New research by Yale School of Medicine scientists may lead to a way to turn back that particular clock. They’ve found that a hormone that extends the lifespan of mice by 40% is produced by specialized cells in the thymus gland. The team also found that increasing the levels of this hormone, called FGF21, protects against the loss of immune function that comes with age.
Published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study’s findings have future implications for improving immune function in the elderly, for obesity, and for illnesses such as cancer and type-2 diabetes.
Now, if you’re writing a story that includes someone with a longer-than-normal lifespan, you might be able to incorporate these findings into your work. Here are some writing prompts to help you explore.
What if …
- Vampires had really strong thymus glands? Could you revert a vampire to humanity by damaging that gland?
- Scientists developed a serum that improved thymus health, improving the immune system and lengthening life?
- We discovered that people to live to be 100 or more had healthier thymus glands? Since many of these people say that the key to their long lives is an upbeat, grateful attitude, could that mean that a positive outlook in life guards the thymus from getting fatty and unhealthy? How would that mechanism work?