Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Do You Want To Live Forever? - Dr. Aubrey de Grey


Interesting documentary . . . . Personally, living forever would be depressing beyond comprehension. If I could maintain the health I have right now for a few more decades, however, I might not mind living well into my 100s.

I do wonder about the psychology behind the desire to life forever, or at least indefinitely. Is it a fear of death? A fear of aging and degeneration? A fear of loss? Something else . . . .


Do You Want To Live Forever?
"Do You Want To Live Forever?" is a Channel 4 Documentary following the revolutionary life-extension and immortality ideas of this somewhat eccentric scientist, Dr. Aubrey de Grey.

This show is all about the radical ideas of a Cambridge biomedical gerontologist called Aubrey de Grey who believes that, within the next 20-30 years, we could extend life indefinitely by addressing seven major factors in the aging process. He describes his work as Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS).


Here is some information on de Grey's ideas from his Wikipedia entry (or actually, the entry on his SENS ideas).
Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) is the term coined by British biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey for the diverse range of regenerative medical therapies, either planned or currently in development [1], for the periodical repair of all age-related damage to human tissue with the ultimate purpose of maintaining a state of negligible senescence in the patient, thereby postponing age-associated disease for as long as the therapies are reapplied. [2]

The term "negligible senescence" was first used in the early 1990s by professor Caleb Finch to describe organisms such as lobsters and hydras, which do not show symptoms of aging. The term "engineered negligible senescence" first appeared in print in Aubrey de Grey's 1999 book The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging,[3] and was later prefaced with the term "strategies" in the article Time to Talk SENS: Critiquing the Immutability of Human Aging[4] De Grey called SENS a "goal-directed rather than curiosity-driven"[5] approach to the science of aging, and "an effort to expand regenerative medicine into the territory of aging".[6] To this end, SENS identifies seven categories of "damage" and a specific regenerative medical proposal for treating each.

While many biogerontologists find it "worthy of discussion"[7][8] and SENS conferences feature important research in the field,[9][10] some contend that the alleged benefits of de Grey's programme are too speculative given the current state of technology, referring to it as "fantasy rather than science".[11][12]
Here are the seven areas he feels need to be addressed to extend our lives considerably:
By enumerating the various differences between young and old tissue identified by the science of biogerontology, a 'damage' report was drawn, which in turn formed the basis of the SENS strategy. The results fell into seven main categories of 'damage', seven alterations whose reversal would constitute negligible senescence:
  1. cell loss or atrophy (without replacement),[4][13][14]
  2. oncogenic nuclear mutations and epimutations,[15][16][17]
  3. cell senescence (Death-resistant cells),[18][19]
  4. mitochondrial mutations,[20][21]
  5. Intracellular junk or junk inside cells (lysosomal aggregates),[22][23]
  6. extracellular junk or junk outside cells (extracellular aggregates),[18][19]
  7. random extracellular cross-linking.[18][19]
For each of these areas SENS offers at least one strategy, with a research and a clinical component. The clinical component is required because in some of the proposed therapies, feasibility has already been proven, but not completely applied and approved for human trials. These strategies do not presuppose that the underlying metabolic mechanisms of aging be fully understood, only that we take into account the form senescence takes as directly observable to science, and described in scientific literature.
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