The Beginning of The End? Or Something More Positive?

Inspired by a Daily Mail Article: Now Google wants to tackle death: Internet giant backs company seeking the fountain of youth. By Victoria Woollaston.

Gunther von Hagens perform a number of human dissections on television. For me they were fascinating as he delved into the human aspects of the various systems within our bodies. Having trained as a biologist at University, this was the first time I’d had close and detailed access to human cadavers. Riveting viewing, right up to the moment when he pulled small sheets of plaque from the aorta of an elderly woman and sliced into the same woman’s brain. For what did I see? Two major hurdles to rejuvenation (an interest of mine) as they both appeared to be suffering two irreversible functions of time.DNA_Helix

Let’s look at plaque first. We are told time and time again of the relationship between keeping our teeth clean and heart attacks. Seeing that dissection I suddenly understood. Apart from the obvious artery thinning it caused, all it took was for one piece of plaque to break off and travel to the heart and block an artery or two supplying the vital organ with that precious life force. So how the hell can this be reversed?

Now let’s look at the brain. As we age we lose cells, right? If we sleep enough we are told that it can strengthen the myelin sheaths that protect the cells, possibly helping in reducing risk of dementia – but this is only one aspect of the problem. By the way, did you know that with Alzheimer’s Disease amyloid plaques build up in the neurons, slowly choking the functionality of the cells? Is this connected to the tooth plaque? Anyway, I’m digressing. If we compare the older person’s brain with a younger one, we see a significant reduction in the thickness of the cerebral cortex which to my mind was also an irreversible trend.

Moving on a few years and I’m reading up on nanotechnology as research for my first book, Fierce Alchemy. Now it looks like it’s possible to reverse these trends by the suitable application of nanites or more likely bionanites. Phew! Lucky me. And on top of that, research on this sort of technology is moving at an exponential rate so with luck at that speed they should find a cure to aging before they start. Ah, now I feel better. Another upside is that this sort of research doesn’t require lots of poor little mice, dogs, etc. dying for the cause. It takes place in a test tube.

So finally, let’s look at this research that Larry and Arthur are getting into. They have said something quite unique which makes me think they might be on the right track – they state that curing cancer isn’t the answer to our problems; it might give us, as a race, on average three more years of life but in itself isn’t going to be that significant. It’s an interesting statement as it appears that when you go to Genentech’s website (Arthur’s company) you see that a lot of their research appears to be cancer-focused. This implies a significant divergence in research to build this new ‘fountain of Youth’ potential in the new company Calico. Good luck to them!

Genentech website pageA Warning: when you go to Genentech’s website, the first thing you will see is a proud orange bubble announcing they have 115,000 walkers worldwide. Are they doing research they aren’t telling us about?


1 Comment

  1. Well, that’s it! If we do find a cure to cancer, how far are we in finding a cure to aging? And if that were so, then what would the eventual repercussions be? The obvious overpopulation will be a major thing, but then there would be the ethical question: Who will should received the cure and live forever? Politicians? Musicians? Movie stars?

    Death is a great equalizer. No matter how grand a person is, whatever wealth they accumulated during their lifetime will be gone. They certainly can’t take it with them!

    Great thought provoking post!

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