Live longer, don't eat too much protein - Dr Matt Piper (UCL)

Uploaded by UCLTV on 26.06.2012

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>> My name is Matt Piper.
[Background Music] I work here
at the Institute of Healthy Ageing.
We work on yeast, worms and flies and we try
to discover any genetic or environmental manipulation
that extends their healthy lifespan.
And the point is, of course, that we don't want to learn how
to extend the life span, really, of yeast, worms and flies.
We want to understand how
to extend the healthy lifespan of humans.
And that really differentiates the research we do
from any other type of biomedical research
like cancer research, or arthritis, or diabetes research.
We think those things are actually symptoms
of one common cause and that's ageing itself.
So if we can treat ageing,
we can actually treat all the diseases
of ageing simultaneously.
What you'll be out to see is that we have very old flies
in one of these files and they sort of-- like old people,
they fall over and stumble
around a bit whereas the younger flies are much more active.
They jump up and they climb up at the sides of the barrels.
And I think this is a real demonstration
that even though these organisms are sort of foreign
to most people is that you can actually really see
that they get old and they age, and so they're useful
for our ageing research.
Approximately 70 years ago, it was discovered
that if you feed a rat about 60 percent of what it would eat
by choice when given free access to food,
it lives for about 30 to 40 percent longer.
And this turns out to be relevant
for almost every model organism that is being looked at.
My particular interest is what it is
about the food that's critical for that effect.
And what we've found is that if you uncouple all of the parts
of nutrition that go into a fly's diet is that the--
it's the amino acid, the protein component of the diet,
which is critically important
for determining the lifespan of the animal.
So if you give an animal a very unbalanced diet either having a
lot of protein or a very small amount of protein,
they don't live very long and don't very well.
But if you can get that balance just right, they live longer
and they're healthy for longer.
So we are now interested in what it is
about the protein that's critical for that effect.
So if we can understand that then we can intervene
in that molecular process and hopefully benefit healthy ageing
without affecting the diet too dramatically.
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There's a logical reason for why this may also be relevant
for humans.
There are some diets that are very imbalanced towards a lot
of protein in the diet for instance,
and there are famous weight loss diets like the Atkins diet.
Our evidence, at least in the flies and the mice,
would suggest that if one continues with one
of these protein imbalance starts for long time,
that lifespan is very compromised,
there's a very short lifespan in the end.
Now, of course, that's not been shown in humans
but I wouldn't be going rushing out and adopting one
of those diets long-term.
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