Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered a gene responsible for the onset of aging, including age-related disorders such as infertility, reproductive problems and cataracts. This research, conducted in genetically modified mice, is promising in helping physicians understand and treat the same disorders in humans. The findings appear in the July issue of the journal Nature Genetics. [Baker, D.J. et al. (2004). Nat. Genet. 36, 744-749.
The discoveries came as the result of general investigations into possible genetic causes of cancer. In this case, it was discovered that this particular gene, called BubR1, governs production of a protein that modulates physical aging. The mice studied lacked normal levels of that protein and began to age prematurely.
“Darren Baker in our laboratory found that mutant mice with low amounts of BubR1 protein live five times shorter than normal mice. They also develop a variety of age-related disorders at a very young age,” says lead investigator Jan van Deursen, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic Departments of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
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