Cells, Aging, and Human Disease

Cells, Aging, and Human Disease

Cells, Aging, and Human Disease

Cells, Aging, and Human Disease


Cells, Aging, and Human Diseaseis the first book to explore aging all the way from genes to clinical application, analyzing the fundamental cellular changes which underlie human age-related disease. With over 4,000 references, this text explores both the fundamental processes of human aging and the tissue-by-tissue pathology, detailing both breaking research and current state-of-the-art clinical interventions in aging and age-related disease.

Far from merely sharing a common onset late in the lifespan, age-related diseases are linked by fundamental common characteristics at the genetic and cellular levels. Emphasizing human cell mechanisms, the first section presents and analyzes our current knowledege of telomere biology and cell senescence. In superb academic detail, the text brings the reader up to date on telomere maintenance, telomerase dynamics, and current research on cell senescence--and the general model--cell senescence as the central component in human senescence and cancer. For each human malignancy, the chapter reviews and analyzes all available data on telomeres and telomerase, as well as summarizing current work on their clinical application in both diagnosis and cancer therapy.

The second edition, oriented by organs and tissues, explores the actual physiological impact of cell senescence and aging on clinical disease. After a summary of the literature on early aging syndromes--the progerias--the text reviews aging diseases (Alzheimer's dementia, osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis, immune aging, presbyopia, sarcopenia, etc.) in the context of the tissues in which they occur. Each of the ten clinical chapters--skin, cardiovascular system, bone and joints, hematopoetic and immune systems, endocrine, CNS, renal, muscle, GI, and eyes--examines what we know of their pathology, the role of cell sensescence, and medical interventions, both current and potential.


The major danger of technology is not that we may play God, but that we may refuse to work at being fully human. Compassion is the highest of human motivations, allowing us first to understand, then to prevent, the suffering, fear, and tragedy of others. Our enemy is not death, which will forever be with us, but avoidable suffering, which need not be. The ubiquity of disease is no more ordained than is the rarity of individual compassion, but it is in our power to lessen the former through our dedication to the latter.

The aim is to understand how diseases of aging occur, that we may prevent human suffering. Helping those around us is not “playing God,” but is, if it has a sacred meaning, God's work.To denigrate this dedication, to avoid our responsibility, to ignore the suffering of those around us is neither human nor forgivable. We cannot assume that if someone suffers, the creator of the universe must have wanted it that way. Our ignorance of divine intent is no justification for a lack of mercy.

Finally, the age of those who suffer does not mitigate nor alter our responsibility to them. Few are callous enough to ignore the suffering of children, some would ignore and trivialize suffering in the elderly. Having been children, perhaps we remember our own helplessness and fear, yet remain unable to predict or understand the suffering of those who walk ahead of us in time. Compassion for the young is common; an equal compassion for the old should be no less equally common. Its lack indicts our basest egoism and rests upon a willful ignorance of life.

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