Long Life’s A Killer

That’s in part due to your body’s inability to efficiently dispose of malformed proteins that are generated when your ribosomes suffer a transcription error. In naked mole rats, ribosomes have three components rather than the usual two, and they generate far fewer malformed proteins as a result. Moreover, their bodies take the bad ones to the trash quickly.

When I first started working with the little subterranean rodents, available scientific opinion was that they might have a lifespan of as much as eight years. After a while, it became clear that the scientific opinion was wrong; last time I checked, many of “my” NMRs were in their mid-20s, and it’s now believed that they can carry on until at least age 30 – and not only do they show no apparent signs of aging over time (retaining bone density, muscle tone, etc.) but they’re also immune to cancer. There has never been a case of cancer in a NMR, even when dosed with known carcinogens.

As might be expected, these observations have generated considerable interest, and at labs around the world, researchers are slowly uncovering some insights into the unique attributes of the little guys. Obviously, among the goals are tumor eradication in humans, and perhaps ultimately finding ways to more effectively take out the trash; affording people stronger, healthier, and more robust bodies right up until the end – rather than the long, slow, and often painful declines currently characterizing old age.

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About maxredlines

experience: biology, zoology, psychology. authored/co-authored papers appearing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, as well as numerous professional proceedings. authored articles appearing in computer-oriented publications. featured in publications ranging from books to New Yorker magazine to television.
This entry was posted in Animals, Current Affairs, Health, Science and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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