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Researchers at Harvard Medical University analyzed brain tissue after death and compared it to the tissue of centenarians (people at least 100 years old) with those who died in the 1960s and 1970s.
The study found that those who died at a younger age had lower levels of a protein called REST (RE-1 Silencing Transcription), which suppresses brain activity.
The brain is associated with shorter lifespans, while suppressing such overactivity extends life, according to a study published on October 16 in Nature.
The study is based on discoveries from human brains, mice and worms. [AccordingtopreviousRESTstudiesmayprotectagainstAlzheimer'sdisease
The findings "could have such major effects on physiology and life expectancy," said Bruce Yanker, a professor of genetics and neurology at Harvard Medical School in a statement. .
Yanker says scientists are still working to identify how drugs targeting the REST protein can treat diseases like Alzheimer's.
You can read more about the study published in the journal Nature.