from the world's big
Scientists extend mice lifespan 12% by tweaking telomeres
The team seems to have found a way to extend animal lifespan without genetic modification.
- Using specially cultivated embryonic stem cells, scientists generated mice whose cells had extra-long telomeres.
- Telomeres are stretches of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that help protect the genetic information inside.
- Lengthening telomeres in embryonic stem cells could pave the way toward slowing aging without genetic modification.
Scientists successfully extended the average lifespan of mice by breeding them using embryonic stem cells with extra-long telomeres. The findings are significant because the researchers managed to extend lifespan without genetic modification, and they also shed light on the aging process and techniques that might someday slow it.
The study — published October 17 in Nature Communications — focuses on telomeres, which are stretches of DNA found at the end of chromosomes.
Because telomeres protect the genetic material inside chromosomes, they've been likened to the plastic tips on the ends of shoelaces. But telomeres have also been compared to bomb fuses, or "molecular clocks," because they become shorter each time a cell divides, eventually shrinking so much that the cell dies or stops dividing. This shortening of our telomeres is associated with aging, cancer, and death.
Biohacking: Why I’ll live to be 180 years old
"Telomere shortening is considered one of the hallmarks of aging as short telomeres are sufficient to cause organismal aging and decreased lifespan," the researchers wrote. "Telomere length is determined genetically and both average telomere length and the rate of telomere shortening varies between species. In this regard, humans are born with shorter telomeres than mice, but mice telomeres shorten 100-times faster than humans."
For years, scientists have been exploring how lengthening telomeres might help stave off disease and aging in animals, and, perhaps someday, in humans. But these attempts have all involved genetic modification. In the new study, a team of researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center left induced stem cells to multiply in a petri dish, a process which eventually results in cells that have extra-long telomeres, as researchers first discovered in 2009.
Using these specially cultivated embryonic stem cells, the team generated mice with extra-long telomeres. Compared to a control group, these mice experienced "significant increase of 12.74 percent in median longevity", showed no cognitive defects and were less likely to develop cancer and obesity.
"This finding supports the idea that, when it comes to determining longevity, genes are not the only thing to consider," says molecular biologist Maria Blasco, from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO). "There is margin for extending life without altering the genes."
Is lengthening telomeres the secret to slowing aging in humans?
Shorter telomeres are linked to a shorter lifespan in humans. And although we're unlikely to see any experiments involving that are similar to the recent study, there are some steps you can take to lengthen your telomeres and increase your chances at a longer life. The main step: endurance exercise.
A 2018 study published in the European Heart Journal found that telomerase activity spikes in people who regularly do endurance exercises, defined as 45 minutes of continuous running. Interestingly, this effect was not observed in people who lifted weights or walked for 45 minutes. The results echoed those of a similar 2017 study, which found that people who ran regularly appeared to be biologically younger than those who didn't. But it takes some effort.
"If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won't cut it," study author Larry Tucker told Science Daily. "You have to work out regularly at high levels."
Ready to see the future? Nanotronics CEO Matthew Putman talks innovation and the solutions that are right under our noses.
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
A scientist in Sweden makes a controversial presentation at a future of food conference.
- A behavioral scientist from Sweden thinks cannibalism of corpses will become necessary due to effects of climate change.
- He made the controversial presentation to Swedish TV during a "Future of Food" conference in Stockholm.
- The scientist acknowledges the many taboos this idea would have to overcome.
Depiction of cannibalism in the Medieval ages.
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President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.
A new coronavirus vaccine on display at the Nikolai Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia.
Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/ Russian Direct Investment Fund via AP
Medical workers draw blood from volunteers participating in a trial of a coronavirus vaccine at the Budenko Main Military Hospital outside Moscow, Russia.
Credit: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP
A report from the New York Times raises questions over how the teletherapy startup Talkspace handles user data.
- In the report, several former employees said that "individual users' anonymized conversations were routinely reviewed and mined for insights."
- Talkspace denied using user data for marketing purposes, though it acknowledged that it looks at client transcripts to improve its services.
- It's still unclear whether teletherapy is as effective as traditional therapy.
Talkspace.com<p>Former employees also questioned the legitimacy of certain interventions by the company into client-therapist interactions. For example, after one therapist sent a client a link to an online anxiety worksheet, a company representative instructed her to try to keep clients inside the app.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I was like, 'How do you know I did that?'" Karissa Brennan, a therapist who worked with Talkspace from 2015 to 2017, told the Times. "They said it was private, but it wasn't."</p><p>Other former employees said the company would pay special attention to its "enterprise partner" clients, who worked at companies like Google. One therapist said Talkspace contacted her for taking too long to respond to Google clients.</p><p>Talkspace responded to the Times with a Medium <a href="https://medium.com/@founders_22883/talkspace-founders-respond-to-a-new-york-times-article-78d6f5c45c59" target="_blank">post</a>, which claimed the Times report contained false and "uninformed assertions."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Talkspace is a HIPAA/HITECH and SOC2 approved platform, audited annually by external vendors, and has deployed additional technologies to keep its data safe, exceeding all existing regulatory requirements," the post states.</p>