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Old Worms, New Aging Genes

Biologists look into DNA for the secrets of long life

For more than a decade, Cynthia Kenyon has watched microscopic worms of the species Caenorhabditis elegans live far longer than they should. She has seen mutant strains of this worm, which is normally dead and gone after a mere 2 or 3 weeks, last well into their second month. It's as if a person lived to be 200 years old. Kenyon's long-lived worms are a result of mutations in individual genes. That's a radical notion to many scientists who have long thought of aging as an uncontrollable process of deterioration that isn't regulated by single genes.

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