London: In a pioneering experiment, Spanish scientists claim to have extended the lifespan of ageing mice by up to 24 per cent, using a single gene therapy treatment. If this research pays off, then things are looking up for ageing humans too, says a team at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre which has published its findings in the `EMBO Molecular Medicine` journal. Earlier studies have shown that it is possible to lengthen the average life of individuals of many species, including mammals, by acting on specific genes -- an approach impracticable in humans. Now, the Spanish scientists, led by Maria Blasco, have demonstrated that the mouse lifespan can be extended by the application in adult life of a single treatment acting directly on the animal`s genes. And they have done so using gene therapy, a strategy never before employed to combat ageing. The scientists induced cells to express telomerase -- the enzyme which metaphorically slows down the biological clock.
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