Re: AGING: Life extension

Anders Sandberg (
04 Jan 1998 16:06:27 +0100

Twink <> writes:

> There are several pitfalls, however. These can be divided into
> two major areas. The first is understanding the mechanisms of
> life extending chemicals. Right now, there are several causal
> models of aging. These models are not necessarily alternative
> models. They do not always contradict one another. Thus,
> aging does seem to occur from the accumulation of damage
> from free radicals and glycolisation (actually, two models) AND
> ALSO from hormal changes, etc. Sometimes a link between
> a chemical - e.g., Vitamin E -- and a model -- here, free radical
> damage -- is made. In this example, Vitamin E is a powerful
> antioxidant which prevents free radical damage among other
> things.

Let's not forget the possibility that there are underlying systemic or
genetic causes for this (like a decreasing ability to produce
anti-radical scavenger enzymes or decreasing cell repair). I have the
feeling that there are several causal loops involved, not just some
nice primary cause.

> The second is developing other approaches. Current delivery
> systems are not very advanced. The body can take of itself
> mostly, so injecting or ingesting a chemical often does work at
> extending lifespan. However, when the oil filter in your car
> gets old, you don't pour in some oil additives -- you change the
> filter. Following the analogy further, when you can't replace a
> car part, often you can have it repaired. Chemical life extension
> is more like filling up with detergent gasoline then do major auto
> repairs. Of course, if nanotechnology arrives, this will be much
> easier...

Unfortunately replacing aged organs doesn't seem to help much,
especially since the organs we really would like to rejuvenate (immune
system, endocrine system and possibly the brain) are not easy to
transplant or replace.

> In the interim, we need strategies that are a bit more sophisticated
> than ingesting some neat chemicals, yet are not so advanced as
> to be only workable in computer simulations. Where does this
> interemediary between current life extension techniques and
> nanotechnology lie?

Biotechnology? I'm quite interested in the work that is being done
with neural precursor cells, which could help repair the brain. Maybe
we could use cloning to create totiopotent cells to replace our old
(delivery is still a problem, of course). Another possibility is
geneticly engineered cells or tissues that produce necessary hormones
continually inside the body.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y