Livin' on the MDedge

The longevity gene: Healthy mutant reverses heart aging


Everybody wants a younger heart

As more people live well past 90, scientists have been taking a closer look at how they’ve been doing it. Mostly it boiled down to genetics. You either had it or you didn’t. Well, a recent study suggests that doesn’t have to be true anymore, at least for the heart.

Scientists from the United Kingdom and Italy found an antiaging gene in some centenarians that has shown possible antiaging effects in mice and in human heart cells. A single administration of the mutant antiaging gene, they found, stopped heart function decay in middle-aged mice and even reversed the biological clock by the human equivalent of 10 years in elderly mice.


When the researchers applied the antiaging gene to samples of human heart cells from elderly people with heart problems, the cells “resumed functioning properly, proving to be more efficient in building new blood vessels,” they said in a written statement. It all kind of sounds like something out of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab.

I want to believe … in better sleep

The “X-Files” theme song plays. Mulder and Scully are sitting in a diner, breakfast laid out around them. The diner is quiet, with only a few people inside.

Mulder: I’m telling you, Scully, there’s something spooky going on here.

Scully: You mean other than the fact that this town in Georgia looks suspiciously like Vancouver?

Mulder: Not one person we spoke to yesterday has gotten a full night’s sleep since the UFO sighting last month. I’m telling you, they’re here, they’re experimenting.

Scully: Do you really want me to do this to you again?

Mulder: Do what again?

Scully: There’s nothing going on here that can’t be explained by the current research. Why, in January 2023 a study was published revealing a link between poor sleep and belief in paranormal phenomena like UFOS, demons, or ghosts. Which probably explains why you’re on your third cup of coffee for the morning.

Mulder: Scully, you’ve literally been abducted by aliens. Do we have to play this game every time?

Scully: Look, it’s simple. In a sample of nearly 9,000 people, nearly two-thirds of those who reported experiencing sleep paralysis or exploding head syndrome reported believing in UFOs and aliens walking amongst humanity, despite making up just 3% of the overall sample.

A woman peeks out from under a blanket Alexandra Gorn/Unsplash

Furthermore, about 60% of those reporting sleep paralysis also reported believing near-death experiences prove the soul lingers on after death, and those with stronger insomnia symptoms were more likely to believe in the devil.

Mulder: Aha!

Scully: Aha what?

Mulder: You’re a devout Christian. You believe in the devil and the soul.

Scully: Yes, but I don’t let it interfere with a good night’s sleep, Mulder. These people saw something strange, convinced themselves it was a UFO, and now they can’t sleep. It’s a vicious cycle. The study authors even said that people experiencing strange nighttime phenomena could interpret this as evidence of aliens or other paranormal beings, thus making them even more susceptible to further sleep disruption and deepening beliefs. Look who I’m talking to.

Mulder: Always with the facts, eh?

Scully: I am a doctor, after all. And if you want more research into how paranormal belief and poor sleep quality are linked, I’d be happy to dig out the literature, because the truth is out there, Mulder.

Mulder: I hate you sometimes.


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