Live long and prosper

Short-circuiting the process of ageing

Featured in

  • Published 20200427
  • ISBN: 9781922268761
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THE BIOLOGICAL BASIS of ageing can be traced to its beginning four billion years ago in a gene circuit in the first life forms that provided a survival advantage by turning off cellular reproduction while DNA was being repaired. One gene turns off reproduction; another makes a protein that turns off the first gene when it is safe to reproduce. When DNA breaks, the protein made by the second gene leaves to repair the DNA. As a result, the first gene is turned on to halt reproduction until that repair is complete.

The fossil record in our genes goes a long way to proving that every living thing that shares this planet with us still carries this ancient genetic survival circuit, in more or less the same basic form. It is there in every plant. It is there in every fungus. It is there in every animal.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

About the author

David Sinclair

David Sinclair is a professor of genetics, Harvard Medical School, co-joint professor at the University of New South Wales and author of New York...

More from this edition

Contemporary loss

Essay  ONE OF THE most popular Irish broadcasters and writers of modern times was Nuala O’Faolain. Abruptly, in the middle of an engaged and full...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.