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If we look at the animal kingdom, we’ll find a few impressive examples of longevity. These beings can help understand what’s biologically possible. The theme is exploring connections between the Systems and Body Pillars and try to answer how the evolution of aging in the Natural World can help understand about human longevity. [1]

  1. Lobster – 140 years

  2. Painted turtle – 185 years

  3. Greenland shark – 400 years

  4. Ocean quahog clam – 507 years

  5. Bowhead whale – 211 years

  6. Coral reefs – 4,000+ years

  7. Great Basin Bristlecone Pine – 5,066 years

Some species are immortal, which means they are not subject to aging and can live indefinitely, as long as they aren’t destroyed or succumb to diseases or lesions:

  1. Hydras – are capable of maintaining the length of their telomeres, extremities free of one chromosome. In other animals, the structure deteriorates with cellular division, which causes aging.

  2. Immortal jellyfish – in case of disease, it reverses the aging process returning to its polyp stage. With this, it restarts its aging process.

  3. Turbellaria – worms that regenerate any old or damaged tissue.

  4. Some turtle species – that possess organs that do not age.

Science Investigates Centenarian Animals

Biological examples of indefinite longevity already mentioned – hydras, coral reefs and turbellaria – inspire well-known research centers – such as Methuselah Foundation and SENS Research Foundation – to explore more in-depth the biology of longevity in human beings. There are a wide number of strategies investigated for inaugurating the “Era of Expanding Useful Life”, including genetic therapies, suspended animations, medication based on nanotechnology and various pharmaceutical treatments.

It’s expected that studies about nature will provide fundamental information to master aging of the human body. By observing these beings, scientists are learning important processes such as tissue rejuvenation, reversal of cellular damage, stem cell conservation, how cellular division can avoid mutations, maintenance of telomere length and the functioning of antiaging proteins. Processes that are common to these animals but that are still strange to mankind.

One of the main entities studying the theme, Methuselah Foundation[2], is dedicated to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine therapies targeted at “prolonging healthy life”. One of its founders, Dr. Aubrey de Grey also created the SENS Research Foundation [3] – Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence –, which trails a similar path.

SENS defined seven specific elements for reverting the different types of damage that causes aging (for example, mutations in chromosomes, intracellular junk and cell loss). According to the researcher, all of them will be able to be repaired within a foreseeable future [4].

Grey is an inspiring and provocative person who pushes the limits of scientific theory and research. In his book Ending Aging (2007), not yet translated in Brazil, he writes that it’ll be possible to avoid aging in a few decades. The “A Roadmap to End Aging” lecture, delivered at a TED Global event in 2005, was watched more than 3 million times.[5].