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Biological 'Fountain Of Youth' Found In New World Bat Caves

Date:
July 1, 2009
Source:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Summary:
Scientists are batty over a new discovery which could lead to the single most important medical breakthrough in human history -- significantly longer lifespans. The discovery shows that proper protein folding over time in long-lived bats explains why they live significantly longer than other mammals of comparable size, such as mice.

The Mexican Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) lives a very long life compared to other animals of comparable size such as mice.
Credit: Photo by Ron Groves/United States Department of Transportation

Scientists from Texas are batty over a new discovery which could lead to the single most important medical breakthrough in human history—significantly longer lifespans. The discovery, featured on the cover of the July 2009 print issue of The FASEB Journal, shows that proper protein folding over time in long-lived bats explains why they live significantly longer than other mammals of comparable size, such as mice.

"Ultimately we are trying to discover what underlying mechanisms allow for some animal species to live a very long time with the hope that we might be able to develop therapies that allow people to age more slowly," said Asish Chaudhuri, Professor of Biochemistry, VA Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas and the senior researcher involved in the work.

Asish and colleagues made their discovery by extracting proteins from the livers of two long-lived bat species (Tadarida brasiliensis and Myotis velifer) and young adult mice and exposed them to chemicals known to cause protein misfolding. After examining the proteins, the scientists found that the bat proteins exhibited less damage than those of the mice, indicating that bats have a mechanism for maintaining proper structure under extreme stress.

"Maybe Juan Ponce De Leσn wasn't too far off the mark when he searched Florida for the Fountain of Youth," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "As it turns out, one of these bat species lives out its long life in Florida. ... this chemical clue as to why bats beat out mice in the aging game should point scientists to the source of this elusive fountain."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Salmon et al. The long lifespan of two bat species is correlated with resistance to protein oxidation and enhanced protein homeostasis. The FASEB Journal, 2009; 23 (7): 2317 DOI: 10.1096/fj.08-122523

Cite This Page:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Biological 'Fountain Of Youth' Found In New World Bat Caves." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630101229.htm>.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (2009, July 1). Biological 'Fountain Of Youth' Found In New World Bat Caves. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630101229.htm
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Biological 'Fountain Of Youth' Found In New World Bat Caves." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630101229.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

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