Nobody wants to die.

Leaving aside all philosophical problems, who would not wanted to stay forever young? In fact, there are not enough days in life to do everything we want.

Only the most arrogant mind could honestly think that death could ever be abolished forever. — but these are the same arrogant minds that have begun to make incredible progress towards this goal, and they are approaching it from all possible directions.

Is it possible that one of these attempts will be successful? One breakthrough can change the human condition forever, and it’s the technologies that can do it sooner rather than later.

3D printed organs

Once considered more than just a gimmick, 3D printing has evolved. to the point where it had many practical applications. Prosthetic limbs and lab-grown meat may be interesting, but 3D-printed living organs are something else.

How it works?

This particular application of 3D printer technology is called bioprinting . It’s more advanced and more expensive than home equipment, mostly because bioprinting literally prints living cells.

It’s an additive technique that has a lot in common with consumer 3D printing: the structure of a putative organ is printed using proteins, and the gaps between them are filled with living stem cells that grow and fill the scaffold. According to CNN:

“Bioprinting works like this: scientists collect human cells from biopsies or stem cells and then allow them to multiply in a petri dish.

The resulting mixture, a kind of biological ink, is fed into a 3D printer that is programmed to place different types of cells, along with other materials, into a precise three-dimensional shape. Doctors hope that once placed in the body, these 3D printed cells will integrate with existing tissues.”

Impact on human life expectancy

Simple artificial livers and kidneys have already been created using bioprinting, but they still have a long way to go before they are good enough to replace their organic counterparts. However, progress is fast.

So how can these organs lead to eternal life?

If you subscribe to the school of thought that says that human mortality is simply the destruction of individual organs over time, then the answer is equally simple: replace those organs when they are nearly destroyed and you will live forever. Your brain may become senile, but your body will remain strong and healthy.

Of course, easier said than done. We should be able to copy each component of the body, including bones, skin, fat, and arteries. But, logically speaking, it makes sense that it could actually work. (At any rate, this path would be an interesting example of Theseus’ paradox.)

Young blood proteins

eternal life bled

What if the legendary «elixir of life» were nothing more than the literal blood of youth? According to research since the beginning of last year, this may be true. The blood of the young can stop — or even reverse — the aging process in those who are old.

How it works?

Through a blood transfusion. It’s deceptively simple, but wonderful in the end result. When the researchers inject blood from younger mice directly into the bloodstreams of older mice, they discover something big: The older mice begin to experience rejuvenating effects. According to the journal Science,

“Last year, one team identified a growth factor in the blood that they believe is partly responsible for the anti-aging effect on a specific tissue, the heart. Now, this team has shown that this same factor can rejuvenate muscles and the brain.

This is the first demonstration of a natural rejuvenation factor that decreases with age and reverses aging in many tissues.

Independently, another team found that simply injecting plasma from young mice into older mice can speed up learning.”

The effect is due, at least in part, to the presence growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11), a protein that regulates stem cell activity. Younger mice have it in abundance, but its presence decreases with age. What for? Nobody is quite sure.

Impact on human life expectancy

Research in this area is still in its infancy, but the results so far are remarkable enough that scientists are hopeful but cautious.

[Нейробиолог Салли Темпл] agrees that GDF11 has therapeutic promise, but she says she will remain cautious until more is known about GDF11’s mechanism. She also notes that some of the «old» mice in the Harvard brain studies were only middle-aged, and it’s not clear if the effects persist in older adults.

HT: Science

While GDF11 alone may not be the answer to eternal youth, further research may uncover new insights into the mechanisms of human aging and how they can be halted or reversed. After all, what is immortality if not the cessation of organic decay?

Gene therapy

Here’s a question to think about: Why do mice have a lifespan of 2 years, canaries 15 years, and bats 50 years? What’s between them?

According to biochemist Cynthia Kenyon, the differentiating factor is somewhere in their genes, suggesting that aging is determined by (or at least influenced by) one or more genes.

If we can find these «ageing genes», then maybe we can turn them off. This type of genetic modification is called gene therapy .

How it works?

Through experiments on roundworms ( Caenorhabditis elegans ) Kenyon found that their lifespan more than doubled when one particular gene was damaged: the DAF-2 gene.

This gene controls the integrity of DAF-2 receptors in cells, and this receptor is responsible for making a protein called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1). As it turns out, IGF1 is a hormone that affects the growth and aging of children, and damage to the receptor means interfering with this aging process.

There is a subtle difference here. Mutated roundworms didn’t live twice as long. Rather, they aged twice as fast. That is, the 10-day-old mutated roundworm was not the same as the normal 10-day-old roundworm; rather it was more like a 5 day old normal roundworm.

Impact on human life expectancy

What’s really interesting about this whole concept is that there is evidence that people are not liberated. Actually, according to the doc,

“We studied biochemical, phenotypic, and genetic variation in a cohort of Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians, their offspring, and comparable control offspring\… Thus, genetic changes in human IGF1R that result in an altered IGF signaling pathway increase susceptibility to human longevity, suggesting a role for this pathways in modulating human lifespan.”

Or, to put it another way, a significant number of Ashkenazi Jews who lived to be 100 or older were found to have DAF-2 mutations that made the IGF1 hormone less «potent.»

