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Science

Secret to Aging Discovered 15

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the fun-with-genetics dept.
Gazoomba writes, "Researchers at the Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., have found a clue in our genes putting us closer to eternal youth. They hope to eventually do trials on worms and mice to try and get them to live longer and perhaps someday do the same thing for us. More on this story can be read here. "
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Secret to Aging Discovered

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  • From the article:
    The protein 'turns off' particular genes, which means that these genes will not be expressed. The organization of which genes are "turned on" and which ones are "turned off" is vital to human structure.

    Okay, so this would be like an anit-viagra?

    Wigs
    --I'm hungry, time to eat lunch.

  • The professor quoted in this article has made his career [mit.edu] out of studying aging. Other recent studies (such as this [mit.edu]) have pointed to other causes of aging, so we should remember that it is a complex process with many different causes which we should not expect to "master" any time soon - although everyone's fingers will undoubtedly be crossed.

    Certainly, mitigating or reducing the effects of the natural aging process seems a more realistic short-term goal than waiting for nanotechnology to make cryonics feasible.

    A. Keiper [mailto]
    The Center for the Study of Technology and Society [tecsoc.org]

  • Does anybody else remember a year or two ago when telomerase was figured out? You couldn't throw a rock without hitting articles about how this was the key to the fountain of youth and various Katzian pontifications on what it will be like to be immortal. Funny, I don't seem to be immortal. Wonder what happened?

    As far as I can tell from this story, they've found a transcription factor that exists in both yeasts and mammals. This is nice biology and will certainly be important, but there are many evolutionarily conserved transcription factors, none of which is the "secret to aging". Similarly, there are many reactions which happen to require NAD. Fat synthesis requires NAD, and if you take away NAD, the synthesis stops. This does not mean that the acetyltransferases and dehydrogenases are the "secret to aging".

    In short, I don't see anything here that makes this protein particularly special. The title of the article is pure hype.

    Alik
  • Hmmm... immortality.

    Seriously now, just how sad is it that, while the Windoze source code debacle gets 400+ posts, all these subject-specific stories that don't get posted in the main page (God knows why) only get like three posts?
  • The cause of aging is very simple. The breaking down of the cellular reproduction process. As the cells in the body reproduce they have the potential to make a bad copy (also where cancer comes from). The bad copy may not be able to reproduce anymore. Over time these non-reproducing cells add up. It's called aging. (Anything that could possibly influence the reproduction process is a cause.)

    What I don't know is if the scientists see it this clearly, and are looking for specific mechanisms behind the degredation (to see if they can help prevent the problems), or think that there is some preprogrammed mechanism that forces aging (still a possibility, just not without standard wear and tear).

  • I agree but they also suffer from less trolls/1st posters, and O.T. conversations... of course maybe not ;)
  • Aging is horribly complex. Here are a -very- few factors which form an almost insignificant fraction of the whole process:

    • Metabolic rate. This determines the relative rate of repair/construction to disrepair/destruction.
    • Cell suicide. Cells will self-destruct, due to certain triggers that aren't well-understood. It may be, in part, affected by cell oxidation.
    • Cell oxidation. Cells oxidise, partly through exposure to radiation, partly when they process food. There are mechanisms for preventing cellular breakdown, through oxidation, but they aren't perfect.
    • Toxic metals. Aluminium is perhaps one of the worst for this, especially as it is found in many foods. It's also often used as a base for medicines. Exposure to high levels of aluminium will cause brittle bones. It may also be linked to Alzeimer's Disease. Aluminium in acidic rivers is invariably fatal to all water life.
    • Heart Rate. Researchers have shown that the -average- number of heartbeats for mice, over a typical lifespan, is the same as that for elephants, monkeys and other animals. The heart, it would appear, has a certain millage built into it. To affect a person's lifespan would require a detailed understanding of how to increase that millage, or even reset whatever clock is involved.
    • The Brain. This is where things get difficult. The brain is not built to be repaired. The body's immune system can't reach it. Brain cells don't divide and, once lost, aren't replaced. However, brain cells also have self-destruct mechanisms. They don't always work (hence tumors), but they are there. Short of having a large supply of non-specialised cells handy, there is nothing you can do to regenerate damaged or dead sections of the brain. Transplanting cells into the brain has been tried, and it does seem to work, but it's hardly an exact science, and precious little is really understood.
  • There is only so much life one person can live. I myself would like to pass on some time. Ive been shit on enough but im still around and kicking because I know there are things out there.

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

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