A Call for Standardization of Controls in Lifespan Studies


“[...] we posit that the majority of results in biology of aging may be irrelevant to the fundamental aim of this field and must be acknowledged appropriately.”

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BUFFALO, NY- March 5, 2024 – A new research perspective was published in Aging (listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as "Aging (Albany NY)" and "Aging-US" by Web of Science) Volume 16, Issue 4, entitled, “On standardization of controls in lifespan studies.”

In this new paper, researchers Olga Spiridonova, Dmitrii Kriukov, Nikolai Nemirovich-Danchenko, and Leonid Peshkin from Harvard Medical School's Department of Systems Biology discuss the burgeoning field of the search for interventions to slow down, and even reverse, aging. Currently available literature cites hundreds of supposedly beneficial pharmacological and genetic interventions in model organisms: mice, rats, flies, and worms, where research into physiology is routinely accompanied by lifespan data. However, when experimental animals from one article live as long as controls from another article, comparing the results of interventions across studies can yield misleading outcomes. 

“Theoretically, all lifespan data are ripe for re-analysis: we could contrast the molecular targets and pathways across studies and help focus the further search for interventions.” 

Alas, the results of most longevity studies are difficult to compare. This is in part because there are no clear, universally accepted standards for conducting such experiments or even for reporting such data. The situation is worsened by the fact that the authors often do not describe experimental conditions completely. As a result, works on longevity make up a set of precedents, each of which might be interesting in its own right, yet incoherent and incomparable at least for the reason that in a general context, it may indicate, for example, not prolonging the life of an average organism, but compensating for any genetic abnormalities of a particular sample or inappropriate living conditions. 

“Here we point out specific issues and propose solutions for quality control by checking both inter- and intra-study consistency of lifespan data.”

Read the full paper: DOI: https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.205604 

Corresponding Author: Leonid Peshkin

Corresponding Email: pesha@hms.harvard.edu 

Keywords: animal disease models, survival modeling, aging, data standardization

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About Aging-US:

Aging publishes research papers in all fields of aging research including but not limited, aging from yeast to mammals, cellular senescence, age-related diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s diseases and their prevention and treatment, anti-aging strategies and drug development and especially the role of signal transduction pathways such as mTOR in aging and potential approaches to modulate these signaling pathways to extend lifespan. The journal aims to promote treatment of age-related diseases by slowing down aging, validation of anti-aging drugs by treating age-related diseases, prevention of cancer by inhibiting aging. Cancer and COVID-19 are age-related diseases.

Aging is indexed by PubMed/Medline (abbreviated as “Aging (Albany NY)”), PubMed CentralWeb of Science: Science Citation Index Expanded (abbreviated as “Aging‐US” and listed in the Cell Biology and Geriatrics & Gerontology categories), Scopus (abbreviated as “Aging” and listed in the Cell Biology and Aging categories), Biological Abstracts, BIOSIS Previews, EMBASE, META (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative) (2018-2022), and Dimensions (Digital Science).

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