Re: AGING: Life extension

Twink (
Sun, 4 Jan 1998 11:48:01 -0500 (EST)

At 04:06 PM 1/4/98 +0100, Anders Sandberg <>wrote:
>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.

I agree. I did not mean to leave out genetic or other factors.

>> 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 some/many cases, there might be psychological benefits. Naturally,
it'd be great to rejuvenate/replace the immune or endocrine systems.
However, some people tend to get very depressed over, say, their
looks. Ergo, skin replacement might alleviate that problem AND allow
research on that organ (the skin) to carry over to others (the endocrine?).
The fit here is loose, but not so loose as to make it unlikely.

>> 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.

Cloning is definitely in need of further investigation. I would only hope
someone starts doing the research quickly so that the general public
can see real benefits to weigh against imagined fears. Controlling
totipotent cells is another area to investigate. It is my understanding,
this is not hard, given some experiments with transplanting embryo
brain cells to Parkinson's sufferers (human or otherwise, I can't recall).

I was under the impression that gene therapy was already being done
with genetically engineered cells which provided products directly
inside/to the body. I see no principled reason why this can't be done
for hormones or Vitamin C or what have you.

Daniel Ust