The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans ages and dies in a few weeks, but humans can live for 100 years or more. Assuming that the ancestor we share with nematodes aged rapidly, this means that over evolutionary time mutations have increased lifespan more than 2,000-fold. Which genes can extend lifespan? Can we augment their activities and live even longer? After centuries of wistful poetry and wild imagination, we are now getting answers, often unexpected ones, to these fundamental questions.
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I apologize to all those whose work was not cited because of space limitations. I thank the members of my lab, J. Rine, B. Meyer, R. Losick and the reviewers for comments on the manuscript.
C.J.K. is a founder of Elixir Pharmaceuticals (Cambridge, Massachusetts).
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Kenyon, C. The genetics of ageing. Nature 464, 504–512 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08980
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