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Secrets to longevity found in 115-year-old woman’s body

Lana Bandoim's picture
Human DNA

A 115-year-old woman’s decision to donate her body to science is starting to reveal secrets to longevity. The study published in Genome Research points to an interesting aspect that researchers discovered as they examined the woman. Hendrikje Van Andel-Schipper had hundreds of mutations in her blood cells, so researchers suggest that not all mutations may be dangerous but stem cells are important.

Longevity clues and secrets

Hendrikje Van Andel-Schipper has given scientists an important opportunity to study how aging affects the body. In addition, they are searching for clues to determine why some people are able to live past 100 while others may not make it past 50. The secrets to longevity may be hidden in the cells or DNA.

Mutations and their meaning

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Researchers describe the 115-year-old woman as healthy, but she still had more than 400 mutations in her blood cells. This high number may seem alarming, yet the study reveals that these mutations did not cause any problems for Hendrikje Van Andel-Schipper. It appears that some mutations do not create issues or lead to cancer.

Active stem cells

The study mentions that the 115-year-old woman only had two active stems cells, but researchers were expecting to find at least 1,300 active cells. The incredibly low number supports previous studies that indicate stem cells have a finite lifespan. Additionally, the stem cells have a limited number of times they can divide.

The desire to live longer

The desire to live longer has inspired numerous studies and books that promise readers longevity. However, the study seems to indicate that longevity may actually be tied to stem cells, and their death may be the real reason many people cannot live beyond 100. The death of active stem cells is a serious issue that will continue to be investigated.

Image: Christoph Bock/Wikimedia Commons