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.