Aging

Researchers have discovered that DNA damage decreases a cell's ability to regulate which genes are turned on and off in particular settings. This mechanism, which applies both to fungus and to us, might represent a universal culprit for aging. 

"This is the first potentially fundamental, root cause of aging that we've found," says Harvard Medical School professor of pathology David Sinclair. "There may very well be others, but our finding that aging in a simple yeast cell is directly relevant to aging in mammals comes as a surprise."  

Their findings appear in the November 28 issue of the journal Cell. 
Older people who spent at least 14 hours a week taking care of a disabled spouse lived longer than others. That is the unexpected finding of a University of Michigan study forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The study supports earlier research showing that in terms of health and longevity, it really is better to give than to receive.
Determining chronological age is easy - count forward from birth. Establishing physiological age, especially in humans, is purely subjective because it's based on how someone looks or functions. Research in nematode worms could lead to the development of human biomarkers for aging, allowing us to track how we're withstanding the tests of time.

Scientists at the Buck Institute for Age Research say they have identified for the first time these  biomarkers of aging which are highly predictive of both chronological and physiological age.  Biomarkers are biochemical features that can be used to measure the progress of disease or the effects of treatment.
In the November 15th issue of Genes&Development, Dr. Kenneth Dorshkind and colleagues at the David Geffen School of Medicine (UCLA) have identified two genes – p16(Ink4a) and Arf – that sensitize lymphoid progenitor cells to the effects of aging, and confer resistance to leukemogenesis. 

Hematopoiesis (the development of blood cells) entails two main pathways: myelopoiesis (the formation of the red and white myeloid cells) and lymphopoiesis (the formation of B- and T-cells). While myelopoiesis remains constant throughout life, lymphopoiesis declines with age.
Maybe you have an 85-year-old grandfather who still whips through the newspaper crossword puzzle every morning or a 94-year-old aunt who never forgets a name or a face. They don't seem to suffer the ravages of memory that beset most people as they age.   Researchers at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine wondered if the brains of the elderly with still laser sharp memory -- called "super aged" -- were somehow different than everyone else's.

So instead of the usual approach in which scientists explore what goes wrong in a brain when older people lose their memory they investigated what goes right in an aging brain that stays nimble. 

Here's the preliminary answer:
Beta-alanine (BA), a dietary supplement widely used by athletes and body builders, has been proven to increase the fitness levels of a group of elderly men and women. The research, published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, suggests that BA supplementation improves muscle endurance in the elderly. 

The research was carried out by Jeffrey Stout, PhD from the University of Oklahoma, USA, and a team of colleagues. According to Dr. Stout, “This could have importance in the prevention of falls, and the maintenance of health and independent living in elderly men and women.” 
Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System report that a daily single oral dose of an investigational drug, MK-677, increased muscle mass in the arms and legs of healthy older adults without serious side effects, suggesting that it may prove safe and effective in reducing age-related frailty.

Published in the November 4, 2008 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, the study showed that levels of growth hormone (GH) and of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF- I) in seniors who took MK-677 increased to those found in healthy young adults. The drug restored 20 percent of muscle mass loss associated with normal aging.
For many women, including the growing number who choose later-in-life pregnancy, predicting their biological clock's relation to the timing of their menopause and infertility is critically important.   Investigators from the University of Michigan say they have new information about hormonal biomarkers that can address the beginning of the menopause transition. 

"In the end, this information can change the way we do business," said MaryFran Sowers, professor in the U-M School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology. "The information provides a roadmap as to how fast women are progressing through the different elements of their reproductive life."

Why do some older people appear to be thriving and others not?   Genetics and bad luck are certainly a factor but elderly people who have a positive outlook, lower stress levels, moderate alcohol consumption, abstention from tobacco, moderate to higher income and no chronic health conditions are more likely to thrive in their old age, according to a study in the October issue of The Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

Chronic health conditions is the tough one to avoid.
Some animals live longer when raised on low-calorie diets but now researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis say that they can extend the life spans of roundworms even when the worms are well fed — it just takes a chemical that blocks their sense of smell.

Three years ago, the researchers, led by Kerry Kornfeld, M.D., Ph.D., reported they found that a class of anticonvulsant medications made the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans live longer. But until now, they didn't quite know what the drugs did to give the worms their longevity.