Is Programmed Aging a Cause for Optimism?
Aging is now viewed as programmed under genetic control by a growing minority of evolutionary
biologists, and a larger proportion of researchers in gerontology. The hypothesis of programmed
aging has been regarded as encouraging for anti-aging science. Some mechanisms of programmed
aging may present ready targets for medical interference [mitigation alleviation attenuation],
while other kinds of programmed mechanism may yet prove to be refractory. The most promising possibility
is that the machinery responsible for maintenance of the vibrant and youthful state of the body
is never really lost, but de-commissioned by hormonal signals in the aging body; restoring a youthful
signaling environment should then be sufficient to prompt the body to restore itself. But it is also possible
that aging may be programmed in a way that does not facilitate anti-aging interventions. We identify two possible
cases: In the first, the body is programmed to age via neglect rather than by affirmative self-destruction, so that damage is
accumulating that the body is beyond the body’s power to repair. In the second, aging is controlled by an epigenetic clock
whose workings are so intricate as to be intractable for human mastery in the foreseeable future. There is substantial evidence
that first of these is not a likely scenario, but the jury is still out on the second.
Keywords: Epigenetic, programmed aging, rejuvenation, senescence, telomerase, telomere.
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