Getting Old? The reason may be hiding in your genes

Juan Carlos Izpisua is the Lionel Messi of molecular genetics. A world beater who left his homeland to lift his laurels in the top professional locations in the world. For Messi, that was FC Barcelona, followed by PSG. For Izpisua, it it is currently the Altos Labs in California, the world capital of biology. Oh, and they both speak Spanish, by the way.

Ippy is 62 now, which is even older than Messi. But he thinks he knows why this is. It’s called endogenous retroviruses and according to Manuel Ansede of El Pais [1] they make up no less than 8% of your genome. Molecular fossils if you will, that have got in there from somewhere else and are now getting a free ride. And one of them, the snappily named HERV K(HML-2) may be directly infecting the processes that make you old. At least, according to old Ippy it does, But don’t worry-he’s investigating the causes and hopes to do something about the whole mess quite soon.

And just like PSG has the top guns in football, this Altos Labs outfit seems to deploy a roll call of the absolute world top guns in Molecular Biology, as Manuel makes plain. It’s not the only hang-out for people of this sort in California. There’s whole clusters of them around the Salk Institute, UCLA and other institutions dotted around places like San Diego. It’s a perfect example of the potent mix of universities, research institutes and dynamic entrepreneurs which we think are the most potent engines of human progress you can get. It’s a theme we shall be returning to in later blogs. In the meantime-hats of to Izpisua and all his teams, and let’s wish them many more happy discoveries before they get old.


Englishpersons- you’ll need the ol’ translator for this one


#Izpisua #molecular genetics #ageing #cancer #California

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