Sarcopenia is the name given to loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with age. When it comes to assembling evidence for causes of the condition, this is one of the better examples of the present state of understanding in aging. A sizable number of potential causes have convincing evidence, all may be relevant, but the degree to which they are important relative to one another is hard to discern. Further, the layering of the causative mechanisms, how they interact, and whether and to what degree some are secondary to others, is also hard to discern. The only truly reliable method of answering such questions is to fix just one contributing cause, and observe the results. The field of biotechnology is on the verge of being able to achieve that goal for sarcopenia and a number of other age-related conditions, but not quite there yet.
What is the usual approach given the inability to fix a cause of age-related disease in isolation? Make it worse instead. The research community can break cellular biochemistry in ways that exaggerate certain manifestations of aging – such as the oxidative stress under examination in today’s open access paper. It is, however, very challenging to
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