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Biotech Science

Scientists Identify a Potentially Universal Mechanism of Aging 359

Posted by Soulskill
from the wonder-if-boosterspice-is-covered-by-health-care dept.
cybergenesis2008 points us to a summary of research out of Harvard Medical School in which a set of genes known to affect aging in yeast was found to affect aging in mice as well. The genes, called sirtuins, perform two particular tasks; regulating which genes are "on" and "off," and also helping to repair damaged DNA. As an organism ages, the frequency of damage to DNA increases, leaving less time for the sirtuins' regulatory tasks. The increasingly unregulated genes then become a significant factor in aging. Realizing this, the researchers "administered extra copies of the sirtuin gene [to the mice], or fed them the sirtuin activator resveratrol, which in turn extended their mean lifespan by 24 to 46 percent." We discussed the plans for this research a few years ago.
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Scientists Identify a Potentially Universal Mechanism of Aging

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  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:22PM (#25920301)

    I'm honestly scared of the day that they do figure out how to cure aging, because it will lead to an even greater stratification of social status and class. Most of the wealth in this country (and indeed most of the world) is concentrated with men who are over the age of 50-60 years. When they die, that wealth is then redistributed. Those people will be amongst the first to benefit from any such medical process; And if history has been any judge, that medical process will be expensive and there'll be little incentive to make it cheaper. The end result will be people who are born and work their entire lives, then die, never having had the opportunity to aquire wealth, because those who still have it aren't dying anymore.

    This won't be something for humanity to celebrate. If and when the day comes, then we'll have to answer the question of what happens when numbers increase but resources decrease? And the answer will be in what kind of life is possible in that world. It won't be as good as the one you have now, I assure you.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:31PM (#25920379)

    If you can say younger for 50% longer that means there is 50% more time you can work. If they say raise retirement age from 60s to 80's and at 80 you feel like you are 60 then what can happen is there is more time you can contribute to social security thus more money in the system. Also longer time where the person is benefiting to the economy and less of taking what you deserve. You are under the impression that as people gain wealth most of them will horde it. While the truth is that they will try to spend it. So if the average joe can make more when they do retire with an exptected 20-30 years of their lives they will spend it more liberally, then if they had little.

  • by thermian (1267986) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:35PM (#25920395)

    Before they cure aging, they have to cure arthritis. What use is living to be a thousand if for 940 of those years you are immobile.

    Arthritis is an interesting case, since it strikes humans after breeding age mostly, so evolution hasn't killed it off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:42PM (#25920479)
    > The end result will be people who are born and work their entire lives, then die, never having had the opportunity to aquire wealth, because those who still have it aren't dying anymore.

    You're making the assumption that the amount of wealth in the world is fixed, and that the only way to acquire it is to get it from someone else (via death or other means). I think most people will agree that that is a false assumption.
  • Re:uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qw0ntum (831414) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:53PM (#25920543) Journal
    Time is not a mechanism for aging. Our bodies do not undergo "time" and age as a result. Assuming these researchers are correct, our bodies undergo some process like the one discussed here, which causes our bodies to break down in one way or the other. Time does not do the breaking down. The breaking down happens in time.

    Put another way, it's not the passage of time itself that causes us to age, it's something that occurs during that passage of time, such as the process we're talking about here.
  • by miracle69 (34841) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:58PM (#25920573)

    Wealth is not finite. There is more wealth in the world right now than there was 500 years ago. Wealth is a concept.

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:58PM (#25920577) Journal

    If and when the day comes, then we'll have to answer the question of what happens when numbers increase but resources decrease?

    Or maybe people will finally start realizing that (especially with ever-increasing technology) economics isn't a zero-sum game.

  • There is so much wrong in your post that it actually makes me weep that you're really serious.

    Those people will be amongst the first to benefit from any such medical process; And if history has been any judge, that medical process will be expensive and there'll be little incentive to make it cheaper.

    If history is any judge, medical processes get consistently cheaper and more widely available.

    The end result will be people who are born and work their entire lives, then die, never having had the opportunity to aquire wealth, because those who still have it aren't dying anymore.

