In the earlier post with the terrible title of What is the philosophy of biological aging research/biogerontology/translational geroscience/? Problems I listed the following as Problem #2:
Problem #2: 2/A. What are the criteria for a biological structure/dynamics to qualify for being central in organismal level, multicellular biological aging? A corresponding question (2/B) concerning the translational aspect of geroscience might be: What quantifies/qualifies as a central biomedical structure/dynamics for being used as a medical application in counteracting human biological aging and to inform both diagnosis and treatment? A related background question: Is it possible and desirable to cut across biological pluralism concerning translational geroscience?
In my perspective paper called Cell lineage trees: the central structure plus key dynamics of biological aging and formulating the limiting problem of comprehensive organismal rejuvenation, I worked out a possible list of such criteria and provided an answer for question 2/A. Here is the corresponding, standalone excerpt from the ~30 page perspective paper.
What do we expect from a central concept, structure, process of organismal biological aging? This question is about the potential expressiveness, explanatory, predictive and modelling power of a scientific tool. We list 10 requirements, grouped according to 6 bigger concepts, highlighted in bold. We don’t aim to provide an exhaustive list, listing all necessary conditions together being sufficient to provide a definition of centrality in biological aging. Some requirements will (intentionally) overlap as well and logically and conceptually are not independent from each other, so might seem redundant. What we aim to provide is a starter list of requirements to assess centrality of a tool in aging research. The main aim is not a methodological enquiry with epistemological finesse but suggesting a new theoretical perspective or frame to scientists, technologists and doctors working with biological aging with enough practicalities to motivate increasing adoption. Hence the requirements are listed not in the order of weighted relevance but more in a didactic manner trying to ease understanding.
- It should be an actual biological structure, concept, process, not some higher level abstraction, so it can serve biological intuition.
Quantitative, mathematical, statistical, easily expressible with computer science
- It should be simple.
- It should be deeply quantitative, mathematical.
- It should be able to incorporate basic evolutionary concepts and processes.
- It should be deeply temporal, dynamic, also cover development and being able to catch acceleration and deceleration of aging.
- It could be easily interpreted in spatial terms.
Originality, biological scalability, comprehensiveness
The requirements listed here extend on the spatiotemporality requirements. Comprehensiveness can be interpreted spatially as including the whole body, temporally as including the whole temporal trajectory for biological aging and conceptually/logically as including all the different layers embedded into each other.
- It should provide an original way to comprehensible show how aging disrupts key biological processes.
- It should be able to cover, represent, express most hallmark aging processes.
- Scalability: talking about multicellularity requires that it is close to the cell concept but can be extended into upper (tissue, organs, scale-up) and lower level (organellar, molecular, scale-down) structures.
Biomedical representative, expressive power, life historical resolution
- It should provide near exhaustive coverage of life events, corresponding to biological and medical history.