The genome of the longest living mammal the bowhead whale has been sequenced by scientists, hoping to find facts on human longevity.
According to the researchers, who compared the genome with those from other shorter-lived mammals to discover genetic differences unique to the bowhead whale, the research could offer new insight into how animals and humans could achieve a long and healthy life.
It is thought that large mammals, such as whales, with over 1000 times more cells than humans, have a lower risk of developing cancer, suggesting that these creatures have natural mechanisms that can suppress disease more effectively than those of other animals.
Sequencing of the bowhead whale showed changes in genetic information that related to cell division, DNA repair, disease and ageing that with further analysis, could help inform future studies in longevity and cancer resistance.
Dr Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Integrative Biology said that their understanding of species' differences in longevity is very poor, and thus their findings provide novel candidate genes for future studies.
He said that they believe that different species evolved different 'tricks' to have a long lifespan, and by discovering those used by the bowhead whale they may be able to apply these findings to humans in order to fight age-related diseases.
The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.