will death remain inevitable, or can we live forever? Whsat if life had no end, in just the last 200 years life expectancy had doubled from 40 to about 80 years. we can repair the body just like a car, but what usually goes wrong first, twhere do things get the hottest, the engine. In the engine the gasoline gets oxidized and proveds energy to the car, but because of combustion the engine can become damaged and you;d have to rebuild it. Every cell in our body has small engines called Mitochondria, double membrane powerhouses who’s job is to provide energy. But when thedse powerhouses wear down from oxidative stress, our bodies begin to decay. But we can reverse this process, we’ve extended the lifespan of yeast to 10 times the lifespan, the equivalent of 800 human years. The yeast LONGETIVTY OCCYRED WHEN GENES ras-2 and SCH-9 were removed from its DNA. These pathways, in addition to promoting aging and DNA damage and a variety of different systems in the cells. We wonder if this fountain of youth for yeast might apply to more complex life forms. So we began looking min mice. When we knocked out those 2 genes, the mice doubled their life expectancy. If you look at similarities between mice and humans we’re 90% identical in many ways. Mice live 2 years, humans 100. With just a small modification of the genome you can go from 2 years to 100 years.
If you take for example the genome of millions of old people and the genome of millions of young people, which we will do in the coming years, and then subtract, you will find the genes where aging is concentrated. We’ve already identififed over 60 genes involved in the aging process. Now the question is how do you reprogram a human who lives 100 years to be a 2-300 year old person.
Aubrey de gre thinks himself a modern day Methuselah, he has dedicated his career to fighting aging., He believeds that many people born today could live to be 1000 years old and remain physically young for most of that time. The key is a mayter of good biological housekeeping, by taking the Molecular junk and junk genes out of ourselves. It accumulates inside cells and between cells, cells break down waste but sometimes they come accross things that are so weird that their effects don’t work on them, then it is rereouted to the lysosome. and if the junk can’t be broken down, it stays there forever. The accumulation of garbage in the lysosomal stroage unit is what causes aging. The most logical way to do this, in nature, what likes to eat junk? We might be able to find other species, especially bacteria that are able to break down substances that accumulate in cellular lysosomes. Since graveyards are riddled with the wasste of decomposing bodies, we might find microbes here that live to feast on death. If we can find the genes and enzymes they are using to perform that function, we might be able to splice those genes and enzymes into our own cells so they can break stuff down that they could not naturally break down.
The Human genome project has been succeeded by an even more ambitious undertaking, a map to a cancer free future, the cancer genome project, or the cancer genome atlas. It takes all the tools of genomics of how DNA functions in a tumor cell and apply them. For all 50 common cancers we will look at hundreds of tumors of that type, maybe 250 cancers for each tumor type and sequence all that DNA, we’re talking about 12,5000 human genome projects. It sounds impossible but it has been coming along nicely. it’s goal is notheing less than creating an encyclopedia of all known cancers. This is doable and cancer is preventable, we will know our genetic risks for cancers. The secret is the merger between the recent information revovultion and the coming biotech revolution. It won’t take long before everyone will have their personal DNA profile on a disk, this could revolutionize healthcare. But it also raises questions, both for the individual and for society as a whole. It might have a very sharp effect of our vision of ourselves, through genetic determinism everything’s known, my future is known if i have my own DNA on a chip. Suddenly we begin to have this knowledge of trememndous aspects of our growth and our diseases is genetically determined. You will know the day you die, and how you are most lokely to die. But the most aggregious misuse that the public has identified is the issue of gene discrimination. In the US we’ve been fighting for 12 years to get genetic Discrimination made illegal. You shouldn’t lose your healthcare or job because you have a risk gene for something you couldn’t control. It’d be a terrible tragedy if that came out of this project.
Dr Cynthisa kenyon is a milecular biologist who studies Nematods. Tiny short lived roundworm. Work in her lab has shattered traditional nitions of aging. We used to think aging was a passive process where you randomly fall apart, with nothing complicated going on, no common mechanism. But a decade ago we started to question that idea. We start wondering if there might not be genetic regulation for aging, genes that initiate the process to accelerate death for evolutionary reasons. Nastural selection wants us to reproduce when we’re young, when we get older. Then it loses interest, and we decay while we make room for the next generation of evlution. But his mechanism is outdated with the arrival of consciousness. There are fish and turtles that live to 200, and they have very similar organs to us, yet we die after 80 years but they get to live. It makes you wonder whether there isn’t some kind of molecular control over the aging process.
Kenyon studies nematode worms because of their weeklong lifespans. The fundamental processes in life take place in the exact same way in worms as they do in humans. Example, a human muscle cell looks just like a worm muscle cell, it has the same proteins, generates force the same way. Also the instructions of the dna that tell a stem cell to become a muscle cell, are exatcly the same in the worm and human. We are much more similar than we are different hanks to evolution. At the molecular level there’s a good chance that whatever you learn in these worms will also apply in humans to some degree if not all. If genes control the aging process, altering the genetic makeup of the worm might slow down the rate of aging. Kenyon randomly changed genes and looked for an extension of lifespan, and found that changing DAF-2 could double the worm’s lifespan. Its the grim reaper gene, because its function is to speed up aging. Why would you think that you even have a gene like that inside you, to speed up aging. The animals not only lived twice as long, but aged twice as slowly, they still maintained their youtuh. We can get our worms to live 6 times as long as norm,al if we make 2 genetoic changes. That’s like having 5000 year old people in human years.
