News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

One Cause of Aging: Mitochondrial Mutation


Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden have found a direct connection between the mutation of mitochondrial DNA in animal cells and the process of aging. Mitochondria, the tiny engines of cells, produce oxidants that have been implicated in cell damage over time, and their DNA may bear the brunt of the oxidant assault. The mitochondrial DNA of mice was modified to accelerate mutations by three to five times normal mutation rates. These mice developed age-related diseases earlier and lived only a third as long as normal mice.

As is typical with announcements of this sort, the researchers are staying clear of immortality promises, but they do suggest interventions might be developed that could treat many of the diseases of normal aging.

The research was led by Nils-Goran Larsson, a genetics professor, and was published this week in the scientific journal “Nature“.

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