Humans and almost all species of plants and animals in the world age, at different rates, of course, but did you know that there are certain species that actually don’t appear to age at all? For example, ugly as they may look, naked mole rats seem to have found the fountain of youth – and they are immune to cancer, too! Isn’t that incredible?
So, if humans can find the reasons as to why naked mole rats and other “immortal” species do not age, can we become immortal, too?
According to a detailed explanation on Minute Earth’s YouTube channel, humans and almost all species replicate DNA in such a manner that the end points (called telomeres) get shorter and shorter. As the telomeres get shorter, they finally reach a limit wherein they have become so short that they do not facilitate replication anymore. Without replication of the DNA in the body, the cells begin to age.
Meanwhile, in “immortal” species like the naked mole rat, special chemicals are released by the body to repair the telomeres during replication, allowing these to get back to the original length even after multiple replications. Thus, the telomeres are eternally tall, allowing as many replications as the individual needs – in turn, this allows them to be eternally young!
So, if the eternally tall telomeres are the key to the naked mole rat’s immortal existence, can we simply do that with human DNA so we can be immortal, too? Well, this surely has been studied by many scientists but the video explains that doing so only increases the person’s chances of developing cancer. When that happens, what’s the use of not aging when the person simply dies because of cancer (which he/she might not develop if only the telomere-regulating chemicals were not introduced)?
For now, there are plenty of possible ramifications for using this tidbit of knowledge so it would probably take more years of research and lots of test subjects before such chemicals can be effectively used in humans. We might not even be around when they finally find the missing key.
What we could do now is simply marvel at these unique species and hope that someday things might change and humans can become immortal, too. What do you think?
Check out this video to find out more: