Werners syndrome (WS), a rare familial disease with symptoms resembling premature aging, is considered a partial model of human aging.
The gene responsible for WS (known as WRN) has been identified (and even cloned) by National Institute on Aging-funded researchers [Yu et al., Science 4/12/96] as one that produces an enzyme involved in DNA metabolism and repair. Several signs of defective DNA metabolism have been identified in cells obtained from WS patients. The consequences of the defective WRN gene may be related to the accumulation of DNA damage in the cells of people with WS leading to the premature development of age-related diseases.
Sufferers of WS have a generally aged appearance including early graying, loss of hair, and skin wrinkling.
People with WS develop a vast array of age-related diseases including arteriosclerosis, malignant neoplasms, cancer, type II diabetes mellitus, ocular cataracts and osteoporosis in early adult life.
The symptoms of Werners Syndrome closely resemble premature aging.