In spite of his young age, Professor Longo has made several important paradigm shifts in the research field of aging of different organisms, including humans. He uses different organisms as model systems, such as yeast and mice.
His ability to take the discoveries in yeast (a microorganism), and translate those discoveries to mice, and eventually into human studies have already proven to be very innovative. More than ten clinical trials that are based on Prof. Longo’s research (on cancer, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes) are currently being performed at hospitals around the world. Several of these trials, have provided preliminary evidence supporting the clinical efficacy of the discoveries made by the Longo laboratory.
- Professor Longo's research is of relevance to many in Gothenburg, says Assistant Professor Dina Petranovic, who will host Professor Longo during his visit.
- His work on yeast and human cell aging and cell death links directly to the research on aging and death pathways in yeast and human cells which is the focus of my group, and also of that of Professor Thomas Nyström (at GU and Sahlgrenska) and Assistant Professor Marija Cvijovic (at the Mathematics department at GU and Chalmers). Also, his research of nutrient sensing in yeast and humans, and its influence on obesity, atherosclerosis, cancer and diabetes are of direct interest to two very large groups, that of Professor Jens Nielsen and of Professor Ann-Sofie Sandberg (both at the department of Biology and Biological Engineering).
During his stay, Professor Longo will give public lectures, and interact with students and researchers at both Chalmers and GU.
- In the field of aging research, Professor Longo is world-famous, so we are very excited about his stay at Chalmers, concludes Dina.
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Among the major scientific contributions of Professor Longo can be mentioned:
- Described the yeast chronological life span: a widely used model to study the biology of aging (Longo and Finch, Science, 2003 Fontana and Longo, Science 2010).
- Discovered the role of the Tor/S6K pathway in promoting aging and stress sensitivity in yeast (Fabrizio, Science, 2001). The Tor/S6K pathway was later shown to accelerate aging in worms, flies, and mice and is considered a promising drug target to extend human healthspan (Fontana, Kennedy, Longo, Nature 2014).
- Based on yeast studies, described how starvation can protect normal cells from and sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapy in mice and possibly humans (Raffaghello, PNAS 2008, Lee Science Transl Med. 2012, Safdie, Aging 2010). This method is now being tested in clinical trials in 5 University Hospitals in the US and EU.
- Proposed that the pathway that promote growth and aging are conserved from yeast to mammals (Longo, VD, Science 2003) and extended this hypothesis to humans by showing that Ecuadorians with growth hormone receptor deficiency display a very low diabetes and cancer incidence (Guevara, Science Transl. Med. 2011).
- Showed that Sir2 blocks lifespan extension in calorie restricted yeast by inhibiting ADH2-dependent ethanol catabolism (Fabrizio, Cell, 2005).
- By combining experiments in yeast and mice with a human study, provided evidence for the conserved role of high protein intake in cancer and overall mortality and proposed mechanisms for this association (Levine, Cell Metabolism, 2014). This study also provided evidence for distinct roles of dietary interventions applied during different life stages in both mice and humans.
- Discovered how starvation inhibits a novel IGF-1-PKA pathway and promotes stem cell-based regeneration to reverse immunosuppression in mice and possibly humans (Cheng, Cell Stem Cell, 2014)