Emma Teeling , a geneticist at University College Dublin, studies the exceptional longevity of bats in hopes of discovering benefits for humans.
Not only do bats live longer than other animals their size, they also stay healthy longer and can harbor pathogens like Ebola or coronaviruses without getting sick.
The secret of telomeres
Generally, in nature there is a pattern, almost a law: small organisms live very fast and die young as a result of really fast metabolism . Bats are unique, they are some of the smallest mammals, but they can live for an extraordinarily long time. They seem to have developed mechanisms to slow down the aging process .
The geneticist analyzed his telomeres . Humans also have telomeres: at the end of each of their chromosomes in their cells they have these protective caps, like the bumper of a car, and each time their cells replicate, they get shorter and shorter, but in bats they get shorter and shorter. long-lived, like mouse-eared bats, telomeres do not shorten with age. They can protect your DNA:
We sequenced genes from young, middle-aged and older bats and what we found was extraordinary: they increase their ability to repair their DNA with age and repair the damage that life causes. Ours decreases. As we get older we have arthritis, we suffer from inflammation, bats don’t seem to do this and the question is how? So we discovered that they repair damage to your DNA and can also modulate your immune response, keeping it balanced between antiviral and anti-inflammatory responses. We share the same genes as bats, with slight tweaks and modifications. Imagine that if we found the little controller gene that regulates these effects, we could make a drug to mimic it in humans.