Mouse-molesting boffins in California have used biochemical signals to rejuvenate elderly, knackered bodily tissues in a fashion normally only achievable by youngsters. However, the scientists insist that they have not yet achieved an immortality drug, and if they had it would only be for mice. "We're not at a point where we're …
So the vampires were right
"When old tissue is placed in an environment of young blood, the stem cells behave as if they are young again,"
So all I need now is a bathtub, a sharp knitting needle and a naive young virgin. Paris? Well 2 out of 3 isn't bad.
Not having the Nature article to hand, I wonder if they've managed to overcome the apparent problem of Telomere decay.
Place me in an environment of Catherine Zeta Jones
I'm ready to take the risk, for the greater good of mankind.
Much like sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, two out of three just doesn't cut it.
Your plan sounds similar to something in the Sarah Connor Chronicles - is your skeleton [endo, or otherwise] comprised partially of refined Coltan?
Graham Dawson: If so then they're being awfully quiet about it.
Can you imagine a world where nobody dies and everyone just carries on shagging.
Jeezus, you think it's fucked up now, the energy crisis, oil running out, global warming (or not) too many people in lands that can't support them, vast tracts of forest felled every day, houses built on flood plains and not to mention Man's cruelty to his fellow Men, Dictators who's reign will never end and you think the trains are busy now?
All will pale to insignificance when the oxygen starts to run out.
Humans are not ready for more life let alone immortality, maybe come back in, say, 10,000 years we maybe a bit more mature then.
So what happens if old people regularly get blood transfusions from / drink the blood of young people?
Actually, he's referring (I think) to Countess Elizabeth Báthory, otherwise known as the "Blood Countess", a sixteenth-century Hungarian aristocrat who was reputed to have bathed in the blood of virgins to maintain her youth. More prosaically, she was tried for and sentenced for witchcraft, and the abduction, torture and murder of dozens (by some accounts, hundreds) of young girls.
Young cells do it for me too
If I were to hold a bundle of young cells in direct contact with my own, I'm sure I would experience substantial growth in certain of my cells. However, my wife would object.
@ Michael O'Malley
Thats the old conundrum, while we can experiance substantial growth in old cells, the "Wife" input means thats a short lived bonus followed by either a slow painfull death, or loss of the house/car/dog
re:Can you imagine a world where nobody dies . . .
. . . and everyone just carries on shagging?
It's been with us for a while if you consider reincarnation.
Constant production of nippers is usually due to people either dying young as part of 'normal' life or because some priest tells them to. There have been huge advances in rectifying the first cause but the second one is more difficult to deal with as more shagging produces more believers and more god-power. The better we get at not dying, the less kids we have.
Would provide a serious impetus for space travel and extra-terrestrial habitats. And cause all kinds of social upheavals...
long live telomeres
Let us hope they don't solve the problem of Telomeres. There's no way that the world could cope with our immortality unless it meant mass sterilisation too. However if they could keep us all in young, fit health until the sands ran out on our telomeres as usual then I would settle for that thank you very much.
@ Simon Ball
And pray tell, where will you find virgins in this day and age? :)
I'm not so sure... In an environment saturated with the sex and drugs, i'm pretty sure I could give up my Led Zep collection.
Anon for obvious reasons.
Smiley face... Do you need to ask?
Young Blood eh?
So the way to stay young is to abduct a small child with the same bloodtype as you and use them as your own personal blood bank. Extra blood is also useful bottled and taken to work with you as a heathy snack.
I can just see the kids turning up to school pallid and weak with a rather youthful looking mother behind the wheel of the SUV.
You may as well ask where they found that many virgins in THOSE days. Demand has ALWAYS massively outstripped supply ;)
"So what happens if old people regularly get blood transfusions from / drink the blood of young people?"
I think they become Dick Cheney.
Really? 80-year-old mice?
"Constant production of nippers is usually due to people either dying young as part of 'normal' life or because some priest tells them to."
You forgot the most common reason in "civilized" society: because it feels good and contraceptives are a bother. That one, I'm afraid, is the hardest nut to crack. If we as a species can't attain near 0 population growth, we're not ready for these drugs.
You read my mind (and Blish, of course!)
<-- Will she be one of the New Immortals?
Since the researchers were looking at stem cells (which express the telomerase enzyme), telomere shortening isn't an issue. Or so says my shiny new BSc. in Biology, at any rate.
Fascinating work, and it's no wonder it got a publication in Nature. I'll be following their work with great interest.
i wonder if it would be better to keep our natural lifespan but maintain near perfect health for most of late adult hood.
Maybe this will be another way for rich old men to bleed everyone else, not only of money, but of actual blood.
There's another way
you legalize human cloning, and you use your own clone's blood. Body parts too if need be. Renewable spare parts. Only problem is to get enough DNA the first round, as if you make a clone from a cloned spare part, you suffer from the "photocopy" dilemma. That is, making copies of copies eventually becomes unreadable.
Really, though, a Fountain of Youth will only promote a eugenics program (who's the fittest to survive overpopulation?). Yuck.
Telomeres and immortality
Telomere shortening is easy to fix. The enzyme telomerase repairs telomeres during cell division, and as Nicholas Thomas pointed out, stem cells already express telomerase. It's easy enough to synthesize, too.
I don't accept the notion that we all have to die to make room for the next generation. We see from history that longer lifespan is generally correlated with lower birth rate; children are more valuable in societies with short life spans. Developed countries have lower birth rates than Third World countries as it is; if life expectancy increases, this trend will doubtless continue.
And I think that's a good thing. Frankly, human lifespan is appallingly short. We don't get the opportunity to learn from our mistakes that we would with longer lifespans, and we don't get the full benefit of the contribution from every member of society that we would with longer lifespans. Figure it takes two decades to turn an infant into an educated, skilled, productive member of society--and then he typically only stays that way for perhaps four decades before he retires.
And where do we get the notion that an infant is worth more than an adult? Why is it that the adult should die to "make room" for the infant, when the adult has the advantage of the skills and education the infant still lacks?
@ Franklin - humans are slow learners, and progressively slower
I'm not too keen on the idea of grumpy old gits* like myself hanging around way past our best-by dates.
For human societies to change (and hopefully improve, if we can learn anything from past mistakes) the older generations need to give way to the younger. The theory that it is a waste of skills and education seems fine until you try convincing a learned geriatric that some new-fangled idea is actually better than what they are convinced in their dotage to be the ultimate answer.
Would you want a generation that considered slavery to be perfectly fine to still be stinking up the planet? A generation that considered women to be chatel? The geniuses in the present ruling elites, currently sucking down the last of their oxygen, may not manage to damage the planet beyond repair before nature takes its course and they get replaced by slightly less clueless progeny - but you'd rather this doesn't happen?
Pah. Stupid young whipper-snappers with their "I want to live forever" intellectual onanism.
(* Well, technically I'm only 38, but I'm going on 70 for lack of tolerance for "young people today". Ah, it does the heart good to realise how much you despise their music, manner of dress and ridiculous conceited beliefs when you're no longer young...)
End of the World as we know it
If or when a working immortality treatment is available, only the most unsuitable people will be able to afford it at first. Popes, dictators, pharma's favorite congressmen and all those people at the party in "Eyes Wide Shut". Then after a while an Indian pharmaceutical company will start producing it for 10 cents a tablet, and the entire world will become immortal except for Britain and America, who won't be allowed to import it.
Mine's the one with the receipt from the costume shop in the pocket.