Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Engineered negligible senescence
In the choice of the term De Grey was concerned to avoid unclear, emotionally loaded terms such as "immortality."
Some gerontologists focus on correcting or mitigating the effects or inconveniences of senescence. Aubrey de Grey argued that it might be easier, as well as more humane, to address senescence in its causes. The proposal in its original form has only seven goals, each with both a research and clinical component. The clinical component is required because in some of the proposed therapies, feasibility has already been proven, but simply not completely applied and approved for use by human beings.
De Grey claims that the goals work together to eliminate known causes of human senescence, are concrete, seem achievable, and claims that they are feasible by experts in the applicable fields. The goals were said to be taken from classical literature describing the biological causes of senescence.
Seven deficits of senescence, and their cures
- Cell loss or atrophy, to be corrected by therapies involving exercise, stem cells, or growth factors. This research would involve a large number of details, but is occurring on many fronts anyway.
- Nuclear epimutations . In Dr. de Grey's opinion, only cancer mattered. This was to be corrected by whole-body interdiction of lengthening telomeres.
- Mutant mitochondria, believed to a be a major cause of progressive cellular degeneration. This was to be corrected by moving the DNA for mitochondria completely within the cellular nucleus, where it is better protected. In humans all but 13 proteins are already protected in this way. It has been experimentally shown the operation is feasible.
- Cellular senescence, would be corrected by forcing senescent cells to destroy themselves, a process called apoptosis. Healthy cells would multiply to replace them.
- Extracellular cross-links. These are chemical bonds between structures that are part of the body, but not within a cell. In senescent people many of these become brittle and weak. The proposal was to further develop small-molecular drugs and enzymes to break links caused by sugar-bonding (glucosylation ), and other common forms of chemical linking.
- Junk outside cells would be removed by enhanced phagocytosis (the normal process used by the immune system), and small drugs able to break chemical beta-bonds. The large junk in this class can be removed surgically. Junk here means useless things accumulated by a body, but which cannot be digested or removed by its processes, such as the amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.
- Junk inside cells would be removed by adding new enzymes to the cell's natural digestion organ, the lysozome. These encymes would be taken from bacteria, molds and other organisms that are known to completely digest animal bodies.
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