Philanthropist Paul F. Glenn launches labs for aging research at Harvard Medical School

quickly and to new levels of knowledge," said Mr. Glenn.

"In pursuing the underlying molecular mechanisms involved in the aging process, the Glenn Laboratories will be supporting the broad mission of the school," said Nancy Andrews, MD, PhD, Dean for Basic Sciences and Graduate Studies. "The school and the Glenn Laboratories research team thank Mr. Glenn and the Glenn Foundation for their leadership in this area of science."

Research into extending lifespan is not new. For more than 70 years, a calorie restricted diet has been known to increase the lifespan of mice and rats 40 percent by preventing them from getting diseases of aging such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and even cataracts. The hypothesis is that within each of our cells lies an evolutionarily ancient defense program that can be activated by so-called "longevity genes" which ameliorate the cellular damage that causes death and disease. Activation of these genes in genetically altered worms and flies has been shown to produce healthier, longer lives.

Buoyed by calorie restriction animal tests, research teams in this small field have been pursuing the molecular pathways that mimic calorie restriction.

In the summer of 2003, Sinclair's team showed in a paper published in Nature that a compound found in red wine called resveratrol could stimulate this pathway in yeast cells. The yeast cells lived as much as 60 percent longer, and in human cells tested in vitro, resveratrol activated a similar pathway. It enabled 30 percent of the treated human cells to survive gamma radiation, compared to 10 percent of untreated cells.

In a Nature paper published in July 2004, Sinclair's team showed that resveratrol had a similar impact in higher organisms: worms and flies. In worms, lifespan was extended up to 15 percent. In flies, lifespan was extended up to 29 percent. Another key finding with flies was that there was no loss of fertility, which can be seen in severe

Contact: John Lacey
Harvard Medical School

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