Beyond the Helix

Kahn, Author, Carol Kahn, Author Crown Publishers $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8129-1153-4
The first recorded tale of our search for answers to the question of why we age and die is the 5000-year-old Sumerian epic, Gilgamesh. Medieval alchemists in their turn sought the ""philosopher's stone,'' and Ponce de Leon looked for ``The Fountain of Youth.'' Now, as science writer Kahn documents here, molecular biology may well unlock the secret of how to increase the human lifespan in the not-too-distant future. At the center of the aging process, she explains, lies the double helix of DNA, the substance of which genes of all living organisms are made and which controls all activity within living cells. Damage to DNA is highly correlated with aging. Discoveries in molecular biology, gerontology and immunology have revealed cellular mechanisms for the repair of damaged DNA and how anti-oxidants like vitamin E prevent damage to DNA. If these processes can be enhanced, and, notes Kahn, there is evidence that they can be, it may be possible to lengthen substantially the human lifespan. In her compulsively readable study, Kahn conducts readers through this complex world of molecular biology and introduces us to the fraternity of scientists who struggle to understand aging. October 24
Reviewed on: 09/01/1985
Release date: 09/01/1985
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