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Body mass correlates with telomerase expression

Study of 15 species shows larger rodents express less telomerase, perhaps as a cancer-fighting adaptation

Trevor Stokes
An organism's body mass, rather than lifespan, correlates with the expression of telomerase, an enzyme that can lengthen cell life and increase cancer, according to new research in rodents published in the journal Aging Cell.Telomerase rebuilds chromosomal ends that erode over time, and its activity gives cells longer life. Whereas short-lived mice express telomerase, long-lived humans shut down its expression in somatic cells. "Mice express telomerase in all their cells, which helps them heal dramatically fast," said Vera Gorbunova, a researcher on aging at the University of Rochester who headed the study. "It would be nice to have that healing power, but the flip side of it is runaway cell reproduction -- cancer," she said.The researchers hypothesized that telomerase repression, an adaptation in long-lived organisms, evolved to suppress tumors. To test this hypothesis, they investigated telomerase activity of 15 rodents from across the globe, ranging from...

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