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Current Scientific Picture of the Ageing Process - NATURE Insight Reviews Supplement

  November, 9 2000 5:33
your information resource in human molecular genetics

Try as we may to stop it with plastic surgery and so on, ageing is (like taxes) unavoidable. Yet some creatures (for example, the American lobster) are apparently exempt. Why? This month’s Nature Insight reviews supplement (Nature, Vol. 408, No. 6809, 9 NOVEMBER 2000) brings together leading experts to summarize the current scientific picture of the ageing process.

The supplement begins with a review of the evolutionary basis for ageing (the sad fact is that once we have had children our bodies are — in evolutionary terms — entirely dispensable). The ways in which our cells are damaged as we age (surprisingly, by reactive by-products of oxygen, the gas which is essential for life) is then described. Human ageing is a slow process, and for this reason researchers have often made productive use of organisms such as fruitflies, which have short lifespans and can be manipulated in large numbers. The Insight features a review of recent research on ageing in model organisms, and a summary of our understanding of human ‘progeroid’ syndromes, in which genetic abnormalities accelerate elements of the normal ageing process.

Cancer is one of the major diseases associated with human ageing, and the mechanism by which age-related cancers may form is the topic of a further review. A concluding commentary article outlines the future prospects for research on ageing, and the implications that the fruits of this research may have for our society.


Jo Webber
Nature press office
tel +44 20 7843 4571
fax +44 20 7843 4951
e-mail j.webber@nature.com

Supplement Articles:

Why do we age? - T B L Kirkwood & S N Austad

Oxidants, oxidative stress and the biology of ageing - T Finkel & N J Holbrook

The age of cancer - R A DePinho

Genetic pathways that regulate ageing in model organisms - L Guarente & C Kenyon

Lessons from human progeroid syndromes - G M Martin & J Oshima

The future of ageing - L Hayflick

(C) Nature press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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