Living Forever
(Top Posts - Science - 011905)

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(Original post made July 1, 2000, updated January 19, 2005)
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The High Cost of Living Forever
http://www.wired.com/news/news/technology/medtech/story/21186.html
Excerpt: "According to Robert Bradbury, president
of Aeiveos, an aging research firm, life-extension
advocates must also fight several other foes: human
naturalists, religious deathists, and bureaucratic
fearmongers. The latter group, he said, can be
particularly dangerous.

'Obviously the Social Security Administration is
going to be concerned because ... their calculations
are going to be thrown out of whack if we live for
200 years,' Bradbury said. ..."

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Geron Soars on Immortal Promise
http://www.wired.com/news/news/business/story/16112.html
Excerpt: "There's nothing like the promise of eternal
life to give a stock price a boost. The stock of
relatively unknown biotech firm Geron (GERN)
soared 150 percent on the Nasdaq market after
a series of front-page articles in newspapers like
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal
hinted that the company may be able to produce
'immortal' cells that could replace damaged ones
in the human body and lead to major advances in
transplants and gene therapy. ..."

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Do Rebuilt Cells Portend a Fountain of Youth?
http://www.wired.com/news/news/technology/story/9648.html
Excerpt: "Scientists first postulated that cellular
aging was a leading cause of death for humans
back in 1970. That radical theory, called the
wear-and-tear theory, makes the analogy that
the human body is like a machine and human
cells are like machine parts.

The cellular parts - primarily the DNA - are
used up over time, and as a result, bodies
decline and die.

But what would happen if the body could be
rebuilt with new DNA, just as a PC can be
retrofitted with new software? Scientists at the
University of Texas Southwestern Medical
Center and biotechnologists at Menlo Park,
California's Geron Corp. posed this question,
which naturally led to another:

Would humankind be able to extend the body's
life, almost indefinitely? The controversial
answer ... is a definitive 'yes'."

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Increase your lifespan by 50% ?

Perhaps, though the following is little more than theoret-
ical, and the actual impact it would have on humans, if
approved for anti-aging purposes, has not been scien-
tifically proven as of yet:

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Jan. 13, 2005
http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050110/full/050110-16.html
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Excerpt:

Treatments lengthen worm lives, but proving human effect
will be tricky.

A group of drugs already approved for humans can prolong
the lifespan of worms. So, will these medicines be sought
after by those seeking eternal youth?

Researchers have long been trying to find drugs or elixirs
that can stave off ageing. But they have met with little suc-
cess, partly because it is laborious and time-consuming to
show that a drug adds years to our lives.

To get around this problem, Kerry Kornfeld of Washington
University in St Louis, Missouri, and his team tested drugs
on a tiny, short-lived worm called Caenorhabditis elegans.
Researchers have shown before that tweaking certain
genes can prolong this worm's life.

The team split the worms into groups and doped their food
with 19 prescription medicines, from steroids to diuretics to
anti-inflammatory drugs. "We went through a pharmaceutical
textbook and picked a drug from each class," Kornfeld says.

Most of the drugs had no effect, or even killed the worms at
high doses. But an anticonvulsant used to fight epilepsy, and
two other similar compounds, lengthened the animals' lives
by as much as 50%. Normal signs of ageing were also de-
layed in the animals.

There is no proof that these drugs will extend lifespan in
people. But Kornfeld says it is possible, because the genes
and molecules that control the ageing process in worms gen-
erally exist in mammals too.

...

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An optimistic article regarding the possibility of
dramatic expansion of life spans -and- quality of
life -and- youth for those of us fortunate enough
to survive the slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune in this, our one and only *sure* oppor-
tunity to do so ...

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Dec. 3, 2004
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4003063.stm
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Excerpts:

...

Aging is a physical phenomenon happening to our
bodies, so at some point in the future, as medicine
becomes more and more powerful, we will inevitably
be able to address aging just as effectively as we
address many diseases today.

...

It is not just an idea: it's a very detailed plan to repair
all the types of molecular and cellular damage that
happen to us over time.

And each method to do this is either already working
in a preliminary form (in clinical trials) or is based on
technologies that already exist and just need to be
combined.

...

When we get these therapies, we will no longer all
get frail and decrepit and dependent as we get older,
and eventually succumb to the innumerable ghastly
progressive diseases of old age.

...

So, will this happen in time for some people alive
today? Probably. Since these therapies repair accu-
mulated damage, they are applicable to people in
middle age or older who have a fair amount of that
damage.

I think the first person to live to 1,000 might be 60
already.

It is very complicated, because aging is. There are
seven major types of molecular and cellular damage
that eventually become bad for us - including cells
being lost without replacement and mutations in our
chromosomes.

Each of these things is potentially fixable by technol-
ogy that either already exists or is in active develop-
ment.

...

The average age will be in the region of a few thous-
and years.

...

And remember, none of that time would be lived in
frailty and debility and dependence - you would be
youthful, both physically and mentally, right up to the
day you mis-time the speed of that oncoming lorry.

...

Ever since we invented fire and the wheel, we've been
demonstrating both our ability and our inherent desire
to fix things that we don't like about ourselves and our
environment.

We would be going against that most fundamental
aspect of what it is to be human if we decided that
something so horrible as everyone getting frail and
decrepit and dependent was something we should
live with forever.

...

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