Study shows tardigrade proteins slow down human metabolism

The microscopic creature may hold the key to our longevity.

Proteins extracted from tardigrade, a microscopic creature also known as "water bear" or "moss piglet," and introduced in human cells, slow down aging. 

According to a new study published in the journal Protein Science by an international team, when the protein called CAHS D – which is responsible for the tardigrade’s biostasis – was injected in human kidney cells, it obtained a gelatinous consistency and slowed down the metabolism. 

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The findings will be used to learn how to hack our own genes in order to handle better stressful situation and, perhaps, extend our longevity.

Tardigrades are believed to be the toughest creatures on Earth - they can survive both boiling and freezing temperatures. When European scientists sent 3,000 of these half-millimeter-long bugs into open space, in 2007, the majority of them survived. This made the tardigrades the best Earthly candidates for interstellar space travel and apocalyptic scenarios. 

Exposed to extreme temperatures, radiation, or other dangerous conditions, tardigrades dive into a self-protective state of suspended animation (biostasis) till better times.

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Around 1,300 species of tardigrades are found worldwide. Considered aquatic because they require a thin layer of water around their bodies to prevent dehydration, they’ve also been observed in all kinds of environments, from the deep sea to sand dunes. 

The research was led by the University of Wyoming, US, and involved scientists from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, and other scholars from the United States.

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