Could bats hold the secret to healthy ageing?

Scientists have long hoped that uncovering the mechanisms of the ageing process may provide hints as to how to halt or slow it down in humans. Now, EU-funded researchers have found that bats hold important clues.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 23 November 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Health & life sciencesGenomics  |  Health & ageing
Research policySeventh Framework Programme
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Ireland
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Could bats hold the secret to healthy ageing?

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© Prof. Emma TEELING

Understanding the progressive deterioration of the body experienced with age – and, more importantly, how to slow down, halt or reverse this process – has for years been a prized goal for biologists.

The EU-funded AGELESS project sought to make new inroads into this challenge by uncovering the molecular mechanisms of halted ageing in a unique model system – bats.

Of all mammals, bats are exceptional in their surprising longevity in relation to their body size and metabolic rate.

While some of the final results of the AGELESS are still awaiting publication, findings released so far indicate that bats have evolved better mechanisms to prevent and repair age-induced cellular damage than other mammals.

‘Our research shows that bats are able to maintain cellular homeostasis over time,’ says Emma Teeling of University College Dublin in Ireland who received a European Research Council grant for her project. ‘The mechanism that underlies their extended life span is their ability to deal with, and remove, molecular damage.’

It is possible that two genes in particular – ATM and SETX – may drive this, she adds.

AGELESS had to develop new molecular techniques and tools to carry out the tasks it set itself.

Its work is being propelled forward by the participating scientists and may lead to further discoveries that could provide new solutions to slow down the ageing process, as well as fight cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

‘If we want to solve some of the grand challenges that society faces – cancer, ageing, infectious diseases – the solution is already out there in nature. We just need to look in the right places,’ says Teeling.

Project details

  • Project acronym: AGELESS
  • Participants: Ireland (Coordinator)
  • Project N°: 311000
  • Total costs: € 1 499 768
  • EU contribution: € 1 499 768
  • Duration: January 2013 to June 2018

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