Scientists from Texas are batty over a new discovery which could lead to the single most important medical breakthrough in human history—significantly longer lifespans. The discovery, featured on the cover of the July 2009 print issue of The FASEB Journal, shows that proper protein folding over time in long-lived bats explains why they live significantly longer than other mammals of comparable size, such as mice.
"Ultimately we are trying to discover what underlying mechanisms allow for some animal species to live a very long time with the hope that we might be able to develop therapies that allow people to age more slowly," said Asish Chaudhuri, Professor of Biochemistry, VA Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas and the senior researcher involved in the work.
Asish and colleagues made their discovery by extracting proteins from the livers of two long-lived bat species (Tadarida brasiliensis and Myotis velifer) and young adult mice and exposed them to chemicals known to cause protein misfolding. After examining the proteins, the scientists found that the bat proteins exhibited less damage than those of the mice, indicating that bats have a mechanism for maintaining proper structure under extreme stress.
At school it all sounded so simple — transcription turns DNA into RNA, and translation of RNA gives you protein. But the often forgotten third step in this process, the folding of the translated linear strand of amino acids into a fully functional three-dimensional protein, is one of the most complex challenges facing the cellular protein factory.
Although it has long been known that the amino-acid sequence in some way dictates the biologically active conformation of a protein, the experimental tools required to probe the intermediate states along the folding pathway have only begun to become available in the past decade or so. These tools are revealing a tightly regulated assembly line, where multiple factors guide nascent proteins to select the correct shape from an almost infinite array of possibilities.
Becoming apparent are the stringent quality-control systems that come into play if the folding process fails, ensuring that the misfolded products are targeted for degradation before they cause harm. Those that escape this cellular surveillance are prone to forming aggregates that can damage or kill cells through mechanisms that are just beginning to be understood.
A huge variety of previously unrelated diseases, such as prion diseases, diabetes and cancer, share the pathological feature of aggregated misfolded protein deposits. This suggests the exciting possibility that these 'protein-misfolding diseases' are linked by common principles, and may therefore present common targets for therapeutic intervention.
The articles in this Insight give an interdisciplinary overview of the field of protein-folding research, treading a path from protein chemistry through cell biology to misfolding diseases and the potential for therapeutic development.
Adult bats, on the other hand, have low mortality. Predation is rarely serious, especially for cave-dwelling species. Disease, parasitic infestation, starvation, and accidents apparently take small tolls. There are records of several big brown (Eptesicus fuscus), little brown (Myotis lucifugus), and greater horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) that have lived more than 20 years, and a few have lived more than 30. Probably many bats in temperate climates live more than 10 years. Longevity has not been established for most tropical species, but a few are known to live for more than 10 years.
Life span can be as long as three years in laboratory mice but is considerably shorter among free-living mice.
lol great post!! all the better for man
Originally posted by Brothers
If they ever find this RNA in these bats and see what it might do to Humans. Just who in the world would be able to get it so that they can live longer. Surely not the average people. Imagine if everyone got hold of this medicine what this world would be like in 100 years??. You wouldn't be able to walk outside without bumping into someone. Sorry but it would be given to only a few individuals so that they can rule over everyone else.
why do you guys want to take away something as beautiful as death?!