I know that there are many people on the list that are pro-lifespan
extension but they don't have the expertise in various fields such
as biochemistry or molecular biology to make any contribution to
those areas even though they might like to.
It occurred to me recently that there is something that all of us
could do to increase the body of knowledge needed to extend
lifespan. What is it? Well you probably guessed from the subject
line -- raise zebrafish.
We are all familiar with Michael Rose's (and others) breeding
experiments to extend the lifespan of Drosophila. That work is
being repeated, I believe, in mice, but the funding for that
effort is quite iffy IMO. However, there is nothing
stopping many of us from going down to a local pet store and
finding the oldest zebrafish available and beginning our own
project in breeding zebrafish for extended longevity.
Why would that be useful? The more models we have, particularly
in vertebrates, of the genetic changes needed to extend longevity,
the more information scientists will have regarding the "patches"
that need to be applied to the human genome to extend our lifespans.
The project to sequence the Zebrafish genome has recently been
started at the Sanger Center in England. It is scheduled for
completion around 2003. It might take us 10 or more years to
breed long-lived zebrafish but by the time we produce them
there will be robust tools to analyze the genome changes that
took place to extend their longevity. That will in turn help
scientists understand what genome changes are likely to be required
Raising and breeding zebrafish need not be very expensive or time
consuming and you might even find it fun. Having a number of people
do it would be useful because we would end up with a number of different
strains that might have independent genetic changes.
What say you?
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