News FocusGenetics

Aging Genes: The Sirtuin Story Unravels

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Science  02 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1194-1198
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6060.1194

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In 1998, MIT professor Leonard Guarente and his lab began publishing a series of influential papers that linked a set of genes to calorie restriction, which had been known for years to stretch life span in animals, suggesting the possibility that drugs could extend human life span. But other scientists failed to find what they were reporting in their experiments. The result is mass confusion over who's right and who's wrong, and a high-stakes effort to protect reputations, research money, and one of the premier theories in the biology of aging. It's also a story of science gone sour: Several principals have dug in their heels, declined to communicate, and bitterly derided one another. Tensions reached a crescendo in September, when former Guarente lab member Matt Kaeberlein and colleagues published one of their most damning papers yet, finding no effects from a key aging gene in worms and flies.