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Biotech Science

Flatworms Defy Aging Through Cell Division Tricks 106

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers from The University of Nottingham have demonstrated how a species of flatworm overcomes the aging process to be potentially immortal. The discovery, published (abstract; full text PDF) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is part of a project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Medical Research Council and may shed light on the possibilities of alleviating aging and age-related characteristics in human cells." After finding the gene for telomerase synthesis in the worms, the researchers were able to observe that the worms "...dramatically increase the activity of this gene when they regenerate, allowing stem cells to maintain their telomeres as they divide to replace missing tissues."
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Flatworms Defy Aging Through Cell Division Tricks

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  • by dtmos ( 447842 ) * on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @06:44AM (#39183475)

    From the Discussion section of the linked paper:

    We find that in the model species S. mediterranea, asexual animals demonstrate the potential to maintain telomere length during regeneration. Sexual animals appear to only lengthen their telomeres through the sexual reproduction process. This finding suggests that asexual individuals will be able to avoid senescence over evolutionary timescales using telomerase, a prerequisite for the formation of an evolutionarily stable fissionating asexual lineage. [. . .] The difference we observe between asexual and sexual animals is surprising, given that sexual animals also appear to have an indefinite regenerative capacity. We conclude that either they would eventually show effects of telomere shortening or that they are able to use another chromosome end-maintenance mechanism not involving telomerase. [emphasis added.]

    So both sexual and asexual animals seem to have an indefinite regenerative capacity, but sexual animals appear not to lengthen their telomeres except through the sexual reproduction process. So how do the sexual animals attain their indefinite regenerative capacity, and why does the mechanism seem to be different from that of the asexual animals? I guess the next experiment is to start slicing up sexual animals.

  • Re:Immortal...ish (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @08:21AM (#39183817)

    What I hate is how every time I log in, Slashdot takes me to my account setting page. What the hell? Why does it think I wanted to go there? Having to navigate back to the comment I wanted to respond to is just icing on the cake.

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