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Biotech Medicine

Ask Aubrey de Grey About Longevity Research 639

Posted by timothy
from the take-your-time-phrase-well dept.
There may be such a thing as a conventional scientist -- but Aubrey de Grey is not one. Instead, biogerontologist de Grey has spent much of the last 20 years investigating the science of aging by considering the aging process as a multifaceted disease whose manifestations can be mitigated, rather than an inevitability to merely accept. That might not be unusual in itself, but de Grey believes that by addressing the causes and symptoms of aging, human life can be extended to at least 1000 years — a stance has earned him accolades and contempt in various degrees. (He might not especially mind being called names like "rogue" and "maverick," though.) De Grey is also chairman and chief science officer of The Methuselah Foundation, whose M-Prize for extending the lifespan of mice has been mentioned on Slashdot before. Ask de Grey about his research below; he'll answer the top-rated questions, and we'll publish them in this space. The usual Slashdot interview rules apply — so ask all the questions you'd like, but please confine yourself to one per post.
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Ask Aubrey de Grey About Longevity Research

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  • Telomerase and aging (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:56PM (#24121861)

    From the studies I've looked at, and the differing oppinions of the popular media, there seems to be a lot of misconceptions on the effects (or lack thereof) of telomerase on aging. Could you give a brief discussion of that (and possibly other factors/nonfactors and relative importance)?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MindKata (957167)
      Research into Telomerase sounds like its got potential, but its still a special case example of generic research. I would like to know what research work is being done (or even just considered for funding?) into using new full genome sequencing, to carry out widespread comparative studies of hundreds (and even thousands) of older people who are in their 90s and older. Their genetic code may show many possibly important sections of DNA, which we can find computationally and then highlight these areas for dee
  • by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:56PM (#24121871)

    What tangible, confirmed success have you had in extending the lifespan of humans, if any?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:27PM (#24122443)

      On the individual scale, I have had 100% success, with 0 failures, at extending my own life each and every day.

    • by ProppaT (557551)

      The problem with this question is that it's probably too late to extend any old person's life to a significant degree and it will take a person's life span to see any real improvements to, er, their life span. Unless we can take someone, say, in their 20's, and see if they look the same or are in the same health 20 years from then...in which case he wouldn't have had enough time to really prove much.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shaka999 (335100)

        With the right technique an old person might be the ideal candidate. If you can somehow rejuvenate the cells it would be most measurable on an old person. You also wouldn't have to wait as long to show the advantages...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Azghoul (25786)

      My question:

      Can you hurry it up, please?

      Thanks.

  • by DogDude (805747) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:57PM (#24121885) Homepage
    So let's say that you or some other scientist in the field figures out a way to actually get humans to live to 1000 years. Have you or anybody in your field considered that humans living that long would grossly exacerbate the current crisis concerning population and resources?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No one says we have to keep making more people if the ones we have stop breaking. Infact, I think it would make the crisis better. THink about it, it would make every scientific field leap forward if people could continue studying or practicing for a thousand years. For example: if albert einstein were still alive today, imagine what else we may know about physics? Maybe the theory of relativity was just the tip of the iceberg.

      • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:25PM (#24122417)

        No one says we have to keep making more people if the ones we have stop breaking.

        This won't stop the menopause from happening, and the urge to reproduce is one of the most basic animal urges that exists.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Vancorps (746090)
          A fair point but imagine a scientist who can work for 800 years to solve a particular problem, might we then be able to handle the population and resource issues? Imagine a Manhattan project 200 years long to handle our energy generation problems. With that much time a lot of gains could be made if war in the meantime didn't destroy everything that is.
    • by quanticle (843097) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:15PM (#24122227) Homepage

      Have you or anybody in your field considered that humans living that long would grossly exacerbate the current crisis concerning population and resources?

      Have you considered the fact that humans who have longer lifespans tend to have lower birthrates? I'm not suggesting causation, of course, but I am pointing out the fact that birthrates decrease as poverty and disease are ameliorated.

