The Revenge of Programmed Aging Theories

I can't say I'm sold on recent research that is interpreted as supporting (genetically) programmed aging: "The question of what causes aging has spawned competing schools of thought. One side says inborn genetic programs make organisms grow old. This theory has had trouble gaining traction because it implies that aging evolved, that natural selection pushed older organisms down a path of deterioration. However, natural selection works by favoring genes that help organisms produce lots of offspring. After reproduction ends, genes are beyond natural selection's reach, so scientists argued that aging couldn’t be genetically programmed. The alternate theory holds that aging is an inevitable consequence of accumulated wear and tear: Toxins, free-radical molecules, DNA-damaging radiation, disease and stress ravage the body to the point it can't rebound. So far, this theory has dominated aging research. But the Stanford team's findings told a different story. ... Our data just didn't fit the current model of damage accumulation, and so we had to consider the alternative model of developmental drift." The article oversimplifies both positions, sadly, and the researchers don't appear aware of recent evolutionary explanations for extreme longevity in some animal species.

Link: http://med.stanford.edu/news_releases/2008/july/aging-worm.html

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