"I don't think that klotho will turn out to be a master control gene for aging," Dietz, the Johns Hopkins geneticist, said.
"But I do think that klotho is clearly a regulator of many phenotypes [gene-related observable traits] that are associated with aging and that we'd like to alter," he said.
"If they could be manipulated, they would increase not only the length of life but the quality of life."
Body, Heal Thyself
Fifteen years ago scientists didn't even know that certain genes play a key role in regulating the aging process. But today scientists are using that knowedge to dramatically lengthen the life spans of worms, yeast cellsand now mice.
"We used to think of aging as if our bodies were cars that would wear out and break down," said pathologist David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School.
"But we now realize that, because we're biological organisms, we have cell-repair capacity, Sinclair said. "In every cell it's as if we have a mechanic who can be brought into action to slow the processes of deterioration and decay that lead to aging."
"We're just learning how to control those mechanics. The potential of the body to heal itself is huge."
Free E-Mail News Updates
Sign up for our Inside National Geographic newsletter. Every two weeks we'll send you our top stories and pictures (see sample).
SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES