And finally it’s time for our gene of the month, and it’s SIRT1. One of a family of genes called Sirtuins, SIRT1 is one of seven human versions of genes found across pretty much all organisms from bacteria and yeast upwards.
Sirtuins seem to have a role in a variety of vital processes within cells, many of which are connected to energy production and ageing, as well as stress responses and the body clock. And, as you might expect, they’ve also been implicated in a range of diseases including Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer.
Scientists studying ageing are particularly interested in SIRT1 as it can be switched on by chemicals such as resveratrol, found in red wine and red grape juice, and significantly extends lifespan in animals in the lab. Unfortunately, this research doesn’t support the idea that necking a bottle of cabernet sauvignon every day will do you much good.