Two ways today's scientists are pursuing immortality

Though searching for a fountain of youth might sound like something out of a King Arthur story, it's also something happening right now, across the world, as scientists race toward discovering immortality. It might make marriage proposals seem a bit heavier, but some folks out there are dedicated to figuring out how to live forever (which sounds expensive).

There are several different scientists with different ideas on how to achieve immortality. Below are two of the main ideas, but they center around a general theme. We die because our organs fail and our cells age, so what if we could either replace the organs or stop then from aging and thus failing? Then, we'd just have to avoid getting hit by a bus, and we'd be pretty set.

  • Aubrey de Grey, a Cambridge University longevity researcher, isolated an enzyme in bacteria that keeps them from suffocating (the natural death of bacteria). Though this is a far stretch from human cells, de Grey said he thinks the same enzyme will work in our cells.
  • Bill Andrews, an American molecular geneticist, found a supplement that keeps telomeres, which are strings of DNA at the end of the chromosome, from shortening. The idea is that when telomeres shorten, cells deteriorate, and Andrews thinks this supplement can actually reprogram cells so that they don't just not shorten, they actually re-grow. He said he's 95 percent certain he can reverse aging if the supplement lengthens the telomeres.

There is, of course, still scores of research to be done on both these cases before we know anything more. And, from a news perspective, there is much left desired by the few and far between details that have been released at this point.

Nonetheless, the hunt for immortality is actually happening. Personally, this seems terrifying — I can't imagine watching my New Orleans Saints play for another 45 years, much less, oh, forever. The philosophical discussions have already begun — see 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith by Sonia Arrison — but, frankly, I'm pretty good with my 70-ish expected lifespan.

What do you think?


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