January 08, 2009

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work

I want to achieve it by not dying. Toward that end, I'm trying to stay aware of longevity research. There are basically two camps at present, with some amount of overlap, but they differ greatly in size and makeup.

In the larger, more established camp are those seeking to slow aging though precise knowledge of metabolic processes, careful diet, and medications to manage metabolism. This camp includes most mainstream biological and gerontological researchers and most researchers that believe in the inevitability -- if not the outright necessity -- of death.

In the smaller camp, you have "radicals" like Aubrey de Grey, Reason, and a number of others that -- while interested in knowing metabolism's ins and outs -- believe the right way to approach longevity is by viewing aging as an ongoing accumulation of damage and irreducible junk in the body. In Ending Aging, Dr. de Grey outlines the specific kinds of damage that bodies accumulate in the processes of aging, as well as proposed approaches for each.

I mostly fall into the latter camp. The notion of aging as damage is intuitively appealing, and the "engineering" approach of managing and reducing each kind of damage iteratively while we improve the state of the art in biological science means a great deal more lives may be saved in the short term. Where I bump heads with many of them is the use of embryonic stem cells. For one, ESCs are costly and difficult to acquire, which severely limits the applicable therapies that might depend on them. Further, there's something really, really ghoulish about sustaining the lives of the old at the cost of the lives of the young/unborn, even in the case of "extra" embryos created for IVF. My hope is that the recent advances in induced pluripotent cells will eventually put this baby to bed -- so to speak -- and we can start really pushing ahead with ethical stem cell therapies; first for "diseases", and then for aging itself.

Posted by: leoncaruthers at 08:30 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 340 words, total size 2 kb.

<< Page 1 of 1 >>
12kb generated in CPU 0.02, elapsed 0.051 seconds.
54 queries taking 0.0422 seconds, 91 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.