Scientists have discovered the existence of a key gene in the ageing process, leading to claims that lifespan could be increased in humans.
According to research published in the journal Current Biology, the scientists found that it was possible to increase the life expectancy of fruit flies just by interfering with this particular gene, which is also present in humans in a similar version.
Although the process may not be transferable to humans, researchers have welcomed the discovery and say that it could be a breakthrough in slowing down ageing among people.
Primarily designed to combat cancerous cells, by triggering "cell suicide", the gene was also found to increase the life expectancy of fruit flies from 36 to 60 days, and could help with the development of anti-ageing medication and solutions for age-related illnesses.
Professor Stephen Helfland, involved in the research at the University of Connecticut Health Centre, said that a lot more research was needed to "fine tune" the actions of the gene but that the research indicated "decreasing the activity of P53 can have positive effects on ageing".