    • by chihowa (366380) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:41PM (#24122703)

      So let's say that you or some other scientist in the field figures out a way to actually get humans to live to 1000 years. Have you or anybody in your field considered that humans living that long would grossly exacerbate the current crisis concerning population and resources?

      Even worst than that is the wide wealth disparity that it would create. Imagine a Citizen Kane or Bill Gates type who never has to stop amassing wealth. Life+70yrs for copyrights would also take on a new meaning. Imagine a 22 year old fresh out of school trying to compete for a job with a bored multizillionare with 25 PhDs who just wants a job (something to do) and doesn't need to get paid.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SpinyNorman (33776)

        It's interesting to consider that even Joe Average could get crazy wealthy just due to the power of compound interest. If Joe's parents put $1000 in a bank account for him at birth, earning 5% compounded annually, then at age 1000 that would have grown to a staggering $1.5 * 10^24 . Of course with this much money swooshing around there'd be killer inflation to boot. It's hard to imagine what the financial world would look like!

        I wonder if someone with a few hundres years of life experience would even have a

        • by Gospodin (547743) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:46PM (#24125365)

          It's hard to imagine what the financial world would look like!

          It's not really that hard to imagine, given some knowledge of the assumptions used. For example, if we assume that people follow patterns typical to early-21st century America (study until 22, then work until 65, then retire until death), then as the period of retirement lengthens, we will see more and more capital and less and less labor. The result is economically obvious: returns to labor (i.e. wages) will increase and returns to capital (i.e. stock market gains, dividends, etc.) will decrease. What happens to inflation depends (as always) on the money supply, which is a separate issue.

          You can be certain that it won't be possible to drop $1,000 in "the bank", watch it grow at (say) 1% after inflation for 1,000 years, and end up with $20 million in then-current dollars. Interest rates on demand deposits usually don't exceed inflation; interest rates on CDs do, but have a fixed lifetime. Would you buy a 1,000-year CD? What are the odds the bank will even be around after 1,000 years? Or that you will be (given accidents and other unforeseeable events)?

          Regardless, what seems much more likely is that if people really can live 1,000 years, people will not follow our current pattern of study-work-retire-die. Rather, it will become study-work-retire-study-work-retire-etc. You might become sick of your job after 75 years, so quit for a while, learn a new trade, and start that. You've got plenty of time, after all.

          A question I'd also like to see raised is what are the social implications? What would happen to monogamy, for example? Heinlein discusses this a bit in Methuselah's Children and at more length in Time Enough For Love.

    • by johno10661 (306768) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:43PM (#24122749)

      Actually, he has. Extensively. Please browse any of his websites. There are many scientific discussions addressing this very topic.

      My personal counter to your rather far-reaching question is "what's your cutoff?" We extend life each and every day with new medical advances. Indeed, our lifespans have already been doubled in the last couple of hundred years. Is 105 acceptable to you? Too old? Should I not get my yearly flu vaccine because that may extend my life?

      Civilization adapts. I want the choice. Do some research on the debate of longevity. After you do, please come back and tell me how old I should be allowed to live to and then we can have a different discussion.

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:43PM (#24122755)

      Have you or anybody in your field considered that humans living that long would grossly exacerbate the current crisis concerning population and resources?

      Do people really still believe in the Population Bomb? Birth rate has been declining steadily for at least the last 40 years. If the trend continues, within 100 years, worldwide population growth will be negative.

      Note that in Western Europe and the United States (and Canada, which really should just give up and become six more States), population growth rate is already negative. If not for immmigration, the USA would have had a smaller population last Census than the one before, for the first time ever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mhall119 (1035984)

      But with 1000 year life-spans, inter-stellar space travel becomes much less of an issue. A 10 year trip to Alpha Centauri consumes only 1% of your life, not 10%.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Yes he has. Perhaps you should look him up before asking the same question he has gotten for years?

      BTW, we are not currently 'overpopulated'.
      Sheesh.

  • If we stop aging... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Broken scope (973885) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:57PM (#24121887) Homepage

    Has any research been done on how extreme longevity affects a person psychologically?

