Re: TransMitochondrians

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Wed Jul 25 2001 - 00:47:00 MDT

Just how did we get this subject heading anyway...

At any rate, Anders wrote:

> Change their genes (mitochondria have their own DNA), or change the
> genes in the nucleus for proteins that are moved into the mitopchondria.
> if there are another species with good mitochondria, we might even
> transplant them.

Actually Anders, Aubrey de Grey has some *very* good proposals
for how to complete the evolutionary process for migrating
the remaining genes (~13-15??? in humans) from the mitochondria
into the nucleus where they will be more protected from free
radical damage. Once completed the mitochondrial genome will
become an artifact. (This path was obvious to me 6-8 years
ago, but Aubrey has taken the time to work out the detailed
strategies by which this might be accomplished which of course
add a lot to the concept. As any engineer will admit -- the
devil is in the details.)

Ultimately, dovetailing off of my Extro4 talk, you presumably
want a single chromosome in the nucleus responsible for energy
production. It should be organized such that a series of viral
inloads should be able to modify elements of it "on-the-fly" so you
can always have the latest code at your disposal.

J. R. Molloy asked:
> How can we modify the mitochondria in our own bodies?

You can modify anything within your body given sufficiently
robust molecular scale engineering. Modifying the mitochondria
is not too difficult -- one could engineer intracellular bacteria
(from which the mitochondria are derived ages ago) to replace
the mitochondria themselves in the cell. If the engineered
mitochondrial replacments are more robust than natural mitochondria
then the normal "recycling" process for mitochondria will handle
the modification process for you (survival of the fittest).

This is a key example of where advanced (biotech) engineering
will allow you to engineer your body before robust nanotech
engineering is available. My best guess however at that "window"
where biotech trumps nanotech is very short, probably only 10-15
years. I might be very wrong in my estimates though, so the
pursuit of biotech alternatives is useful in case the NanoSantas
get caught in the slush resulting from global warming.


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