An Aging Gene?

Local scientists may have uncovered a single gene that plays an important role in aging. The discovery (while early in its development) could open the door to therapies that influence the aging process. 

The gene is called SPNS1.

Shuji Kishi, a Scripps assistant professor and lead study author, says researchers believe the previously uncharacterized development gene affects the aging process.

“Even a partial loss of SPNS1 function can speed aging,” he says.

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla., Florida Atlantic University and elsewhere around the U.S. and Canada, conducted a study on zebrafish. According to a Scripps press release on July 17, they are a useful species for studying human diseases associated with development and aging. 

By disturbing SPNS1 in Zebrafish during the embryonic and larval stages, the scientists found they could shorten and lengthen lifespans. 

While most studies have focused on how aging affects the cells’ abilities to divide and grow in life’s later stages, this one looked at the earlier stages in life. 

To find out more about this and other research, go to:

In other news…

The Fort Lauderdale-based Don Shula Foundation is donating $1.5 million to the Tampa-based Moffitt Cancer Center. The money will establish The Don Shula Breast Cancer Research Fund, which will support research projects on new treatment and prevention approaches for breast cancer patients. This could positively impact local patients, as The Eugene M. & Christine E. Lynn Cancer Institute is a Moffitt Oncology Network partner.

The all-time winningest coach Don Shula, his wife, Mary Anne, and Miami Dolphins’ former quarterback Bob Griese were on hand July 15 for an event to announce the fund at Shula’s on the Beach at The Westin Beach Resort and Spa, Fort Lauderdale. Established more than two decades ago, The Don Shula Foundation, is a tribute to Shula’s late wife, Dorothy.

Shula’s Steak Houses will contribute to The Shula Fund and promote breast cancer awareness in participating Shula’s restaurants throughout Florida, including Shula Burger. Look for special promotions in October for breast cancer awareness month and May for Mother’s Day. For more information or to contribute, go to


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About Lisette
Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has had the luxury of reporting on health, fitness and other hot topics for more than 23 years. The longtime Boca Raton resident, University of Florida graduate and fitness buff writes for local, regional and national publications and websites. Find out more on