Who needs The Lord of the Rings when we have a prince of darkness threatening world stability not to mention annihilation simultaneously appearing with the unicorn, a magical creature that portends paradise. All we need is an open mind and funds for research.The latest cellular research and genetic engineering for the purpose of increasing longevity is being done at the University of California at Irvine and Cambridge University in England.
“I am working on immortality,” says Michael Rose, a professor of evolutionary biology at Irvine, who has already achieved breakthrough results extending the lives of fruit flies.
I wonder: What is the optimal fruit fly diet?????? Most likely, low protein, near starvation. Starving cells causes a slowing of life functions, not death. But what kind of life is that? And to eat like fruit flies? Not yet thanks.
Dr. Rose continues, “Twenty years ago the idea of postponing aging, let alone reversing it, was weird and off-the-wall. Today there are good reasons for thinking it is fundamentally possible.” This is encouraging, but we have a long way to go.
My favorite geneticist is Aubrey de Grey, Cambridge University researcher and de facto spokesman of the anti-aging crusade. He seems a good natured red bearded Merlin , 42 married with an extraordinarily long list of scientific publications. He is advisor for many scientific organizations dealing with aging, British Society for Research on Ageing, American Aging Association, International Association of Biomedical Gerontology, Gerontological Society of America, International Coenzyme Q10 Association, and Mitochondrion Research Society to name a few. See de Grey’s website www.sens.org for information on his work.
De Grey describes his research area as encompassing the role and etiology of all the accumulating and eventually pathogenic molecular and cellular side-effects of metabolism that constitute mammalian aging; the design of interventions to reverse and/or obviate this accumulation. Part of that research is to seek out and destroy what he calls destructive “junk” inside and outside of cells. Junk is wastes that lead to aging, that impair cells functioning, and hasten death. He is looking for enzymes and fungi that destroy junk so that they can be added to the bone marrow in marrow transplants.
He believes, whether they realize it or not, barring accidents and suicide, most people now 40 years or younger can expect to live for centuries. Sounds like sci-fi but its pure science. Several mechanisms are known to extend life in flies, why not eventually in mammals?
De Grey says, “Gene therapy is still in its infancy, and its difficulty must not be underestimated, but progress is steady; it may not be over optimistic to predict that by the time we have identified enzymes capable of degrading lysosomal junk (in cells) and made them work in mice, gene therapy will be sufficiently advanced to allow their use in humans. Also, very importantly, the biggest application of this technology doesn’t need gene therapy at all, because the cells that need to be given the microbial genes are macrophages, special white blood cells, which come from the bone marrow. So we can make the necessary changes to blood stem cells in the laboratory, and then give them to people as a bone marrow transplant, which is much, much easier than gene therapy.
The degree of control that he considers sufficient is the ability to take a cohort of mice of a strain whose normal life expectancy is three years, do nothing to them until they are two years old, and get them to live an average of three more years, i.e. tripling their remaining life expectancy. He calls it “Robust Mouse Rejuvenation” or RMR. Cute.
When will we have the first human rejuvenation therapies? De Grey says, depending on funding and other factors, starting from the time that the RMR mouse target is achieved, it could take 15 to 100 years. That’s a bit long to wait, so I emailed the professor at his London lab and asked:
I realize that your research interests concern cells, enzymes, and material from fungi. Chinese medicine also values fungi especially reishi, cordyceps, and others because they contain polysaccharides.
Do you have suggestions of foods that in your view promote health and longevity? Otherwise, can you suggest other researchers interested in foods as a means of practical application of your work?
He answered quick as a wink:
Many thanks for your email and your interest in my work. As you’ve
gathered, my focus is on the molecular and cellular biology of aging
other than on the dietary and pharmacological things we can already
do to combat aging. I am not an expert on these latter areas, so the
best I can do is to direct you to some of the researchers who have
published in my journal (Rejuvenation Research) on the anti-aging
potential of various phytochemicals: several of these reports have
focused on Asian foods. Some examples:
Leung HY, Chiu PY, Poon MK, Ko KM. A yang-invigorating Chinese herbal
formula enhances mitochondrial functional ability and antioxidant
capacity in various tissues of male and female rats. Rejuvenation Res
Kimura T, Doi K. Depigmentation and rejuvenation effects of kinetin on
the aged skin of hairless descendants of Mexican hairless dogs.
Rejuvenation Res 2004;7(1):32-39.
Rattan SI, Sodagam L. Gerontomodulatory and youth-preserving effects of
zeatin on human skin fibroblasts undergoing aging in vitro.
Rejuvenation Res 2005;8(1):46-57.
Kumar V, Murthy KN, Bhamid S, Sudha CG, Ravishankar GA. Genetically
modified hairy roots of Withania somnifera Dunal: a potent source of
rejuvenating principles. Rejuvenation Res 2005;8(1):37-45.
I hope the above is helpful.
I will order his journal from his website www.sens.org because I am particularly interested in the article about yang increasing chinese herbs. Are they precursors to testosterone like cuscuta, epimedium or others? If so they enhance energy and sexuality besides zizzing up the mitochondria. Also I recognize Withania as being the Ayurvedic longevity herb ashwagandha, used for backache, low sexual energy, slow childbirth from weak muscles and nerve illnesses such as MS.
I look forward to Aubrey de Grey’s New York lecture at Junta this June 1st. The location is:
General Society Library
20 West 44th St.
Between 5th & 6th avenues, near Grand Central Terminal
The lecture begins at 8:00PM
Subway: 4, 5, 6, 7 to Grand Central – 42nd St.,
B, D, F, V to 42nd St. – Sixth Ave., or
1, 2, 3, 9, N, Q, R, S, or W to Times Square – 42nd St.
Admission is free, and no reservation is necessary.
Hope to see you there.
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