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Biotech Science

Scientists Identify a Potentially Universal Mechanism of Aging 359

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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  • deckard (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, 2008 @08:27PM (#25920339)

    Funny that the wikipedia entry for Resveratrol states exactly the opposite, i.e. no extension of lifespan of mice in recent experiments. Maybe it needs updating?

  • by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @08:38PM (#25920419)

    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?

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

    The rich may not age, but they will still bleed.

  • Hmmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:00PM (#25920605) Homepage Journal

    There are two problems I see with the usual theory that aging is related to "accumulation of damage", as the article seems to imply:

    1) Humans live, barring accidents and disease, about 80-90 years, 120 at the outside. My dog lives 15-16 years, 22 on the outside. My dog gets all the normal signs of aging -- arthritis, gray hair, join and muscle pain, etc. But at an age that humans are not even entering their physical prime.

    2) From a certain point of view, there is only one organism on earth, and it's billions of years old. Pieces of the organism fall off now and then, but it constantly renews itself. Slightly different each, but going through a consistent cycle of "physical prime". How can it renew itself when, presumably, all cells are "accumulating damage"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:08PM (#25920643)

    While your comment includes _some_ correct thoughts, what is correct is overwhelmed by your foolish notions. But you have been indoctrinated well. Your teachers should be pleased.

    First, wealth isn't a finite resource. It is more like bytes and wood (we make more), than gold or oil (short of transmutation, finite).
    We make wealth all the time. You add value to things by moving them from place to place, transforming them from one state to another (raw to finished, recycled, etc.), by performing services, inventing things, and so on.
    It is nice (from a greedy point of view) when people die and their heirs get money the heirs didn't have to work for. But that isn't a redistribution of a finite resource. It is a "windfall profit". And as anyone with dying relatives will tell you, often dying relatives means a boatload of money out of _your_ pocket. Funerals, hospice care, etc. cost a God awful lot of money. That "wealth" is distributed from the immediate (living) family to the healthcare & death industries. Why do you think 50-60s hold the money but 60-70s don't. Because once you hit your 60s, your costs exceed your income. You spend your nest-egg you saved for 30 years.
    The only real "resource" issues I see with immortality is land and leadership roles. But that is mitigated by the social aspects of immortality (see below) (e.g., 30 year mortgages turning into 60 year mortgages).

    Second, why would their be "little incentive to make it cheaper"? Every medical advance has become cheaper over time. That is the whole point of generic drugs. Healthcare ain't cheap, but its like computers. A $1,000 PC in 2008 gets you a Hell of a lot better PC than $3,000 in 1998.
    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. After all, this "right to healthcare" mantra is really a demand for immortality; "I should be immortal and my God, government, should give that to me").
    What makes you think (to you your Marxist phraseology) the proletariat will not turnout with pitchforks & torches to see immortality pushed down the social ladder? Maybe in the EU (where an anti-democratic bureaucracy replaced an aristocracy), or China (mature fascist) would this even be conceivable (but not likely).

    Third, you ignore the social effects of immortality.
    A long lived population is likely to:
    a) have less children or have them later (think and extreme version of Europe's demographics). It'll probably take longer to get a house, degree, etc. As life expectancy increased in the West so did our period of adolescence. You used to get married at 20, have kids, and be an adult. Now you can sit in college until your 30 (Ph.d), marry in your late-20s/30s, and never have kids. Adulthood has been pushed back substantially.

    b) become very risk adverse. When you risk your life (or life savings) you aren't risking 30 years but 300 years.

    c) you'll have to create a mechanism for moving people out of leadership roles or the Boss is likely to be The Boss for 100 years (like Motorola used to only promote based on seniority). This may be solved by increased career changing. Of course, with less children, there are less people trying to move up.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:10PM (#25920659)

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

    It really depends on your notion of wealth, and whether you consider the average distribution or the total value as the most relevant point. 500 years ago the world still had about the same amount of land as it does today, the difference is that today a far greater percentage of that land is owned; It has been converted from a natural resource into an asset. If you consider the natural resources that have been converted into assets over the last 500 years then unquestionably there is more wealth (as wealth = assets - liabilities). However, the world population was far, far, far less than it is today. If you take the total amount of assets (converted to a monentary value) and divide by the estimated world population, you're in for a shock: That number hasn't really changed in the last 500 years.

    The real point of contention isn't the amount of wealth per se, but its distribution. This advance, if it occurs, will likely significantly impact wealth redistribution in first-world countries. Translated to english: The middle class is going to shrink even more.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:21PM (#25920741)

    The longer we live, the more "stuff" we will get into that will prevent us from living forever. Arthritis severely degrades the quality of life, and increases risk of some other deadly conditions. Obesity, however, will be worse. Not only will it effect a much larger percentage of the population, but it increases multiple mortality factors that are not related to aging. And, it is nearly as effective as arthritis in ruining the QofL.

