A team of researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) led by María Blasco, has published a pioneering study that defines longevity in mammals at a molecular level by the length of telomeres, the repetitive sequences of DNA at the extremities of chromosomes.
“We study aging speed, because the aging of the organism is the main risk factor for any kind of illness including cancer,” says Blasco.
“The rats that shorten their telomeres quicker, live on average 30% shorter and develop cancer and age early. This gives us an indication of the speed of aging.”
The work, which is published in the online edition of the journal Cell Reports,
opens the door to further study of how cells cells age and possibly determining life expectancy for a particular organism.
How long are Robert Marchand`s telomeres? Long enough for Robert, past 100 years old, to beat all the records.
“I’m not doing anything deliberate, it’s not as if I’m in training. I’m just doiing it to show you can still ride a bike at my age,” he says.
Marchand weighs 51 kilos and was a boxing enthusiast in his youth. His 300 laps at a cycling track in Lyon in central France were timed at 4 hours 17 minutes and 27 seconds by officials from the French Cyling Federation, an official record for a man of his age.
“Next time play some military music, because you’re sure to win with that,” he said after the feat.
His uncommon vitality has stirred interest among scientists at the Inserm public research institute. They examine Marchand every three months in an attempt to understand the secret to his longevity and well-being.