LONDON: Scientists have made a genetic breakthrough that they claim can prolong human life and remove cancer threat.

A team at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid has based its conclusion on tests on rodents, which made them live nearly 45 per cent longer and also left them free from tumours. The scientists say that if the experiments on mice can be replicated in people, human lifespan could also be extended as the genes involved exist naturally in both rodents and humans and perform similar roles. “The elixir of eternal youth is now not a utopian dream. The discovery opens the door to [the possibility] that humans could live 125 years and without cancer,” the Daily Mail quoted lead scientist Maria Blasco as saying. In fact, the scientists achieved the results by inserting an extra copy of three genes, called telomerase, p53 and p16 — known to be important for longevity and suppressing tumours — into the stem cells of mice. Inserting an extra copy improved their function in the body because they produced more protein, making them more active. This in turn helped telomerase to protect chromosomes from shrinking, a process which normally happens as all living creatures age. — PTI

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