  • Dorian? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Speare (84249) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:57PM (#24121889) Homepage Journal
    Okay, I'm sure you've gotten this joke a statistically significant number of times, but have you done any metrics on how many people ask you... "Longevity research? De Grey? Dorian Gray [wikipedia.org]?" per month? Does this joke get weaker over time, or stronger? Can you give us some sort of picture of the phenomenon?
    • Re:Dorian? (Score:4, Funny)

      by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecrans.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:24PM (#24128527) Homepage

      Okay, I'm sure you've gotten this joke a statistically significant number of times, but have you done any metrics on how many people ask you... "Longevity research? De Grey? Dorian Gray?" per month? Does this joke get weaker over time, or stronger? Can you give us some sort of picture of the phenomenon?

      More to the point : how long do you think this joke can last? Can this joke be made to last for as much as 1000 years? Have there been any recent advances in extending the lifespan of a joke?

  • by teknopurge (199509) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:58PM (#24121903) Homepage

    Most people understand that parts of biological life break-down over time for various reasons, mostly environmental. What have we learned so far about humans, for example, and why cell death occurs?(Setting aside environmental causes like cancer, virii, toxins, etc.) If you had 60 secs to get a college student excited about wanting to study and research life extension, what would you say besides the obvious 'live-forever' meme?

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:00PM (#24121947) Journal

    Most people are very afraid of dying, and would spend almost any amount of money to live longer. Anyone promising to help them do so can extract nearly limitless quantities of money from people. Given that, why should we believe you aren't a complete charlatan?

    • by wurp (51446) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:30PM (#24122483) Homepage

      Because he has the same overpowering incentive to do the work that investors would have to invest in it?

      Because he's dedicated his life to longevity research and made many breakthroughs in the field?

      Why in the world would you propose someone is a charlatan when they in fact have dedicated massive (and to some degree, successful) effort to the cause you're proposing they're being fraudulent about?

      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:36PM (#24122615) Journal

        He never achieved his PhD in any conventional sense. He studied computer science as an undergrad at Cambridge. His bio, the way he touts himself, makes it appear he earned a PhD in biology from Cambridge, which he did not. He is not associated with Cambridge in any way, yet he weasel words things to make it easy for people to misinterpret his association with them. There are good reasons to believe he is a charlatan.

        • by wurp (51446) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:50PM (#24122903) Homepage

          Per his Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] he was in fact awarded a PhD from Cambridge. He did apparently get it without studying biology at Cambridge, which is pretty weird. Of course, that's also Wikipedia, so take it with an appropriately sized grain of salt.

          It does look as if his biology credentials are weak (if one can even glean that from a Wikipedia entry), but it also looks as if he sincerely believes in the work.

          On the other hand, I think someone taking a public stand and saying "treat this is a solvable problem" is doing a great service. It's sheer idiocy and superstition that we treat aging as if it's untreatable.

          • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:02PM (#24123159) Journal

            I'm not saying he is a charlatan. It's just that I'd like to see some proof that he isn't. For instance, why does he do so much public speaking on the subject? What research does he actually do himself? How is his research funded?

            What do his colleagues in the field think of him? Here is a great quote from Jason Pontin:

            But what struck me is that De Grey is a troll. For all de Grey's vaulting ambitions, what Sherwin Nuland saw from the outside was pathetically circumscribed. In his waking life, de Grey is the ÂcomÂputer support to a research team; he dresses like a shabby graduate student and affects Rip Van Winkle's beard; he has no children; he has few interests outside the science of biogeronÂtology; he drinks too much beer.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by caerus (697709)
              and it is for the article in Technology Review that Jason published this comment in which led to him being soundly spanked by a huge number of readers and ultimately the "SENS Challenge" which he moderated was lost by Aubrey de Grey's detractors. Have a look.. the fact that you bring this adhominem attack up really shows you don't know much about the argument or the outcome of Jason's lack of tact.. and illustrates perfect the ignorance of the science.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Aubrey de Grey deserves a lot better than what you infer and your bias is certainly showing.

