The researchers gave the mice three genes associated with longevity, either alone or in various combinations. The genes were FGF21, sTGF2betaR and alpha-Klotho. In previous experiments, they had shown that mice genetically engineered to overexpress the genes experienced benefits in both their health and life spans.
This time, they used mice that were not genetically engineered but rather models of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart failure and kidney failure. They wanted to prove their hypothesis that giving the mice extra copies of the genes might confer similar health benefits. They found that some combinations did improve or reverse symptoms, they reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Harvard team discovered that a combination of FGF21 and sTGF2betaR could treat all four diseases. FGF21 administered on its own reversed weight gain and Type 2 diabetes, and, when it was combined with sTGF2betaR in mouse models of kidney failure, it lowered kidney atrophy by 75%.
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