As we all know, aging is a process that is inevitable during human development. Aging is a course of deterioration in health, both physically and mentally. Due to numerous genetic and environmental factors, we find that the aging process can be increased as a result. Over time, researchers have been investigating into methods to delay or reverse the effects of aging and boost the chances of healthy aging. Fortunately, there have been multiple genetic findings that can help increase healthy aging.
A popular conception of aging is usually introduced by the parental genetic makeup. Most would say if your parents lived a long happy life so will their children, which such a theory may be proven true. At Sweden's Karolinska Institute, researchers have found that the mitochondrial DNA that we inherit from our mothers can influence the aging processes of their offspring. By examining a population of female model mice, researchers found that these mice are capable of passing down mutated mitochondria to their offspring, thus reducing their life span. Another alternative source to aging is largely influenced by our environment. This can range from the food we eat to the amount of physical activity and toxins we are exposed to throughout our lifetime. All of these aspects are constantly damaging our DNA.
Although our DNA is capable of repairing itself, not all DNA is fully repaired. Oxidative stress is a common cause of damaged DNA. Oxidative stress is when the body does not produce the adequate amount of antioxidants to fix the damage. An additional and very important feature to aging is the shortening of telomeres. Telomeres role is to protect the chromosomes, but when a telomere becomes too short, the chromosome become susceptible to damage. A research team at UK's University of Cambridge suggests that shorted telomeres can even be passed down to offspring.
Since there are so many origins of increased aging, new experiments have given rise to a decline in the aging process in humans. A group from Stanford University School of Medicine in California used a modified form of RNA that contained a coding sequence for TERT, which is an active trait in telomere to help extend the length. Through applying three applications of this modified RNA to human cells, the length of telomere increased about 10%. In addition to this discovery, mitophagy has become another technique to slow down the aging process. This method involves removing mitochondria from cells because research has suggested that mitochondria is associated with oxidative stress. The final experiment that is still a work in progress is reversing brain aging. A group from University of California-Irvine injected 11 rats with a placebo and 11 rats with ampakine. Results revealed that rats in the placebo group had shorter dendrites, those are fibers that help with brain communication, while rats with the ampakine showed results that were comparable to adolescent rat brain activity.
In my opinion, all three of these new techniques propose an outstanding way to overcome increased aging. Because there are multiple experiments that have shown aging improvements, I am highly certain researchers will come up with a reliable product that will elongate human life. Rather than using creams and injections that only show short term effects, genetic modifications can open a whole new world to slowing down the aging process. These genetic modifications may also help advance additional problems such as heart disease or Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of changing the physical component of aging or diseases, genetics is the only way to solve the underlining problems.