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Key To Long Life In The Chromosomes

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Chromosome tips hold the key to long-life…

Scientists have zeroed in what they say is a major contributing factor to long life. An inherited cellular repair mechanism that slows aging and helps prevent disease.

Telomeres are the very tips of our chromosomes. Often compared to the plastic tips of shoelaces which keep the lace from unraveling, telomeres are the key to long life.

As cells divide, telomeres get shorter. When they become too short, the cells stop dividing and lapse into a state known as sensescene. At this point, vital cell tissue can no longer be reproduced and organs start to fail.

Telomeres were already known to play a key role in aging, and their discovery led to this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine. However, according to Einstein researcher Gil Atzmon, further research has helped to concluded two very important questions:

“Do people who live long lives tend to have long telomeres? And if so, could variations in their genes that code for telomerase account for their long telomeres?”

chromosomes and telomeres Key To Long Life In The Chromosomes

The new study, which focused on Ashkenazi Jews, found that those who lived the longest inherited a hyperactive version of an enzyme called telomerase – the enzyme responsible for rebuilding telomeres.

Centenarians who carry the hyperactive enzyme were found to have top-notch body repair systems at work 24/7.

Yousin Suh, associate professor of medicine and of genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, said:

“Humans of exceptional longevity are better able to maintain the length of their telomeres. And we found that they owe their longevity, at least in part, to advantageous variants of genes involved in telomere maintenance.”

The old crowd had “inherited mutant genes that make their telomerase-making system extra active and able to maintain telomere length more effectively,” the researchers write. “For the most part, these people were spared age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which cause most deaths among elderly people.”

“Our findings suggest that telomere length and variants of telomerase genes combine to help people live very long lives, perhaps by protecting them from the diseases of old age..

“We’re now trying to understand the mechanism by which these genetic variants of telomerase maintain telomere length in centenarians. Ultimately, it may be possible to develop drugs that mimic the telomerase that our centenarians have been blessed with.” Suh added.

While a magical elixir has yet to be developed, researches now hope findings will open new doors to develop anti-aging drugs.

The findings were published in this weeks edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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