A new scientific study from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Kiev Institute of Gerontology has succeeded in extending lifespans of mice.
The experiment has potential to extending human lifespans as well, Jerusalem Post reported.
And according to the researchers, it could be used as a tool for fighting obesity, diabetes and potentially even diseases like cancer.
While similar experiments have been successful in cold-blooded animals – which is done by decreasing body temperature and metabolic intensity – this is the first time it has been successful in warm-blooded animals.
The study – led by Kiev Institute of Gerontology’s Prof. Khachik Muradian and BGU’s Prof. Vadim Fairfeld, and published in the journal Biogerontology – built of some of the quirks particular to the naked mole rat.
As the study explained, the naked mole rat does not age or get sick with age, and can live for years should they not die of other causes, such as fights over territory.
This longevity was attributed to two specific factors: A lower body temperature and a lower metabolic rate, both of which are used to increase longevity in cold-blooded animals.
Only two warm-blooded animals naturally do this, naked mole rats and bowhead whales.
However, the study primarily focused on the former, as a whale cannot physically fit in the lab, while the naked mole rat is close in size to a normal lab mouse.
Mammals of similar sizes typically have similar lifespans. However, naked mole rats have a lifespan about eight times longer than mice.
The scientists isolated this due to the atmosphere in the burrows of naked mole rats.
These burrows are poorly ventilated, causing low levels of oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide.
Altogether, it reduces the naked mole rat’s body temperature by around 3-4 degrees, significantly slowing its metabolism.
By replicating these conditions, the researchers were successful, reducing the mouse’s body temperature and metabolic intensity over a span of weeks and months.
As evidence of its success, the mice were voluntarily eating less food than normal, which is a known factor contributing to increased lifespan.
Though the findings are significant in their own right, they also have implications for the future of human longevity.
“At one point in history, the earth contained much lower levels of oxygen and higher levels of carbon dioxide. There is still some memory in our cells of that period and therefore it should be possible in the future to induce such a state for longer periods,” the researchers stated.