We collected 60 age-dependent transcriptomes for C. elegans strains including four exceptionally long-lived mutants (mean adult lifespan extended 2.2- to 9.4-fold) and three examples of lifespan-increasing RNAi treatments. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) reveals aging as a transcriptomic drift along a single direction, consistent across the vastly diverse biological conditions and coinciding with the first principal component, a hallmark of the criticality of the underlying gene regulatory network. We therefore expected that the organism’s aging state could be characterized by a single number closely related to vitality deficit or biological age. The “aging trajectory”, i.e. the dependence of the biological age on chronological age, is then a universal stochastic function modulated by the network stiffness; a macroscopic parameter reflecting the network topology and associated with the rate of aging. To corroborate this view, we used publicly available datasets to define a transcriptomic biomarker of age and observed that the rescaling of age by lifespan simultaneously brings together aging trajectories of transcription and survival curves. In accordance with the theoretical prediction, the limiting mortality value at the plateau agrees closely with the mortality rate doubling exponent estimated at the cross-over age near the average lifespan. Finally, we used the transcriptomic signature of age to identify possible life-extending drug compounds and successfully tested a handful of the top-ranking molecules in C. elegans survival assays and achieved up to a +30% extension of mean lifespan.