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22-03-2018 | Myotis myotis bats flying © Photography by Olivier Farcy. Courtesy AGELESS project - Portrait photo © Prof. Emma TEELING

Ageing healthily: European scientists unlock the molecular secret behind bat longevity

Scientists led by ERC grantee Emma Teeling have identified part of the molecular mechanism that gives bat species Myotis their extraordinary long and healthy lifespans. The longest-lived bats can live over 41 years of age while weighing only 7g, which is the human equivalent of some 234 years. They also maintain good health longer than many other mammals. The findings, published in the journal Science Advances, focus on the protective structures at the end of chromosomes, called telomeres. Bats may have evolved unique telomere maintenance mechanisms which allow them to repair age-related cell damage.