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Genetics and Pharmacology of Longevity: The Road to Therapeutics for Healthy Aging
Abstract and Figures
Aging can be defined as the progressive decline in tissue and organismal function and the ability to respond to stress that occurs in association with homeostatic failure and the accumulation of molecular damage. Aging is the biggest risk factor for human disease and results in a wide range of aging pathologies. Although we do not completely understand the underlying molecular basis that drives the aging process, we have gained exceptional insights into the plasticity of life span and healthspan from the use of model organisms such as the worm Caenorhabditis elegans and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Single-gene mutations in key cellular pathways that regulate environmental sensing, and the response to stress, have been identified that prolong life span across evolution from yeast to mammals. These genetic manipulations also correlate with a delay in the onset of tissue and organismal dysfunction. While the molecular genetics of aging will remain a prosperous and attractive area of research in biogerontology, we are moving towards an era defined by the search for therapeutic drugs that promote healthy aging. Translational biogerontology will require incorporation of both therapeutic and pharmacological concepts. The use of model organisms will remain central to the quest for drug discovery, but as we uncover molecular processes regulated by repurposed drugs and polypharmacy, studies of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, drug-drug interactions, drug toxicity, and therapeutic index will slowly become more prevalent in aging research. As we move from genetics to pharmacology and therapeutics, studies will not only require demonstration of life span extension and an underlying molecular mechanism, but also the translational relevance for human health and disease prevention. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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