From Yeast Methuselah Genes to Evolutionary Medicine

Paola Fabrizio and Valter D. Longo

The recent identification of many genes that regulate the life span of yeast, worms, flies, and mice has greatly enhanced our understanding of the mechanisms of aging. Saccharomyces cerevisiae has emerged as the simplest of the major model systems to study aging, thanks in part to the development of a chronological aging paradigm that has allowed a more direct comparison with higher eukaryotes. Remarkably, similar pathways regulate the chronological life span of yeast and of the other major model systems, suggesting that the "testtube" approach to study aging and death can provide a simple but valuable contribution to the process of identification of the genes and pathways that regulate aging in humans. Furthermore, comparative studies in unicellular and higher eukaryotes can shed light on the best strategies to delay human aging and prevent age-related diseases without causing significant side-effects.

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