Surprising bat genetic trait holds secrets of longevity

Updated 08 February 2018
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Surprising bat genetic trait holds secrets of longevity

WASHINGTON: Bats are the longest-lived mammals relative to body size, and a species called the greater mouse-eared bat lives especially long. Researchers now have unlocked some of this bat’s longevity secrets, with hints for fighting the effects of aging in people.
Scientists said on Wednesday that unlike in people and most other animals, in this bat species the structures called telomeres located at the end of chromosomes, thread-like strands inside a cell’s nucleus that carry genes determining heredity, do not shorten with age.
Only 19 mammal species are longer-lived than humans relative to body size. Eighteen of them are bats, some living more than four decades. The other is a weird African rodent called a naked mole rat.
The researchers identified two genes in the greater mouse-eared bat that may be responsible for its unique longevity adaptation. These mechanisms could be the focus of future studies on aging, with an eye toward extending healthy lifespans in people, the researchers said.
Telomeres are protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that shorten each time a cell divides. This drives the natural aging process, leading to a breakdown of cells that over time can drive tissue deterioration and eventually death.
“Studying exceptionally long-living mammals that have naturally evolved mechanisms to fight aging is an alternative way to identify the molecular basis of extended ‘health spans,’” said biologist Emma Teeling of University College Dublin in Ireland, one of the study leaders. “Bats are an exciting new model species that will enable us to identify new molecular mechanisms that drive healthy aging.”
The researchers studied 493 individual bats from four species: the greater mouse-eared bat and Bechstein’s bat, both members of the bat genus called Myotis; the greater horseshoe bat; and the common bent-wing bat. Of these, the greater mouse-eared bat had the longest lifespan, about 37 years.
The greater mouse-eared bat and the closely related Bechstein’s bat had telomeres that did not shorten with age, suggesting that Myotis bats share this characteristic. Another Myotis bat, Brandt’s bat, holds the bat longevity record of 41 years.
Based on body size, the greater mouse-eared bat would be predicted to have a maximum lifespan of four years. Its range spans from Western Europe into the Middle East. It preys on large, ground-dwelling creatures like beetles, crickets and spiders.
The research was published in the journal Science Advances.


Saudi food app is perfect recipe for people in need

Updated 19 May 2018
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Saudi food app is perfect recipe for people in need

JEDDAH: A Saudi relationship manager has designed a mobile app that allows food to be delivered to people in need, including Syrian refugees living in camps in Lebanon and Turkey.
Western region manager Fahad bin Thabit, 34, described his YummCloud app as a “sharing economy” platform.
After working with app developers from India, Ukraine and the US, Thabit launched the platform in late April with help from the US digital agency Ingic.
YummCloud was featured in US company news, such as Cision PRWeb.
“The idea behind YummCloud was to provide home-cooked meals to the users in the most convenient way,” Cision PRWeb said.
“Developers were told to develop an open platform app that will let users buy, sell or send home-cooked meals around them. All a user has to do is to choose the food they would like to eat and get it delivered at their convenience.”
Thabit said that his brother, who lives in France, was the inadvertent inspiration behind the app.
“At that time I wanted to send him food and that was when I had the idea: Why can’t I send him local food?
“I could not find any of our local food there, and this was how the application came up. I said once I can do that, I can send food to anyone anywhere in the world — all I need to do is provide the supplier,” Thabit told Arab News.
Anyone can help communities in need via the application, he said.
Thabit said he was planning to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.
“We call these meals ‘humanitarian meals’ — all we need to do is reach them via a social network and get a supplier there. People who sympathize with the refugees — they could be 100 kilometers away or in different parts of the world — can pay online and buy meals for them.”
He said whole communities could take part in the “sharing economy.”
“For example, in Africa, there are areas that have people suffering from starvation, but there are other areas that have food supplies, so if you buy the supplies from those areas, they can import them to the starvation-stricken areas. This is what I call a sharing economy.”
The app’s international features are still under development, but are expected to launch in two years.
“We can create a market anywhere in the world. All we need to do is add a language, find a delivery company there, and if there isn’t one, people can deliver it themselves.
“We had 500 orders in the first 10 days of the launch in Saudi Arabia.”
Thabit said that transportation network company Careem was acting as a logistics partner.
“Careem have us covered everywhere — it is operating in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Egypt. Wherever Careem is present, we are there regarding delivery,” he said.
Thabit said he had agreements with delivery companies and charities in different parts of the world for YummCloud’s global transition.
The application is an efficient humanitarian platform.
“We provide a platform for everyone to help everyone,” he said.