ScienceDaily (Nov. 27, 2008) reports
Like our current financial crisis, the aging process might also be a product excessive deregulation.
Researchers have discovered that DNA damage decreases a cell's ability to regulate which genes are turned on and off in particular settings. This mechanism, which applies both to fungus and to us, might represent a universal culprit for aging.
"This is the first potentially fundamental, root cause of aging that we've found," says Harvard Medical School professor of pathology David Sinclair. "There may very well be others, but our finding that aging in a simple yeast cell is directly relevant to aging in mammals comes as a surprise."
These findings appear in the November 28 issue of the journal Cell.
"It is remarkable that an aging mechanism found in yeast a decade ago, in which sirtuins redistribute with damage or aging, is also applicable to mammals," says Leonard Guarente, Novartis Professor of Biology at MIT, who is not an author on the paper. "This should lead to new approaches to protect cells against the ravages of aging by finding drugs that can stabilize this redistribution of sirtuins over time."
Both Sinclair and Oberdoerffer agree with Guarente's sentiment that these findings may have therapeutic relevance.
"According to this specific mechanism, while DNA damage exacerbates aging, the actual cause is not the DNA damage itself but the lack of gene regulation that results," says Oberdoerffer. "Lots of research has shown that this particular process of regulating gene activity, otherwise known as epigenetics, can be reversed—unlike actual mutations in DNA. We see here, through a proof-of-principal demonstration, that elements of aging can be reversed."