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Telomerase Elimination Leads Not Only to Extended Life, but also REGENERATION - jordan179 — LiveJournal
November 29th, 2010
09:42 am

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Telomerase Elimination Leads Not Only to Extended Life, but also REGENERATION
Harvard scientists have successfully not merely stopped but reversed the ageing process in mice (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/nov/28/scientists-reverse-ageing-mice-humans).

The Harvard group focused on a process called telomere shortening. Most cells in the body contain 23 pairs of chromosomes, which carry our DNA. At the ends of each chromosome is a protective cap called a telomere. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres are snipped shorter, until eventually they stop working and the cell dies or goes into a suspended state called "senescence". The process is behind much of the wear and tear associated with ageing.

At Harvard, they bred genetically manipulated mice that lacked an enzyme called telomerase that stops telomeres getting shorter. Without the enzyme, the mice aged prematurely and suffered ailments, including a poor sense of smell, smaller brain size, infertility and damaged intestines and spleens. But when DePinho gave the mice injections to reactivate the enzyme, it repaired the damaged tissues and reversed the signs of ageing.


What does this mean? It means that we are in all probability now just 10-20 years away from radically extending the average human life (to the maximum of 100-120) and possibly only around 25 or so years away from extending the maximum lifespan (to ???). In other words, we are now knocking at the gates of immortality.

What's even better is that this technique, if it works, would also regenerate ageing damage. In other words, this is not merely lengthened life, but also lengthened youth. We'll have done an end-run around the Tithonys dilemna, and the huge numbers of elderly such a process would generate will be healthy enough to support themselves, and thus be a gain for rather than a drain on the economy.

There is also no obvious reason why this technique will be particularly expensive. Right now, we aren't geared up for mass production of human telomerase, but it shouldn't be a matter of more than 10 or so years past our decision to search for a tecnnique of mass production for it to be cheaply synthesizable. Note that we already routinely synthesize (or grow in other animals) numerous other human hormones, most famously insulin (which was once very expensive but is today fairly cheap to obtain).

There might be bad side effects. We didn't evolve to live 100 or more years. But so far, this looks like unadulterated good news to me.

Celebrate!

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From:sekhmetsat
Date:November 29th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
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With the third-worlders breeding like rats, how do wee keep the population stable? All I see is massive amounts of people, with no way to support them. unless we DON'T give it to third-worlders. and do we REALLY need jihadists living forever? the end of civilization as we know it....
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From:jordan179
Date:November 29th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
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I strongly suspect that the birthrate will drop as this technology spreads. So far, every time that a technology dropping deathrate has spread, it has led to a short-term population explosion followed by a long-term birth dearth. And having people live longer and healthier lives also means that more highly-skilled workers and professionals will be available to increase economic productivity.

Jihadist life spans will hopefully be kept short by the armed forces of the civilized world. I wasn't expecting us to win this war by having our enemies die of natural causes.
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From:juliet_winters
Date:November 29th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
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More reason for space travel. The place is going to get crowded. The economics will change radically, too, and there will probably be big changes in spirituality.
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From:jordan179
Date:November 29th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
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Especially, reason for research into mass access to space technologies such as space elevators and various kinds of catapult launch systems.
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From:shockwave77598
Date:November 29th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
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If it works, ummm... I'll temper my Yay! with the knowledge that my 150 years on Terra will be spent in more and more cramped areas as the illegals kid-factories continue to pump chilluns out in prodigous numbers, and all of them live to be 150 also. The horror of being crushed under "every sperm is sacred" 500 person families who cannot feed themselves gives me pause to wonder if wide use is such a good idea.
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From:jordan179
Date:November 29th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
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Each new person is not merely a mouth to feed, but also a mind and pair of hands to produce. Of course, this will make socialist societies less sustainable.
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From:melvin_udall
Date:November 29th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
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Not sure how I feel about this. We currently a Ruling Class attempting to take over all health related issues.
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From:jordan179
Date:November 29th, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC)
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I think the most the Ruling Class will able to do is to kill hundreds of millions of people due to preventable senescence, and then rewrite the history books so that nobody blames them, before bowing to the inevitable and legalizing the treatment.

