LIFE Extension, Pedestrian Ramblings on

Twink (
Sun, 14 Dec 1997 13:09:28 -0500 (EST)

Chemical life extension thusfar has show much promise though
it suffers from many pitfalls. The promise is that animal and
human studies seem to prove that certain diet regimens (CRAN)
and supplementation increase lifespan (vitamin C). Also, as the
chemistry of aging and dying are better understood, means of
avoiding them are becoming better.

There are several pitfalls, however. These can be divided into
two major areas. The first is understanding the mechanisms of
life extending chemicals. Right now, there are several causal
models of aging. These models are not necessarily alternative
models. They do not always contradict one another. Thus,
aging does seem to occur from the accumulation of damage
from free radicals and glycolisation (actually, two models) AND
ALSO from hormonal changes, etc. Sometimes a link between
a chemical - e.g., Vitamin E -- and a model -- here, free radical
damage -- is made. In this example, Vitamin E is a powerful
antioxidant which prevents free radical damage among other
things. Even so, for the most part, there is no general system
or systematic way of studying these processes. Of course, this
is a bit of an overgeneralization and the human body is an
extremely complex system.

One would hope for models of aging processes to be developed
then for means of chemical interruption and reversal of these
same processes to be invented. This more proactive approach
would most likely spawn the creation of better antiaging

The second is developing other approaches. Current delivery
systems are not very advanced. Of course, the body can take
care of itself mostly, so injecting or ingesting a chemical often
does work at extending lifespan. However, when the oil filter in
your car gets old, you don't merely add fresh oil or oil additives,
you change the filter. Following the analogy further, when you
can't replace a car part, often you can have it repaired. Chemical
life extension is more like filling up with detergent gasoline
then doing auto repairs. Of course, if nanotechnology arrives,
this will be much easier... but in the interim, we need better life
extension methods. Many people will not make it to the promised
land of nanotech.

Daniel Ust