Re : Cornering the causes of aging

From: Joao Pedro de Magalhaes (
Date: Mon Jul 10 2000 - 08:44:01 MDT


>>2) Introducing foreign genes in adults need not be any more difficult
>> than catching a cold or tuberculosis.
>Jeez, I dunno. Bio-vector precise genetic information into *all the
>different tissues* of the soma? Trillions of cells?
>Of course, I hope you're right. :)

Me too, but I don't think it's that easy. Do you know of any virus capable
of infecting all human tissues? Perhaps using stem cells you can simplify
the process, but even so it appears much more complicated than germinal gene

>As for aging, it seems to me it's always a negative, it's just not negative
>enough for evolution to change.

Not all the time. Many species appear to show adaptive aging phenotypes.
Examples: salmon (the carcasses increase the organic content of the water
near the offspring leading to the appearence of preys for the offspring),
certain moths (in which old moths mimic the young one's movements in order
to be eaten instead), certain spiders (that are actually eaten by the
offspring), and probably a few more reported cases I don't remember right

>To balance this, the non-aging organism has to produce ever increasing numbers
>of offspring as it gets older (to maintain the fraction of longevity
>enhancing genes in the gene pool). [Trees, sturgeon & lobsters for
>example produce more seeds/eggs as the grow older and get larger.]

If you look at amphibians and reptilians with undetermined growth (not all
species, but a good proportion), you see that females often show increased
oocyte stocks as they age (and therefore fecundity). So it's not that
difficult to have non-aging organisms.

>Stealing and applying old designs is easy, new designs may be very
>very difficult. Ask our rocket scientists...

Although not in the same context, that's why I keep saying that reptilians
and amphibians might know the secret of immortality!

Best wishes.

Joao Pedro de Magalhaes
The University of Namur (FUNDP)
Unit of Cellular Biochemistry & Biology
Rue de Bruxelles, 61
B-5000 Namur BELGIUM

Fax: + 32 81 724135
Phone: + 32 81 724133
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