Health How a giant tortoise could unlock the secret to long life and curing cancer

How a giant tortoise could unlock the secret to long life and curing cancer

We all want to live forever, right?

Well thanks to a world-famous giant tortoise and some clever work by an international team of researchers the dream could be a little closer to reality. And, their insights could also help cure cancer.

The study, co-led by Flinders University’s Professor Luciano Beheregaray, sequenced the genome of Lonesome George, the last member of a Galapagos giant tortoise species from Pinta Island who died in 2012.

Professor Beheregaray and his colleagues analysed more than 3,000 genes from Lonesome George to better understand how the species could live up to 200 years and fight cancer.

“Giant tortoises are among the longest living animals and therefore must have evolved mechanisms for reducing their risk of developing cancer,” Beheregaray says.

“Because of that they provide an excellent model to study longevity and age-related diseases.”

Beheregaray and his colleagues found previously unknown variants in tortoise genomes that affect six of the nine hallmarks of ageing.

The breakthrough could lead to an improved understanding of the tortoises’ incredibly long life.

They also found that giant tortoises have genes that suppress tumours, as well as alterations in two genes which are known to contribute to cancer.

Further studies are required to determine if these features help suppress cancer.

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