Forever Young in Humans || A Planarian Study
My grandmother is old now, and I can tell from her look that she doesn't like how she is weak and unable to do the things she did in the past . Growing up from being a child to a blossom flower in her prime, only to limited to a particular place, at a particular time. At a time, she told me all she wished for was to be able to climb the mountains again with her legs and see how beautiful the world is. Well, possibly she could get to the top of the mountain if we decide to find a way to get her there, but using her legs looks like a task that she can't even start, less finish. You see, the topic of aging can be seen as a blessing and at some point, it could be considered a curse. As a person, I do not wish to grow old or die even though I know it is some worth not possible looking at the level scientist are with experimenting on and death, but it wouldn't be a crime to wish for something.
Every life has a lifespan, from dogs, birds, elephants, grasshoppers, and even humans. Some lifespan can be as short as 24 hours [Mayfly (Dolania americana)], others could go 14 days [Round worm (Caenorhabditis elegans)], 2 months [Dwarf pygmy goby (Pandaka pygmaea)], 200 years [Aldabra giant tortoise (Geochelone gigantea)] and Humans according to recent research could live up 150 years. For easy understanding, my grandmother is 100 years, so you understand when I say she can't climb a chair not to mention a mountain. But I start to wonder why Planarian worm seem to defy aging and humans cannot defy aging.
Old age is accompanied by hearing loss, gray hair, weak muscles and bones, poor eyesight, slow and limited walking, less energy to perform previous activities, Slight decrease in height, slow heart rate, Rise in Blood Pressure, constipation, and decrease in brain agility, among others. If we do not want to fall sick due to lack/reduced immune system, then aging is one of the problem to solve.
Why humans aren't living forever, but Planarian Worm Does?
Aging has to do with the deterioration of our physiological functions as a result of cell damage and death, causing inability to function and be fertile. Cell division allows us to grow, but as we grow older into her late 30s, reaching the Hayflick limit after about 50 to 70 cell division, the cells stop to reproduce and starts to die. This is as a result of shortened Telomeres. The telomeres are found at the end of a chromosome. They protect the chromosome from tangle and fusion. Telomere functions in the formation of DNA loops (T-loop) at the end of the chromosome, and also helps in transcribing G-rich RNA called TERRA. In young humans, the telomere is 8,000 - 10,000 nucleotides long but reduces by 50 – 200bp at each somatic cell division as a result of incomplete synthesis during the DNA replication. When the Telomeres get completely short, our cells are unable to divide, and they start to die. Telomerase is an enzyme that maintains the telomerase length, but the enzyme is only active during the early development of human.
Planarian worm, on the other hand, are free living, invertebrate flatworm, that seem to be immortal as they live for a very long time in the water. Well, they aren't immortal because when they are brought out of the water, they die, but when in water, what happens. Planarian has its own version of the Human telomerase (canonical telomerase), and it doesn't stop at any point in its lifetime, and this allows the stem cells in the Worm to maintain its telomere during regeneration, and division.
If Telomerase is responsible for maintaining the length of the telomere, it is possible that in the future, genetic codings could help us find a solution to keeping the telomerase active throughout our lifetime, thereby allowing us to live for a long time without experience old age or dying unless being killed by cancer which also has telomerase in its cell making it live like forever in the human. For cancer cells, scientist have been working on stopping telomerase, reducing the telomere of the cancer cells and causing induced apoptosis.
Since this hasn't been worked on successfully, and I do not think I can live forever, there are just a few things I do which including Fasting [since science shows eating less could help longevity], and daily exercise to help me in my race to live longer.
- Animal Longevity
- Human Life Expectancy
- Immortal Worm Defying Age
- Aging Explained
- Aging: The Biology of Senescence
- Hayflick Limit
- Telomere Length as a Marker of Biological Age: State-of-the-Art, Open Issues, and Future Perspectives
- Telomere extension turns back aging clock in cultured human cells, study finds
- Planarian Worms: Classification & Reproduction
- Revisiting Telomere Shortening in Cancer
- p53 deficiency rescues the adverse effects of telomere loss
- Eat less, live longer? The science of fasting and longevity
- How Much Exercise Do We Need to Live Longer?