A team of scientists have discovered that an Indiana Amish community hold the key to living 10% longer. 

The team, from a Northwestern University, revealed that the community carries a copy of a genetic mutation, SERPINE1 that enables them to live longer, and have a lower incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

The details of the discovery have been published in Science Advances

Douglas Vaughan, a medical researcher and the chair of medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, became interested in the Old Order Amish community because they had a high incidence of a rare bleeding disorder, caused by a mutation on both copies of the SERPINE1 gene. This mutation actually prevents the regulation of a protein called PAI-1, which dissolves blood clots. 

However, soon quicly realised that those with a mutation on only one of these copies didn’t have the bleeding disorder. Similar to carriers of the sickle-cell anemia gene who have protection against malartia, people with this mutation appeared to experience advantages too. The answer was that they had a longer average lifespan and 10% longer telomeres, which is the small protective cap of repeated nucleotides at the ends of chromosomes. The caps in particular, tend to shorten and unravel over an organisms lifetime, and have been linked with the biology of aging. 

Vaghan said, “For the first time we are seeing a molecular marker of aging (telomere length), a metabolic marker of aging (fasting insulin levels) and a cardiovascular marker of aging (blood pressure and blood vessel stiffness) all tracking in the same direction in that these individuals were generally protected from age-related changes.”

Furthermore, those with a single copy of the mutation had a lower incidence of diabetes, lower insulin levels after fasting. slightly lower blood pressure, and possibly more flexible blood vessels. Of the 177 people in the community, 43 people had a single mutated SERPINE1 copy. 

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