We are still a long way from gene therapy for immortality, but if we can find the more important genes involved in the aging process and manipulate those genes properly, then humans might well be able to overcome the aging phenomenon.

Telomere Repair

eternal life flowed-telomeres

One of the main elements of cellular aging is telomere shortening . When a cell divides, its DNA does not reproduce perfectly from start to finish. Because of this, strands of DNA (also called chromosomes) shorten every time a cell undergoes division.

Luckily, chromosomes have nonsensical «buffers» at the end that make it so that the actual DNA doesn’t get shortened when it replicates. These buffers are called telomeres. Unfortunately, when telomeres shorten too many times, cells begin to lose essential DNA and begin to «age».

How it works?

The good news is that young cells have an enzyme called telomerase which adds to the telomeres that have been shortened. However, telomerase is finite, so after a cell divides enough times, it no longer has telomerase left, and eventually it reaches its «end».

But not so long ago, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine first proposed a new procedure for artificially lengthening telomeres:

“The procedure involves the use of a modified messenger RNA that relays instructions from the genes to the cellular machines that make the protein. The specific RNA the researchers used contained TERT, which is involved in telomerase.
This new research could not only help increase life expectancy, but also help with a variety of diseases that affect thousands of people.”

Impact on human life expectancy

For now, this is just a short-term solution that causes a rapid increase in telomere length within 48 hours. After that, when telomerase is depleted, telomeres begin to shorten again. Whether this can be applied indefinitely to curb aging is still unknown.

There is one big risk when it interferes with telomere shortening. If cell division is not controlled and replication occurs faster than cell death, then one can get too much cells than expected, which can cause cancer.

Anti-aging drugs

eternal life flowed drugs

Wouldn’t it be great if the only requirement for immortality was to take a few pills every morning? Pharmaceutical and medical companies such as Google Calico Looking for ways to make this dream a reality.

And although we’re not there yet, we’re already made a few steps in this direction.

How it works?

One particular compound called sirolimus sometimes called rapamycin was originally used as an immunosuppressant (for things like organ transplants), but was later found to prolong lifespan in yeast, worms, and mice.

But sirolimus has many negative side effects, so it has never been a perfect solution. This sparked a surge in research into anti-aging drugs, eventually leading to the recent discovery regarding everolimus. According to the new scientist:

“A drug called everolimus, used to treat certain types of cancer, partially reverses the decline in immunity that usually occurs with age… Aging of the immune system is a major cause of disease and death. This is why older people are more susceptible to infections and why they usually have a weaker response to vaccines.”

Impact on human life expectancy

It is currently too early to tell whether these drugs can be developed and perfected into something that can provide eternal youth. Many of these studies have shown only modest increases in life expectancy, up to about 14%.

However, what is interesting is that researchers are starting to take this area seriously. If we already have seen a few drugs that have little effect on lifespan, who knows what else compounds yet to be discovered might do? More money could lead to the discovery of new drugs.

Mind transfer

eternal life flowed-mind-transfer

This last idea is nothing more than a hypothesis at this point, but it’s worth considering (not to mention that it’s actually exciting). Mind transfer is the idea of ​​downloading your consciousness and memories from your brain into a computer.

How will it work?

There are currently two proposed ways to make this idea possible.

Method copy and transfer involves scanning your entire brain and accurately mapping every region down to the last electron, and then copying that state to a computing device. This is what most people imagine mind transfer should be.

Method gradual replacement as the name suggests, gradually replaces every neuron in your brain with a non-biological but ideal replacement. Slate describes it this way:

“Naturally, we are going through a process of gradual replacement. Most of our cells in our body are constantly being replaced. (You just replaced 100 million of them in the course of reading the last sentence.) … So you completely replaced in a few months.

The gradual incorporation of non-biological systems into our bodies and brains would be another example of the constant turnover of the parts that make us up. It will not change the continuity of our identity any more than the natural replacement of our biological cells.

And in the coming years, we will continue to follow the path of gradual replacement and addition, until eventually most of our thinking is in the cloud.”

Impact on human life expectancy

For this to be possible, the computer must be powerful enough to mimic a real human brain at the same speed. Not a far-fetched thought about the human brain is just a series of electrical impulses, but reaching that parity point is the tricky part.

Of course, if we ever reach this point, eternal life will be easy. The data is non-essential, so even if the physical drive that «holds your mind» deteriorates, you can easily move from drive to drive copying that data. And if the data is immortal then there will be consciousness.

Philosophical problems will be more difficult to solve. Will we still be human? In the case of cloning, who would you really be? Will we be very different from the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica ?

Would you like to live forever?

By now it should be obvious that we are far from actual immortality, but every year we make progress that eventually adds up to something amazing. This will most likely happen long after you and I are in the ground, but perhaps not.

For me, the real question is whether you want to live forever if the option were available. The ultimate nature of life is so important to the human experience that I can’t even fathom how life would make sense without death.

But that’s a discussion for another time.

Do you think natural death will ever be overcome? If that were the case, would you like to take part in immortality? Let us know how you feel in the comments below!

Image credits: sfam_photo blood transfusion via Shutterstock, Andrey Vodolazhsky’s cell mitosis via Shutterstock, Mature Medicine by Chryana via Shutterstock, brain chip via wavebreakmedia via Shutterstock

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