Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Most Exciting Maybe of the Year

A  link in a recent post on my favorite blog took me to a piece on a recent article from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. It describes a procedure which appears to reverse aging in mice. These are early results, they might be wrong, there might be currently unknown problems, and we are not mice. 

But it at least suggests the possibility of not merely slowing aging, which is what most anti-aging research is about, but reversing it.


At 3:03 AM, May 15, 2017, Blogger Brandon Berg said...

Senolysis is an important first step towards reversing three aging process, but it only addresses one of several known fundamental types of damage that occur as part of the aging process. This could potentially delay the aging process significantly in humans, but ultimately true reversal of aging would require addressing the other causes.

If this is something you're interested in, you should be reading the Fight Aging blog as well.

At 6:10 AM, May 15, 2017, Blogger Joe said...

There's a lot going on in that respect:

At 7:13 AM, May 16, 2017, OpenID whswhs said...

Woah. It sounds as if aging is like accumulating a dysfunctional cellular bureaucracy that can't be fired. . . .

At 10:37 PM, May 16, 2017, Blogger js290 said...

Ketone bodies... fasting and ketogenic diets.

At 3:06 PM, May 18, 2017, Anonymous RKN said...

Seriously? There have been thousands (and thousands) of publications over 40 years or more showing favorable outcomes in mice. The main reason nobody finds these "Exciting" anymore is because so very few have translated to humans. This, in spite of the oft-touted 92% genetic similarity of mice and men.

At 10:07 PM, May 20, 2017, Blogger transcendentape said...

I don't like to admit it, but I think you've identified the problem in accepting this as anything other than an oddity. You are not a mice. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that that any finding from this study should be applicable to humans.

At 5:05 AM, May 21, 2017, Blogger Power Child said...

If I squint hard, I can envision a few upsides to eliminating aging, but many downsides are obvious to me without expending much cognitive effort. The most fundamental is that aside from certain kinds of jellyfish, no creature reverse-ages; the secondary effects of reverse-aging on our complex culture, values, relationships, etc. are completely unknown and it seems highly unlikely we would deal with them in a constructive way. Despite a few perennial "pain points," there is a delicate sort of perfection in our highly evolved state, in which "finite lifespan of 65-85 years" has long been a critical factor. Are we prepared to send that Jenga tower teetering and tottering by removing several rows of bricks at once?

David, as someone who has studied the Amish, I wonder if you have considered this radical technology more carefully than you are letting on. Blithe transhumanism seems not up to your level of thinking.

At 10:30 AM, May 21, 2017, Blogger David Friedman said...

Power Child:

I have thought about the general issue of the effects of slowing or stopping aging for quite a long time; I spent part of a chapter of Future Imperfect on the subject. The main problem with your argument is that stasis is not an option. Whether or not we solve the aging problem, the world is going to change in large and unpredictable ways over the course of the next century due to any of several technological developments--for details see Future Imperfect, webbed on my site. There might be good arguments against one or another of those changes, but "we like things they way they are" isn't one of them, since we are not going to get things the way they are.

The obvious upside to eliminating aging is that I get to live another century or more, and I enjoy living. So do a lot of other people. The less obvious upside is that every time someone dies, valuable skills and knowledge disappear. There are some possible downsides as well, as for any change, but I don't see any large enough to outweigh those.

I have lost people I care about, and I would much rather not have. I don't know if that is true of you as well.

So far as your highly evolved equilibrium, you might consider how many of the central facts on which all past human societies were built no longer hold. Just to take the three most obvious ones:

"It is a wise child who knows his father." Now all it takes is a paternity test.

Modern contraceptives make possible intercourse with negligable risk of pregnancy

In developed countries, getting enough calories is no longer a problem--obesity is now an issue for poor as well as rich. More generally, developed societies are enormously richer than any society prior to the recent past--about twenty to thirty times as rich as the global average through most of history.

Those are not small changes.


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