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Researchers found a Microbe that Stays Young Forever

Update Date: Sep 12, 2013 12:02 PM EDT

The idea of staying young forever might entice a lot of people. However, aging is a natural part of life that humans cannot avoid even if there are scientific remedies, such as Botox and surgeries that can prolong it. Even though humans might not be able to turn back the clock, according to new research, scientists are reporting that a particular microbe has the ability to rejuvenate every single time that it reproduces. But, staying young forever does not come easy. The researchers found that in order to stay young, the microbe must reproduce in favorable conditions.

For this study, an international team of researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics located in Germany examined how a common species of yeast microbe ages. Through their research, the team concluded that the microbe, S. pombe is unlike any other species because it has evolved to remain young. The S.pombe is essentially immune to aging under two conditions. The species must be reproducing at a good rate and the reproduction must occur under favorable circumstances in terms of environment.  

The researchers explained that when this microbe reproduces, it splits into two halves that receive parts of the old cell material. Since both cells are only getting a portion of the old cell material, they can both be considered younger than the original cell. In that sense, the old cell has reproduced into two younger versions of itself. Even though the researchers found that the microbe can continue to reproduce younger versions each time, essentially never growing old, they found that certain conditions could hinder the rejuvenation process.

The researchers explained that when the yeast microbe was exposed to bad conditions, the cells stopped dividing fast enough and ended up aging faster. The team had exposed the cells to heat, ultraviolet radiation and damaging chemicals that slowed down the growth of the cells. The cells then could not divide fast enough and remain young. When the cells did divide under these circumstances, they divided into one young cell and one old cell, similar to how other cells divide. This meant that one cell would continue to age and the original cell no longer rejuvenated itself completely during cell division.

The study, "Fission yeast does not age under favorable conditions, but does so after stress," was published in Current Biology

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