The popular press will give just as much attention to an advance that extends life in healthy laboratory animals as they will to a technology demonstration that even partially reverses an artificially induced shortness of life. This is a problem, because the former is worthy of our attention, while it is almost always the case that the latter is not. Here is another example of the type from today's news:
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center genetically altered mice to make them age faster, making them old and weak in a span of 17 days. The scientists then injected the mice with stem cell-like cells taken from the muscle of young, healthy mice. The result was they reversed the aging process. The rapidly aging mice lived up to three times longer, dying after 66 days, rather than 28 days. The cell injection also appeared to make the animals healthier, improving their muscle strength and brain blood flow.
No, they did not reverse the aging process. What these researchers achieved was to partially (very partially) ameliorate the unnatural form of accelerated aging that they themselves created in these mice - which could be due to any number of mechanisms that have no application whatsoever to the treatment of normal aging.
It's interesting stuff, but unfortunately this present research is being headlined as "scientists reverse aging in mice" - which is absolutely not what was accomplished. Reversing an artificially created accelerating aging condition by removing its cause is not the same thing as intervening in normal aging, and it will rarely have any relevance to normal aging. ... The bottom line is that it is really only worth getting excited over a study that shows extension of life rather than an un-shortening of life. It's all too easy to create short-lived mice and then make them less short-lived - hundreds of studies have achieved this result in one way or another.
But this seems a little too subtle for much of the media - or, more cynically, perhaps it's more a matter that the employees of those press institutions don't really care all that much about accuracy or background for so long as the page views keep rolling in.