DNA-repairing animals may unlock anti-aging treatments in NEXT DECADE

Anti-aging treatments could be available in the NEXT DECADE – say scientists who believe the key lies in elephants and ‘immortal jellyfish’ that can repair their DNA Whales, elephants, and jellyfish have one thing in common: DNA damage repair DNA degrades during our lives, and fixing it could repair the ravages of time Learning how animals repair DNA could help humans live longer, scientists say READ MORE: First anti-aging pills to hit shelves in 2028, expert predicts Scientists are on the verge of cracking the case of aging and believe there could be treatments to slow the effect in the next decade. The announcement comes from researchers at the University of Cambridge who suspect the answer lies in elephants, whales and ‘immortal jellyfish’ that have longer lifespans and are resistant to cancer. And the key to their longevity seems to be the ability to repair the damage in their DNA. The team is now working to recreate those abilities to make them transferrable to humans, which would rejuvenate cells back to a younger functional state to delay the appearance of all age-related conditions. The Asian elephant lives about 60 years in the wild and 80 in captivity. If humans grew as large as elephants, they would probably accumulate many cancer-causing mutations. But elephants do not Our bodies accumulate DNA damage as we are exposed to the routine damage of life – UV rays from the sun, pollutants in automotive and industrial exhaust, and even charred food. DNA repairs prevent the accumulation of gene mutations that eventually lead to disease and death in old age, according to Cagan and others who have studied the animals. ‘It’s a really exciting time for aging research,’ Delphine Larrieu told the Cambridge Independent. ‘I think we’re going to start seeing human anti-aging interventions appearing within the next decade.’ One place the researchers are looking for strategies is in the very largest mammals – elephants and whales. Both mammals have unique genes linked to resisting cancer and repairing DNA damage. Humans also possess the gene called p53 but have far fewer copies – only two compared to an elephant’s 20. Scientists believe this is why they have an estimated cancer death rate of about 4.8 percent despite their large size. In people, that number is 11 to 25 percent. And whales have 2.4 times the amount of tumor suppressor genes. The bowhead whale can live over 200 years. Like the elephant, it grows rapidly, defying human expectations about cancer development The so-called ‘immortal jellyfish’ can live forever if predators do not kill it. Its secret is in its beefed-up genome, with a huge number of genes dedicated to DNA repair and replacement If whales had the same cancer risk per cell as people do, multiplied over their quadrillions of cells, they would never reach their first birthday. ‘This suggests whales must have better mechanisms of cancer resistance than humans,’ Cagan said. READ MORE: Could this jellyfish hold the clue to anti-aging? Scientists discover sea creature has double copies of all its genes that prevents it from ever aging An ‘immortal’ jellyfish could hold clues to anti-aging among humans, as it is the only species of its kind capable of reverting to its juvenile state and growing back to an adult throughout its entire life. ‘It’s possible that whatever they’re doing to resist aging – some can live to 200 years old – is also what’s making them less likely to get cancer. ‘If mutations to DNA cause both aging and cancer, then reducing the mutation rate by having more accurate DNA damage responses would potentially solve both problems at once.’ The answer is not the tumor suppressor genes but direct DNA damage repair in the bowhead whale, which can live over 200 years. Rather than eliminating cancer cells as p53 does, the bowhead produces proteins that repair breaks in DNA strands, according to an unpublished study posted on bioRxiv in August. While these mammals could be the key to treating age-related diseases, the ‘immortal jellyfish’ could entirely slow down the aging process. The jellyfish activates this ‘superpower’ to avoid predators, allowing it to revert to a cyst, then forms as a polyp attached to the seafloor. When the threat is gone, the creature starts back on the road to maturity. Because of this, it can repair genetic damage and revert back to earlier stages of development. Even after it has reached sexual maturity, the immortal jellyfish can turn back into a larva. According to researchers who examined its genome, this jellyfish is different from other jellyfish, being ‘the only one that maintains its high rejuvenation potential (up to 100 percent) in postreproductive stages, reaching biological immortality.’ The tiny Cladonema pacificum jellyfish can regrow a lost tentacle in just three days. It does this with a combination of regular and specialized stem cells, each regrowing specific tissues However, DNA repair isn’t the only longevity strategy humans could learn from animals. According to new research published last month, a tiny Pacific jellyfish belongs to the exclusive club of animals that can regrow lost body parts, and scientists know exactly how they do it. Cladonema pacificum, a fingernail-sized jellyfish so unassuming that it doesn’t even have a common name, will regrow a lost tentacle within three days. Researchers from Tohoku University and the University of Tokyo set out to discover what exactly happens with the cells inside a jellyfish’s tentacle as it regenerates. The team found that normal tentacle cells at the injury site are helped along by stem cells specifically evolved to repair limbs. Together, these two stems sprout a new limb from the stump of the lost one. Scientists said these remarkable cells may be the keys to unlocking humans’ regenerative abilities, a holy grail for anti-aging and longevity research.

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