AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

The Network to Longer Life


A recent collaborative study between scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, the MDI Biological Laboratory, and the Nanjing University in China found an interesting synergetic pathway between the IIS (insulin signaling pathway) and TOR pathway by studying C.elegans: nematodes that share many genes with human beings.

The short lifespan of C.elegans (three to four weeks) allowed the scientists to identify the cellular pathways that regulated aging. The scientists were able to genetically change the IIS and TOR pathways by using a double mutant on the C.elegans. The alterations were expected to yield a 130% increase in the lifespan of the C.elegans, since altering the IIS pathway yields a 100% increase and altering the TOR pathway yields a 30% increase. However, the math didn’t work out, and that’s a good thing! Surprisingly, the lifespan of the C.elegans increased by 500%.

So, even though the scientists discovered the pathways that regulated aging in C.elegans, the nuances of these interactions are still unclear. A paper discussing this topic relates longevity to the mitochondria’s role in maintaining homeostasis.  Jarod A. Rollins, one of the authors of the paper, hopes to further clarify and investigate the role of mitochondria on aging in his future research.

Even still, the discover of these cellular pathways could lead to longer lives for humans. Pathways such as these were passed down to humans by evolution (conserved) so, the 500% increase in longevity that occurred in C.elegans after alteration could also occur in humans. Although the way in which these pathways affect each other is unclear, we now know that multiple genes and cellular pathways contribute to the aging process.

How do you think that the IIS and TOR pathways affect each other? If our lifespans are expanded in the future, what will be the moral and societal implications?


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  1. tsiamine

    Thank you @branchiolon for writing this article. It was interesting to read about how cellular pathways may lead to a longer life. I find the topic of aging very interesting as I believe there are multiple parts to a person’s age: actual and physiological. However, I believe that having the ability to alter the average life cycle of person brings up an ethical concern and also involves the topic of religion. I found an article on the ethical, legal and social dilemmas with this issue: This was a really interesting article that can spark many conversations.

  2. Johnomer

    I enjoyed reading this article because I find the concept of stopping aging engaging. If we can stop aging or increase it dramatically everyone would live much longer. I liked learning about how the scientists identified the cellular pathways that regulated aging as it sounds like a very complicated process. I found an interesting article at that discusses the ethics of preventing aging. It talks about how if we cure aging we must stop the aging of the mind along with the body to ensure diseases like Alzheimer’s disease aren’t still a problem even though the person has a youthful body. It also addresses the concept of overpopulation that would occur if we prevented aging. If we were all imortal and no one died we wouldn’t be able to have children or our world would become over populated very quickly.

  3. nukellyicacid

    I think it’s really interesting how research is being done to potentially extend the lifespan of humans. If the mechanisms that control aging could be understood, there is a possibility that the rate of getting many age-related diseases may decrease. I’ve attached an article that describes a research that is conducted to discover the factors that shorten lifespan. They discovered that a protein called REST, which controls the expression of many genes related to neurons, also controls life span. Moreover, increasing levels of REST lengthens the lifespan through making neurons fire more quickly and with more control.

  4. angtigen

    Your article is really interesting branchiolon. It’s cool to see how these worms share a lot of our biological characteristics. I didn’t realize there were organisms as small as a worm that struggle with the concept of aging as well. I think the answer to fighting against aging is simpler than we as humans realize and often overlook. What we put into our bodies affects our outside health as well. There’s a direct link to nutrition and how it effects our outward appearance additionally. Nutrition also effects humans internally. The effects of intrinsic and extrinsic aging is very fascinating. You should take a look,

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