Unlocking The Secrets of Longevity: Naked Mole Rat Gene Boosts Lifespan in Mice

In a groundbreaking study, researchers from the University of Rochester have made a remarkable discovery in the realm of longevity and aging. By successfully transferring a specific longevity gene from the naked mole rat to mice, they observed not only an improvement in the health of the mice but also an extension of their lifespan.

Naked mole rats have long been a subject of fascination in the scientific community due to their exceptional lifespan and resistance to age-related diseases. These unique rodents can live up to 41 years, a duration nearly ten times longer than rodents of similar size. Moreover, they rarely contract diseases such as neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and cancer as they age.

The focus of this study was a gene responsible for producing high molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HMW-HA). The researchers, led by Vera Gorbunova, the Doris Johns Cherry Professor of biology and medicine at Rochester, and Andrei Seluanov, a professor of biology, found that naked mole rats have about ten times more HMW-HA in their bodies compared to mice and humans. This compound is believed to be a key factor in the naked mole rats’ unique resistance to cancer.

To test the effects of HMW-HA in other animals, the team genetically modified mice to produce the naked mole rat version of the hyaluronan synthase 2 gene, which is responsible for creating HMW-HA. The results were promising. Mice with the modified gene showcased better protection against tumors, reduced inflammation, and an overall healthier gut. Furthermore, these mice experienced an approximate 4.4 percent increase in their median lifespan.

The researchers believe that the benefits of HMW-HA are linked to its ability to regulate the immune system directly. This discovery opens up exciting possibilities for human applications. “Our next goal is to transfer this benefit to humans,” Gorbunova stated. The team is exploring two potential routes: slowing down the degradation of HMW-HA or enhancing its synthesis. Seluanov added, “We already have identified molecules that slow down hyaluronan degradation and are testing them in pre-clinical trials.”

All in all, this study offers a glimpse into the potential future of longevity research. By understanding and harnessing the unique genetic mechanisms of long-lived species like the naked mole rat, scientists might be on the cusp of unlocking new ways to enhance human health and lifespan. The findings also underscore the importance of cross-species research in unveiling the mysteries of aging and disease resistance.

Kernel Reporter

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