Discussion Board

Topic: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Aaron
Location: Tasmania
Date: 10/03/2009

The sci fi dream of replacement organs and tissues appears to have become science fact yet again like Jules Verne and submarines, the vision has become a reality - at least at its early stages.

Apparently the Californian Regenerative Medicine Institute, and other similiar research facilities have sprung up all over the world especially around Universities including here in Australia at Monash University and others.

The goal is to create tissues and organs to replace damaged or aged body parts - making a human being much like a car -able to be repaired or upgraded at will, maybe indefinitly.

Its all at the alchemical stage of R & D but the chance for a sci fi transformation in human biotech seems to be coming true. Ahh at last, hang in there you baby boomers and maybe we generation X's and you will have cocktails whilst looking at a Mars sunset - be there in a New York minute

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Greg Bear
Date: 10/14/2009

Looks quite promising, actually.

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Aaron
Location: Tasmania
Date: 10/15/2009

The Nobel prize was presented recently for research into telomeres and possible uses for cancer (to cause cancer cells to die) and also for life extension. Apparently telomerase and other products increase the duration of telomeres through more than the usual numbers of divisions. Children at growth points and in adults certain organs/tissues produce telomerase. The idea behind telomeres is to cause pre programmed cell death after so many divisions to stop errors in DNA replication. A combination of DNA repairing compounds such as selenomethione and protein powders for rna ribosome protein synthesis with telomerase is reputed to prolong life safely - ideas for life extension - even multi vitamin mineral tablets seem to work

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Greg Bear
Date: 10/15/2009

This notion has been around since telomeres were discovered, and their basic principles outlined. There are tremendous problems, however--telemore regeneration is also important to "immortal" cell lines such as malignant tumors. Many more steps and processes need to be worked out and understood.

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Al Brady
Location: st neots
Date: 06/07/2010

I remember reading Engines of Creation and getting the strong vibe that cancer and all other disease represented structural deviations from certain norms at the mollecular level. Molecules in the wrong place, be they viruses or lead compounds or an untwisting telomere. Ie creating perfect medicine 'simply' meant fixing very large numbers of fairly simple mechanical problems at a small scale. I suspect this kind of control is possible, based on what life can do already. It is presumed in all the Hexamon stories, and taken for granted. so I guess all the problems might seem intractibly complex now, but the information we gather about things like telomeres, while not suggesting some simple drug-based elixir of health, will add to the methodology of the future AI-managed makers and doers that heal us.
personally I feel we live in a very low-tech time, which can be frustrating, but I have immense respect for scientists out there pushing things forward, and hope we make it.

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Greg Bear
Date: 06/08/2010

We are indeed learning a great deal more about the nature of various cancers, but more about quirky individuality than just commonalities. Cancer is remarkably varied, with one common characteristic--the most virulent cancerous tissues and cells ignore or circumvent immune response and other commands from the body as a whole, and become rugged individuals intent on their own dominant paradigm of travel and uncontrolled reproduction. Most often, the resulting tumors aren't even capable of feeding all their offspring--but they can kill their hosts.

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Al Brady
Location: st neots
Date: 06/08/2010

Its interesting to think of tumour tissue as effectively individual organism. It is shocking to see images of diverted blood vessels and things like teeth being built in the wrong place.
Drexler cleverly suggested improving life systems by replacing 1 DNA strand with 3, so that potentially dangerous mutations would be error checked.
It certainly seems to make sense to think of humans and other complex life as colonies or ecosystems in their own right, a point you made forcefully in Blood Music.
Id be surprised if cancerous mutations havent resulted in new evolutionary avenues and been propagated somewhere actually, given their ubiquity and rampant 'creativity.'.
Talking about immune manipulation, I wonder why AIDS is such a recent development. Youd expected sexually transmitted autoimmune deficiency infections to have appeared a long time ago. It seems like a natural niche in the topographic landscape of possible organisms. Did dinosaurs get AIDS?

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Greg Bear
Date: 06/14/2010

All good questions. With regard to error correction, DNA already does that in many different ways--and adding one more strand might be an option, but how much more complex does the system then become? Viruses and other abnormalities thrive in increased complexity. There's an argument that a perfect immune system--no disease, no viruses, no cancers--would also stop evolution in its tracks!

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Aaron
Location: Tasmania
Date: 06/15/2010

I really wish we (the world) had a few more clones of you Greg!! It would really help. Do you keep your DNA sequence handy or stored somewhere? Maybe even a frozen cellular sample in a safe facility or something. You know so much good science that is beneficial in biotech etc.

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Greg Bear
Date: 06/15/2010

Alas, DNA is not fate... rememeber, we're all custom-made by semi-expert systems based on ever-changing blueprints! (And the lowest bidders...)

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Alex Brady
Location: st neots
Date: 06/16/2010

"There's an argument that a perfect immune system--no disease, no viruses, no cancers--would also stop evolution in its tracks!"

I feel really lucky to have been born at the handover from mindless statistical evolution to (the first steps to) life shaped by mind, even factoring in the inevitable accidents and horrors this will produce. It seems an improbably tiny and important slice of time to exist in, but I suppose they all do.
As paradigm shifts go its pretty amazing I think though; from a totally non-science background I wouldnt like to put a pricetag on it but but it seems to me to be of the same significance to universal evolution as the other great phase changes that have occurred. And for it to happen now??
OK I admit maybe it all tying in with the sort of awesome Abrahamic eschatology scenarios that have always seemed so alluring to young men everywhere for some reason might be factor in my being so impressed!
Still its like the Fermi thing all over again. Why now and not then? On that topic I thought the Carter Catastrope stuff was a great idea, drunk people get their heads blown off by that one even when the fors and againsts are explained half-wrongly with peanuts and beer mats.
I guess I dont buy the idea that evolution ends here though.
The elimination of disease might reduce the number of people selected against because of their susceptibility, but evolution by natural selection must go on Im sure.
Like these hokey "What man will be like in 100,000 years" articles you see in Metro where they show some Morlock guy.. Humans will surely be like thousands of different things a lot sooner than that, although some of them might well be Morlocks I guess..poor blighters. Its a boundless environment for the imagination though. I was deeply impressed by Cordwainer Smith's stories and his feelings about our future matter-of-fact manipulation of our form was one reason.
Im sure the post data-flow galaxy, the reef, would be a place of dazzling variety and ultrarapid evolution.
Wikiing a little about DNA it does seem pretty jawdropping. The compression! I figure 2million bases in a persons genome is less data than a normal-sized photo them. Its bananas!








Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Alex Brady
Location: st neots
Date: 06/16/2010

PS Definitely clone Greg and make them teach in all schools whether they like it or not!

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Greg Bear
Date: 06/19/2010

I wasn't referring to human-induced end to natural evolution, but to the apparent phenomenon that ancient and long-stable organisms tend to have very effective immune systems. Sharks, limulus (horseshoe crab) etc. I do not know that this is a demonstrated scientific fact, however. Perhaps I could put the hypothesis this way: If you want to evolve rapidly, be prepared to get sick regularly.

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Greg Bear
Date: 06/19/2010

But then I'd have to teach them! I think a matter transmitter/copier would be more effective. They're cheap-but the ink cartridges are where the profit is made...

Re: Regenerative Medicine = Life Extension?

From: Alex Brady
Location: St Neots
Date: 06/21/2010

Interesting point about the sharks and horseshoe crabs. I always thought of them as an 'old' design but I guess that the fact that theyre alive and disease-free means theyre actually bang up to date, the latest versions of a successful formula.
Hehe I meant "they" as in your clones, but thinking back to school that would be a pretty mean place to make anyone work.

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