There is much research aimed at slowing down the aging process in humans. Good results came from studies in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom. Dutch researchers from the Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam came to a very interesting conclusion.
The genetic material is crucial
The research team led by Manfred Kayser discovered that a single gene decides what we will look like as we age. The DNA section, the gene MC1R is responsible for control of the skin pigmentation and the colour of the hair. The research team has identified another function of this gene: it decides whether the face looks old or young when it is old.
While doing their research, the team used a long-term study involving 2,693 people, which has been running since 1990. The members of the team received high-resolution photos of the subjects. Based on this work, the team had to estimate the age of the person shown in the photo. In the next step, the researchers began to search for similarities in the genetic material of the subjects, who had been estimated to be younger or older. They recognized the biggest connection with MC1R.
The gene variant
In the genome, some people of MC1R have more than one standard version; there may also be one or more variants. The team came to the conclusion that if the subject has two variants of MC1R in his genome, he is estimated to be older than those with standard gene only. These relationships, the researchers said, were independent of gender, color or damage to the skin and age.
Statement by study leader Kayser
Study leader Kayser said that for the first time he found the explanation why some people look younger and some older in a single gene. Until recently, studies have found that perceived age is dependent on environmental factors and genetic makeup.
Assessment of the study
Many geneticists see this study as positive, as does Lars Bertram, who works at the University of Lübeck. He finds the study of Manfred Kayser and his team interesting. The reason is that a study on the aging process due to genetic cause has never been carried out to this extent. He emphasised, however, that the connections between the specific phenomena of the skin and the MC1R variants require a better elaboration.
Markus Nöthen, human geneticist at the University of Bonn, thinks this study and its results are solid. The results of the study are only a first step in the search for the genetic material and genetic causes that are crucial for the aging process. But it is an important step in the right direction.