Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Study Casts Doubt on Aging Gene

      A study in Nature last week threw cold water on claims that a certain gene can extend life. Called SIR2, the feted gene seems to slow aging in a number of animals. Even more exciting, researchers have shown in recent years that calorie restriction, which also stretches lifespan, works by activating SIR2 and related genes, that make enzymes called sirtuins.
     But science is rarely straightforward, and a research group based mainly in the United Kingdom says that in their experiments, SIR2 did nothing to help worms and flies live longer. “We tried so hard to see any effects at all in many different settings, and we haven’t seen any,” says biogerontologist David Gems of Imperial College London, who led the study.
     Sirtuin backers vehemently dispute the findings. Molecular biologist Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who led key work on SIR2 in worms, argues that “you can always get an experiment not to work.” Both sides are sticking to their views, and the debate is likely to continue.



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