Andrei Gudkov

Undoing Aging 2019

A sizeable part of the human genome is comprised of non-coding DNA that harbors ancient viruses. One such virus, LINE-1, remains active to this day. Activation of LINE-1 in cells triggers antiviral defense mechanisms that produce chronic inflammation, a hallmark of aging. Since LINE-1 activity irreversibly damages DNA, cells have developed several strategies to suppress it. However, innate suppression mechanisms weaken with age, so one of our goals is to create therapies to help our body keep retroelements in check.

By developing drugs against retroelements, we aim to effectively silence their activity, preventing the DNA damage and inflammation associated with cancer and age-related diseases.




Building a human being

By translating the genome

Secrets, disease and beauty are all written in the human genome, the complete set of genetic instructions needed to build a human being. Now, as scientist and entrepreneur Riccardo Sabatini shows us, we have the power to read this complex code, predicting things like height, eye color, age and even facial structure — all from a vial of blood. And soon, Sabatini says, our new understanding of the genome will allow us to personalize treatments for diseases like cancer.


Sequencing the genome

ATCG

Each human’s genome consists of a unique DNA sequence of A’s, T’s, C’s and G’s that tell your cells how to operate. Thanks to technological advances, scientists are now able to know the sequence of letters that makes up an individual genome relatively quickly and inexpensively.