Scientists Say the Clock of Aging May Be Reversible

Dec 19, 2016

By Nicholas Wade

At the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif., scientists are trying to get time to run backward.

Biological time, that is. In the first attempt to reverse aging by reprogramming the genome, they have rejuvenated the organs of mice and lengthened their life spans by 30 percent. The technique, which requires genetic engineering, cannot be applied directly to people, but the achievement points toward better understanding of human aging and the possibility of rejuvenating human tissues by other means.

The Salk team’s discovery, reported in the Thursday issue of the journal Cell, is “novel and exciting,” said Jan Vijg, an expert on aging at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.


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19 comments on “Scientists Say the Clock of Aging May Be Reversible

  • Just consider the waste of brain power when our life span or longevity is only about 90 years or less. Albert Einstein died at 76! A truly huge loss of an intellectual giant.

    But we must also consider how we age in terms of our social and political attitudes. It seems to me that if our cultural stance is to somehow become more liberal as we age, not stuck in out dated ways of the past. I think that about 300 would be a good longevity combined with population growth limitations.



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  • Longevity undermines the great virtue of culture. Each generation, with each neonate possessing only a third of the brain matter and less of the functional wiring, is as blank a slate as evolution can manage ready to be programmed with our latest knowledge and needs. We breed and indoctrinate the problem solvers for our latest problems. All early education is indoctrination and creates firmware that mostly will never be overwritten. That is how a rich culture is even possible.

    The old increasingly fail to solve the new problems, set in our ways, because brain wiring, mostly like topiary runs out of material to snip into shape.. Even for the greatest of minds. There is room for some increase in lifespan where expertise may still be passed along to the young, greedy for it. But soon enough time comes for a fresh pair of eyes if culture is to carry us reliably past each new challenge.



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  • Sean,

    you’re old Phil

    I am! But I do conveniently think I am the exception to this

    The old increasingly fail to solve the new problems

    so far…

    I think we are not optimised yet and 120 years seems viable. I think also neural prosthetics can play a part. The artificial hipocampus to improve memory retention may be a thing, though I fear from it severe personality affects and old folk are grumpy enough already. (Perhaps a spindle cell speed upgrade to restore the missing social self censorship?)

    But, at some point, the making of a new person formed/wired amongst our current culture will better create the cultural evolution we need. At some point we will have to make way as others did for us.



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  • I don’t think we should set any kind of priority on extending age. We need to focus on
    improving the quality of life for all. This is just another way for the wealthy to obtain
    drugs others can’t afford.
    We don’t even know if the species (us) is going survive another fifty years.



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  • I am not grumpy…

    Ah, well you know what they say, alf, the exception proves the probabilities of the rule are less than one.

    I meant really old, when the memory cards are being taken out and your singing “Daisy, Daisy”. And it wasn’t so much grumpy as rude. Spindle cells lose their speed so the self censorship of the anterior cingulate cortex kicks in too late to stop my too honest comment escaping my lips….

    In senectam, veritas.

    Quality of life is entirely the big issue.



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  • I am! But I do conveniently think I am the exception to this

    -obviously

    Merry Christmas Phil. May you see many more till you’re no use to anyone, and then maybe a few more after that, just for the laughs. 😉 -cheers



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  • Merry Christmas to you too, Sean.

    I’m off to the pub now. If nothing else I can help secure the wealth and happiness of those deserving benefactors of mankind, the Brewers.

    Cheers.



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  • Phil #2

    With what I have learned here, especially from you, and with a model I saw of how quantum computers are expected to work of layers of infinite possibilities interacting with one another, I now have the same model for the brain. The infinite levels exist but but each new bit of knowing or technology gives us a new layer that we can actually interact with. It’s always been there but we have not had the ability to understand or react to it. Whatever is possible in this universe being the layers. It may slow the process down but, are we not at the stage where we can discard the old traditions of culture and move on or do we need larger brains in our heads which only evolution can bring? Or will the ‘add ons’ you have spoken about, be enough to carry us through? Either way it seems to me that the next step in evolution is through thinking and nature has taken us to that point and is waiting for us to make the leap. Just thinking out aloud.



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  • 11
    fadeordraw says:

    So in Harari’s Homo Deus, the prediction is that we’re overcoming famine, plague and war and, in the future, we’re pursue immortality, happiness and being godlike. This is an example of pursuing the first mentioned.
    Merry winter solstice to you all.



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  • Fade or Draw, “godlike”. Jeezz, that’s scary. And if the Mormons think 14 thousand of them will be come “gods”, who will they rule over?
    Oh yeah. Happy Holidays. May the New Year treat you better than its going to treat us. (USA)



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  • cbrown #1: I think that about 300 would be a good longevity combined with population growth limitations.

    There’s actually a lot more to the housekeeping chores to be sussed when we talk about “longevity.” Using a currently terminal base of 100 for a “very-old” generalized life span, how do we correlate the phases of maturation and aging multiplied by 3?… If so, the stages of life as currently understood would be extended, with exceptions, as follows:

    Childhood (12 years X 3): 36 Years

    Adolescence (7 years X 3): 21 Years

    University-Graduate Education Average (5 years X 3): 15 Years

    Working -Career Average (40 Years X 3): 120 Years

    Retirement-Decline-Death( 35 years X 3): 105 Years

    Assuming humans would age proportionately in terms of physical appearance, physiological condition, and cognitive acuity, women would come into their child bearing years around age 45 and remain potentially fertile ’til around 135. If men and women did not adjust psychologically, the catastrophic consequences are obvious. If workers and professionals became burned out after 35 to 50 years at the grind and retired; if women (and men) balked at the prospect of spending 57 to 72 years raising “children;” or if alternatively women (and men) wanted to start 2nd and 3rd families within extended decades of fertility fueling infinite population growth, society, economies and ecosystems would face imminent collapse.

