Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Immortal worms?

Quote of the Day: "Google knows everything, except how to love." ~ generic_screename aka John.

CD of the Day: Fiona Apple ~ Pale September

Mood: Yesterday it was 51 degrees and breezy, today 16 and snowing. Guess

Date: 3/8/05

I am so bored. People don't buy cars in bad weather so things have been a bit slow, which is usually ok with me because then I get to finish up things that got pushed aside when we were busy.. but I've done that. All my filing, done. Deals. done. Reorganized the closet, done. So... now it is freecell and blogs. Woo hoo. (And those two are just to keep me from spending too much money on Ebay or Amazon.com.) So this is what I am thinking about:
Not to long ago I read this article in The Atlantic about a scientist named Dr. Cynthia Kenyon who was doing research on aging by using worms. The gist I got from the story was that she believed that we have genes that trigger aging and that by isolating them we could slow down or halt altogether the aging process. Cool, right? In the article it said she was successful in doubling the lifespan of these worms. After looking her up on the net I found a page that said they were successful in extending the lifespan to SIX TIMES the normal amount. Whoa.

Here is the technobabble version:
"Our laboratory studies the regulation of aging. Not very long ago, most people thought that aging was something that just happened. We just wear out, like cars. Not true! Several years ago, we discovered that mutations in the gene daf-2, which encodes an insulin/IGF-1-like receptor, double the lifespan of the nematode C. elegans. Since then, insulin/IGF-1 endocrine systems have been shown to regulate the longevity of flies and mice as well. We have found that this system is regulated by sensory neurons in C. elegans, and that signals from the reproductive system also regulate aging. Amazingly, if we perturb insulin/IGF-1 signaling and reproductive cells in the same animal, we end up with animals that live SIX times as normal! What's more, they stay vibrant and healthy until the very end. We have also discovered that a different regulatory system involving mitochondria functions during development to set the rates of behavior and aging. We are now trying to understand how the insulin/IGF-1, reproductive and mitochondrial pathways, as well as another perturbation, caloric restriction, influence lifespan at the molecular level." http://www.ucsf.edu/neurosc/faculty/neuro_kenyon.html

The article also mentioned that after the gene was 'shut off' that the worm was vibrant all that time and then died. It didn't get to old age and then hang on. Wouldn't that suck? Your body gets to the 80 year old point and then just keeps going and going and going... ick. But can you imagine 450 years of looking, feeling, and acting like a 25 year old? Woo hoo! Thought there were problems with social security now! Try telling the gov't your gonna live on their nickle for an extra 383 years. Hahaha.
Now, I wouldn't mind having an extended lifespan but I started to think... you know all those idiots you have to deal with on a day to day basis? They would also be living as long. And looking out my window at the snow, and remembering what a hassel it was to get to work this morning with the traffic and thinking about doing that for another 400+ years... um, no thanks. Suddenly immortality isn't all that interesting.


mr. schprock said...

I haven't the slightest doubt about the research and experimentation that's gone into this, but the explanation you provided reminds me of the process H.G. Wells described about acheiving invisibility in "The Invisible Man." It sounded so plausible, just like this sounds so plausible. I did hear once that the human body is designed to last for 130 years, it's just that we don't treat it as well as some of us do our cars. Send this one in to Michael Crichton. He'll be able to do something with it.

NYPinTA said...

Mr. Crichton can get his own ideas. LOL.

S Arcastic said...

That's what one of your boyfriends looked like? Wow. If I were you, I'd seriously consider extending your life if that were your reward... : {P

steve t said...

Wow - thats weird, I've been planning a post on aging research, including Cynthia Kenyon's worm genetics, for my science blog, which, by the way, you NEVER comment at :)
The importance is probably more in understanding age-related diseases like Alzheimers, than in achieving immortality. Bush would have REAL problems selling his social security plan if retirement lasted a few hundred years.
btw - I remember you stealing that google quote - i'm clearly spending way too much time blogging.

NYPinTA said...

"That's what one of your boyfriends looked like? "
Yep. And he couldn't float either. Seriously. He had no fat and so if he stopped treading water, he would sink like a stone. LOL.

"for my science blog, which, by the way, you NEVER comment at...."
erm... *whistles innocently* I don't? ;)

"i'm clearly spending way too much time blogging."
Pfft. No such thing. :D

trinamick said...

This kind of research really kills my fascination with Highlander. I don't want comparisons between worms and Adrian Paul in my head. Now I wonder if it's the same in the worm world: "In the end, there can be only one."

S Mar Tass said...

yeah. the worms would be much better actors.

steve t said...

I'm just curious - S Arcastic and S Mar Tass the same person by any chance?

NYPinTA said...

"I don't want comparisons between worms and Adrian Paul in my head."

Oops. Sorry. LOL.

John said...

I've been quoted. In a way, that makes me immortal. But in a much bigger way, no it doesn't.