Benjamin Mayne is a molecular biologist and bioinformatician with expertise in epigenetics and next-generation sequencing. His PhD. research revealed regulation of gene expression and association with aging due to DNA methylation, an epigenetic modification.
Until now, the lifespan of both humans and animals could only be estimated by observation. No scientific data was proof for the fact that the bowhead whale’s lifespan is 211 years. This research proves that the accurate estimate is 57 years higher than the previous assumption. It was the world’s longest-lived animal.
The study, therefore, can help estimate the lifespans of extinct species, but, more important, it is fundamental for wildlife management and conservation. It can help the endangered species, helping to understand what populations are viable. Hunting and fisheries can also be controlled, with the help of lifespan to determine catch limits.
The DNA study helped scientists measure life expectancy
The function of gene body methylation is not well understood. But it looks like the new research might narrow the way to understanding it. DNA methylation is a biological process that studies heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence. DNA methylation patterns are largely erased and then re-established between generations in mammals. Almost all of the methylations from the parents are erased.
In humans and other mammals, DNA methylation levels can be used to accurately estimate the age of tissues and cell types, forming an accurate epigenetic clock. The loss of methylation is proportional to age. The lifespan of vertebrate species can be estimated by looking at where DNA methylation occurs in 42 particular genes.
And it looks like humans are expected to live no more than 38 years. The difference we live to see today, between the DNA expiry date and how long humans live today, is due to the outstanding evolution of medicine and lifestyle. It looks lifestyle can overcome DNA prognostic.