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The field of aging research is increasingly asking not just how people can live longer, but also how they can age healthier.

The latest example, a new study on middle-aged mice, found that mice given a metabolite naturally found in the body were not only healthier as they grew older, but also were sick for a far shorter time before they died than mice in a control group. The research, led by scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, was published Tuesday in Cell Metabolism.


The study centered around a metabolite called alpha-ketoglutarate, or AKG, which is produced by the body and is involved in a number of biological processes, including metabolism, protein synthesis, and stem cell growth. Previous research has shown that AKG levels decline dramatically in humans between ages 40 and 80. But studies have also shown that giving roundworms a dose of AKG can extend their lifespan.

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