          I might say that ultimately it is the science that is important rather than innuendo and supposition you spread but let me be clear about my understanding.

          Aubrey de Grey was educated at Cambridge and his PhD is for writing a peer-reviewed book on the mitochondrial theory of aging which incorporates some esoteric, novel and ultimately very worthwhile concepts...which is why Cambridge University gave him a degree in th

  • After Death? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mbeware (1171639) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:00PM (#24121959)
    Do you think that there is something after death? If so, why extend life?
    • Do you think that there is something after death? If so, why extend life?

      Do you think that there is something after death? If so, why not commit suicide?

      Regardless of irrational belief in some sort of afterlife, almost everyone tries to live this life as long as they can manage--even when they supposedly believe the afterlife to be immeasurably superior. Perhaps they understand deep down that this is the only life they can count on? "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" and all that?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Omestes (471991)

      I've always loved religions dual punch on mortality and afterlife. On one hand they claim that this life is crap, and that there is something really awesome and special on the other side. But then they claim that you must live through this crap, your not allowed to use your get out of jail free card.

      I always wondered how long religions with a strong concept of an afterlife would survive without the prohibitions against suicide.

      Another fun bit is the emerging view among the fundamentalist crowd, that this

  • by CokeJunky (51666) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:01PM (#24121969)

    Do you or your organization research the societal implications of extreme long life? How will our cultures, society, and laws, and families/family structures have to change to accommodate long life? Are we ready for it?

  • 1000 years? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dh003i (203189) <dh003i@nOspaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:03PM (#24122009) Homepage Journal

    Given that the most promising research to-date on life-extension (resveratrol and caloric restriction) can produce about a 40% increase in maximum lifespan at best, how do you estimate that we can achieve a lifespan of 1,000 years (about a 10-fold increase in current maximum lifespans)?

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      he's talking out of his ass, that's how.

      even those calorie restricted diet studies in humans are B.S., they go for x months. pffft, people aren't rats.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hope Thelps (322083)

      Given that the most promising research to-date on life-extension (resveratrol and caloric restriction) can produce about a 40% increase in maximum lifespan at best, how do you estimate that we can achieve a lifespan of 1,000 years (about a 10-fold increase in current maximum lifespans)?

      It's a big round number.

    • Re:1000 years? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wurp (51446) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:26PM (#24122435) Homepage

      Because the statistical rate of death from accidents involving major trauma yields about one event every 1000 years.

      He's assuming we can solve the aging & disease problems, but not being splattered by a semi.

  • by pla (258480) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:04PM (#24122025) Journal
    I'd love to believe that we might "cure" aging within my lifetime, but several of the aging mechanisms discovered over the past 20 years (many of which you personally get credit for) appear more-or-less absolute limits to longevity. As just one example, telomerase - Inhibit it (as most human cells do), and cells can only divide a finite number of times; reenable it, and we live right up until we die of cancer.

    Given such limitations, do you still consider near-immortality as a realistic possibility, or will we merely see a continuation of the current trend of higher functionality up the extreme natural limit to our lifespans (110 to 120 years), at which point people simply die of nothing?
  • Human Fertility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trybywrench (584843) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:05PM (#24122047)
    If you increase the lifespan of the average human to 1000 years would they remain fertile in proportion? Would a women remain fertile until about age 350?

    Also, would a child not encounter puberty until age 130?

    Surely you've been asked the overpopulation question before, what is your response?
  • what are some of the most promising technologys that could have the most impact? and how soon?

    -Nex6

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:07PM (#24122099) Homepage Journal

    Let's say we can live for 400, 600, 1000 years. How will we cope with all those centuries of memories? Even people nearing a century often (usually?) can't cope with that much info about themselves. Their personalities are often severly constrained, or at least exclude quite a bit of who they were 3/4 of a century ago. Is perhaps some of that limitation not merely "hardware", which your research targets, but also our "software", the way we integrate experiences into our personality and worldview?

