Dr. Gordon Lithgow of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging tells us about worms!

This unassuming scientific model has a lot of important advantages for science: they can be frozen and subsequently thawed and retain viability, they are extremely well understood down to the precise number of cells in their body and the wiring of their nervous system, known as the connectome. Additionally, they have a short lifespan and are cheap to work with. Why would that be advantageous, you may ask?

This is where Dr. Lithgow's work on the Caenorhabditis Intervention Testing Program comes in. Short-lived organisms give Dr. Lithgow and his colleagues the opportunity to see how their biology responds to compounds in different contexts and to do so cheaply and rapidly. Think a vitamin, pharmaceutical or one of any number of other compounds may have a broad effect on longevity? Try it on Caenorhabditis first! Taking this approach allows the broad screening of compounds that might not otherwise get its chance in the limelight if science were limited to only working with rodents, for example.

In this episode, you'll discover:

  • (00:00) Introduction
  • (03:30) What is C elegans and why do researchers use it?
  • (06:43) Proteostasis and its involvement in aging
  • (10:59) Shocking worms with heat extends their lifespan
  • (16:40) Sauna use activates human heat-shock proteins, improving health
  • (19:27) Excess dietary iron accelerates protein aggregation, promoting Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases
  • (25:07) Vitamin D deficiency accelerates aging
  • (35:19) Using worms to search for compounds that extend life in humans

If you’re interested in learning more, you can read the full show notes here.

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Direct download: lithgow_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:39pm EST