Worms Aged Slower During Space Travel

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Worms Aged Slower During Space Travel - as part of the news series by GeoBeats.

A type of worm has shown that it actually experiences changes that lead to living longer after being brought into outer space. Caenorhabditis elegans worms were taken aboard a shuttle to the International Space Station and subsequently studied after they were safely returned to Earth. A team of researchers from Japan, France, the United States and Canada, noticed that after traveling in space, some of the toxic proteins that accumulate in aging muscle were suppressed, and that the activity of a group of genes were reduced, which can lead to a longer lifetime for the worm.

One of the researchers from the University of Nottingham said: "It would appear that these genes are involved in how the worm senses the environment and signals changes in metabolism in order to adapt to the environment… Muscle in space may age better than on Earth. It may also be that spaceflight slows the process of ageing."

This particular kind of worm is one of the most studied organisms on the planet being the subject of the first complete genome sequence of a multi-celled organism, which allows scientists to study the genetic effects of space travel on the worm.