Re: "Immortality" gene revealed

Twink (
Sun, 4 Jan 1998 18:59:05 -0500 (EST)

At 01:44 AM 1/4/98 -0800, Joao Pedro <> wrote:
>> Reasonable. It seems that it is partially linked with evolutionary
>> path, but it can apparently be turned on and off depending on
>> selection among fishes.
>My theory is that some species never aged (in a evolutionary scale)
>while others started to show signs of aging and then "evolved" towards
>non-aging species (they evolved because they were close to the top of
>the food chain or had other kind of non-hazardous lifestyle where there
>is evolutionary preassure against aging). We, in turn, become so complex
>that errors in our more advanced functions are more likely to occur.
>Aging is caused by this errors and the ones mentioned ahead.

Sounds unlikely, but what is the evidence for your theory?

>> Possible, but I doubt it. We usually get enough ascorbic acid from our
>> food, and excrete the surplus in our urine, so being able to produce
>> would not be a major advantage. I seem to recall that some mammals can
>> produce it, but I might be wrong.
>The ascorbic acid is just an example, the fact is that a simple
>metabolic process might be the cause of aging. A metabolic process that
>occurs without errors in non-aging species (for example, tiny portions
>of free-radicals might be the cause of aging, minimal differences in the
>concentration of ascorbic acid might cause small cellular damages that
>cause aging). Of course this is very optimistical, but I am more
>convinced now than I was a few months ago that a few genes might be the
>cause for aging.
>This errors are different than the ones I mentioned above, these are
>errors in processes that can be corrected (on a optimistical base).
>Other cause of genetic errors might be our more advanced functions (like
>I mentioned before), this errors are surely much harder to correct (if
>they exist, and I think they do weather in the form of aging, or in the
>form of inevitable lethal diseases that affect the elderly --
>Alzheimer's disease, mad cow disease, some types of cancer, etc).

In "Confronting the Boundaries of Human Longevity" by S. Jay Olshansky et
al. (_American Scientist_ 86(1) Jan/Feb 1998), the authors liken aging in
humans to the accumulation of errors too. They use an analogy of an Indy
500 race car. the car is designed to run continuously with minors pit stops,
etc. for 500 miles. Now imagine if the car is kept going after 500 miles. It
was not designed to fall apart 100 miles later, but things would start to