    Do you seriously believe the only way to acquire wealth is to sit and wait for someone to die and have it given to you? Sheesh.

    Let me tell you the easiest way to become wealthy: SAVE. That simple. Don't be a typical consumer idiot. Save 25% of your income. By the time you retire, you will be one of those rich people you think hoard all the wealth.

    If and when the day comes, then we'll have to answer the question of what happens when numbers increase but resources decrease?

    What makes you think immortality leads to population increases? Actually, I think it's far more likely that it will lead to a decreasing population. I doubt that immortal people will continue to crank out kids decade after decade. It's more likely that an older population of people who have "been there, done that" will be done making kids, and we'll actually have an human extinction crisis in 1,000 years.

    What that means is that immorality leads to a decreasing population leading to more resources for fewer people.

  • by n dot l (1099033) on Friday November 28, 2008 @08:28PM (#25920793)

    What will happen? I can answer that in one word -- "rebellion"

    Oh, please. We'd be too busy stabbing each other in the back, fighting for what little scraps they do leave us, to ever do them much harm. Much as it has always been.

    What kills them in the end (because nothing can last forever) will not be a rebellion of the poor. It will be their own stupidity as they will, inevitably, become bored, complacent, decadent and distracted - random misfortune will do the rest. It won't be till the very end, when their power is already good as gone, that angry mobs storm the palace and take credit for the people's great victory.

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, 2008 @08:38PM (#25920897)

    1) I would think that's because your dog's aging repair just turns off a lot earlier than yours does. We are all, from the time we're very young, accumulating "damage," it's just that it gets repaired more efficiently and for a longer time for some living things than for others.

    2) From a certain point of view (through green colored glasses), the sky is green. That doesn't mean it actually is. I'm not sure you can say there's only one organism on earth except in the most metaphorical sense, and I'm too hard of a thinker to take metaphors like that very seriously.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:04PM (#25921071) Homepage Journal

    If they say raise retirement age from 60s to 80's and at 80 you feel like you are 60

    Why has the retirement age not already risen with the vast improvements in healthcare and life expectancy?

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:07PM (#25921091)

    If history is any judge, medical processes get consistently cheaper and more widely available.

    I'm sorry but the facts [nchc.org] do not support this conclusion. The percentage of uninsured persons in the United States has been on the rise for some time and as of 2006 was at just over 20%. The percentage of people (workers and dependents) with employment-based health insurance has dropped from 70 percent in 1987 to 59 percent in 2006. Clearly, availability is going down. As to costs... You must not read the papers. Medicaid is about to go bankrupt due to skyrocketing health care costs.

    Do you seriously believe the only way to acquire wealth is to sit and wait for someone to die and have it given to you? Sheesh.

    I didn't say it was the only way. They could spend it. The majority of wealth (~70%) is owned by under 5% of the population, and given their spending habits, I just think it's far more practical to wait for them to die.

    Let me tell you the easiest way to become wealthy: SAVE. That simple. Don't be a typical consumer idiot. Save 25% of your income. By the time you retire, you will be one of those rich people you think hoard all the wealth.

    I thought the easiest way was being born into a rich family or winning the lottery. And as to "saving"... Honey, don't piss on my back and tell me it's raining; Most of us are living paycheck to paycheck, and we spend everything we get on basic necessities. We're not "consumer idiots" -- the technical term for people like us is fucking broke.

    What makes you think immortality leads to population increases?

    People live longer and they're still going to want to fuck. Heeeere's your sign.

    I doubt that immortal people will continue to crank out kids decade after decade.

    Funny, since most people look at having kids as their best shot at immortality.

  • by Captain Splendid (673276) * <capsplendid.gmail@com> on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:36PM (#25921289) Homepage Journal
    It is hard to do - because you have to have decades of discipline.

