And they say Whale Oil is bad for you?

Want to reverse the ageing process?

It seems that you may need a?daily dose?of whale oil…or some such product.

Bowhead whales are most likely the longest-living mammals on the planet. There’s evidence – some of it in the form of Victorian-era harpoons embedded in blubber – that they can live as long as 200 years. And there are humans who’d like to get a little slice of that longevity for themselves.

This week, some of them took the first step to stealing the bowhead whale’s secrets: they sequenced its genome. Their results ?have now been published ?in biomedical research journal Cell.

“I think that having the genome sequence of the bowhead whale will allow researchers to study basic molecular processes and identify maintenance mechanisms that help preserve life, avoid entropy and repair molecular damage,” said corresponding author Joao Pedro de Magalhaes of the University of Liverpool. ?

Most research experiments try to model human decay and disease in other animals to learn how to cure it, Magalhaes said. But he hopes he can find organisms that are resistant to certain diseases – and to some extent, perhaps even aging itself – and use those tools to better human health.

Of particular interest is the whales’ resistance to cancer. The species can weigh as much as 100 tons, and has thousands of times more cells than a human. So statistically, it would make sense for the whales to exhibit more instances of cancer. But examination hasn’t found this to be so.

Magalhaes and his colleagues did find differences between bowhead whales and minke whales (close relatives who only live about 50 years) in genes related to cell cycle, DNA repair, cancer and aging. He believes that bowhead whales may be better at repairing DNA damage, which would keep them alive longer and protect them from diseases like cancer.

I ain’t going anywhere any time soon. Snigger.


– Fairfax