    Across 1000 years, a lot of those experiences are going to conflict, made as they are out of the human condition. How do we keep our minds together as well as your medicine proposes to maintain our bodies?

    Myself, I drink to forget. Maintaining a window of clarity here towards the end, at the expense of a murky past I can't recall, is my own contribution to your grand project. Here's mud in yer eye!

  • What vitamins would you recommend to slow the process of aging?

    And are there ways in which we can collectively lower the cost of production and distribution?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid (135745)

      "What vitamins would you recommend to slow the process of aging?"

      I can answer that, none.
      In fact pretty much all studies show that a healthy person gains nothing from taking vitamins. IN fact, they can be at risk depending on their supplement regime.
      Vitamin A poisoning is rather nasty.

      It seems the only thing vitamins treat is a fat wallet.

  • Think of the mice! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:09PM (#24122121) Homepage Journal
    How many of you out there have had a mouse that ended up getting a tumor? Or perhaps a rat?

    The problem with extending aging, as you can see with these rodents, is eventually they all get cancer. This is because their life in the hands of a caring human being can be MUCH longer, relatively, than if they were out scurrying in a forest somewhere. Maybe you can extend general human life, but you are going to start seeing a lot more cancer and a lot more Alzheimer's.
  • Given that so many well understood treatable and cureable diseases TODAY are not treated or cured, isn't it putting the cart before the horse to concentrate one life extension?

    Given our overpopulation, limited natural resources, and great resistance to any sort of population control, throttling, etc, isn't age extension an irresponsible idea? Couldn't the effort be on making sure the earth is still habitable for at least another 1000 years?

    Dude, what's with the beard?

    • Given that so many well understood treatable and cureable diseases TODAY are not treated or cured, isn't it putting the cart before the horse to concentrate one life extension?

      With the exception of infectious disease, most serious diseases are closely linked with the aging process. Healthy young people rarely get cancer, and they hardly ever have heart attacks or strokes.

      Given our overpopulation, limited natural resources, and great resistance to any sort of population control, throttling, etc, isn't age e

  • by jockeys (753885) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:10PM (#24122145) Journal
    This is rather personal, I know, but I feel it is relevant to your work.

    What system of philosophy do you subscribe to that drives you to discover such things? Is it just the desire to see man taken to his highest potential, or is it something deeper?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by khallow (566160)

      Is it just the desire to see man taken to his highest potential, or is it something deeper?

      The "highest potential" desire is in itself a pretty deep motivation. I guess I get a sense that the question is along the lines of "Did you just do it to get in touch with God, Reality, and Nature; or was there a deeper motivation like winning a $100 bet or getting laid more often?"

  • I want to ask, if in your opinion transhumanism has any hope of overcoming the death instinct?

    It seems that a lot of people hate life and don't want transhumanists working to increase the human lifespan. How will you deal with the political pressure?

  • by Illbay (700081) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:12PM (#24122173) Journal
    ..."I've been working on this for about eighty years now, and we've only made a bit of headway. I expect that I've got a few more decades of research to do before we have something we can hang our hats on. I may even be retired by that time."
  • by Caboosian (1096069) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:12PM (#24122191)

    If the average human lifespan were extended to 1000, would the average human age at a normal speed (i.e., like now), then hit a certain specific age and remain at that age until the end (everlasting youth), or would the aging be constant?

  • We should be learning about longevity from people like this [wikipedia.org].
    • by Fred_A (10934)

      We should be learning about longevity from people like this [wikipedia.org].

      Actually he *really* was born in 604 BC and died much later than is usually believed although it's usually kept very hush hush. He also sold the recipe of Marmite to the British and later helped designed the Colossus during WWII.

