Organisms of Special Interest

 

The more scientists look, the more they find species that appear to be able to defy the aging process. These species of course still die. They get diseases, they are injured or hunted. But unlike humans, many of them don’t die as a result of their own metabolisms - there doesn’t seem to be a built-in life expectancy in their cells. One thing we need to do is to explore what they do, how they act, and which if any advantages can be derived from them to apply in humans. Scientists already managed to extend the lifespan of C. elegans 10-fold, with a single gene mutation. These are only some of the most promising:

 

Individuals of the long-lived bivalve A. islandica, sampled at a wide range of ages, demonstrate the potential to maintain telomere length throughout their life. The oldest individual ever observed in this species was more than 500 years of age.

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It may not be a the most beautiful fellow organism, but it certainly has some trump feautures. They are exhibiting unusual longevity with a maximum life span more than eight times longer than similar sized mice.

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Size doesn't always matter, sometimes you find extraordinary attributes in the smallest life-forms. The Hydra (Hydra vulgaris) seems to have found a way to cope with aging and obtained immunity to senescence and mortality.

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The bowhead whale can live over 200 years and is possibly the longest-living mammal. Remarkably, with over 1,000 times more cells than humans, they do not exhibit an increased cancer risk, suggesting the existence of natural mechanisms that can suppress cancer more effectively.  Studying it will help elucidate mechanisms and genes conferring longevity and disease resistance in mammals.

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