Local San Antonio media take a look at the work of the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies: "Naked mole rats aren't much to look at. In fact, you might think the pink, wrinkly, squinty rodents are downright ugly. However, some researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio feel otherwise ('I think they are incredibly cute,' says Zimbabwe-born scientist Rochelle Buffenstein as she tenderly picks up one of thousands squeaking and scurrying through a maze of tubes and plastic tubs). But it's not for their outward appearance that scientists are studying the rodents. Buffenstein and others look beyond the translucent skin and healthy tusks ('They've been called saber tooth sausages and worse,' she says) and see, if not the secret to eternal youth, a chance to cobble a few more decades onto our average 78-year lifespan. That would explain why the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the UTHSC-SA maintains the world's largest colony of the naked rats. While not much larger than mice, which live around two years, these creatures keep active and healthy for as long as 30 years. And they have an amazing ability to fight cancer and toxins. This is just one of many areas of anti-aging research that's underway at the San Antonio research center. There's hope that scientists here will find a trigger or series of triggers in the human genetic code that could one day extend the 'youthspan' of people - giving people an extra 20 years, 40 years, maybe even longer, to be young and healthy. To be flip about it: researchers are hunting for the Fountain of Youth. And they're closing in. Discoveries are coming in at such a pace that Gen Xers may find themselves saddled with the Baby Boomers for longer than they had planned."