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Fruit flies don't live more than a couple of weeks, so they're probably pretty happy with any extra days they can get. Scientists have found a way to help the creatures live longer, and in the process, may learn something about what determines animals' life spans.

In a recent issue of the journal Nature, scientists from the University of Minnesota in St. Paul reported that they can extend the fruit fly life span by almost 8 percent. The scientists used flies that had been genetically engineered to be able to produce greater-than-normal amounts of a protein called hsp70, or heat-shock protein 70.

Heat-shock proteins, the scientists said, are thought to combat certain aspects of aging. When the flies were tricked into producing extra hsp70, they lived longer than normal flies.

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