Books


I’m considering starting a special section (a separate page, like the “About” page) devoted to books about the biology of aging. I’m most interested in edited anthologies and monographs of the “by scientists, for scientists” sort, but I’m also planning to include some of the more erudite volumes aimed at a broader audience.

I’m curious to know what you, the readers, think. If Ouroboros had a page of links and short reviews of recent books about the biology of aging, what would you want to see on it? If you’ve got an idea, please leave a comment.

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The book/periodical Methods in Molecular Biology has recently released a “Methods and protocols” volume entitled Biological Aging.

The volume is a treasure trove of techniques that are rapidly becoming standards in the broad field of biogerontology, from cell culture (including staining and identification of senescent cells) to molecular assays (e.g. telomerase, methyltransferases and oxidation). Several chapters are devoted to the care and feeding (or, if you like, restricted feeding) of widely used biogerontological model organisms, including yeast, fly, and mouse. The most modern methods also get a nod, with articles on microarrays, QTL analysis and metabolomics. Overall, it would be a valuable addition to the lab bookshelf in any research group that is serious about aging.

The Humana Press website is one of those awful messes that, inexcusably, doesn’t allow direct linking to specific content, so unfortunately I can’t link directly to the volume. In order to view the table of contents, you’ll have to enter “371” in the “Volume” space in this form. That’s annoying, I know, but if you’re interested in these techniques it’s still probably worth it.

Jan Vijg‘s book about the role of DNA damage and somatic mutation in the aging process, Aging of the Genome: The Dual Role of DNA in Life and Death, has been reviewed in Nature:

There is no shortage of theories of ageing. Confronted by the terrifying realization of mortality, human ingenuity has created an interesting array of explanations, including toxins produced by gut bacteria (curable by eating yoghurt) and reduced secretions from the testicles (curable by transplants of testicular tissue from monkeys). There is now general agreement that ageing is caused by the accumulation of damage. Key issues are the exact types of damage responsible for functional impairment and death, and the processes that generate this damage and protect against it. Jan Vijg’s excellent book Aging of the Genome makes no concession of equal space for the many candidates subject to current scrutiny. Rather, it critically examines the case for one — somatic mutation.

The reviewer comments that while the text is quite scholarly, it should still be of interest to the nonspecialist reader, but I can’t confirm or deny that until after I receive my copy. I know that Jan is a fantastic scientist and a very clear thinker, so I’m looking forward to it.

(For a description of some of Jan Vijg’s recent experimental work, see our earlier article Genomic instability and transcriptional noise.)