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Fountain of Youth to be found in the anthill?
Date:11/20/2008

Aging we are all doing it. It is relentless and terminal. Auguries and alchemists, mendicants and magicians, philosophers and science fiction writers, researchers and plastic surgeons have employed all their various arts in the pursuits of "turning back the clock." Yet, we stand in modern times with a span of a century to our name, at most.

Technological wizardry abounds, so why do the factors that determine life span still elude us?

If you ask Arizona State University researcher Juergen Liebig, he would point to his favorite study animal, the ant, to provide answers. Liebig is one of a trio of scientists who are taking an audacious approach to studying gene regulation, using the ant to model human aging, with support from a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) $40 million pilot program, The Collaborative Innovation Awards.

As its name suggests, the award will allow scientists to attack problems that one person can't solve, according to Jack Dixon, HHMI vice president and chief scientific officer. "We were looking for projects that could really represent breakthroughs and change the way we think."

One of eight teams selected, Liebig, assistant professor in School of Life Sciences and member of the Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will partner with team leader Danny Reinberg, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the New York University School of Medicine, and colleague Shelley Berger of the Wistar Institute, both top researchers in the field of epigenetics.

The eight collaborative projects collectively engage 33 researchers and 16 institutions in the United States and Chile.

What can ants, not typically known for long life, tell us about human aging? Potentially much, says Liebig. Ants in a colony are genetically closely related, yet these sisters' body types, behavior and purpose can become specialized and vastly different. Queens t
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Contact: Margaret Coulombe
margaret.coulombe@asu.edu
480-727-8934
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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