Mathematical essence of aging
Aging of humans and other organisms shares nearly-universal features, hinting at understandability.
With age, the risk of death and of many diseases rises exponentially, health differences between individuals widen, and timescales for recovery grow longer. Aging, at least in mice, seems reversible to a certain extent, as evidenced by experiments which remove damaged cells or enhance repair. These features lead to a theory of the core processes of aging using a stochastic equation for damage accumulation. In this equation, mutated stem cells give rise to damaged cells which inhibit their own removal by the immune system. We back this up with experiments on a key type of damaged cells, called senescent cells, whose removal has been shown to rejuvenate mice. The mathematical approach explains the incidence curves of age-related diseases in humans, and the scaling and dynamics of survival curves under life-span-extending interventions in model organisms. It provides mechanisms for several diseases of unknown origin. We will discuss how this approach might guide future optimal treatment for aging.
Visit the Alon lab.