    (P.S. Phil: You’re observations on the benefits of generation turnover are spot on.)



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  • cbrown #1: I think that about 300 would be a good longevity combined with population growth limitations.

    There’s actually a lot more to the housekeeping chores to be sussed when we talk about “longevity.” Using a currently terminal base of 100 for a “very-old” generalized life span, how do we correlate the phases of maturation and aging multiplied by 3?… If so, the stages of life as currently understood would be extended, with small exceptions, as follows:

    Childhood (12 years X 3): 36 Years

    Adolescence (7 years X 3): 21 Years

    University-Graduate Education Average (5 years X 3): 15 Years

    Working -Career Average (40 Years X 3): 120 Years

    Retirement-Decline-Death( 35 years X 3): 105 Years

    Assuming humans would age proportionately in terms of physical appearance, physiological condition, and cognitive acuity, women would come into their child bearing years around age 45 and remain potentially fertile ’til around 135. If men and women did not adjust psychologically, the catastrophic consequences are obvious. If workers and professionals became burned out after 35 to 50 years at the grind and retired; if women (and men) balked at the prospect of spending 57 to 72 years raising “children;” or if alternatively women (and men) wanted to start 2nd and 3rd families within extended decades of fertility fueling infinite population growth, society, economies and ecosystems would face imminent collapse.

    (P.S. Phil: You’re observations on the benefits of generation turnover are spot on.)



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  • To me, the obsession with living an ever longer life by finding the “fountain of youth” bears a lot of resemblance with the “need for the absolute” of religious people.

    Don’t get me wrong; I hope to live a long and healthy life too!



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  • Cantaz #15: the “fountain of youth” bears a lot of resemblance with the “need for the absolute” of religious people.

    I too sense the “ambition of transcendence” integral to Scientism resonating deeply with religious striving for life everlasting. If science made it possible for everyone to live forever on earth, the planet would overflow with human life like a petri dish culturing bacteria.



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  • Olgun

    Nearly missed this.

    I have no expectation that quantum effects operate in the brain. Entanglement cannot operate in the brain over anything but the smallest of distances. Separating newly entangled particles can only happen by normal physical diffusion of molecules…slowly. There would be no effect different from the diffusion of say neuro transmitters. I see no data processing difference.

    The exciting thing about us is indeed layers, Olgun.

    (For others)
    The cortex (literally rind) is a skim of the most general purpose neurons yet. 3mm thick it sits on top of a reptilian era brain where most of our automatic selves are. A whole bunch of white matter cross-wiring everything together comes next then the cortex. The cortex itself is in layers only three layers at first then building to six as evolution carries us to the primates.

    The layers form an inferential stack, identifying coincidence and pattern and ultimately delivering the thoughtful outputs we recognise as human mammal. The deeper the stack the broader the range of inputs can be correlated and bound together by co-incidence.

    None of the neural prosthetics I have mentioned extend human capacities as such. They are intended as replacement parts only. I think, though, altering memory storing (with an inadequate Intel hipocampus) could risk highly unsettling personality affects.

    Introspection is entirely how we grow a free will of sorts. Introspection (using our cortex to observe our unconscious selves creating valuing inferences) will lead us to train the unconscious beast below, changing our behaviours to better comport with our best most valued expectations.

    Can we add another layer or two?

    We already have with culture, a sort of super cortex that takes collective experience and creates collective introspections identifying patterns and significance for all. Art and science burgeons and we enrich our collective fed-back experience and solve our pressing problems manufacturing an increasing freedom of choice.

    I think the broadness of collective experience distilled is entirely the way to go rather than layer upon layer in the head with its limited view, its narrow windows out



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  • Phil #17

    My reference to quantum computers was only that the report I read, and the video I watched, gave a diagram of infinite layers and helped me flatten out the brain in layers as a cube, which stops it from being infinite of course. I got the gist of the quantum computer but wondered how it would ever be as fast as they say it will, if it has an infinite layer structure. Perhaps they only need the 6D version? Thats my understanding (or confusion) on that.

    I love all the rest of your post and all fits in with my simple model. Either it was one of your links or I read it somewhere (my brain only seams to be interested in the how and not the who it seems. I whittled it down to trauma through discovering that the who I was taught invented/discovered this and that, was not in fact not the case. I even read that all the work on Einsteins theory of relativity was done by an indian ‘chap’ on the train on his way over from india to assist him?) that we do not work like computers because we have no memory storage, only links and so ‘red’ is red and ‘pink’ has to go through red and white, just like the dots on a printed page, and becomes the pink we see.

    It has helped me see free will in connection form and why each individual can only react through these personal (possibly one off) connections to come to a conclusion. It helps me understand that the way I am connected will always have me make decisions and not just trust to luck and, that is why I say I am unlucky because I don’t take many chances. My hit rate at getting electricians fibre cable rods under the floorboards and pushed from one end of the room to the other was much better than the people I hired just thrusting back and forth trying to get past a cross member through luck alone.

    Think this was one of your links on which the author didn’t accept RDs meme theory as there was no physical connection to the brain. Is it memes you are talking about when you say culture? I have always been a supporter of your betters meme and can see that no physical connection is needed.



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