Recently, a team of scientists from the University of Liverpool led by Joao Pedro de Magalhaes successfully sequenced a genome of the bowhead whale, the longest living mammal on earth. This is the first time a genome from a mammal of this size has been sequenced, and although it is smaller than that of a human’s, the genome offers valuable clues to long living.
On Monday, scientists revealed the genetic blueprint for the bowhead whale. As the study shows, the Arctic mammal has one of a kind genetic differences that are only characteristic to their species. It has been demonstrated that increased longevity and the aversion to contracting typical old age diseases were in fact results of various genetic mutations associated with cell division, DNA repair, cancer and aging.
Dr. Joaon Pedro de Magalhae acknowledged in a recent press release that their studies have not shown everything there is to know about whale’s longevity, but their findings will be very helpful for future analysis of the subject. What scientists hope for is to understand how different species have evolved into being able to defy old age, and try to replicate their results into human-effective models in order to counteract diseases specific to old age.
Notably, bowhead whales can measure up to 60 feet (18 meters) and are among out planet’s largest living animals. More so, they are the second most heavy whale, only after the blue whale.
Biologist Mads Peter Heide-Jorgensen explains from the university of Copenhagen and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources explains that an average bowhead whale can weigh between 50 and 100 tons when fully grown. Also, its cells can reach a number as big as 1,000 times the cells found in a human. What makes bowhead whales different is that their cells seem to carry an anti-tumor defense system that is better equipped and more powerful than what humans have.
There are already many seekers of an secret potion for longer human life. Two groups focused of this topic were valuable founders of the bowhead whale research: Life Extension Foundation – which hope to find answers in hormonal and nutritional supplement – and Methuselah Foundation which is focused in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Hopes are that by 2030 90-year-old humans can enjoy life as do present 50-year-olds.
Image Source: Oceana
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