Spanish researchers are reporting that they have created mice that live the equivalent of 120 human years. How? By changing the expression of two genes. The first is a gene for telomerase which prevents chromosomes from unraveling as they age (making cells senesce) and the second boosts the activity of the cancer-fighting Par-4 gene. Making Par-4 more active is crucial because telomerase doesn't just slow aging. Cancer cells generally reactivate telomerase to help them proliferate and is a target for experimental anti-cancer vaccines.
According to the Telegraph:
The researchers found that mice which had been created in this way had better muscle in old age, healthier skin tissue and fewer digestion problems.
"By simultaneously increasing the amounts of telomerase and the resistance to cancer we are able to delay ageing in mice and also to extend their life span by 40 per cent," said Maria A. Blasco, from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), who carried out the study with colleagues from Valencia University.
"These mice get to live for as long as the eldest mice in records of the same kind.
"If we were to parallel it to humans, then it would mean reaching 120 years of age and also to start ageing much later in life."
Despite this progress, it doesn't sound as though these mice would be eligible for the Methuselah Foundation's multimillion dollar Mouse Prize.
Whole Telegraph article here.