The first genetic mutation that appears to protect against aspects of ageing has been discovered in an Amish community in Indiana.
The findings were published in the journal Science Advances yesterday.
Scientists studied 177 people in the town of Berne, identifying 43 people who had inherited one normal and one mutated version of a gene called 'Serpine1'.
Tests found a range of health benefits in those who carried the mutated gene, including better metabolic health, lower levels of diabetes and a lifespan up to a decade longer.
Head researcher Dr. Douglas Vaughan, the lead author of the paper, wrote: "The findings astonished us, because of the consistency of the anti-ageing benefits across multiple body systems.
"Not only do they live longer, they live healthier."
An experimental "longevity" drug, which recreates the effect of the mutation, is now being tested in human trials to see if it provides similar benefits.