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A recent study found how long animals live is linked to the genetic mutation code.
The researchers found that animals, from tigers to humans, undergo approximately the same number of mutations until their death, but unlived animals consume the mutation processes planned for them within a shorter period of time, according to an analysis of 16 species of animals. found.
Researchers say this explains why we age and shed light on one of the most mysterious aspects of cancer.
Experts say the findings, made by researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the UK, are surprising and provocative.
Genetic mutations are changes that penetrate the laws that govern the construction and functioning of the bodies of living organisms, which is the genetic code.
These mutations have long been known to cause cancer, but its relationship to aging has been the subject of debate for decades.
Researchers at the Sanger Institute say they have the first empirical evidence to confirm this. They analyzed the rate at which mutations occur in species of different longevity, including cats, white and black colobus monkeys, dogs, mongoose, giraffe, horse, human, lion, mole, rabbit, mouse, and tiger.
The study, published in the journal Nature, found that the mouse undergoes about 800 mutations a year during its short life span of just four years.
The higher the average age of the organism, the lower the number of mutations that occur in its genetic map. For example, dogs undergo about 249 mutations per year, while the lion undergoes about 169 mutations and the giraffe 99. Number of mutations that people submit to does not exceed 47.
Dr Alex Keegan, one of the researchers, said the model was surprisingly interesting, which says all animals undergo about 3,200 mutations during their lifetime.
And if the genetic code of humans were to change at the same rate as the mouse, we would have undergone about 50,000 mutations over the years of our lives.
“Despite the different ages of mammals, they go through the same number of mutations. This is about numbers, but its meaning is still shrouded in mystery,” Kogan told the BBC.
The cells of the body may have reached a critical number of mutations drying up after it. There is also a perception that some of the cells that misbehave begin to take over vital tissues, such as the heart, with age, so that our organs do not function properly.
Aging is not thought to be related to a single process within the cells of our body.
It is believed that telomeric reduction, a structure at the end of a chromosome, and non-genetic changes associated with the process play a role.
But if the mutation occurs, this raises the question of how much genetic damage can be slowed down or even repaired.
Researchers want to know if this model only applies to mammals, or includes all living things, and now they are targeting fish for research and analysis, including the Greenland shark, which can live for 400 years and is the longest-lived vertebrate. .
The cancer paradox
In the science of cancer there is a dilemma known as the “Peto paradox”, which is based on the question of why the incidence of cancer is low in long-lived animals.
It is assumed that the more cells in your body, the more likely one of them to develop cancer, such as whales and elephants, for example.
Dr. Kagan says whales are made up of trillions of cells, which means they must disappear because they will develop cancer before they reach puberty.
But the fact is that the megafauna lives longer, so the explanation may be in the small number of mutations, but researchers say that may not be all.
The mark and the giraffe live in approximately the same time period and during this period the same number of mutations occur, although the giraffe is immeasurably larger.
“One would expect the giraffe to have fewer mutations, but body size does not seem to matter,” says Dr. Kogan.
Scientists believe that several other factors have been created that prevent these animals from developing cancer, which may inspire scientists to look for new cancer treatment programs.
The gap between 47 mutations per year in the case of humans and 800 in the case of mice is large, said Dr. Alexander Goralek and Dr. Camila Naxerova, from Harvard University.
They add that this change is surprising because of the great similarity in the genetic map of mice and humans.
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Dr Simon Spiro, a veterinarian and wildlife researcher, said animals live longer in zoos than in the wild, so veterinarians spend time researching aging conditions.
He added, “The genetic changes diagnosed in this study show that aging diseases are similar in a large number of mammal species, regardless of whether aging begins at the age of seven months or seventy years.”