Texas researchers have found a naturally occurring hormone that can extend the lifespan of mice by as much as 30%, a discovery that opens a new avenue of research into human longevity.
The hormone has a drawback, however: It decreases fertility and increases susceptibility to diabetes, the team reported Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science.
The hormone -- called klotho after one of the Greek fates who controlled the length of human life -- is produced in the brain and kidney in a variety of species but leaks into the bloodstream.
Pathologist Dr. Makoto Kuro-O and his colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who discovered the hormone, had previously reported that mice lacking the gene for klotho began showing signs of premature aging around 3 to 4 weeks of age and die after about two months. A normal mouse lifespan is two years.