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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Key driver of human aging

"In the study, scientists at the Salk Institute and the Chinese Academy of Science found that the genetic mutations underlying Werner syndrome, a disorder that leads to premature aging and death, resulted in the deterioration of bundles of DNA known as heterochromatin.
The discovery, made possible through a combination of cutting-edge stem cell and gene-editing technologies, could lead to ways of countering age-related physiological declines by preventing or reversing damage to heterochromatin.
"Our findings show that the gene mutation that causes Werner syndrome results in the disorganization of heterochromatin, and that this disruption of normal DNA packaging is a key driver of aging," says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a senior author on the paper. "This has implications beyond Werner syndrome, as it identifies a central mechanism of aging—heterochromatin disorganization—which has been shown to be reversible."