  • by Adam Hazzlebank ( 970369 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:22PM (#25920749)
    Scott Adam's (the Dilbert guy) take's it and did a write up on his blog a while back: [] entertaining if nothing else.
  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:24PM (#25920769)

    There are many economists, researchers, and liberal arts majors, along with about 200 million working poor, that very much disagree with you. But you can ignore the liberal arts majors.

    You can ignore all of them. There are also 100 million Americans who believe that the Earth is being visited by little green men who have nothing better to do than shove metal objects in the anal cavities of dirt-poor yokels in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Idaho. Just because an idea is popular, that doesn't mean it's true.

    As for the original claim - he's absolutely right. Most people don't accumulate wealth, they spend it. That's part of the reason why the US is in such a hole right now - because people like living beyond their means.

    What you and the other numbnut are referring to is the infinitesimal percentage of people who actually know how to make large amounts of money, and use it wisely. Personally, I don't give a damn if those people manage to "hoard" ten times what they can accumulate today - they generally generate so much wealth and advancement in the process of acquiring their wealth that their personal fortunes pale in comparison. You and your buddy can bitch about Bill Gates and Richard Branson all you like, but each of them does more good for the human race in one day than you will in a lifetime.

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @09:25PM (#25920773)

    Wow what an ignorant statement. I figured after 8 years of Reagan spouting that bullshit and the economy collapsing, and 8 more years of the same crap with Bush and again economy collapsing. that people would finally figure out that trickle down theory is so far wrong that it leads to economic collapse.

    Do yourself a favor. draw a timeline of economic upswings and downswings. and layer on who was president and when. you should notice a trend. republicans crash or damage the economy. Now it isn't 100% as it takes a couple of years for the economy to move. Bush senior did pick things up well during his term in office. However rich people strangle the economy because they horde money. dollar for dollar the mid class spend more of their money than any one making over $300,000

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @10:12PM (#25921123)

    Prevalent bulk of the populaton sinking from middle class to working poor reflects this, I'd expect, already, as life expectancy even in the last hundred years has jumped from perhaps 80 to perhaps 100? Im not familiar with the exact numbers as per census, but I'd love to see them for the sake of comparisson.

    I'd love to give them to you too, but unfortunately the sudden collapse of the middle class is a recent phenomenon and we're going to have to wait another 4-8 years to have reliable metrics and analysis on why this is happening or what its impact is. what I can say, however, is that the life expectancy in this country has been on an overall upward trend, but these past 5 years has stagnated and for some groups reversed due to harsh economic realities... Or so a lot of people suspect.

  • by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Friday November 28, 2008 @10:26PM (#25921211)

    Medicare is going bankrupt because aggregate costs are increasing. But that says nothing about individual procedures. If we wanted to provide 1950-level care today, it would cost less than it cost in 1950. But we expect better, and so we pay more, even though the cost of the individual pieces has gone down.

  • by Have Brain Will Rent ( 1031664 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:06AM (#25922231)

    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.

    That is absolutely untrue and verging on propaganda. The vast majority of the wealth in western society is controlled by women. Think about who dies first and who gets left the money in the will. And even when both spouses are alive it is usually the female half who performs the majority of the spending. Who is most advertising aimed at? It isn't men that's for sure.

  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <{tms} {at} {}> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:13AM (#25922263) Homepage

    Most of it is invested into other parts of the economy. Providing jobs and growth. It would be better if wealth were more evenly distributed but it's not that bad. In effect they are paying everyone elses wages at market rates, ie. supply and demand sets the price not them.

    When you have most of the supply locked up, you call the tune. Wealthy individuals and companies don't operate in markets, they use their wealth to control markets. []

    The investment class doesn't "provide jobs and growth" so much as it skims wealth off of the top. The U.S. GDP is about $14 trillion [], the workforce of about 150,000,000 []: the average American worker creates about $93,000 worth of value per year.

    But the average annual wage is only about $39,000. []

    So where does the majority of that value created by workers go? GDP = rents + interests + profits + wages + some statistical fudge factors []. Most of the value created by the average worker goes to the investing class in the form of "unearned" income - profits, interest, and rents.

    This idea that we should be grateful to the wealthy for giving us jobs and growth is like beggars at the back door of the palace heaping praises on the nobility for passing out scraps from the banquet. I say fsck the nobility, time for a little peasant uprising.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:42AM (#25922423)

    The real ugliness of what the Reagan/Bush/Bush Republicans have done is have simultaneous massive tax cuts and deficit spending. They figured out that if they just put everything on the charge card they can let the masses have their social programs but they won't have to pay for it. When Reagan took office the national debt was about $1.5 trillion, when he left about $3.5T. Bush I added another $2.5T and Bush II the rest, now about another $5T. It actually went down about $500M under Clinton.
    So that IS Reaganomics, take the rabble out for a fine time on their own credit card and, if you keep it up for long enough, you never have to pay for it --they are stuck with it as we are now. But it's basically treason by the affluebt. Massive debt is exactly why the British, Spanish and other world powers collapsed.

