Re: Life expectancy increasing rapidly

Anders Sandberg (
10 Dec 1998 13:01:54 +0100

"Samael" <> writes:

> Yup. This weeks New Scientist had a special on C. elegans and the mapping
> of its genome (nearly finished). Seems there's a couple of genes which
> double its life span, with no particular indicator as to how they do it.
> Hopefully they'll turn up something interesting for us.

I seem to recall that the dauer genes are linked with going into an energy-saving "dauer state" that slows aging. Notice the similarities with what people hope to achieve with caloric restriction, and the link with the possible function of the methuselah gene in the fruit fly that seems to have something to do with stress responses. My guess is that there is a kind of "cluster" of genes and functions related to stress, metabolic rate and insuline-like growth factors that are relevant for aging. Where telomeres and tyelerase comes into this I don't know, they might be a completely different part of aging (there is no reason for it to have just a single cause, it could turn out that increasing lifespan might have to jump through one hurdle after another - first decrease the risk of infectious disease, then cardiovascular disease, then fix metabolic aging, then the telomeres, then fix the increased cancer risk, then fix long-term neural and psychological changes, ... ad infinitum)

> Oh, and I suspect that the 'maximum lifespan' for people is actually
> variable between 70 and 120, most settling around the 90 mark. People seem
> to just fall apart at around that age, with general detirioratin rather than
> specific parts wearing out. This is what is so hard to fix.

Yes. The maximum lifespan is usually defined for the whole population, but there are clearly individual variations. However, the survival curves seem to move consistently towards a rectangular shape (you live to a 110, then quickly decline), which to me suggests that these individual variations so far haven't come into play much.

> Hopefully they'll take less than 60 years to fix that one. (I'm 26
> by the way).

Same as me. I think we have a good chance.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y