Immortality May Be More than Mere Fiction

Immortality has long been heeded as the stuff of fiction. As a trait only possessed by Gods and spirits. But the mark of engineering is the ability to turn science fiction into reality. New leads in immortality research have shown that the fountain of youth may be closer than many of us believe. Implementing these ideas place estimates at extending human life to around a thousand years.

To understand this research, it is first important to understand what causes aging. One of the most well-known causes is telomere shortening. The genes that compose all living organisms are twisted around double-stranded molecules of DNA called chromosomes, and at the ends of these chromosomes are telomeres. Telomeres aid in the division of chromosomes, but every time a chromosome divides, the telomere gets shorter until it becomes too short and the cell can no longer divide. As these chromosomes die, and cells can no longer replicate, old or damaged cells cannot be replaced. Thus, telomere ranges for newborns is around 8,000 base pairs, while elderly people have only around 1,500 base pairs.

Telomere length is just one factor that contributes to aging, though. Two other contributing factors are oxidative stress and glycation. Oxidants, or reactive substances containing oxygen, are damaging to DNA, proteins, and fats. The higher our chronological age, the more exposure we have to these oxidants, and thus the more damage our body suffers. Glycation, similar to oxidative stress, renders our DNA, proteins, and lipids useless when glucose, the main sugar our body uses for energy, binds with either of these. As we grow older, the problem worsens, resulting in body tissue malfunctions.

Given what we know about aging and the causes of death, research has been directed towards counteracting these problems. One —> Read More