Reliability Theory of Aging
Russian researchers Leonid Gavrilov and Natalia Gavrilova have a new and insightful take on how and why we age. Based on systems theory, reliability theory sees the aging process as the progressive failure of redundant physiological functional units as the body sustains physiologic insults. When a critical sytem fails after its redudant counterparts, death occurs. In some sense, this theory seems counterintuitive, as we have parts of the body such as one heart, which as an organ is not redundant and interpreting the organ as a redundant system is not meaningful. But it is more readily applicable to other physiologic systems, and the authors have predicted the levelling off of mortality rates with this theory. As redundant systems become malfunctional, less remain such that the probability that a critical system will be interrupted becomes higher. Thus in old age the probability that a mortal critical system is damage becomes higher and this explains the levelling off of mortality rates. The mathmatical modelling following from this theory, combined with its integration with other theories of aging, will potentially expedite the development of treatments for aging. Reliability Theory Press Release, Paper from Journal of Theoretical Biology, Author Bio, Authors' Hompage, Author Interview