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Old 05-30-2012, 11:37 AM   #137
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Default Asexual flatworms may hold key to immortality-- for humans

Originally Posted by Lebron23

Asexual flatworms may hold key to immortality-- for humans


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A certain kind of worm may carry keys to immortality, scientists have found, even though they’d spend eternity squirming — but without having sex.

For humans, the study of these asexual worms won’t necessarily mean a ticket to the fountain of youth, but may yield insights into how to slow down the ravages of aging, Reuters reports.

In a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, British scientists found that planarian worms, also known as flatworms, have the ability to preserve key parts of their DNA when regenerating that offer the potential for immortality, Reuters reports.
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"Our data satisfy one of the predictions about what it would take for an animal to be potentially immortal," said Aziz Aboobaker, who led the research, according to Reuters.

Scientists at Britain's University of Nottingham were able to generate more than 20,000 flatworms from a single one that they had cut up into several pieces. Each piece they cut grew into its own new independent living worm, the Telegraph reports.

British scientists studied sexual and asexual flatworms, and both were able to reproduce muscles, skin, and brains indefinitely when they were cut into pieces, but the asexual worms proved to have the potential to be immortal, Aboobaker said, according to Reuters.

The reason they may hang around forever is that the asexual adult flatworm stem cells appear to maintain lengths of telomere, a key DNA component associated with protecting cells from aging.

This ingredient allows the invertebrates to replace damaged cells, and theoretically continue life without end, according to the study.

Scientists hope to use the findings to build “strong foundations for improving health and potentially longevity in other organisms, including humans," Aboobaker said in a statement, according to Reuters.

"The next goals for us are to understand the mechanisms in more detail and to understand more about how you evolve an immortal animal."

Thanks Lebron
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