It isn't immortality but to age well.

in StemSocial12 days ago


A Quest for Immortality.png

Aside from our fascination with time travel and the multiverse, some are constantly finding ways to stop aging. Immortality sounds out of science fiction, but people are looking for the elixir of life. Who doesn't want to be immortal, right? While more people seem to live longer than others, modern medicine prolongs life expectancy for chronic or age-related diseases. Some research for a novel treatment or a drug that slow aging or the extreme makes people disease-free. The goal is to either shorten the period of the disease or extend the total lifespan.

Aging is when we gradually lose our physiological ability that leads to decrease function and increase mortality risk. Scientists vividly described the nine biological mechanisms that cause aging, which is the hallmark of aging. One common cause of aging is genetic damage throughout our lives. Our tissues, cells, and molecules aged, and we are finding ways to find a drug or therapy that limits or slows down the hallmark of aging. One area that experts are looking at is if miracle drugs might help with aging.

Some are repurposing drugs to be a candidate of what we can say as the anti-aging drug. The first is rapamycin, which slows aging by inhibiting a protein mTOR. These proteins, when inhibited, can allow cells to recycle damaged proteins in them and continue to function well. Rapamycin came from the soil of Easter Island or Rapa Nui. When mice took rapamycin, mice gained enhanced memory, decrease anxiety and extend mice's lifespan. Researchers discovered that rapamycin controls that protein that dictates whether a cell grows or is in a maintenance state.

The second is metformin, which is commonly associated with type 2 diabetes. Metformin helps lower rates of death illness as observed by researchers. Studies in cells that enable metformin to suppress inflammations in senescent cells. Also, these cells ceased to divide so that they won't be cancerous. Other drugs that suppress the behavior of senescent cells are in development as Senolytics and Senomodifiers, which can slow age-related physical decline.

Despite these drugs being the candidate, we are still far from having the miracle anti-aging drugs. We have too many questions unanswered, such as how to regulate the temporal gene damages as we grow old. Evolution always interferes with whatever therapies or drugs we have. We need to race to keep up and find that miracle drug that might be the elixir of life. If evolution causes aging, then we have no chance of beating it or have little means to alter it. There may be a distinct evolutionary parameter to look into between male and female genomes. We can also look into animals and have some clues on how aging generally works.

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Honeybees, in particular, can regain the brainpower of youth as it ages, and scientists believed that might hold the secret to anti-aging. Researchers found out that in the bee colony, older bees performed well as the younger bees, and seemingly older bees are intelligent again. But not older bees are competent in nursing the younger bees. The older bees also lived longer when they have nursing duties. The cause of it is the high protein glutamate in bee's brains, enabling them to have a higher cognitive function, but applying it to humans, seems not suitable since it can harm us.

We can learn from it is we can slow down aging with interaction like building new connections, doing new activities, and learning new skills. Besides, scientists can study proteins in our body to fight off decreasing brain function or neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. There is also a study on Mice that seem initially unbelievable that can have cues for anti-aging. Scientists found out that the muscle stem-cell of engineered fast-aging mice split slowly divide, called tired stem cells. When the nice received the stem-cell injected, their life expectancy rose by threefolds. They observed that the animals lived longer and healthier. The goal of these researchers is not for delaying aging but also the delay Alzheimers or cardiovascular diseases.

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Aside from looking at animals, we can learn a few cues from the centenarians. A fraction of people lived longer than a century, and knowing what keeps them apart from others may hold some secret of the anti-aging drugs. Centenarians are not as immune to disease same as everyone does. But what keeps them apart is they get ill very late in their lives. Researchers studied the lives of centenarians, and their lifestyle is vital to why they lived long. But it wasn't clear how a lifestyle is to have a longer life. Studies show that not all lived a clean lifestyle. Some were obese and smokers at some point in their lives. Centenarians die from the same diseases that succumb their younger generations. What we can learn from them is they have a delay of aging and not disease protection.

Some researchers dig into what genes can explain longevity in centenarians. They found the genes in modulating cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides. Scientists found out that blocking growth hormones improves longevity. It seems to hold provable since ponies lived longer than horses. But it doesn't mean shorter people lived longer than taller ones. Science points out the aging may be a cause of evolution and depends on our genes, but for now, nonconclusive.

Our quest for an anti-aging drug may not be close to the elixir of life, as mythology and legend defined it. Maybe, we are expecting that we can find the fountain of youth or the elixir of life. A miracle drug that can cure diseases and give us longevity is not what anti-aging research is. I think that we are inclining in the wrong direction. Our quest for anti-aging is to at least delay aging is what these researchers are trying to find. But I won't close the assumption that there is a miracle drug or an elixir of life somewhere. It may sound cliche and fictitious, but we never knew if the ancient text accounts for past events. Who doesn't want to be immortal, right? Science is not finding a drug for us to have a very long life, but they are finding ways to age well.

Readings

  1. Lopez-Otin et al., The Hallmarks of Aging, National Library of Medicine

  2. Christine Dell'amore, Old Mice Made "Young"—May Lead to Anti-Aging Treatments, National Geographic

  3. Kastalia Medrano, "Easter Island Drug," Bee Nursing Hold Antiaging Secrets?, National Geographic

  4. Aliper st al., Towards natural mimetics of metformin and rapamycin, NCBI

  5. Karen Weintraub, What Do Centenarians Know That the Rest of Us Don't?, National Geographic

Photo Credit: (in order of appearance)

  1. The photo used as background in the post cover is from Arek Socha

  2. The honey bee photo is from Harry Strauss

  3. The old lady photo is from Pexels

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What an enlightening article! Won't it be the best day in the world if the elixir of life was found because we want to be immortal? Like you rightly said,

Evolution always interferes with whatever therapies or drugs we have.

In my humble opinion, those who live longer (and age gracefully) has 80% to do with genes and 20% with lifestyle.

All the same, I find this post illuminating! 🙂

those who live longer (and age gracefully) has 80% to do with genes and 20% with lifestyle.

I agree. It is more of a person's genes that dictate his life expectancy more than hat his or her lifestyle is. !PIZZA

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Hello @juecoree,
Always such interesting blogs!
We need death, in order to grow as a species. We need death to adapt (evolve) to a changing environment. The idea of immortality could only work (and not then either) if we were in a static universe where nothing around us changed. Impossible.

Holding on to life is not the ideal. The ideal is holding onto productive life, healthy life. As an older (old!) person I can tell you that what many in my age group wish for is that we live well and then die suddenly. It is the decline, the loss of productivity that we dread.

Wishing you a long and productive life :)

We need death to adapt (evolve) to a changing environment. The idea of immortality could only work (and not then either) if we were in a static universe where nothing around us changed.

I definitely agree. A constantly changing environment needs constantly adapting lifeform (and death is a part of it).

The ideal is holding onto productive life, healthy life. ... It is the decline, the loss of productivity that we dread.

This is profound. This is also what I hear from my grandparents and elders from the community. A productive and healthy life is what we should be looking forward and not the infinite life. Thank you for sharing, @agmoore!
!PIZZA

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Dear @juecoree , If human beings were to become immortal, the ability to produce offspring would have to disappear first.

That would be the case. If people are immortal, Earth's natural resources can't suffice the needs of an infinitely growing population. !PIZZA

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