Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO)
A team of researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), headed by CNIO Director Mar-a Blasco, has demonstrated in a pioneering study on mammals that longevity is defined at a molecular level by the length of telomeres. The work-which is published today in the online edition of the journal Cell Reports-opens the door to further study of these cellular components in order to calculate the rate at which cells age and thus be able to determine life expectancy for a particular organism.
Chromosomes-the cellular containers holding the genetic information in living creatures-have repetitive sequences of DNA at their extremities called telomeres. These sequences act as hoods that protect the genetic material in the face of any external agent which might damage it and compromise the function of the cells.