An anti-ageing pill that delays the onset of wrinkles and crow's feet could be on the horizon, scientists believe. Telomeres - protective bits of DNA on the end of chromosomes - become shorter every time a cell divides, new research found. Experts say this causes people to age and increases their risk of disease as they grow older. But a study found levels of the enzyme telomerase - which lengthens the protective tips - are higher in cancer cells. This allows them to divide indefinitely - offering scientists hope of developing drugs that could target the mechanism to prevent ageing.
Women who are overweight while pregnant are more likely to have babies who are biologically older than those born to women of a healthy weight. This could put the babies at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases later in life, and may reduce their life expectancy. Our biological age is linked to the length of our telomeres – bits of DNA that cap the ends of our chromosomes. Our telomeres shrink every time our cells divide, and continue to shorten throughout life. "Short telomeres have been associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis," says Tim Nawrot at Hasselt University in Belgium.
A LACK of sleep doesn't just turn children into a grumpy handful, it may also accelerate their cellular ageing – a process that could have long-term health effects. Telomeres – the caps at the ends of our chromosomes – get shorter every time our cells divide, and when they get too short, it is thought that cells are no longer able to divide to repair and replenish the body – a sign of ageing. Some small studies in adults have suggested that sleep might be linked to telomere length. To find out if it is also the case in children, Sarah James and Daniel Notterman at Princeton University and their team dug into a database. It included information on average sleep duration collected from 1567 9-year-old children from cities across the US.