Discovery Of A “Gene Factory” For Human Longevity
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About The Author

Brian Morris is involved in research in several different fields. His long-term interest has been the molecular genetics of hypertension. Most recenty this has focussed on genome-wide alterations in gene and microRNA expression in human essential hypertension and rodent models of hypertension. With Eugenie Lumbers and colleagues at University of Newcastle research focused on the expression of various components of the (pro)renin-angiotensin system and other genes in fetal and maternal tissues to determine whether these have a role in premature labour. A major current research involvement is the molecular genetics of longevity as an Honorary Consultant and Volunteer Faculty with the University of Hawaii's Department of Geriatric Medicine at Kuakini Medical Center in Honoulu. This followed a 2 month Special Studies Program there in 2012-13 and has led to multiple publications, including several as first author and author for correspondence. Brian has considerable interest and numerous publications on the molecular mechanisms of ageing, longevity and the influences of dietary factors on health. His Lab's other research has included the molecular biology of factors involved in alternative splicing of pre-mRNAs, a process that results in the generation of multiple proteins from most of the genes in the genome. Brian was the first in the world to patent the use of PCR for cervical screening (priority date Feb 1987). This test was devised to detect the cancer-causing types of human papillomavirus. In a paradigm shift in screening of women, his HPV testing strategy replace pap smears for primary screening on 1 Dec 2017, as is also happening in other countries worldwide. His cervical cancer research led him to understand that women with circumcised male partners are at lower risk of this devastating cancer. As a result, he became interested in the health and medical benefits of male circumcision (www.circinfo.net and www.circumcisionaustralia.org), a field in which he has developed a strong international reputation, with 100 of his over 400 academic publications being on this topic.

                       

Discovery Of A “Gene Factory” For Human Longevity

Our genetic makeup is an important factor in lifespan determination. Lifespan is a polygenic trait, but few of the genes responsible have been discovered. FOXO3 was shown by Brad Willcox’s group in Hawaii a decade ago to be a longevity gene. Their findings were then replicated in multiple studies of long-lived populations worldwide. FOXO3 encodes the transcription factor forkhead/winged helix box gene, group O, type 3 (Foxo3). Foxo3, by binding to the promoter of various genes across the genome, regulates...

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