Genetics, increased knowledge in nutrition, technology related to bionics, and a greater understanding of the aging process has put us on the brink of realizing dramatic advances in life extension. Some believe that we can easily live to 125 or 150 right now with what is already known.
Steven Maxwell who writes for ActivistPost.com recently reported it could be possible that medical researchers from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine have found the secret of the “fountain of youth” while experimenting with the genetics of mice?
In an article posted on Popular Mechanics, cell biologists Darren Baker and Jan van Deursen are noted as the researchers responsible for this developing medical breakthrough. The process they took seems to be an approach that anyone could suggest without an extensive medical background: take out dead, stagnant cells that have stopped reproducing in order to make more room for the active cells to reproduce.
The seven-year study by Baker and van Deursen showed, through careful observation, that the use of the tumor-suppressing protein molecule, “p16lnk41” (or “p16” as referred to by the article), altered the genetic coding of the mice which caused them to secrete “caspase,” an agent that self-destroys when it is within a cell. By making stagnant cells secrete caspase, these cells self-exploded, resulting in the decrease of stagnant cells in the body and the increase in lifespan and quality.
By removing these stagnant cells, the lifespans of the mice in the study not only increased by 25%, but the removal of stagnant cells also showed a reverse in the signs of aging. These cells, referred to as senescent cells, are normally cycled through the immune system to be ejected from the body; but, as the body ages, this function slows and becomes less effective which in turn leads to an increase in senescent cells in the body.
Gizmag notes a quote from Jan van Deursen that explains the negative side effects of the pile up of senescent cells as, “largely bad, do bad things to your organs and tissues, and therefore shorten your life but also the healthy phase of your life.” When organisms age, whether they be mice or humans, it is assumed that the quality of life decreases as their age increases (diseases, joint problems, and inability to perform daily tasks to name a few side effects of aging); however, this is not the case. By removing the stagnant cells in mice, results showed that their quality of life improved alongside their extended lifespan. The treated mice were noted as having lower amounts of cataracts and being overall more physically active in comparison to mice in their age range that were untreated.
By furthering their knowledge of this study and altering the genetic coding of humans over time, Baker and van Deursen are hopeful that there is a way to implement this practice in humans to improve lifespan and overall quality of life. With the positive outcome that the p16 protein molecule had on decreasing the amount of stagnant cells in mice, Baker, van Deursen, and other medical researchers outside of the study have noted this experiment as “remarkable” and have high hopes of developing a form that is safe and effective for humans in the future.
Ray Kurzweil has been saying for a decade that with the advancements in technology in bionics that many of us who are living right now will be able to extend our lives by merging bionics and biology. In other words, we will merge our bodies with implanted technology that can extend our lives, and more specifically our consciousness. Kurzweil is a public advocate for the futurist and transhumanist movements, and gives public talks to share his optimistic outlook on life extension technologies and the future of nanotechnology, robotics, and biotechnology. He states that with radical life extension will come radical life enhancement. He says he is confident that within 10 years we will have the option to spend some of our time in 3D virtual environments that appear just as real as real reality, but these will not yet be made possible via direct interaction with our nervous system. “If you look at video games and how we went from pong to the virtual reality we have available today, it is highly likely that immortality in essence will be possible.” He claims to know that 20 to 25 years from now, we will have millions of blood-cell sized devices, known as nanobots, inside our bodies fighting against diseases, improving our memory, and cognitive abilities.
Given these realities and now scientific facts, the real elephant in the room is how will we spend our extended time? How will you live your extended life? These realities will force us to completely redefine “society” as we know it. From how we educate ourselves and spend our “career time” to living a different lifestyle will all be redefined and in fact is already being redefined as we speak. We are going to have to redefine how we take care of each other, how we collaborate, and more importantly how we look at our future in total.
How will our current economic systems change? Will there really be a need to “make a living”? Will money really be necessary at all? It is time we all began to ponder these realities. What do you think? Share your thoughts with us and let’s see what we will create. Welcome to the new world, for real.