GENETIC FIX FOR AGING


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Researchers at the Salk Institute may have found a way to delay, if not cure, aging itself.
They worked with mice genetically engineered to develop an illness called progeria that causes rapid aging. In humans, progeria causes children to age at about six times the normal human speed. Skin wrinkles, bones become brittle, and these children die – typically of a stroke or heart attack – at an average age of 13.
The disease stems from a genetic defect that causes the body to make a toxic version of a protein called lamin A. This toxic protein also builds up in the bodies of old folks.
Instead of living a typical mouse life of two or three years, the Salk mice expired after about five months. Then Salk’s scientists injected some of the affected mice with a virus that carried a gene that insert itself into the mice’s DNA and shut off the production of the toxic protein.
Two months later, the treated mice were bigger than their untreated siblings, showing stronger hearts and greater activity levels. Ultimately, they lived 25 percent longer than the untreated mice.
Salk’s research team is optimistic that a similar genetic interruption could be designed for humans to reverse symptoms of aging and prolong a healthy life.
TRENDPOST: By 2050, aging will be a manageable condition, and people born after 2020 typically will be robust and fully active into their second century.

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