`Die Young At An Old Age'

The race is on to find longevity genes

In 1513, the explorer Juan Ponce de Leon arrived in Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth. Today, scientists are still looking for antidotes to aging--not in Florida but in the DNA of such humble organisms as yeast, worms, and fruit flies. There they have found at least a dozen longevity genes that can dramatically increase life span. Scientists hope to find corresponding genes in human beings that could be manipulated to help people live longer, healthier lives. "We want to have people die young--at an old age," says S. Michal Jazwinski of the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans.

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