    Yeah, because luck, genetics, connections, and plain old crime don't factor into it at all.
  • by qw0ntum (831414) on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:45PM (#25921349) Journal
    I'm not arguing that life is infinitely extendable, I'm just saying time is not a mechanism by which aging occurs. To say so misrepresents time: it is not a biological process. Whatever process occurs in time would be the mechanism by which aging occurs; in your terms, the way entropy manifests itself within our bodies.
  • by DougF (1117261) on Friday November 28, 2008 @10:09PM (#25921545)
    Because Social Security is an entitlement program and to change it, may change votes for politicians who favor the change, or may cost votes for those who don't favor change. So, no action will be taken until absolutely necessary.
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@gmailSLACKWARE.com minus distro> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:44AM (#25922995)

    What little information [fairfield.edu] we have on the subject of wealth distribution states that infinitesimal percentage (5%) owns over 71% of all wealth in the country.

    It's worth pointing out that this is almost certainly the most generous distribution of wealth in tens of thousands of years.

  • by h2_plus_O (976551) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @03:04AM (#25923111)
    The economy needs at least as much saving and investing as it does consumption. One without the others doesn't sustain itself so well. Balance, in all things. Including economics. Especially economics.
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@gmailSLACKWARE.com minus distro> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @03:12AM (#25923155)

    What kills healthcare is (a) lawsuits, a necessary evil, and (b) nationalized medicine (e.g., where Canada's Supreme Court has ruled that "a right to healthcare" means only a right to be on a waiting list.

    Bullshit.

    You do realise that more countries in the world than Canada have "nationalised healthcare", right ? And that most of them have better $/result efficiencies, and healthier populations, than the US ?

    About the only times I can think of where it would be preferable - from a healthcare perspective - to be in the US instead of a country with "nationalised healthcare", is if you're well-insured (which in the US implies being employed in a decent job), rich, or suffering from some incredibly rare disease where the only treatment available is there (and even that last one is borderline).

    For the vast majority of people, and society as a whole, a system of "nationalised healthcare" is a vastly superior choice.

  • by smoker2 (750216) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @06:10AM (#25923889) Homepage Journal
    Photography - Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre - French
    Radio - Hertz - German
    TV - Paul Nipkow (mechanical) German, Karl Braun (electronic CRT) German
    Phone - Antonio Meucci Italian
    Car - Nicholas Joseph Cugnot (Steam) French, Alphonse Bear de Rochas (ICE otto cycle) French

    The last three are derivatives of everything else, the internet is electronic communication, space flight is an extension of Von Braun (German) and the Russians were there first, and a modern understanding of physics is so vague as to be useless. But Einstein was not an American citizen until the war came and he was already 53 years old.

    You're welcome - The Rest of The World.
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms AT infamous DOT net> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @07:33PM (#25928839) Homepage

    The GDP is not about "creating value", but mostly about moving money around.

    The GDP is "the total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year" [investorwords.com]. It is exactly the measure of the value produced in the economy. (Putting aside for the moment the broken window problem [wikipedia.org] and the need for a GPI [wikipedia.org].)

    General Electric has a Net Income of 22 billion dollars, and 370 000 workers. That's nearly 60 thousand dollars worth of profit for every single employee.

    That "net income" is what's left of their gross profit of $100 billion [yahoo.com] after expenses, including payroll. So if your numbers are correct, each worker is on average creating $60,000 worth of value that isn't going to them, but goes to stockholders. (Of course some employees own some stock, but not enough to distort the general picture; it's not like GE is an employee-owned company.) That's bit higher than the $50,000 of my previous calculation but well within back-of-the-envelope tolerances. Thank you for the supporting evidence.

    Taking only 60k of profit per employee while having to finance such a massive infrastructure is pretty fair.

    Rubbish. That "financing" is an artifact of our system, of the centralized control of capital. If I loan a carpenter a hammer, and he creates $25 of value an hour with his skilled labor, something is fundamentally wrong with a system where I can charge him $15 an hour for the use of my hammer.

    You also fail to account the fact that most companies are owned by the average american.

    Because that's not a fact, but a misconception. Stock owned by your pension fund is not owned by you. If you're invested in MegaBank's Growth and Income fund, and that fund owns 1,000 shares of Amalgamated Profits, Inc., there's not a share with your name on it, and you don't get to vote at their stockholder's meeting, MegaBank does.

    These funds are mostly a means of putting more wealth under the control of Wall Street bankers and managers, any wealth that trickles down to fund participants is a side-effect.

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce

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