The Fountain of Youth Revealed

Since the dawn of human consciousness, we have contemplated our own mortality and dreamed of ways of overcoming it. Until recently, achieving control over our own longevity was the stuff of fairy tales, disconnected from actual scientific progress. But new research suggests that the molecular basis of aging may soon be understood in detail. Applying this knowledge could be close behind.

Recent scientific breakthroughs have come from research not on humans, or even on rats and mice, but on simple laboratory organisms like yeast and roundworms. These primitive life forms have yielded important, generally valid clues that have forced a comprehensive re-evaluation of the nature of the aging process.

Traditional evolutionary thought views aging as a process that occurs by default in the post-reproductive phase of life. After all, Darwinian natural selection cannot prevent the wholesale decline of an individual whose genes have already been passed on to the next generation. According to this view, many cellular and organic processes thus degrade concurrently, and aging has many causes. As a result, the post-reproductive shortcomings of a great many genes would have to be remedied to slow the aging process.

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