RESOURCES: Answering Age-Old Questions

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Science  14 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5707, pp. 187
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5707.187c

No mouse has survived longer than 5 years. A lucky lion might reach 30, and the oldest person on record was still enjoying the occasional glass of port until her death at age 122. How fast various organisms age boils down to differences in their genes. That's the premise of the 3-year-old Human Ageing Genomic Resources site, a collection of databases for teasing out genetic influences on aging.

The site's centerpiece is a database that characterizes more than 200 genes linked—tenuously or strongly—to human aging. Each gene's file describes its protein product's function and relevance to aging, lists other proteins it mingles with, identifies corresponding genes in model organisms, and more. For researchers interested in comparative aging, another database tallies demographic and physiological variables such as record life span, basal metabolic rate, and maturation time for more than 2000 species. Project leader João Pedro de Magalhães, a Har vard postdoc, also runs the parent site, which brims with background information. You can compare theories for why organisms grow old or read about purported antiaging treatments. Don't celebrate just yet—none of them has been shown to work.

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