Cynthia Kenyon thinks she may have found one of the keys to a long life in a tiny nearly microscopic worm named C. Elegans. I know they look really different from us, but the basic processes of life are very similar at the molecular leveel. These little guys get old and die in just over 2 weeks, it makes them easy to study. Here is the normal worm when it’s young. Now here’s the same kind of worm 2 weeks older when they’re older. Here you can see they’re about to die. You can see aging ina aworm very dramatically. Now here are worms that are the same age, but you can see that they look much younger. So they’re like 90 year old people who lookm 45. We’ve changed one gene that’s all, it’s called DAF-2. Genes are blocks of DNA in the genome that form the basis of all life on earth. Kenyon found that there was a gene scientists call FOXO, which had a role in keeping the worms freakishly youthful. FOXO helps the animal protect and repair it’s tissues, the reason it can do it is this one gene controls a lot of other genes. FOXO is a master control gene meaning it regulates hundreds of other genes, genes that have a profound effe ct on the worms health. It’s the superintendent of a building, it maintains the building. What FOXO does is keep the building in good working order. But it doesn’t actually do all these important jobs, it activates other genes to do the wokr, it switches on other genes. Those genes do jobs like enhance the immune system and make proteins that kill invading microorganisms, others switched on a r=re antioxidant genes. Most living things need oxygene but oxygen can actually be damaging to cells that aren’t prepared to deal with it. And there’s a worker gene for that too. There are probably 100 worker genes that have very important roles, so what you get is a cell, tissu, or animal tat stays in working condition for a lot longer. all those processes are directed by the FOXO boss gene. With a more active superintendednt gene the cells became more resilient than normal, and the worms lived twice as long. If there’s one gene that dramaticall increses lifespan in worms, could the sam ebe true in humans? A FOXO pathway was also confirmed in humans through a study in japanese american men in Hawaii. We found one gene that did more help than everyone else, if you have this protective version of the FOXO gene you can live longer. It is a gene also associated with extended healthspan not just lifespan in humans. The Hawaii study showed that the protective varient of the FOXO gene was more lilely to be found in centennarians, people over 100. News of the study spread around the world, and dr. Nil Barzilai of the Albert eEinstein college confirmed the results in a new york study of Ashkenazi Jew centennarians, where he found a similar pattern in the FOXO pathway. One of the most consistent and validated studies in the field of human aging. In the future, this knowledge could be used to develop new drugs to help us combat age-related diseases and perhaps help us all live significanlly longer.
Researchers from UCLA showed that by turning on a single gene they could extend life by 30%. AMP activated protein kinase helps get rid of cellular garbage by promoting autophagy, or destroying sick or damaged cells. Over time our cells get dzamaged as we age, and it’s the buildup of these damaged cells that lead to age related illenesses. The enzyme helps the body clean up all these damaged cells. Researchers ound that flies who had this gene lived up to 30% longer and were healthier in their later days. Note that I said flies, this hasn’t been proven in mammals.
We’re not gonna kick death anytime soon, but he’s where we are now. They found Warbner’s syndrom which causes premature aging was caused by heterochromatin, a tightly packed form of DNA, and overtim e it changes shape, in Warner’s syndrom heterochromatin behaves a little differently and ages fast, so if warners syndrom is aging faster, and we all have heterochromatin, then what if we reversed it, fixed the heterochromatin so it behaves in . the opposite way. They did it and it kind of fixed aging. In the ends of our DNA our telomeres, those telomeres shrink as we age, everytime the DNA replicates they get a little shorter, they don’t code DNA but they are important, if they get too short the cell goes into senescence and becomes useless. An enzyme that stops the shortening of the telomeres didn’t just stop aging, but actually reversed aging, this was done in mice, but we can’t do this in humans and doesn’t necessarily fix the proble, there still are other ways we can die. If we tried the telomeres thing in humans we’d get cancer, because cells would just keep dividing forever and cause more cancers. Telomeres are there for a reason. Cancer cells are just cells that have accidentally made telomerase and become immortal.
