A chance finding ten years ago led to the creation by researchers of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) of the first mice born with much longer telomeres than normal in their species. Given the relationship between telomeres and aging (telomeres shorten throughout life, so older organisms have shorter telomeres), scientists launched a study generating mice in which 100% of their cells had hyper-long telomeres. The findings were published online on October 17, 2019, in Nature Communications (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-12664-x) and show only positive consequences: the animals with hyper-long telomeres live longer in better health, free from cancer and obesity. The most relevant result for the authors is that longevity has been significantly increased for the first time ever without any genetic modification. "This finding supports the idea that, when it comes to determining longevity, genes are not the only thing to consider,” indicates Maria Blasco (https://www.cnio.es/en/personas/maria-a-blasco-2/) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mar%C3%ADa_Blasco_Marhuenda), PhD, Head of the CNIO Telomeres and Telomerase Group at CNIO, Director of the Spanish National Centre for Cancer Research, and intellectual author of the paper. "There is margin for extending life without altering the genes.” The open-access article is titled “Mice with Hyper-Long Telomeres Show Less Metabolic Aging and Longer Lifespans.” Telomeres form the end of chromosomes, in the nucleus of each cell in the body. Their function is to protect the integrity of the genetic information in DNA. Whenever the cells divide the telomeres are shortened a little bit, so one of the main characteristics of aging is the accumulation of short telomeres in cells.
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