Longevity Breeding [was: 27'th update on fly longevity experiments]

From: Robert J. Bradbury (bradbury@aeiveos.wa.com)
Date: Mon Feb 07 2000 - 05:13:12 MST

On Sun, 6 Feb 2000, Doug Skrecky wrote:

> This is the 27'th update on my fly longevity experiments. Run #22
> investigated the effect on aging of the artichoke, and leucoselect
> grape extract supplements, which had reduced ethanol induced mortality
> in run #21. [snip]

Doug's ongoing efforts re: supplements (similar to some of the studies
we did in Russia with both flies and mice) have got me thinking
(oh nooo, the chorus in the background cries...).

It seems to me to be very clear that we will within the next
few years have relatively inexpensive technologies (chips)
to "disassemble" the aging process. However, I've been worried
for quite some time that "disassembling" the process does not
equate with "fixing" the process. Thus, some of you have seen
me argue at Extro4 and on the list for things like sequencing
elephant and newt genomes, molecular modeling of cells, etc.
Why invent new solutions when we may be able to steal them from nature?

There is another approch that we as a group might be able to undertake.
Namely, to replicate Michael Rose's work in breeding long lived
individuals. Michael and others have done this with Drosophila
and now Michael has a low level effort attempting to do this in mice.

The question becomes are there other species that one might be able
to use for similar experiments? You could pick Drosophila but that
has been done. Another species of insect would probably yield
results similar to the Drosophila. What comes to my mind is some
small short lived fish or reptile. These would provide a different
genetic background in which the genetic evolution of longevity
could be studied. The more of these that we can produce, the
greater variety of solutions we might have that could be applied
to the problem of human aging.

One of the problems with this is the longevity of most species
is already quite a bit greater than Drosophila so the experiments
take longer. But Michael's work shows that one of the life
extension strategies in nature is to make more "robust" animals.
So, you might be able to accelerate the process by creating
relatively "harsh" conditions for the experimental animals
so that only those with genes that are beneficial in those
harsh conditions manage to reproduce. Things like higher
temperatures or low level genotoxins come to mind as possible
ways to select for more robust animals. Once you had really
robust individuals, you could go back and study whether this
provided increased longevity as well.

Any suggestions for species?
Anyone interested in being a longevity breeder?


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