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Drosophila melanogaster as a model system for the evaluation of anti-aging compounds.

  • Author(s): Jafari, Mahtab
  • et al.

Understanding the causes of aging is a complex problem due to the multiple factors that influence aging, which include genetics, environment, metabolism and reproduction, among others. These multiple factors create logistical difficulties in the evaluation of anti-aging agents. There is a need for good model systems to evaluate potential anti-aging compounds. The model systems used should represent the complexities of aging in humans, so that the findings may be extrapolated to human studies, but they should also present an opportunity to minimize the variables so that the experimental results can be accurately interpreted. In addition to positively affecting lifespan, the impact of the compound on the physiologic confounders of aging, including fecundity and the health span--the period of life where an organism is generally healthy and free from serious or chronic illness--of the model organism needs to be evaluated. Fecundity is considered a major confounder of aging in fruit flies. It is well established that female flies that are exposed to toxic substances typically reduce their dietary intake and their reproductive output and display an artifactual lifespan extension. As a result, drugs that achieve longevity benefits by reducing fecundity as a result of diminished food intake are probably not useful candidates for eventual treatment of aging in humans and should be eliminated during the screening process. Drosophila melanogaster provides a suitable model system for the screening of anti-aging compounds as D. melanogaster and humans have many conserved physiological and biological pathways. In this paper, I propose an algorithm to screen anti-aging compounds using Drosophila melanogaster as a model system.

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