Gene Transfer Leads to Longer Life and Healthspan

Gene Transfer Leads to Longer Life and Healthspan

In August, a study provided the first proof-of-principle that genetic material transferred from one species to another can increase both longevity and healthspan in the recipient animal.

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The naked mole rat won’t win any beauty contests, but it could possibly win in the talent category. Its superpower: fighting the aging process to live several times longer than other animals its size, in a state of youthful vigor.

It’s believed that naked mole rats experience all the normal processes of wear and tear over their lifespan, but that they’re exceptionally good at repairing the damage from oxygen free radicals and the DNA errors that accumulate over time. Even though they possess genes that make them vulnerable to cancer, they rarely develop the disease, or any other age-related disease, for that matter. Naked mole rats are known to live for over 40 years without any signs of aging, whereas mice live on average about two years and are highly prone to cancer.

Now, these remarkable animals may be able to share their superpower with other species. In August, a study provided what may be the first proof-of-principle that genetic material transferred from one species can increase both longevity and healthspan in a recipient animal.

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Eve Herold
Eve Herold is an award-winning science writer and consultant in the scientific and medical nonprofit space. A longtime communications and policy executive for scientific organizations, she currently serves as Director of Policy Research and Education for the Healthspan Action Coalition. She has written extensively about issues at the crossroads of science and society, including regenerative medicine, aging and longevity, medical implants, transhumanism, robotics and AI, and bioethical issues in leading-edge medicine. Her books include Stem Cell Wars and Beyond Human, and her latest book, Robots and the People Who Love Them, will be released in January 2024. Her work has appeared in Vice, Medium, The Washington Post and the Boston Globe, among others. She’s a frequent contributor to Leaps.org and is the recipient of the 2019 Arlene Eisenberg Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
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Sarah Watts is a health and science writer based in Chicago.