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DNA study sheds light on lifespan mystery
great danes
Until now, biologists have been unable to explain why the larger animals in a species tend to have shorter lives.
Scientists find out why bigger may not be better

A new discovery could explain why larger individuals in a species tend to have shorter life spans.

Until now, biologists have been unable to explain why the larger animals in a species tend to have shorter lives - great Danes, for example, generally have shorter lives than Jack Russells.

A recent study of humans also found that taller people are more prone to diseases such as cancer.

But scientists from Glasgow and Norway now believe the answer is in the way DNA linked to ageing and lifespan changes with body size.

Telomeres are special DNA structures that all animals have at the end of their chromosomes. They are described as 'the protective plastic caps at the end of shoelaces'.

When the research team studied a population of wild house sparrows on the island on Leka in Norway, they found that the skeletally bigger house sparrows had shorter telomeres.

Telomeres erode over time and this shortening has been associated with ageing and disease. Individuals with naturally longer telomeres appear to have an advantage when it comes to health and ageing.

"Growing a bigger body means that cells have to divide more," explained Professor Pat Monaghan, regius chair of zoology at the University of Glasgow. "As a result, telomeres become eroded faster and cells and tissues function less well as a result.

"The reason why the bigger individuals have shorter telomeres might also be related to increased DNA damage due to growing faster."

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Fashion house Prada to stop using fur from 2020

News Story 1
 Italian fashion house Prada has become the latest clothing retailer to announce that it will no longer be using animal fur in its products.

In a press release, the Group said the new policy will commence from the Group’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection. The current inventory will be sold until quantities are exhausted.

Prada said the move comes following ‘positive dialogue’ with the Fur Free Alliance, the Humane Society of the United States and LAV, a European animal rights organisation. 

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BVA Scottish Branch welcomes new president

Moray vet Kathleen Robertson has been named president of the BVA’s Scottish Branch. She took over the role from Melissa Donald at the association’s annual general meeting on Tuesday (21 May).

A University of Glasgow graduate, Kathleen has held diverse positions spanning clinical practice, teaching, inspection and consultancy work. She sits on the Scottish Antimicrobial Stewardship Group, the Livestock Health Scotland Board and the Veterinary Delivery Landscape project. She is also an Honorary Secretary of the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons.