Research Profiles in Aging

Series Editor:

  • Jan Vijg, University of Texas Health Science Center, South Texas Centers for Biology in Medicine, San Antonio, TX, USA

After the recent successes in biomedical approaches towards diseases per se, aging is clearly the next great challenge and opportunity for physiology and medicine. The stakes are high and the benefits are great. Indeed, research on aging will lead to new targets for drug development in geriatric medicine and novel strategies to prevent a myriad of age-related illnesses.Based on the scenario sketched above, a flood of new research initiatives into the molecular and cellular basis of aging can be expected for the new millennium. This is greatly facilitated by the recent spectacular breakthroughs in a number of aging-related research areas. For example, the first proof that single genes can have great effects on life span, which can be increased, has been obtained, first with the nematode worm and now also with flies and mice. Results obtained with humans now strongly indicate that those lucky few that survive the ravages of old age do so because of their genes. The recent dramatic advances in sequencing the entire human genome greatly facilitate an endeavor to systematically search for gene variants that protect against accumulating damage and extend life span. Results at the cellular level indicate that the natural block that prevents cells from dividing indefinitely can be circumvented with immortality as a result. Experiments with genetically modified mice have now also provided the first concrete evidence that mutations accumulate in various organs and tissues, which may turn out to be the main proximate cause of aging.A common aspect of the results mentioned above is that they stem from cutting-edge scientists, reporting their findings in major scientific journals. This illustrates not only how popular aging research has become among the top scientists, but also that the field has been transformed from one of the backwaters of science to a highly competitive field taken seriously by both the public and the most renowned scientists. Indeed, a rapidly increasing number of students and young scientists, but also established scientists, who want to change course, are currently moving into aging research. Although, a number of comprehensive volumes on aging already exist, the problem is that these do not provide rapid, factual and succinct information about the specific field these novices in aging research are interested in. Research Profiles in Aging will consist of highly specific relatively short volumes with the latest detailed information about the various aspects of aging that are now the basis of current cutting edge research.

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