Trouble with Aging

April 8, 2013

In To Age or Not to Age, independent filmmaker Robert Kane Pappas has put together a fascinating exploration of what current research has discovered about the potential to alter the biological process of aging in human and other animal life forms. The film does a good job of taking a potentially difficult to understand science and making it understandable at a basic level. In the film, several leading researchers talk about how discoveries that were made in the early 1980s are now being refined and brought to clinical trials to test their effectiveness at delaying the onset of major diseases in humans, and thereby extending the human life span. Among the researchers interviewed is Dr. Cynthia Kenyon, molecular biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who many years ago identified the DAF-2 aging gene in her work with worms and discovered that altering this one gene could double the life span of the worm. Researchers Dr. Nicanor Austriaco and Dr. Brian Kennedy talk about their involvement in the discovery of the SIR2 gene in yeast cells when they were working at the Guarente Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the subsequent research that has borne out Dr. Leonard Guarente’s hypothesis that these genes are key regulators in the life-extending response to caloric restriction in an organism.

New research on stem cells and the potential for maintaining cellular vigor and youth via reintroduced pluripotent stem cells are also briefly covered in the film. So too is a discussion of the Ashkenazi study of several hundred centenarians that points to the genetic influence on longevity and to the mutation in the telomerase genes of these centenarians. In short, the film is a lengthy tour of much of the latest research on the potential for expanding the human life span through biomedical means.

Read full review in The Gerontologist