In an exciting discovery, scientists have tested roundworms to show that antidepressant drugs can extend youth by 30 per cent. Interestingly, these drugs are not found to have any effect on the later stages of life.

The tests have been conducted by the Scripps Research Institute in their California lab on millimetre-long roundworms and are still a long way from application on human beings. “We don’t want people to get the impression they can take the drug we used in our study to extend their own teens or early twenties,” Michael Petrascheck, who led the study, told the Guardian.

Petrascheck’s team made their finding while testing several compounds for their effect on extending the lives of the short worms. The reason these scientists are not too optimistic about the discovery’s impact on human beings is, to quote Petrascheck, “the worms only have 1000 cells and we have 100 trillion. There’s a lot that works differently.”

The experiment on worms involved using a genetic disorder test to measure the age-related changes in the species from youth until old age. The scientists found 10-day-old worms looking about seven days younger and even perkier, and lived seven to eight days longer than the controls.

Meanwhile, scientists at ETH Zurich are working on finding the "aging genes" through studies on nematodes, zebrafish and mice. The idea behind the research is to find the genes that have been preserved through the evolutionary process and are hence expected to be found in human beings too, the GEN News has reported.

The experiments so far show that these three organisms have only 30 genes in common that have a significant impact on the process of aging. The scientists succeeded in prolonging the lifespan of nematodes by at least 5 per cent by merely blocking about a dozen of these genes, the Nature Communications journal is reported to have revealed.

The bcat-1 gene was found to be particularly influential in the extension of the lifespan, according to Michael Ristow, professor of Energy Metabolism at ETH Zurich. The scientists are now planning a follow-up study on human beings by incorporating health parameters like cholesterol and blood sugar levels to measure their health status.

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