The whole topic of genetic enhancement, causes people pause. Suppose we develop, by our understanding of how the genome works an approach that would improve memeory, height, or physical strength. it does raise the question about who decides what’s an improvement, and is that improvement something that will be available to all or would it be another example of tseperation between people who have ressources and welath and people who don’t? The kjey question is what happens to society if everyone is clammering to have their status and their capabilities boosted. In a worst case scenario is that society itself begins to fracture, on one hand into a race of superbeings, on the other hand, the rest of us. I see a genetic divide betweent eh haves and the have nots as a possibility that’s a concern. given accesibility of these techniques that will be coming on the market, aproved or not approved, as long as its abvailable SOMEWHERE people will use it. We’ve seen plenty of evidence in history to that effec t. The potential social implications of social enhancement will become even more serious once we take one further step, modifying not only our own genes, but also the genetic makeup of our children. In 20 to 30 years we’ll be able to control not just our personal genomne but the genetic heritage of the entire human race. So the question is how far do we want to push this technology? Already there is already an international black market in human growth hormone as paerents try to control the height of their kids. In the future we will be able to control the genes of our kids. Will we have a generation of designer children? Should we make everyone the same and everyone perfect? Why not, we attempt to design our children when we educate them, when we try to instill social ideals, when we try to make them cooperative social beings, when we take them to sports lessons, all of these things attempt to shape our children into people who will have beetter lives. Theres no reason to treat these environmental interventions any differently. To direct biological intervention, what we want is our children to have better lives, how those better lives are brought about shouldn’t make a significant moral difference. What about special tiutoring and violin lessons, isn’t that a form of inequality too? Parents are hardwired to give every evolutionary benefit and advantage to our kids. If i found that my neighbors kids were gene modified to have better memory and compete agaist myu kids in school, it puts incredible opressure on me to genetically engineer my own kids. We can’t ban this. We can’t control the trade of illegal drugs, do you think we’ll be able to control the trade of genes. We’re at an inflection point in history. For the first time in hundreds of thousands of years, our tech is not so aimed outward at modifyong our environment, like fire, cloths, cities, agriculture space travel, increasingly these tech is aimed inward, modifiying our minds, bodies, metabolism, and kids. This is not some distance science fiction futrure, this is right now. What’s shicking is that if you can do all that, you’re talking about humans becoming the first species to really take control of their own evolution. Many scientists are confident that at some point in this century, we will have the means of engineering a new species of humans that transcends our current evolutionary boundries. And there’s a growing international movement that welcomes this prospect. The Transhumanists. Some people frear that if everyone has a choice to go any genetic direction they want, we’ll scatter in 10,000 directions. Some people think the whole concept of homo sapiens may begin to dissolve and we’ll begin to factionalize war with each other and dissolve into a bunch of genetic tribes. We already have war factioning along geographical tribes, i don’t see how having that happen due to self modification would be really any worse. But transhumanism isn’t anti man, we’re still people. We’re really just transcending our biology not our humanity. It is only until the neuroptech age of mind uploading where mental aspects and characteristics of humanity will begin to rapidly disapeer. we’re the only species that seeks to change who we are, no to other species does that. That’s not a new story, if we didn’t change who we are, we would live 25 years old, that was the life expectancy 1000 years ago. We already put drugs, devices, things in our bodies that change who we are, that is actually what is unique about the human species. We are the species that seeks to extend ourselves through our knowledge. In the end, we’re all looking into the future with a degree of uncreatainty and intrepidation about the potential uses of biotechnoloy. As we move into this new age at an ever accelerating rate, it’s our choice as to how radically different life might become.
It’s possible that there will be genetic divides and tribes,but its our choice. Whether enhancements are for everyone or only the rich is our choice.
As we leave the age of discovery and enter the age of scietific mastery, the pace of science is accelerating. In the future we may have God like power, to affect human evolution, and even create a transhuman species. This power gives us Unparalleled possibilities, but also great responsibilities. One day we can cure disease, lengthen lifespan, and extend capabilities. But science nby itself only gives us options and oppurtunities, there’s a danger that the human race might fracture and create genetic apartheid. We must engage in reason and debate, let this be a wakeup call for the immortalist era.
GENETIC ENGINEERING TO REVERSE THE AGING PROCESS
American woman gets biologically younger after gene therapies
Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of Bioviva USA Inc. has become the first human being to be successfully rejuvenated by gene therapy, after her own company’s experimental therapies reversed 20 years of normal telomere shortening.
Telomere score is calculated according to telomere length of white blood cells (T-lymphocytes). This result is based on the average T-lymphocyte telomere length compared to the American population at the same age range. The higher the telomere score, the “younger” the cells.
In September 2015, then 44 year-old CEO of BioViva USA Inc. Elizabeth Parrish received two of her own company’s experimental gene therapies: one to protect against loss of muscle mass with age, another to battle stem cell depletion responsible for diverse age-related diseases and infirmities.
The treatment was originally intended to demonstrate the safety of the latest generation of the therapies. But if early data is accurate, it is already the world’s first successful example of telomere lengthening via gene therapy in a human individual. Gene therapy has been used to lengthen telomeres before in cultured cells and in mice, but never in a human patient.
Telomeres are short segments of DNA which cap the ends of every chromosome, acting as ‘buffers’ against wear and tear. They shorten with every cell division, eventually getting too short to protect the chromosome, causing the cell to malfunction and the body to age.
In September 2015, telomere data taken from Parrish’s white blood cells by SpectraCell‘s specialised clinical testing laboratory in Houston, Texas, immediately before therapies were administered, revealed that Parrish’s telomeres were unusually short for her age, leaving her vulnerable to age-associated diseases earlier in life.”
To read the rest check out the original post here: http://bioviva-science.com/2016/04/21/first-gene-therapy-successful-against-human-aging/
Genetic engineer animation : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNFxmMe1wVQ , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TosVOx7yjts ,