We humans have long sought the key to a longer, healthier life. It turns out one secret may be to belong to a certain Anabaptist religious group.
Researchers at Northwestern University have found that certain members of the Old Order Amish community located in and around Berne, Indiana carry a genetic mutation that seems to protect them from a host of the ill effects of aging.
In May of 2015, a group of Northwestern doctors, nurses and medical workers set up 10 testing stations in the community to find out why there were such low-rates of age-related maladies, like diabetes. They found that 43 out of 177 members of the community have lower-than-normal levels of Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), a protein that was previously known to play a role in blood clotting.
“The findings astonished us because of the consistency of the anti-aging benefits across multiple body systems,” said Dr. Douglas Vaughan, the lead author of the paper who has been studying PAI-1 for almost 30 years, in a recent press release.
The findings of the Northwestern study show that Amish carrying the mutation and their immediate family members live, on average, 10 percent longer with lower rates of diabetes and an overall more youthful vasculature. This is possibly due to a greater flexibility in blood vessel walls thanks to the lowered PAI-1 levels.
The team of researchers is now testing an experimental “longevity” drug based on the mutation and created in conjunction with Tohoku University in Japan. The drug, TM5614, has already entered Phase 2 of testing in Japan, and Northwestern has applied to begin testing in the US. So far the results are astonishing, with rapidly-aging mice that have been administered the drug living up to four times longer than those in the control group.