Dr Aziz Aboobaker from the University's School of Biology, said: "We've been studying two types of planarian worms; those that reproduce sexually, like us, and those that reproduce asexually, simply dividing in two. Both appear to regenerate indefinitely by growing new muscles, skin, guts and even entire brains over and over again.
Previous research had shown a link between telomerase and the non-aging cells, but this is the first time that researchers were able to show what happens when the gene controlling the secretion of telomerase gets switched off. As predicted, the telomeres start to shorten.
The link between telomerase and cell aging is an intriguing one. We are a long way from anti-aging treatments for human beings based on this research, but it is very encouraging not only to find a proof-of-concept for an ageless creature, but to begin to understand how it does it.