May 18, 2022

Image credit: Uniavisen

Species-to-species mutations give hints about ageing

According to a study, how long animals live is connected to how quickly their genetic code mutates.

According to researchers, mammals, from tigers to humans, have nearly the same number of mutations by the time they die of old age.

Short-lived creatures, on the other hand, tend to deplete their quota more quickly, according to a study of 16 species.

According to the experts, it explains why humans age and offers light on one of cancer’s most mystifying mysteries.

Mutations are alterations that occur in our DNA, the blueprint for developing and running our bodies.

Those mutations have long been recognised to cause cancer, but whether they also play a role in ageing has been a point of contention for decades. Sanger Institute researchers claim to have produced “the first experimental evidence” that they are

They looked at how quickly mutations happen in species with varying life spans. A cat, a black and white colobus, a dog, a ferret, a giraffe, a horse, a human, a lion, a mouse, a naked mole-rat, a rabbit, a rat, a ring-tailed lemur, and a tiger’s DNA were examined.

Dogs have 249 annual mutations, lions have 160, and giraffes have 99. Humans have an average age of 47.

If people’s DNA mutated at the same pace as mice’s, we’d have almost 50,000 genetic mutations by the time we died.

It’s possible that the body’s cells reach a certain number of mutations and then shut down. There are other theories that “a few [bad] [cells]” begin to take over essential tissue, such as the heart, as we age, causing organs to malfunction.

However, ageing is unlikely to be caused by a single process within our cells.

Telomere shortening and epigenetic alterations are believed to play a role as well. However, if mutations are involved, it raises the question of whether there are strategies to reduce or even heal genetic harm.

The researchers want to see if this trend applies to all living things or simply mammals. They want to include fish in the study, including a Greenland shark, which may live for over 400 years and is the world’s longest-living vertebrate.