RE: Hayflick and others deny major life expectancy improvements

From: Ben Houston (
Date: Sun Feb 18 2001 - 20:37:19 MST

Damien said:
>Hayflick said that even if the most common causes of death -
>cancer, heart disease and stroke - were eliminated, "the increase
>in life expectancy would be no more than 15 years."
>With those death causes gone, he said, the true cause of death
>would be revealed: the aging process.

The aging process is not a very good argument to try and counter. There is
no such things as simply the "aging process" - there is always a specific
mechanism at work. You are simply just choosing to ignore the specifics

Damien said:
>Aging, he said, is a decline on a molecular level that makes
>people "increasingly vulnerable to disease" and that this process
>is not receiving much research attention.

Everything in biology works at the molecular level. This is not a good way
to introduce an argument.

Damien said:
> It will come from a blend of the genome program data, fast
> computational protein folding, and nanotechnology. Neither of the latter
> are receiving as much funding right now as routine cardiac surgery, say,
> but once they get past the bootstrap stage they'll be soaring up Moore's
> Law's exponential curve and rebuilding human expectations.

I would argue that there is tons of work being done in the area of
"computational protein folding". It really is a hot field right now. But
your listing of these three keys is strange to me. I understand it as
someone saying that "we need to learn the alphabet! You know, the vowels
and the letters B and M." What you list is surely important to the problem
but do not really cover much of the actual problem space - there is so much
more that is important.

The biggest missing element is that you neglect the activity of the proteins
themselves; the protein-protein interactions and the protein-genome
interactions (ie. transcription factors, repressors, etc...). Also to jump
to specific biology examples: things such as nerve growth factor or stem
cells might be important in the replacement of damaged cells in the brain.
Specific "aging process" ailments that we need to tackle are osteoporosis,
Alzheimer's, cognitive declines (ie. learning is slower as you age, general
atrophy), eye-sight loss (ie. macular degeneration, etc...), muscle mass
loss, just to name a few that come to mind. Although these do not directly
result in death they are signs of "the aging process" and then to make life
less enjoyable to live.

We need to understand more than just a "couple letters" of the aging
process - we need the whole picture.

-ben houston

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