      And don't quote me I'll deny everything anyway.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      And also, people like this [wikipedia.org]
  • Will medical advances alone be enough to extend our longevity to the extent you believe it can be, or will health promoting lifestyle changes also need to be made? If health promotion is more important that medicine, how can we achieve this?
  • by LotsOfPhil (982823) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:20PM (#24122307)
    Is the beard [wikipedia.org] a requirement for working with the Methuselah Foundation?
  • Ok... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fred_A (10934) <fred AT fredshome DOT org> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:22PM (#24122349) Homepage

    Ask Aubrey de Grey About Longevity Research

    So, um, Mr de Grey, what can you tell us about longevity research ?
    (damn, I should have taken that job at the beach)

  • What can we do NOW? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SpinyNorman (33776) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:22PM (#24122351)

    If I gave you a lab rat today, how long could you extend his life?

    What about me - is there anything I can do (other than a healthy lifestyle), or could have done, today, to start extending my life?

    How long before the answers to either of these questions change significantly? 5 years? 10? 20?

  • Imagine for a second that humans could live for 1,000 years. Putting aside the inevitable overpopulation effects, I could see this having two very different effects on humanity, depending on how the aging slowdown works.

    If you effectively stay 20-40 for a few centuries, I could see this as a boon to mankind. People would be able to try different careers out and save up a lot of money for their retirement at the ripe old age of 900. Advancements might be made quicker as people bring new perspectives from

  • Longevity Plan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigGar' (411008) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:24PM (#24122389) Homepage

    In your opinion, if I wanted to give my best effort to extending the number of years I'm alive, what would be the top things I should do?
    I'll let you decide how many things to include.

    Thank you
    Gary

  • Assuming that the "self" (ie. the soul/consciousness/memory/etc.) resides biologically and physically in the brain and considering that, from what I understand, longevity research has a great deal to do with regeneration of cells more than extending lifetimes of individual cells, what implications are there if an individual has wholly "regenerated" the cells in their brain?

    For example, somebody may have a brain that is composed of entirely new brain cells than they had X number of years ago. Does this have

  • My opinion of the "Methusalah Quest" is that any treatments that come out of it will instantly become non-controversial as soon as they become readily available. As a sufferer of "andropause" [wikipedia.org], I can tell you that like a lot of other men I've never even thought twice about availing myself of Taldafil [wikipedia.org] when the need arises. (Something which falls into the category of a miracle of modern science, as far as I'm concerned.)

    .

    Oh, I'm supposed to ask a question, so I will. I believe that as treatments appears t

  • by Alzheimers (467217) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:31PM (#24122525)

    Considering your line of study, would you say the more difficult issues to deal with regarding life extension are technical ones (how do we do it?) or moral ones (why do we do it?)

  • One thing I have often though about when considering longevity is the importance of perpetually "curing" aging. For example, if you did get us 1000 years we could reasonably expect to be able to get more life out of us with technology 1000 years more advanced than we have now, so we can keep continually extending the "mortal coil" and so long as it moves even slightly faster than we do we'll be safe for ever.

    But what I really want to know is, how important do you think the next 100 years will be in this
  • Repair or replace? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flaming error (1041742) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:33PM (#24122567) Journal

    Would you consider it a success if we replace broken body parts with prosthetics, artificial organs, or lab-grown replacements? Or are you focusing on keeping our original stock components?

  • I'll Bite... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tempest69 (572798) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:34PM (#24122575) Journal
    Here are the spots that seem like monsters to overcome..

    1. elastin.. It's not alive, it doesnt regenerate. and even if replaced in a full sized organism, it would already be "loose" because it tightens as we grow, and eventually breaks down.. How do you replace this substance throughout the body? (I'm hoping this covers a bunch of the other materials of the same type)

    2. degradation of cell function.. as mutations occur in cells, the functional protiens become non-functional.. while these arent cancerous, they are problematic as they're just hobos in the body. to stop this would require freakloads of genetic therapy, rather than the smaller amount needed to repair cancer.

    3. Overcoming telomerase,, so does it get nuked by your gene therapy, or are the stem cells engineered to full length only..

    4. How do you keep the protein digesting enzymes needed for removing garbage from inside cells from eating barr bodies and other useful proteins that would normally inhabit and possibly pollute a cell.

    5. How do you prevent damage to someone who has 2 copies of a gene that are both useful (the two having a broader functional range than any known single gene) from getting your genericized version at both? wiping out the advantage.

