State of Werner Syndrome Research

Accelerated aging conditions are teaching us more about the biochemistry of normal aging; progeria is yielding its secrets, and Werner syndrome will most likely soon be next: "If WRN function is lost (as exemplified in cells from Werner patients), problems with replication and DNA damage processing arise, probably resulting in an increased number or persistence of strand breaks. In turn, these events lead to chromosomal and telomeric abnormalities or activate checkpoints that bring about early senescence or increased apoptosis. Thus, elevated cancer incidence associated with Werner syndrome is due to increased chromosomal changes, while the accelerated aging characteristics probably stem from telomere dysfunction leading to accumulation of non-functional senescent cells or excessive apoptotic cell death over time. More research is needed to determine whether these specific DNA-dependent mechanisms contribute to development of aging characteristics in normal individuals."



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