All this of course assumes that the technology becomes practical.
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From:mercyorbemoaned
Date:November 29th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
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YES
YES
I WILL LOOK 19 AND LIVE FOREVER
ALL WILL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR
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From:kishiriadgr
Date:November 30th, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
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I HAVE NEVER MET YOU BEFORE.

I AM STARTING TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU.
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From:mercyorbemoaned
Date:November 29th, 2010 09:30 pm (UTC)
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Reading this thread, it's clear that the future lies with the hyperextroverted. YES MORE PEOPLE YES. ALL OF YOU CAN COME OVER. IT WILL BE A PARTY FOREEEEEEVER
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From:elyscape
Date:November 29th, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
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the future lies with the hyperextroverted

WELL I'M BONED.
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From:kalance
Date:November 30th, 2010 04:34 am (UTC)
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Huh...

One more example of Sci-Fi becoming Sci-Fact.

Ever read the Honor series? Because this to me sound exactly like what the substance "Prolong" is supposed to accomplish.

But, oh crap, what is this going to do to the population growth rate? It's already bad enough that the worlds population doubles every 50+/- years. We'd better be well on our way to either constructing arcologies or colonizing other stellar bodies before we mass produce this stuff for the public.
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From:mercyorbemoaned
Date:November 30th, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
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Get with the times! Overpopulation is old and busted, the new hotness is BIRTH DEARTH.
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From:kc_anathema
Date:November 30th, 2010 08:40 am (UTC)
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This calls for the happy dance. I must now survive the next 20 to 30 years.
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From:ilion7
Date:December 1st, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)

Who wants to live to 150?

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I *refuse* to live to be 150 unless I can also have a younger, or at minimum, a healthy, body.

I'm now 53; still in fairly good shape, yet in bad enough shape that I'd not care to spend the next 100 years declining from this "high" point.

In my view, one of the consolations of age (I mean, aside from the fact that I'm wiser and more knowledgable than when I was younger) is the sure knowledge that it will be over soon enough.

When I was a kid and heard adults say things like that, I simply could not beging to understand their point of view. Now I do.
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From:goldithoth
Date:December 1st, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)

economics

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We need people to die so that young people can have jobs. It is incredibly naieve to suggest that more people = magical economic expansion. We can't afford national healthcare in the states as it is. We have too many dependents. Even if all these super-old people agreed to work until they died; that would only prevent younger people from getting jobs. Young people are better workers in an economy driven by technological advance. They simply have more ideas; they are more flexible and less invested in years of endeavor; they are ostensibly less subject to the sort of cognitive bias that operates to curtail progress.

As for the ignorant references to "third world" populations... maybe if some people didn't pack like rats, then it wouldn't offend them so much that other people seem to be breeding like rats. Let's consider materialism and fertility as they affect the global environment. Realistically, both "stuff" and "folks" take up energy and pollute the planet. I'm an American. I'll suggest that some westerners don't appreciate shipping human aid to the jungles of the Congo because "they should just stop having babies." It gets in the way of all that other "stuff" we could be doing with the money. All social realities aside, it would be nice if everyone in the OECD would stop using cell phones and laptops because Coltan and other harmful materials are fairly central to the underlying reasons why folks are suffering to death and in need of help in the first place. We want to get mad because "those people" are shitting where they eat... but I'd say we are doing the same thing if we can get over the racism and realise that "US shitting where THEY eat" [polluting somebody else's collective existence]is the same thing as "shitting where we eat." We have one serviceable planet. That westerners have cultivated irrational attachments to habitually-accumulated artifacts (like tvs and closets full of clothes or storage sheds full of shit in boxes) is rather like a waste of resources, much like birthing too many children {as if this were even a realistic assessment!} isn't it? But we often choose to ignore the unsustainability of materialistic lifestyles as if it were not a sign of our own primitive or ignorant proclivities. Maybe I'm an asshole for suggesting that western-style irrational materialism parallels Malthusian issues; but I welcome any challengers.

Politics, especially popular fear-based brands, is a way to control living things. Anything that prolongs life in such a way is bound to becomes extremely politicised. Definitely not surprised to see the teleomere issue mentioned in this blog. Way to go Jordan!
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From:ilion7
Date:December 2nd, 2010 01:17 am (UTC)

Re: economics

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Oh, my! Does someone ever have a lot to learn about both ecomonics and old people.
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