved in any organism," Longo said.
Anna McCormick, chief of the genetics and cell biology branch at the National Institute on Aging and Longo's program officer said: "I would say 10-fold is pretty significant."
In the study, the scientists identified a major overlap between the genes previously implicated in life span regulation for yeast and mammals and those involved in life span extension under calorie restriction."
"We identified three transcription factors ... that are very important for the effect of calorie restriction, but at the same time, we also showed that it's not enough because even without these transcription factors, calorie restriction can still extend life span a little bit," Longo said.
"So that means that we've identified a lot of the key players in the calorie restriction effect but not all of them," he added.
Calorie restriction, in practice, controlled starvation, has long been shown to reduce disease and extend life span in species from yeast to mice.
Scientists contemplate that a nutrient shortage kicks organisms into a maintenance mode, enabling them to re-direct energy from growth and reproduction into anti-aging systems until the time they can feed and breed again.
The study is published in the journal PLOS Genetics.