Scientists have made a stunning discovery over the last decade: Aging can be manipulated in the lab. Experiments on small animals, including worms called C. elegans and mice, have shown that, by tinkering with certain genes, scientists can prolong or shorten life spans. With more research, one day, these findings may be applicable to humans, thus answering two of the biggest mysteries in science: Why do we age? Is it possible to prolong human life?
“Before, there was a sense that growing old is like an old car that’s breaking down or rusting,” says Gary Ruvkun, Ph.D., a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. “It wasn’t the idea that there was a program and a plan to the process. Now we know that, by making one mutation in the gene, you can affect longevity.”
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