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There are animals out in the world with the potential to live forever. If we'd only let them, that is. Oftentimes, these death-defying creatures meet their untimely ends thanks to the predatory nature of humans.
Consider the lobster: These crustaceans actually grow bigger and stronger as they age. And aging itself is not a death sentence for them. They would live forever if they weren't eaten by other animals (including us), or their own shells didn't grow too large and kill them.
Or consider the immortal jellyfish: Also known as Turritopsis dohrnii, whenever this teeny sea creature suffers an injury, it simply sinks back down to the ocean floor, transforms back into a cute little polyp, only to reemerge later as a baby!
Scientists have been studying these death-defying animals for decades in an attempt crack their genetic codes. And only just recently did they manage to do so.
You see, there's an anomalous feature that humans, jellyfish, and lobsters have all in common: the immortality gene. Ours is simply inactive.
But it could be activated soon – unlocking the potential to live forever.
You may be wondering, "But how is this possible?"
Unlocking the Potential to Live Forever
Researchers at Harvard, MIT, Penn, Scripps, and Johns Hopkins spent years researching a treatment for the aging process. As we age, our cells die off and duplicate, but come back each time a little weaker than before.
One part of each cell is key in the aging process. Each time a cell regenerates, this part of the cell shrinks just a little bit.
But the "immortality gene" – the one deactivated in humans – creates a protein that keeps cells strong during regeneration.
And now, doctors have learned how to turn a deactivated immortality gene on…
Geneticist Dr. Ronald DePinho led an investigative research team at Harvard's Medical School to study mice with their immortality gene activated. The average lifespan of a mouse is two years. But with their "immortality gene" engaged, they lived 40% longer.
For humans, that's about 32 years.
You may be wondering, "Why would I want to live 32 more years if I'm just going to be feeble and old?"
Here's the thing:
You won't be.
Scientists don't hope to just halting the aging process. They want to reconstruct and rejuvenate your cells.
Imagine what you could do with 30 or so extra years of good health. You could travel to all the places you've ever wanted to and learn all sorts of new hobbies. You could even start a new career – all while your cells quietly regenerate to keep you strong and active.
The New York Times described this breakthrough therapy as "The biggest change in our understanding of biology since the discovery of the double helix."