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longevity

Revisiting Resveratrol’s Health Claims

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Photo of red wine and dark chocolate

Credit: Jill George, NIH

Over the past decade or so, a lot of us have been led to believe that certain indulgences—such as a glass of Pinot noir or a piece of dark chocolate—can actually be health-promoting. That’s because a number of studies had suggested that red wine, chocolate, and other foods containing the antioxidant resveratrol might lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other age-related maladies. But now comes word that a diet rich in resveratrol may not automatically translate into better health.


Creative Minds: Path to Longevity May Start With … Bats and Mole Rats!

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Images of the animals and DNA

Caption: DNA studies are unraveling the secrets of these mammals (clockwise from top left): naked mole rat, bowhead whale, and Brandt’s bat.
Credit: Clockwise from top left: Smithsonian’s National Zoo; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Vadim Gladyshev; National Human Genome Genome Research Institute, NIH

It started simply, with the analysis of a trace element in proteins. It led, through recognizing and following provocative patterns, to one of humanity’s greatest questions: what is the secret to a long life?

This intriguing scientific path, traveled by NIH Pioneer Awardee Vadim Gladyshev, has brought together an assortment of mammals, great and small. It has relied upon a veritable global treasure-hunt, with samples from Russian caves, East African tunnels, and Arctic oceans. It was Gladyshev’s scientific acumen that mapped this path. And it is comparative genomic analysis that provided the vehicle he has used to travel along it – right up to the threshold of new insights into healthier, longer life.


Secrets of a Supercentenarian’s Genome

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Hennie with her family

Caption: Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper (2nd from the left) in her youth. She was born June 29, 1890, premature and so tiny that no one thought she would survive. However, she lived to be 115.
Credit: Ramon Schipper

Not too long before 115-year-old Hendrikje “Hennie” van Andel-Schipper died in 2005, this Dutch “supercentenarian” attributed her remarkable longevity to eating raw salted herring, to drinking orange juice, and—with a twinkle in her eye—“to breathing.”

Because very few humans have survived as long Hennie, it’s only logical to ask whether some of the secrets to her impressive lifespan might lie in her genes. And we find ourselves in a great position to explore such questions, thanks to the convergence of two things: recent advances in DNA sequencing technology, and Hennie’s generous decision, made when she was a mere 82 years old, to donate her body to science upon her death.


Deciphering Secrets of Longevity, from Worms

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Microscopic view of a glowing green worm

Caption: Long-lived worms show increased activation of DAF-16 (green), a protein linked with longevity in worms and humans.
Credit: Kapahi Lab, Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, CA

How long would you want to live, if you could remain healthy? New clues from experiments done in microscopic worms suggest that science may have the potential to extend life spans dramatically.

Taking advantage of the power of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) as a model system for genetic studies, NIH-funded researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, CA, decided to set about testing ways to extend the worms’ lifespan.


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