Stephen Spindler described his (ongoing) project to screen a large number of potential lifespan-affecting compounds in mice – so far, several candidates look promising. Interestingly, he also argued that the majority of previous studies measuring the effects of various compounds on rodent life expectancy suffer from serious flaws. In particular, he argued that many of them were confounded by a possible calorie restriction effect: mice are picky eaters, and if you change their diet by adding some compound to it, they will often eat less of it. Since most studies did not report the weight of mice or how much they ate, it is impossible to be sure that the lifespan increase reported is actually attributable to the compound tested, rather than to simple calorie restriction. In all, Spindler thought that only 2 of 82 previous studies showed reliable evidence of a novel compound increasing mouse lifespan.

Manuel Serrano talked about his recent experiments with sirtuins in mice. Overexpression of sirtuins in yeast, worms, and flies delays aging, but their role in mammalian aging is still highly controversial. He found that mice overexpressing Sirt1 had improved health, according to several metrics – but no difference in lifespan. 

David Melzer talked about his analyses of human genetic association studies. A large number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been associated with age-related diseases in humans; Melzer showed that many of these are near genes that play a role in pathways relevant to aging, and also identified three genes associated with two or more age-related diseases: p16/p15, MYC, and TERT.

(For an index of coverage of all sessions, see here.)

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