July 13, 2020
“We’ve been interested in longevity and disease resistance in bats for a while, but we didn’t have the time to sit and think about it,” says Gorbunova, the Doris Johns Cherry Professor of Biology at Rochester. “Being in quarantine gave us time to discuss this, and we realized there may be a very strong connection between bats’ resistance to infectious diseases and their longevity. We also realized that bats can provide clues to human therapies used to fight diseases.”
While there have been studies on the immune responses of bats and studies of bats’ longevity, until their article, “no one has combined these two phenomena,” Seluanov says.
Gorbunova and Seluanov have studied longevity and disease resistance in other exceptionally long-lived animals, including naked mole rats. One common theme in their research is that inflammation is a hallmark of the aging process and age-related diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular disease. Viruses, including COVID-19, are one factor that can trigger inflammation.