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Preventing Aging: Is It Possible?

By September 30, 2012

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Are dry wrinkled skin, hearing loss, arthritis, cataracts, dementia and the other traits associated with old age just a natural result of the body falling apart, or are they symptoms of a single underlying biological program?  Recent research on aging suggests the latter. Old age and life span seem to be part of a genetically controlled biological program. Further, evidence suggests this process can be altered to change lifespans and ameliorate the effects of aging.

Dr. Linda Partridge has been a leader in uncovering the biological mechanisms controlling the aging process. She is a Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Ageing in Germany and the Director of the Institute of Healthy Ageing at University College of London, maintaining active laboratories at both locations.

At the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) meeting earlier this week, I was fortunate to have a chance to talk with her about her research and hopes on how her and her colleagues work might improve healthcare.  Her particular concern is the imminent health crises occurring in developed nations as a result of the rapidly aging populations in these countries.

As Dr. Partridge points out, age is the main risk factor for a host of diseases, notably, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. If these are related to a more fundamental biological aging program, it suggests there the possibility of a "broad spectrum preventative" to ameliorate age-related illness.

For more information about Dr. Partridge's research and her perspective on possibly curing age-related illness, take a look at the recently posted article, Sorting Out the Genetics of Aging.


November 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm
(1) Andrea says:

While I am wholly in favor of science and research that can help lessen the impact of disease and improve quality of life as we age, I think there are some shortcomings to this view of “ameliorating the effects of aging.” This approach of preventing aging is more targeting the biological elements of aging, but it doesn’t address the social elements of aging. Aging is a multifaceted construct that often includes changes in emotional processes, social preferences, and views about oneself and one’s life. There are also many role transitions and stages of life transitions that help people to continue to develop their identity well into old age. These components of aging are helpful because they can help people adapt with other changes that come with age, besides just physical changes. This view also assumes that everyone views the wrinkled skin and other physical changes that come with age as a bad thing—there are some people who see those things as a positive representation of the life they have lived and the experiences they have had.

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