Arrested Development: Why Do We Age? | Mosaic Science
Christina Wodtke stashed this in Science, it's not just for breakfast anymore
fascinating story on those who age unevenly
"Walker’s analysis found that Brooke’s organs and tissues were developing at different rates. Her mental age, according to standardised tests, was between one and eight months. Her teeth appeared to be eight years old; her bones, ten years. She had lost all of her baby fat, and her hair and nails grew normally, but she had not reached puberty. Her telomeres were considerably shorter than those of healthy teenagers, suggesting that her cells were ageing at an accelerated rate."
Thank you for this thoughtful post, Christina!
It really does make me think (and wonder) what is essential about aging and whether aging itself is a consequence of living.
This is so thought provoking. Why do we age? Biological mechanisms that might be hackable.
Walker became a scientist to understand why he was mortal. “Certainly it wasn’t due to original sin and punishment by God, as I was taught by nuns in catechism,” he says. “No, it was the result of a biological process, and therefore is controlled by a mechanism that we can understand.”
Medical science has already stretched the average human lifespan. Because of public health programmes and treatments for infectious diseases, the number of people over age 60 has doubled since 1980. By 2050, the over-60 set is expected to number 2 billion, or 22 per cent of the world’s population. But this leads to a new problem: more people are living long enough to get chronic and degenerative conditions. Age is one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease, stroke, macular degeneration, dementia and cancer. For adults in high-income nations, that means age is the biggest risk factor for death.
A drug that slows ageing, even modestly, would be a blockbuster. Scientists have published several hundred theories of ageing (and counting), and have tied it to a wide variety of biological processes. But no one yet understands how to integrate all of this disparate information. Some researchers have slowed ageing and extended life in mice, flies and worms by tweaking certain genetic pathways. But it’s unclear whether these manipulations would work in humans. And only a few age-related genes have been discovered in people, none of which is a prime suspect.