June 18, 2024

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Scientists Successfully Transfer Longevity Genes: New Way for Extended Human Lifespan

Scientists Successfully Transfer Longevity Genes: New Way for Extended Human Lifespan


Scientists Successfully Transfer Longevity Genes: New Way for Extended Human Lifespan

Researchers at the University of Rochester have achieved a groundbreaking feat by transferring the longevity genes of naked mole-rats into mice, enhancing their health and extending their lifespan. Naked mole-rats have long been of interest to the scientific community due to their exceptional longevity and robust resistance to age-related diseases.

By introducing a specific gene responsible for enhancing cellular repair and protection into mice, researchers at Rochester have opened up exciting possibilities for unraveling the mysteries of aging and extending human lifespan.



Scientists Successfully Transfer Longevity Genes: New Way for Extended Human Lifespan


Dr. Vera Golubnova, Professor of Biology and Medicine at the University of Rochester, remarked, “Our research provides a proof of concept that unique longevity mechanisms evolved in long-lived mammals can be transplanted to improve the lifespan of other mammals.”

In a study published in Nature, Golubnova and Professor Andrei Seluanov, along with their colleagues, reported their successful transfer of the gene responsible for producing high molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HMW-HA) from naked mole-rats into mice. This improvement in the mice’s health resulted in an approximately 4.4% extension of their median lifespan.


Unique Mechanisms for Cancer Resistance

Naked mole-rats, small rodents of mouse-like size, are extraordinarily long-lived among mammals of their size, living up to 41 years, nearly ten times longer than comparable-sized rodents. What sets them apart from many other species is their tendency not to succumb to diseases during the aging process, including neurodegenerative conditions, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and cancer. Golubnova and Seluanov dedicated decades of research to uncover the unique mechanisms that naked mole-rats employ to shield themselves from the ravages of aging and disease.

Previously, researchers discovered that HMW-HA played a role in the naked mole-rats’ remarkable resistance to cancer. Naked mole-rats have about ten times more HMW-HA in their bodies than mice and humans. When researchers removed HMW-HA from naked mole-rat cells, the cells became more prone to forming tumors. Golubnova, Seluanov, and their team wanted to investigate if the positive effects of HMW-HA could be replicated in other animals.


Transferring Genes for HMW-HA Production

The research team genetically modified mice to produce the naked mole-rat version of hyaluronic acid synthase 2, the gene responsible for producing HMW-HA. While all mammals possess the hyaluronic acid synthase 2 gene, the naked mole-rat version of the gene seemed to be enhanced, driving stronger gene expression.

Researchers found that mice with the naked mole-rat version of the gene were better protected against spontaneous tumors and chemically induced skin cancers. These mice also exhibited overall improved health and longer lifespans compared to regular mice. As the naked mole-rat gene mice aged, inflammation in various parts of their bodies decreased – a hallmark of aging – and their gut health remained better.

While further research is needed to understand precisely why HMW-HA has such beneficial effects, researchers believe it may be due to HMW-HA’s ability to directly regulate the immune system.


Fountain of Youth for Humans?

These findings offer new possibilities for exploring how to leverage HMW-HA to improve human lifespan and reduce inflammation-related diseases.

“From the discovery of HMW-HA in naked mole-rats to proving its ability to enhance mouse health, it took us ten years,” Golubnova said. “Our next goal is to translate these benefits to humans.”

They envision achieving this goal through two avenues: slowing down the degradation of HMW-HA and enhancing its synthesis. Seluanov stated, “We have identified molecules that slow down hyaluronic acid degradation and are undergoing preclinical trials. We hope the results of our research will provide the first but not the last example of how adaptations for longevity in long-lived species can be adjusted to benefit human longevity and health.”




Scientists Successfully Transfer Longevity Genes: New Way for Extended Human Lifespan

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