A Means to an End: The Biological Basis of Aging and Death

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Oxford University Press, Feb 28, 2002 - Science - 256 pages
Why do we age? Is aging inevitable? Will advances in medical knowledge allow us to extend the human lifespan beyond its present limits? Because growing old has long been the one irreducible reality of human existence, these intriguing questions arise more often in the context of science fiction than science fact. But recent discoveries in the fields of cell biology and molecular genetics are seriously challenging the assumption that human lifespans are beyond our control. With such discoveries in mind, noted cell biologist William R. Clark clearly and skillfully describes how senescence begins at the level of individual cells and how cellular replication may be bound up with aging of the entire organism. He explores the evolutionary origin and function of aging, the cellular connections between aging and cancer, the parallels between cellular senescence and Alzheimer's disease, and the insights gained through studying human genetic disorders--such as Werner's syndrome--that mimic the symptoms of aging. Clark also explains how reduction in caloric intake may actually help increase lifespan, and how the destructive effects of oxidative elements in the body may be limited by the consumption of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. In a final chapter, Clark considers the social and economic aspects of living longer, the implications of gene therapy on senescence, and what we might learn about aging from experiments in cloning. This is a highly readable, provocative account of some of the most far-reaching and controversial questions we are likely to ask in the next century.

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A MEANS TO AN END: The Biological Basis of Aging and Death

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A virtual textbook on what the growing knowledge of biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology is revealing about the basic mechanisms of aging. Clark, professor emeritus of immunology at Univ. of ... Read full review

A means to an end: the biological basis of aging and death

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

As in his previous books, Clark (immunology, emeritus, UCLA; The New Healers: Molecular Medicine in the Twenty-First Century, LJ 12/97) does not hesitate to introduce the lay reader to complex ... Read full review


1 Aging Senescence and Lifespan
2 The Nature of Cellular Senescence and Death
3 The Evolution of Senescence and Death
The Developmental Genetics of Senescence and Lifespan
5 Human Genetic Diseases That Mimic the Aging Process
6 Cycling to Senescence
Cancer and Aging
8 Caloric Restriction and Maximum Lifespan
Oxidative Stress and Cellular Senescence
10 The Aging Brain
11 A Conditional Benefit

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Page 222 - Murakami S, Johnson TE (1996). A genetic pathway conferring life extension and resistance to UV stress in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics 143: 1207-18.
Page 225 - Ames, BN (1994) Senescence-Like Growth Arrest Induced by Hydrogen Peroxide in Human Diploid Fibroblast F65 Cells.
Page ix - As always, a number of people have contributed to the making of this book.

About the author (2002)

Professor Emeritus of Immunology at UCLA and an internationally recognized authority on cellular immune reactions, William R. Clark is the author of The New Healers: Molecular Medicine in the Twenty-First Century, Sex and the Origins of Death, and At War Within: The Double Edged Sword of Immunity, all published by OUP.

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