LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – It may sound like a scene from a horror movie, but researchers in France are catching bats and taking their blood. They want to know why the animals live so long.

“This is in the wild, without any veterinary intervention, without any medicine, and the question is: How do they do that? How do they slow down aging? Why don’t they get cancer? How could they live for so long?” says Emma Teeling, a geneticist at University College Dublin.

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The pandemic has done little to improve the image of bats after the World Health Organization said the coronavirus likely originated in the animals, a theory still being investigated.

But bats live ten times longer than other animals their size and stay healthier longer too.

Researchers studying bats living in churches and schools in western France have been catching the flying fur balls for more than a decade — micro-chipping, measuring, and weighing them, hoping to extract the secrets of their longevity.

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“Bats increase their ability to repair their DNA. They repair the damages that living causes. And it increases with age. Ours decreases,” Teeling says.

We share the same genes as bats — with some slight modifications — but they can carry diseases like Ebola, rabies and coronaviruses without getting sick.

“So, that gives an insight into the pharmaceuticals that we’re going to take to fight infection,” according to Teeling.

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While research is accelerating, scientists say it could still take years to crack the bat code holding the secret to longevity.