Civil Liberties

Scientists Create Worms that Can Live the Equivalent of 800 Years in Human Years

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Last week, researchers at the University of Southern California reported that they had created a fungus that could live 10-times longer than normal--the equivalent of a human living 800 years. Now another team at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) have tweaked nematode worms so that they also can live 10 times longer than normal. Usually nematodes curl up and die after two to three weeks. Some of the UAMS' genetically modified worms live up to nine months.

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The researchers note that translating earlier anti-aging worm research into mammals (mice) has boosted rodent longevity, but not by nearly so much. Still, UMAS geriatrician Robert Shmookler Reis notes,

Worms have a short lifespan to begin with, so it seems to be relatively easy to prod them to live longer. Other mutations, which extend the life of C. elegans up to 2.5-fold, give a much smaller benefit in mice."…

"The important thing is that we now have a pretty good idea of what we should try in order to increase mouse lifespan by 50 to 100 percent. We are on a path now that might lead to similar gains from a single genetic change or drug given to mice, and eventually to a treatment that could benefit humans."

The race is on now for the Methesulah Mouse Prize.