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Unlocking the Secrets of Longevity Genes
Scientific American ^ | March 2006 | By David A. Sinclair and Lenny Guarente

Posted on 02/21/2006 4:04:11 PM PST by MRMEAN

A handful of genes that control the body's defenses during hard times can also dramatically improve health and prolong life in diverse organisms. Understanding how they work may reveal the keys to extending human life span while banishing diseases of old age

You can assume quite a bit about the state of a used car just from its mileage and model year. The wear and tear of heavy driving and the passage of time will have taken an inevitable toll. The same appears to be true of aging in people, but the analogy is flawed because of a crucial difference between inanimate machines and living creatures: deterioration is not inexorable in biological systems, which can respond to their environments and use their own energy to defend and repair themselves.

At one time, scientists believed aging to be not just deterioration but an active continuation of an organism's genetically programmed development. Once an individual achieved maturity, "aging genes" began to direct its progress toward the grave. This idea has been discredited, and conventional wisdom now holds that aging really is just wearing out over time because the body's normal maintenance and repair mechanisms simply wane. Evolutionary natural selection, the logic goes, has no reason to keep them working once an organism has passed its reproductive age.

Yet we and other researchers have found that a family of genes involved in an organism's ability to withstand a stressful environment, such as excessive heat or scarcity of food or water, have the power to keep its natural defense and repair activities going strong regardless of age. By optimizing the body's functioning for survival, these genes maximize the individual's chances of getting through the crisis. And if they remain activated long enough, they can also dramatically enhance the organism's health and ...

(Excerpt) Read more at sciam.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: biotechnology; genes; genetics; health; lifeextension; longevity; science
You think Social Security's in trouble now...
1 posted on 02/21/2006 4:04:12 PM PST by MRMEAN
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To: MRMEAN

Maybe we will be able to work longer?


2 posted on 02/21/2006 4:17:15 PM PST by dhs12345
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To: MRMEAN
Evolutionary natural selection, the logic goes, has no reason to keep them working once an organism has passed its reproductive age.

Can one of the monkey people explain why the 'Evolutionary Brain' that is supposedly directing things, reasoning this way? I would think it has no reason to fo either way. After all, it's not as if it says, "Gee, I'm no longer a 'breeder', so it's only logical that I start shutting things down and commit slow motion suicide."

3 posted on 02/21/2006 4:17:59 PM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: MRMEAN
Understanding how they work may reveal the keys to extending human life span while banishing diseases of old age.

While an extended, disease free, life span sounds good on paper, but what would be its unintended consequences?

Every one wants to live forever, and never get ill. But, what would a society of such people look like?

4 posted on 02/21/2006 4:20:42 PM PST by Noachian (To control the courts the people must first control their Congress.)
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To: MRMEAN

human growth hormone, stem cells and lucky gene pool


5 posted on 02/21/2006 4:25:34 PM PST by Dick Vomer (liberals suck......... but it depends on what your definition of the word "suck" is.)
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To: Noachian

Actually, one of the unintended consequences of our current longer lifespan (compared to say, the 1700's) is cancer. It's is generally a disease of old age since it may take decades to accumulate the mutations required to transform a normal cell into an oncogenic one.


6 posted on 02/21/2006 4:26:33 PM PST by MarcusTulliusCicero
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To: Noachian

But, what would a society of such people look like?

I bet the would be as spoiled, self-centered, and narcissistic as the baby boomers--times 10.


7 posted on 02/21/2006 4:32:43 PM PST by rbg81
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To: Noachian

They way government deals with senior citizens would have to changed dramatically, no more social security or retirement.

Pensions and such would have to be reformed as well.


8 posted on 02/21/2006 4:41:49 PM PST by Brett66 (Where government advances and it advances relentlessly freedom is imperiled -Janice Rogers Brown)
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To: MRMEAN

One lifetime apart from the Kingdom is quite enough, thank you.


9 posted on 02/21/2006 4:41:50 PM PST by the invisib1e hand (i'd rather hunt with Cheney than drive with Kennedy)
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To: rbg81; MarcusTulliusCicero
What would a society of such people look like?

Maybe a better way of stating this is "What would happen to the world around them?"

If we assume that a person may live for one, two, or three hundred years on average, what unforeseen impact would that have on economic and social institutions?

What kind of jobs would these "elderly" people work at?

What would happen to the life insurance industry?

If dying became "rare" would people still attend religious services?

Would abortion increase since the population would be "swelling" and babies would then be a "burden" instead of "replacements"?

Would we all turn into "risk adverse" people with no adventure left in us?

There's a bunch of, as yet, unanswered questions about extended life, and I don't know of anyone who wouldn't jump at a chance to live for centuries rather than decades.

10 posted on 02/21/2006 4:53:01 PM PST by Noachian (To control the courts the people must first control their Congress.)
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To: MRMEAN

Thanks. Proof that being a freeper adds years to your life.


11 posted on 02/21/2006 4:55:39 PM PST by dhs12345
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To: dhs12345

What kind of jobs would these "elderly" people work at?

Guessing that we will remain productive longer. So, elderly may mean 120+ years versus 70 years now.


12 posted on 02/21/2006 4:57:34 PM PST by dhs12345
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To: Noachian

Recommend you read "Cities in Flight" by James Blish. Its an oldie, but provides some plausible insights into your questions.


13 posted on 02/21/2006 4:57:53 PM PST by rbg81
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To: Noachian

I, for one, would not. I'm not even sure I want to live into my seventies!


14 posted on 02/21/2006 5:05:34 PM PST by MarcusTulliusCicero
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To: Noachian
If we assume that a person may live for one, two, or three hundred years on average, what unforeseen impact would that have on economic and social institutions?

They won't all be eligible for Social Security and Medicare at age 65. Be prepared to keep your nose to the grindstone for a much longer time ;-)

15 posted on 02/21/2006 7:22:17 PM PST by glorgau
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