Friday, March 07, 2008

Support longevity research

What is longevity research? It is a modern research to discover the means to delay or completely suspend the aging process and possibly lengthen human lifespan as much as possible. Of course, the final aim of the research is to delay or evade natural death. Some people will inevitably ask, "Why do we want to prolong human lifespan? What is the purpose and value of living continuously, when we will be suffering everyday from rheumatism and other old-age related complications?"

To answer those questions, allow me to quote from Scott's article:
Longevity research is not just the idea of living longer, but the idea of biologically living as a 20-something indefinitely without experiencing age related disease or decay. We should be able to live every day in full vibrant health, fully expecting to wake up the next morning, until an asteroid hits us every 65 Million years or so or until an 18 wheeler runs a red light and smacks us.

Just by reading the above Utopian sentences, no doubt many people will agree that longevity research is a noble cause which should be made the #1 priority of humankind. However, in reality there are many obstacles and setbacks. Besides religious protests, the biggest problem for longevity research - the lack of knowledge about the aging process itself.

Many theories have been proposed, attempting to explain the exact mechanisms of aging, and although all of them seem logical, until now there is not one safe and effective method to arrest the aging process. Some of the more logical theories are:
Telomere Theory
Telomeres (structures at the ends of chromosomes) have experimentally been shown to shorten with each successive cell division. Shortened telomeres activate a mechanism that prevents further cell multiplication. This may be an important mechanism of aging in tissues like bone marrow and the arterial lining where active cell division is necessary.
Wear-and-Tear theory
The idea that changes associated with aging are the result of chance damage that accumulates over time.
Somatic Mutation Theory
The biological theory that aging results from damage to the genetic integrity of the body’s cells.
Aging-Clock Theory
The theory that aging results from a preprogrammed sequence, as in a clock, built into the operation of the nervous or endocrine system of the body. In rapidly dividing cells the shortening of the telomeres would provide just such a clock.
Taken from Wikipedia: Aging (life cycle)

Based on these ideas and the daily advancement of science, it should not be long before we are able to arrest the aging process, especially with the help of biochemical and pharmaceutical studies. In the worst-case scenario where altering the natural aging process is not viable or may cause harm to human, our next best hope will be stem cell research, where young undifferentiated cells can be used to replace the old, pathological and harmful cells and organs of our bodies.

If indeed humankind is capable of finding a miracle cure for aging, I hope the cure would be found in the next 20-30 years, so that I am not too old yet and can still enjoy life as an immortal with the bodily functions and health of a 50-year-old.

I support longevity research 100%, and I demand that serious considerations be given to this issue! More money should be invested in causes like this, instead of wasting money on pointless wars and space travels. Just think of the possibilities of a lifespan of a few hundred years in fairly good health! Who wouldn't want that? How about you? Do you support longevity research? What are your views about longevity and immortality?

This post is written to express my support for longevity research and in response to Scott's $20 Blogging Challenge. If you have similar views, you can also make a blog post of your own and earn $20 from Scott. Find out more at W Revenue dot Com.

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Landis G. said...

This an interesting post that definitely provokes deep consideration. Longevity is, while at this moment unattained, is a glorified prospect for glimmering in the future.

Personally, like every non-suicidal individual, I am deeply interested in the idea of prolonging life and also slowing/stopping the debilitating process of aging. This is a field that deserves real thought and funding.

However, I also do not see the immediate need for breakthroughs in the pursuit of immortality. As it is our world is less then perfect, far less. We have millions of problems that only seem to multiply as time goes on. (Key among them; poverty, starvation, war, an inability to coexist etc. etc. etc.) So one must ask is our world ready for this and would the timing be better later? Before we turn our attention to prolonging life we need to focus on saving it! I don't wish to be and immortal in waring, poverty stricken world. A semi-Utopian society would, I feel, be the proper climate for the realization of the end of aging.

Not to mention the world would soon become over populated if we didn't have deaths to make room for all the new people being born.

On a whole I am fascinated by this concept and eager to hear more about it in the future. But honestly I don't see the urgency.

BobbyT said...

@landis: yeah there are indeed many more urgent problems need solving still in this troubled world. on the other note, if you refer to the link to wikipedia, it is said that researchers have found a way to slow down aging since 1930, that is to cut-down on calories and increase on other nutrients in one's diet. hope we will both live long enough to see this miraculous breakthrough :D

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