(ORDO NEWS) — Currently, the risk of human death is doubling every eight years, but recent scientific developments may allow us to extend the record for the number of heartbeats in a lifetime. Recently, scientists and physicians have made some remarkable and controversial discoveries in anti-aging experiments.
First, there is David Bennett, who lived for two months with a pig heart transplant before his death last week.
Undoubtedly, ethical issues are at stake in the fight against aging. The current debate around genetically modified children can be quite controversial.
However, the main goal of genetic engineering, and health science in general, is quite obviously the extension of our lives. And new discoveries in this area show promising and positive results.
Gene modification and the fight against aging
Gene editing isn’t just glow-in-the-dark rabbits. It’s not even just about creating superhumans like Graham. Breakthroughs in developmental biology usually emerge as small pieces of a larger puzzle.
Take these photosynthetic tadpoles, which were designed to survive without oxygen consumption. Can we do the same one day?
There are also non-human genetic breakthroughs that could curb world hunger: researchers recently mapped the first potato genome, and another group created bread wheat with enhanced disease resistance.
The use of sound waves in genetic therapy is also very interesting and seems to be effective in activating cells. Similarly, sound waves have been used to turn stem cells into bone tissue. Genetic engineering isn’t the only beauty at the anti-aging ball; stem cell research is no less promising.
In recent weeks, new stem cells have presented potential treatments for diseases such as HIV, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. But what about real cell rejuvenation?
Safe cell rejuvenation in mice
Over the course of approximately 7 months, researchers at the Salk Institute demonstrated the possibility of safe cellular rejuvenation in mice of different age groups, as evidenced by the following results.
One of the study’s lead authors, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, is a biochemist and world-renowned pioneer in the field of developmental biology. He is known for his controversial and groundbreaking experiments using stem cells in monkey embryos, triparental children, and human-pig chimeras.
Jeff Bezos and Altos Labs
Izpisua Belmonte recently left his professorship at Salk to lead the San Diego division of Altos Labs, a star-studded life sciences company that received $3 billion in funding earlier this year.
Altos’ investors are said to be Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.
One of the directors of Altos is Jennifer Doudna, who, along with Emmanuel Charpentier, was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing CRISPR, the first of its kind DNA editing technology.
Thanks to the latest developments in the Cas9 protein, CRISPR has become 4000% less error prone.
CRISPR appears to be able to remove “bad” genes from embryos, but replacing them with manufactured genes usually doesn’t work. However, embryos inherit healthy genes from the other parent as a replacement.
Historically, heritability has had to be determined by sequencing the entire genome of an organism, which has been a lengthy, costly, and destructive process.
However, Salk recently developed a new technology that allows researchers to analyze DNA, RNA and chromatin (DNA + protein) without extracting them from the nuclei of cells. This will enable unprecedented cataloging of open source cell data and less reliance on simulations for research.
As our lives evolve, new developments are likely to extend lifespan. A full analysis of the long-term effects of mortality reduction is beyond the scope of this article.
However, I will say this: given that the world’s birth rate is also declining, our planet’s already aging population will witness changes in our social and economic structure.
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