Why does the human body deteriorate as a person ages? Two research teams have found a new clue to this longstanding mystery. Both groups have identified a mutation that causes children to suffer a form of accelerated aging that usually results in death in their teens from heart attack, stroke, or other problems more typically associated with elderly people.
While investigators continue to debate exactly how well this so-called Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome mirrors normal aging, many are convinced that the newly discovered mutation could provide insight into the process.
This finding "will help scientists across the globe to explore the fundamental mechanisms that drive human aging. We hope this will also lead to treatment and an eventual cure for progeria," says Leslie Gordon of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.
Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, also known simply as progeria–Greek for early aging–affects only an estimated 1 in 4