Works in Mice, Not in Worms

The BBC provides a good example of the press running with the wrong conclusion due to insufficient knowledge of the field: researchers "genetically manipulated nematodes so that their bodies were able to 'mop up' surplus free radicals. This, in theory, should give them an advantage over normal nematodes in terms of ageing and lifespan. However, these worms lived just as long as the others, suggesting that 'oxidative stress' is less of a factor in the ageing of our cells and tissues as some have suggested." Except of course that a similar process performed in mice - genetic engineering to produce more natural antioxidants targeted to the mitochondria - does extend longevity. This may be another case of it being important as to exactly how you engineer extra antioxidant chemicals in the body, or it may be that the biochemistry of nematodes is unusual in not responding to more natural antioxidants. All in all, it's a little early to be declaring the death of oxidative damage as an important part of aging.