h+ Magazine

Summer 2009

Issue link: http://cp.revolio.com/i/1161

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AI BIO eNHANCeD NANO NeurO HumOr FOreVer YOuNG 18 summer 2009 BIO eNHANCeD NANO NeurO HumOr FOreVer YOuNG smart biology reSCUe to the Alex Lightman A s the Boomers begin to go gray and fragile, those with way high expectations confront an uncomfortable fact — nobody has done much about aging, throughout their lifetimes… and they get angry. How could this be?! Technology has carried us along on its broad back, giving us computers, conveniences, Internet and media wonders. But aches and pains foretell much bad news ahead. We can do better, but to do it we'll have to reinvent biology. Face it: young or old, we can't solve "the aging problem" using the standard 20th Century research methods of cell biology. sure, they had some great success with some other medical problems — nobody fears smallpox, polio and other old school diseases. Diet and exercise help, too, (as discussed in my last column.) But nobody has done much directly about the mechanisms that erode our bodies. Why? Because beyond our 20s, natural selection doesn't help us much. Once we start reproducing, all the genes that break us down get passed on to the next generation. It's been that way throughout natural evolution. Aging arises from a lack of natural selection in later adulthood. so what's the smart biology dodge around this? make selection work for us by forcing it to produce longer-lived animals. And then learn from what forced selection tells us. That's what the 21st Century medicine man knows. We can already see him peeking around the corner up ahead. He says: Your aging comes from multiple genetic deficiencies, not a single biochemical problem. michael rose at uCI saw all this coming 30 years ago. He started breeding longer and longer lived fruit flies (Drosophila) by having them not keep their eggs to make the next generation until much later in adult life. Do that in humans and you'll be trying to get babies out of 60 years olds — not a promising route — though I guess the Italians, with a 1.1 fertility rate (2.1 is replacement) are trying. rose's years of painstaking methuselah fly stud-servicing produced a fracking miracle: flies that live 4.5 times longer than ordinary flies. Do that with humans for 10,000 years – 500 Photos courtesy of Genescient

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