Unlocking the Secrets of Longevity Genes

From: Janice Matchett <janmatch@earthlink.net>
Date: Tue Feb 21 2006 - 19:24:27 EST

Item of interest. ~ Janice

Unlocking the Secrets of Longevity Genes
Scientific American ^ | March 2006 | By David A. Sinclair and Lenny Guarente

Posted on 02/21/2006 7:04:11 PM EST by MRMEAN

A handful of genes that control the body's defenses during hard times
can also dramatically improve health and prolong life in diverse
organisms. Understanding how they work may reveal the keys to
extending human life span while banishing diseases of old age

You can assume quite a bit about the state of a used car just from
its mileage and model year. The wear and tear of heavy driving and
the passage of time will have taken an inevitable toll. The same
appears to be true of aging in people, but the analogy is flawed
because of a crucial difference between inanimate machines and living
creatures: deterioration is not inexorable in biological systems,
which can respond to their environments and use their own energy to
defend and repair themselves.

At one time, scientists believed aging to be not just deterioration
but an active continuation of an organism's genetically programmed
development. Once an individual achieved maturity, "aging genes"
began to direct its progress toward the grave. This idea has been
discredited, and conventional wisdom now holds that aging really is
just wearing out over time because the body's normal maintenance and
repair mechanisms simply wane. Evolutionary natural selection, the
logic goes, has no reason to keep them working once an organism has
passed its reproductive age.

Yet we and other researchers have found that a family of genes
involved in an organism's ability to withstand a stressful
environment, such as excessive heat or scarcity of food or water,
have the power to keep its natural defense and repair activities
going strong regardless of age. By optimizing the body's functioning
for survival, these genes maximize the individual's chances of
getting through the crisis. And if they remain activated long enough,
they can also dramatically enhance the organism's health and ...

(Excerpt)

You think Social Security's in trouble now...

posted on 02/21/2006 7:04:12 PM EST by MRMEAN
Received on Tue Feb 21 19:25:03 2006

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