  • by nugneant ( 553683 ) <c45kyew02@sneake ... inus threevowels> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:45AM (#25922437) Homepage Journal
    Because the "anti-arthritis" gene may be a recessive trait. Alternatively, if you kill their entire families, eventually you'll either have to draw a line somewhere, or wipe out the entire planet. No, it'd be much more logical to have a harem of healthy thirty year old women ready to procreate with any 90 year old man not suffering from arthritis. Hopefully it's not an X-linked gene.

    DISCLAIMER: I'm not a scientist, or even particularly intelligent

  • by gregorio ( 520049 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:39AM (#25924671)

    The investment class doesn't "provide jobs and growth" so much as it skims wealth off of the top. The U.S. GDP is about $14 trillion, the workforce of about 150,000,000: the average American worker creates about $93,000 worth of value per year. But the average annual wage is only about $39,000.

    Except that economics doesn't work that way. The GDP is not about "creating value", but mostly about moving money around. You're also wrong when you talk about "the average American worker" when mentioning TOTAL/COUNT.

    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. So an extremely profitable company will yield something like 2/3 of your estimate. Even worse when you consider that GE is a good employer.

    If you compare GE's 60k USD and your mentioned average 40k USD, it's a pretty fair game: their profits are not based just on their workforce but also based on more than half a trillion dollars in debt and more than 130 billion worth of assets. Taking only 60k of profit per employee while having to finance such a massive infrastructure is pretty fair.

    You also fail to account the fact that most companies are owned by the average american. While powerful banks such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are the first-tier owners of billions of dollars worth of stocks, they're actually buying them in the name of pension funds and also using money borrowed from your bank account.

  • by Stephen Ma ( 163056 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @06:15PM (#25928083)
    Because I would expect that the majority of the "wealth" in both the old Soviet Union, and current Cuba, is in fact controlled by a very small proportion of people.

    You would be wrong. According to the the Bank of Finland [], "When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia had a Gini coefficient of 0.29." That is very similar to the current Scandinavian countries, and vastly better (in this one respect) than the U.S., which is at 0.45.

    Remember, a Gini coefficient of zero means that everyone has the same income, and a coefficent of 1.0 means one person owns all the wealth in the country. So higher means more uneven. It's also not a linear measure; the Soviet Union's 0.29 is hugely better than the U.S.'s 0.45.

    I think you are confusing the old Soviet Union with Russia today. Oligarches control vast chunks of Russia's economy, in spite of Putin's best efforts to renationalize. The same Bank of Finland document says that Russia's Gini coefficient was 0.40 in 2000. So it has gotten really bad, but the U.S. is even worse -- and remember that the U.S. Gini number was measured before the recent multi-$trillion donation to the financial system, paid for by the generous taxpayers. If you are American, it is way past time for you to start worrying.

  • by n dot l ( 1099033 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:02AM (#25930501)

    Ever heard of the French revolution? How about the Soviet revolution? Chinese revolution? Cuban?

    Did you read the last sentence of my post?

    Look at the state of the French government before the revolution, for instance. A weak king of a bankrupt nation who couldn't command the allegiance of his own nobles except with expensive bribes and positions in Versailles. The French Crown had been pissing away its power for decades before the mobs swept in at the very end to deliver the death blow. And then what happened? They immediately turned on each other and the Reign of Terror began. A mere four years after the end of that horror, Napoleon declared himself Emperor.

    Lenin's revolution was against a government broken more by an ineffective leader and the strain of WWI. The "revolution" of the 90's was the old Soviet government finally crumbling under the weight of its own bureaucracy (the straw that finally broke that camel's back being buried somewhere in Gorbachev's reforms).

    Mao fought against a hugely corrupt government still dealing with the aftermath of WWII. I'm pretty murky on my history here, but if I remember correctly the government was already dying under the weight of an economic meltdown, and the civil war wouldn't have been much of a fight had the US not poured support into the nationalist side (this was perhaps negated by soviet support for the Communists - though I can't imagine post-WWII Russia being able to match the level of support the US could have mustered at the time).

    The Cuban revolution, I will admit, I know nearly nothing about, save that Batista's heavy-handed rule was massively disruptive and that he alienated any popular support he might have otherwise enjoyed.

    Maybe if IT people weren't so busy turning their noses up at the "liberal arts", you might know a few things about history and how things work on this planet, and maybe, just maybe, you won't become the underpaid lackey of some jackass who went to b-school and believes that the earth was "created" 5000 years ago.

    I'm not even sure what you're saying here, save that you mean to insult me, or "IT people", or creationists or something.

    The fact is that peasant revolutions have been causing regular upheavals in the social order for millenia.

    And my point is that peasant revolutions don't often happen until the government is already breaking under extrordinary external pressures or the simple weight of its own stupidity.

    There are certainly countless examples of peasant rebellions being swiftly and decisively crushed by strong, competent (though not necessarily "good") rulers.

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