    6. How do you keep the memories from fading to nothing?

    Thanks,

    Storm

  • Mentality ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by geggam (777689)

    Do you feel humans have the capability to cope mentally with a 1000 years of life ?

  • by lpangelrob (714473) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:36PM (#24122623)

    Are you a proponent of assisted suicide?

    Should humans someday find that living to 1,000 as "normal" (through genetic advances, let's say), there will certainly be some that would prefer to live to 750, 500 or 100. Do you find it ethical to provide them an "early ticket"?

  • by gclef (96311) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @03:58PM (#24123049)

    Others have listed potential problems, I'm interested in the follow-up question to those: what do you look for to say "this won't work"?

    Simply stating "I believe it can" is the realm of religion. What evidence would it take to convince you that it isn't possible after all?

  • I've wondered about this: In looking at my dog, who just had his 14th birthday, he shows all the signs of old age -- arthritis, gray hair, hearing loss, etc. Why do some mammals age faster than others? Why are human bodies just getting started at 18 years old, and that's getting to the outer range for dogs? This seems like a fundamental question of this subject.
  • What first? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eccles (932) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:06PM (#24123243) Journal

    I'm not much over 40, and I can already tell my memory isn't as good as I was younger. My father, another 30 years older than me, has significant problems with short term memory, despite otherwise decent health. Do you agree that focusing primarily on minimizing the debilitating effects of aging is the best approach, rather than focusing simply on extending life itself regardless of the quality of life it would give?

  • Aging and Evolution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drooling-dog (189103) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:08PM (#24123285)

    Have you considered that aging, as a mechanism of limiting average life span, may not be a "disorder" but rather a biological adaptation, important for evolution? At the level of populations, where a lot of evolution occurs, it may be advantageous to limit the number of previous generations with which new ones have to compete. Useful new mutations will also be more likely to gain penetrance, I would think. And beyond that, life span is one of those system parameters - like mutation rate, recombination frequency, generation length, etc. - that determine the performance of evolutionary systems themselves as optimizers.

    Which is not to say we are bound to accept it, of course. Many species live longer than humans, and many more not nearly as long. There is certainly more to it than the analogy of machinery "wearing out". Were mankind able to unravel this process and stop or reverse it, that would be quite an adaptation in itself, wouldn't it?

  • by derdesh (652578) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:10PM (#24123327)

    There are several promising animal models (caloric restriction, resveritol) for increasing longevity by 20-40%. Given that human beings already seem to live unusually long for mammals of our size, it is possible evolution (driven social/cultural advantages granted by long-lived friends and relatives) has already acted to take advantage of the biochemical processes involved.

    What research has been done on human biochemistry to assess if that might be the case?

  • by FLoWCTRL (20442) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @04:45PM (#24124031) Journal

    To get to what Ray Kurzweil calls the "First Bridge" -- to live long enough to take advantage of the first generation of longevity-enhancing therapies, in 15 to 20 years from now -- many people must change their lifestyles to stay as healthy as possible, so they're in good shape when the time comes.

    The role of physical fitness seems to be given mere lip service in the popular longevity literature. By "physical fitness", I don't mean just the lack of obesity, but rather the ability to run at least a marathon, for example. Evolution has selected bodies for us that are capable of very demanding physical tasks, yet most people sit around with resting heart rates at least double what they could be if they were fit.

    Do you know of any serious research efforts into the effects of peak physical fitness on optimal health and longevity?

  • by Dammital (220641) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:08PM (#24124525)
    ... that you don't have the money to do? In my own little 501(c)3 we've always found that people are more likely to give if they know specifically what the money is going to be used for. If we just say "to help support the cause..." then it's nickels and dimes for us instead of dollars.

    So what specific projects would you like to be funding, that aren't being adequately funded today?
  • by quantaman (517394) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:44PM (#24126413)

    I'm curious if you try to leave old-age diseases and disorders for traditional medical research and take on the problems leftover? What areas of aging has traditional medical research been ignoring?

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen

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