Le secret de la fontaine de jouvence

Depuis l'aube de l'humanité, l'Homme rêve d'accéder à l'immortalité. Jusqu'à une date très récente, ce n'était effectivement qu'un rêve, sans rapport aucun avec le savoir scientifique. Mais les recherches en cours permettent de penser que le mécanisme moléculaire du vieillissement pourrait être compris prochainement. Et les applications pourraient suivre rapidement.

Des avancées scientifiques notables ont été réalisées grâce à des recherches effectuées non sur l'homme, ni même sur le rat ou la souris, mais sur des organismes très simples, la levure et des vers appelés nématodes. L'étude de ces formes de vie primitive a conduit à une remise en question complète de notre compréhension du vieillissement.

La sélection naturelle de Darwin n'empêche pas le déclin d'un individu dont les gènes ont déjà été transmis à la génération suivante. Selon la théorie classique de l'évolution, le vieillissement est un processus qui intervient par défaut dans la phase post-reproductive de la vie. D'après cette théorie, à ce moment là, beaucoup de processus organiques et cellulaires subissent une dégradation, chacun pouvant contribuer au vieillissement. Pour ralentir ce dernier, il faudrait donc remédier aux altérations qui touchent un grand nombre de gènes dans la période post-reproductive de la vie.

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