SCIENTISTS may have found a way to stop ageing.
Researchers at Queensland University of Technology have developed a new drug with the potential to slow the ageing process, delay and potentially prevent major diseases in humans.
Cancer and ageing research program director Derek Richard said the breakthrough was a culmination of years of research.
He said research had been focused on the ability of single-cell organisms known as archaea, to survive in harsh conditions, including the sulphuric acid pools of undersea volcanoes.
"Our research into arachaei revealed a 'super hero' protein, known as ssB1," Associate Professor Richard said.
" But the real eureka moment came when we discovered that humans have this same protein, called hSSB1, in every cell of our bodies."
He said in normal cells, ssB1 served as a "guardian angel" that looked after the human genetic code, which is the foundation for a number of diseases.
"When we realised that ssB1 was helping the archaea to repair its damaged DNA, we realised we might have stumbled across the basis for a new cellular treatment for humans, to control our ageing pathway and keep people healthier for longer."
He said the new drug restored the activity of hSSB1 protein in the human body, allowing scientists to "make cells believe that they are much younger than they actually are".
Researchers believe the drug could slow, or possibly even prevent the onset of a range of diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's, arthritis and diabetes.