The inevitability of aging may be no more than yet another biological theory that scientific advances will retire in the near future. Some scientists today say that longevity is a societal concept that we may no longer need to uphold as a static law of nature, but instead, as one that can be rewritten to our benefit.

While there have been innumerable theoretical ideas and initiatives for dodging the Grim Reaper, many actual strategies that are being developed today fall into one of two camps: biomedical or technological. To win the biological battle against death, we must start by understanding the enemy.

Aging is a processes that begins on a cellular level. As our cells divide, their DNA and functionality slowly break down, leading to greater susceptibility to damage and disease.

For many years, scientists had hoped that telomeres might be the key to halting aging, but these “caps” that protect our DNA have proven to be more complex than initially thought. When biologists discovered that our telomeres wear away as we age, they theorized that lengthening these strands of protective DNA could also elongate our lives — perhaps indefinitely.

But researchers have since found that multiple processes in cells work to tightly regulate telomere lengths because telomeres that are too long can actually have negative consequences, like cancer. Many labs around the world are studying the molecular mechanisms that lengthen and trim telomeres in the cell in order to find out whether they can be modified to keep telomeres at the Goldilocks length — not too long or too short. Read more from…

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