Hacking Aging: A Strategy to Use Big Data From Medical Studies to Extend Human Life
Age is the most important single factor associated with chronic diseases and ultimately, death. The mortality rate in humans doubles approximately every eight years, as described by the Gompertz law of mortality. The incidence of specific diseases, such as cancer or stroke, also accelerates after the age of about 40 and doubles at a rate that mirrors the mortality-rate doubling time. It is therefore, entirely plausible to think that there is a single underlying process, the driving force behind the progressive reduction of the organism's health leading to the increased susceptibility to diseases and death; aging.
Figures are adopted from Pyrkov et al. (2017).
There is, however, no fundamental law of nature requiring exponential morbidity and mortality risk trajectories. The acceleration of mortality is thus the most important characteristics of the aging process. It varies dramatically even among closely related mammalian species and hence appears to be a tunable phenotype. Here, we follow how big data from large human medical studies, and analytical approaches borrowed from physics of complex dynamic systems can help to reverse engineer the underlying biology behind Gompertz mortality law. With such an approach we hope to generate predictive models of aging for systematic discovery of biomarkers of aging followed by identification of novel therapeutic targets for future anti-aging interventions.
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