One approach to the issue of declining naive T-cells with age - and consequence failure of the immune system - is to boost production by manipulating the thymus: "a key gene may be crucial to maintaining the production of the thymus and its disease-fighting T-cells after an animal's birth. The discovery could help scientists find out how to turn the thymus back on so it could produce T-cells long after it normally shuts down most of its function, which, for humans, occurs by early adulthood. If the finding leads to further ways to manipulate the gene, the result could be a new avenue for the body to fight disease more effectively as the body ages. ... Such things as infectious diseases, inflammation and heart problems are all related to immune response. You don't have to think far to see how understanding the effect of this gene could affect the quality of life for older people and others as well. ... If [physicians] were able selectively to turn T-cell production back on, then many diseases that currently afflict older people could become manageable if not, in cases, entirely absent."