London Telegraph 
Friday, July 25, 2008
Scientists from Stanford University argue regulatory genes could determine when a body begins to break down, rather than the conventional view that ageing is caused by wear and tear.
Should they prove correct, future research may find a way of turning off the signals emanating from the genetic instructions thereby halting the sign of ageing.
Marc Tatar, from Brown University in Rhode Island said: “The message of this research is that ageing can be slowed and managed by manipulating signalling circuits within cells.”
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The researchers used examples of tortoises able to lay their eggs aged 100 or whales living until 200, despite the fact they use the same building blocks for their DNA, proteins and fats as humans, mice and nematode worms.
The chemistry of the wear-and-tear process should therefore be the same in all cells, which makes it difficult to explain why species have different life spans.
Studying the nematode worm, one of the most primitive living creatures, a millimetre long, with a maximum life span of two weeks, they found differences between young and old worms that did not match the conventional picture of ageing.