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Aging Part 1 of 3: The Longevity Genes Project
It is strange to think of aging as a project, isn't it? Yet, because it is something that we as biological creatures all face, we are fascinated by it. How does it work? Why is it different from person to person? Can we slow it down or stop it?
So many questions abound around aging, geriatrics and gerontology is a fast growing field of research and planning. Aside from humankind's natural curiosity in the possibility of immortality, the study of aging could hold secrets to combating diseases. It is not just a simple proposition.
At a minimum, as the human population is living much longer than it did even 100 years ago, societies are looking to make quality of life core to the experience of growing older.
Why is aging so tricky? Is it nature - are we born with a certain shelf life ingrained in our DNA, or is it nurture - can we slow it down by controlling our surroundings? Or, is there the possibility of something even more as technology allows humans to do and think things we never though possible before? Join us for this three-part look at "the State of Aging" as we know it.
The Longevity Genes Project
There is a study underway at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York that poses the question of whether it is possible for us to grow old without a painful decline, and enjoy a healthy and engaged old age.
Their study looks at "Super Agers" - elderly participants between 95 to 122 years of age. What can they tell us about aging? The study has looked at some 500 healthy elderly people and what their genetic make up might reveal about aging.
The goal of the project is to tackle aging and the understanding of the process as a quality of life issue. By identifying if there are common genetic markers that Super Agers share, researchers are hoping it could lead to the creation of drugs and therapies to treat things such as Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, or even certain kinds of diabetes or cancers.
While most of the people in the study share independence and highly active lifestyles that fall into the nurture category, the Longevity Genes Project is primarily focused on looking at the mechanics of aging. What can the molecular, cell and tissue structure of the participants reveal, and do they share anything with other organisms that also have a long life?
These mechanics of our physical make-up could reveal a way to slow down or "tweak" the aging process for those of us who weren't born with the longevity gene markers the Super Agers may exhibit. Though the assumption is there is a date in which our biology simply won't stand up any more, this project believes through the study of those that are long lived, there is a way to move mankind to a point where we will have more quality time in our lives through longer living with less disease.
Check back next week where we continue our look at the new world of aging and focus on The Manhattan Project.
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