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Blood of World's Oldest Woman Hints At Limits of Life 333

porkchop_d_clown (39923) writes "When Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper died in 2005, she was the oldest woman in the world. [New Scientist reported Wednesday] that, at the end of her life, most of her white blood cells had been produced by just two stem cells — implying the rest of her blood stem cells had already died, and hinting at a possible limit to the human life span."
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Blood of World's Oldest Woman Hints At Limits of Life

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  • She was 115 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:10AM (#46840553)

    Since the summary didn't mention it, and I'm sure others were wondering.

  • Not an upper limit (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ambassador Kosh ( 18352 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:17AM (#46840625)

    If you live long enough most of your cells end up dieing or critically damaged by the formation of inclusion bodies caused from misfolded proteins. As far as we can tell the cells are otherwise fine they are just slowly accumulating that damage over time. This is also what alzheimer's is. The problem is that misfolded proteins are kind of contagious to other proteins in the cell and that is what leads to the inclusion bodies.

    We are making progress though on being able to clean out the inclusion bodies. Your cells do have the ability to take them apart but somehow they end up not doing it. Give us some time though and we will fix this problem also and clean out these inclusion bodies in all of your cells and then your cells will work much better.

    The other issue we need to fix is activating telomerase to extend our telomeres. The basic issue is that natural selection does not really select for anything after reproductive age so humans are filled with a bunch of small defects and we are getting better at repairing the damage. I really look forward to what can be done with CRISPR-CAS9 to repair DNA damage and replaced damaged genes.

  • by Jeff Flanagan ( 2981883 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @11:06AM (#46841027)
    > Further, I see a lot of pessimism on Slashdot regarding super-longevity. I don't get it.

    You don't understand that super-longevity would be bad both due to over-population and entrenched interests that will not allow progress, or you don't understand how hard a problem life extension is?
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @11:13AM (#46841093)

    >> Actually, because that million is earning interest while you are drawing down on it, even at 5%API, you should be able to draw around $80K/yr for 20 years

    Most advisors recommend calculating return at 4% (not that you can get that today in CDs)...and trying to avoid completely eroding the principal in twenty years. By the time you get through that math, you end up with the popular "rule-of-twenty". E.g., [] []

  • Re:Bank them (Score:5, Informative)

    by JakartaDean ( 834076 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @01:59PM (#46842849) Journal

    Real respect is dragging grandpa's corpse to several pubs for a last night of drinking with family and friends.

    I know you're joking, but there's nothing I would want more.

  • Re:Bank them (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2014 @02:13PM (#46842997)

    You are nothing more than a couple dollars worth of parts and some electrical/chemical interactions.

    The fact that you believe otherwise is cute in the same way that a child believes the tooth fairy is real.

  • Re:Old News (Score:4, Informative)

    by RockDoctor ( 15477 ) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @03:17PM (#46849099) Journal

    *Two* stem cells? For her entire body? How do they actually know that.

    They do tell you in the article, but it's not spelled out. They looked at the range of mutations in the leucocytes in her blood and found that they had only two common patterns of mutations. That implies only two remaining blood stem cells.

    And did they really harvest both of them, and then leave them in the fridge for TEN years? Sheesh..

    They don't say that they harvested either of them. They say that they looked at blood samples. To have collected the blood stem cells, they'd need to have extracted the marrow from her long bones - femur and/ or ribs most likely. That's a much more intrusive operation, even if the patient is a corpse.

    Neither the donor nor her next of kin were under any obligation to allow samples to be taken. Nor were they under any obligation to allow any additional testing to be performed on samples that were taken for therapeutic reasons. Nor were they under any obligation to allow any publication of data obtained either as a part of her therapies, or any publication of the researches (which they were under no obligation to allow) carried out on her body. So ... you're complaining that it took 10 years to get the research done, or that perhaps they imposed a moratorium on the work before it's publication? That's within their rights. As is privacy.

    Isn't this Slashdot, where people foam at the mouth over governmental intrusion into privacy every 30 attoseconds? And you want to violate the privacy of a dead old woman before her ashes have cooled?

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