Friday, July 22, 2011

How to live for 200 years, or at least become 20 years younger

Dedicated to the old Boeing RASV and TAV teams...
May they live long enough for us to learn how much they have to give...

In a nutshell:

TP53 plus telomerase

Two well-investigated new medical technologies, which simply need to be combined together. But it takes clear system engineering thinking to see why this is the way.
This is also a kind of cure for most cancer.

We know that most of aging is the combined effect of two causes: (1) random noise
or disturbance to the DNA (which is also the main cause of cancer); and (2) the "biological clock" of the telomeres at the end of the DNA. Telomerase resets the clock,
but by itself this causes problems. When cell lines are allowed to go longer than the usual cutoff of 50 generations or so, mutations can build up, and kill you by cancer instead of old age. It is said that some scientists in Spain have made progress with telomerase buffered with simple cancer preventors, which is a good step, but not enough.

To fight the noise... we learned years ago that simple brute force antioxidants like vitamin E don't do much. (I wonder whether vitamin E can benefit longevity sometimes by enhancing sexual activity, which ends up helping the mind-body relation, but that's not enough for 200 years..) It was really exciting when research into things like sirtuins turned up genes that the body uses ITSELF to activate a natural, highly evolved system of suppressing noise, analogous to error correction codes, which allow lifetimes in nature much longer than what a simple tradeoff between noise and telomeres would allow. We are fortunate that nature "wanted' humans to live long enough that it evolved this mechanism. Nature didn't ratchet up the expression of this mechanism to the max, because that requires extra food and because natural selection didn't need THAT much longevity for human hunter-gatherers.

So how do we ratchet it up? Many have thought... resveratrol. That stimulates sirtuins, doesn't it? Not quite. It actually INHIBITS p53, the main scavenger of noise. In bloated overfed mice, it can extend lifetime to something more normal, but
it's basically a bandaid that covers even MORE RAPID noise.

Next: I that the guy who wrote "The Longevity Pill,' an excellent popular summary, which points to some literature I missed on my first scholar search.

What about rapamycin, which DOES reduce noise? What about the Nature study, showing the equivalent of adding 10 more years to the life of a 60's year old man (like me)
when it was given to mice? A few months ago, I was about ready to try it,
straight, until I looked into the issue of dose. Some folks do take 4 mg per day
now.. which is enough to create serious immunosuppression (another way to kill yourself) but only a tiny fraction of what it would take to get the equivalent of what those mice got in the Nature study. The problem is that it is a more powerful immunosuppressor than noise reducer. It's part of the right "proteomic circuit,"
but not the right node of that network.

So what's a good node?

The obvious answer -- look to P53 itself!

TP53, the gene which activates more p53, is well known, and has been the basis for
important experiments. IT DOES KILL cancer tumors and other noise. Why don't
we use it and even revere it as the cause for cancer? Because when it is used, it causes accelerated aging. From the systems viewpoint, it's obvious what's going on --
when bad cells get killed, new ones muse be grown to replace them, and that strains the 50-generation clock.

Simple answer: reset the clock as you do it. TP53 plus telomerase.
Make yourself 20 years younger in real physical age. And maybe, like Dr. Who... keep doing it about ten times later...

For those of us who could never hope to get all our work done in a mere 70 years,
this is one way to get an extension.. if those bad old politicians don't screw it up for us, and zero out the human resources we need, in these challenging times...

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