CBS Local — Scientists at Northwestern University have released new findings that point to a possible breakthrough in diabetes and anti-aging research. Ironically, the futuristic medical treatment may be carried by people who choose to live in America’s past: the Amish.
According to the study, published in Science Advances, a genetic mutation found in a single Amish community in rural Indiana may protect against Type 2 diabetes and age-related disorders like heart disease or dementia.
The mutation affects a protein called plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) that is closely associated with blood clotting. The Amish residents with the mutation, around five percent of the community, were found to have nearly half the amount of PAI-1 in their bodies. Researchers also wrote that carriers of the mutation, which was first discovered in 1991, lived 10 years longer than other Amish and had never been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“This is a rare genetic mutation that appears to protect against biological ageing in humans,” Northwestern’s Douglas Vaughan said, via The Guardian. “It seems that there’s a sweet spot. You don’t want too much PAI-1, and you don’t want zero.”
Professor Vaughan added that some of the Amish who were found to have no PAI-1 at all suffered from bleeding disorders, as the body lost its ability to clot properly. Scientists are now conducting trials of new medication that targets PAI-1 in hopes it will improve current diabetes treatments.
“We are very optimistic about its potential role not just in slowing aging but in reducing age-related morbidities,” Vaughan said.