These researchers put forward a theory of programmed aging that is based on the interactions between RNA populations and the genome. At present the mainstream view is that aging is not programmed, but rather a matter of stochastic accumulation of damage and the reactions to that damage - therefore developing methods of repair is the best way to prevent and reverse aging. No view in a developing field is ever shared universally of course:
Aging individuals can no longer maintain homeostasis in response to physiologic and environmental changes as easily as they once could. Through the years, copious hypotheses have been proposed to explain the mechanisms of aging. These hypotheses include two main types: one is an orderly, genetically programmed event that is the consequence of differentiation, growth, and maturation; the other is a stochastic event resulting from accumulation of random errors. However, each type of hypothesis cannot independently explain aging.
We propose the RNA population model as a genetic theory of aging. The new model can also be applied to differentiation and tumorigenesis and could explain the biological significance of non-coding DNA, RNA, and repetitive sequence DNA.
The RNA population in a cell is comprised of all of its transcriptional RNAs. The RNAs produced from a single transcription site (including multiple genes) make up an RNA subpopulation that forms a local network via RNA repetitive sequence complementation. Interactions between DNA and RNA in the local network disturb the tight packing of chromatin and maintain gene activation. In contrast, RNA fragments that destroy the RNA network or that disturb the interaction between DNA and the network RNA inhibit gene transcription. Gene transcription resulting from the interaction between DNA and the RNA network produces an RNA population that, in turn, affects gene transcription via changing chromatin packing in cell division. Gene transcription can be altered by changes in the interactions between the RNA population and DNA. Such changes are the foundation of aging and differentiation. If the interaction between the RNA population and DNA runs a cyclical course, it would result in immortal cells.