Headline from The Telegraph:
“Longevity gene points to ‘fountain of youth’”
A hundred and seventy-two years ago, I pondered what it would be like to live 1,000 years. If medical science developed a pill to extend life indefinitely, would you take it?
I mean, really…would you?
You’d live for centuries and centuries and centuries. You’re not invincible, you just stop aging. The things that make your body old – oxidative stress, tissue degeneration, muscle atrophy – all gone.
Biology is a weird field, though, because sometimes a hopeful little finding takes a loooooooong time to amount to something. Even a huge finding – like mapping the human genome – that promised tailored cures and a new era of disease prevention – still has a long way to go.
That said, let’s accentuate the positive – researchers have found a protein that restores youth in the blood of mice.
Genes produce proteins. So if you lack a gene, you lack a protein. In this case, we’re talking about the SIRT3 protein.
Old mice that couldn’t produce SIRT3 were less able to produce new blood cells, so basically their blood got old – oxidative stress damaged the blood and their systems couldn’t produce new blood to replace it…not until researchers gave them a healthy dose of SIRT3!
The proteins didn’t just regulate the aging process or slow down the damage, they reversed the ageing process and rejuvenated the blood.
I swear. One by one, they’ll identify more genes and proteins that do things like this. Question is, when will they be available for HUMANS as an actual treatment, and not just a result from a lab mouse?
Anti-aging treatments have extended the life of the common mouse by ten-fold. The oldest lab mouse on record has already outlived two generations of caregivers. However, anti-aging treatments have yet to be developed for human use.
Humans that have covertly tried the mouse-based treatments have had serious side effects, from third-arm growth to eyeball engorgement, and no significant increase in lifespan.
Researchers have finally found a way to incorporate the treatments into humans, but people are a little wary of the implications.
“It’s all in the timing,” says Dr. Genarian of the Anti-Aging Growth Enterprise (AAGE). “We gave people the treatments when they were already old, and they didn’t work. We need to administer them a little earlier,” she says.
When asked how early, Dr. Genarian scratches her red hair and says, “Mmm…pre-embryo.”
The idea is to incorporate mouse DNA into a human embryo to create a mouse-human hybrid that can accept the treatments.
“Technically, we’d be creating a new species of homo-sapien,” says Dr. Genarian. “But they’d live a lot longer.”
Researchers can’t exactly predict all the traits of a half-breed – DNA is way too complex for that, but if they live to be 1,000 years old, some parents may not mind a child with a abnormal affinity for cheese.