Cyberpunk Review » Immortality may only be a gene-tweak away.

February 19, 2008

Immortality may only be a gene-tweak away.

The current average lifespan of a human is around 80 years. The oldest person lived to be 122 years, while an Israeli Arab woman is claiming to be 120. And many gerontologists believe that 125 years is the maximum. But if researchers in California are right, they can possibly extend human life to 1000 YEARS.

This old broad lived to the ripe old age of 122.  That may only be a click of a second hand according to researchers.

From The Independent (UK), Science section:

A genetically engineered organism that lives 10 times longer than normal has been created by scientists in California. It is the greatest extension of longevity yet achieved by researchers investigating the scientific nature of ageing.

If this work could ever be translated into humans, it would mean that we might one day see people living for 800 years. But is this ever going to be a realistic possibility?

Valter Longo is one of the small but influential group of specialists in this area who believes that an 800-year life isn’t just possible, it is inevitable. It was his work at the University of Southern California that led to the creation of a strain of yeast fungus that can live for 10 weeks or more, instead of dying at its usual maximum age of just one week.

By deleting two genes within the yeast’s genome and putting it on a calorie-restricted diet, Longo was able to extend tenfold the lifespan of the same common yeast cells used by bakers and brewers. The study is published later this week in the journal Public Library of Science Genetics.

One thousand years of life? The idea of centuries-to-an-eon life span in humans may sound wrong to those who study aging, but even aging occurs at different rates in different people, which would explain why some live over one hundred years while others die early (for reasons other than suicide or murder, of course). Longo believes that this is the result of genetic programming:

“Basically, it is the first demonstration, to our knowledge, that ageing is programmed and altruistic,” Longo says. “The organisms we have studied die long before they have to in order to provide nutrients for ‘mutants’ generated within their own population. Thus, billions of organisms die early so that a few better-adapted individuals can grow.”

This raises the possibility that the same process happens in humans, and that, as a result, many people are dying earlier than they need to. “Programmed human ageing is just a possibility. We don’t know whether it’s true yet or not. But if ageing is programmed in yeast, and the [metabolic] pathway is very similar, then isn’t it possible that humans also die earlier than they have to?”

While yeast is a far cry from humans, it is the first step to extending human life as the methods used can be adapted and refined to extend the life of other increasingly complex organisms. By that time, they may know enough about aging to slow the process down to extend life even further, and other advances in stem cells and bionics may allow one to replace their aged, obsolete bodies completely.

As always, stay tuned… This is going to get interesting.

This post has been filed under Bio-Hacking, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.


February 19, 2008

Klaw said:

So expect holidays to now have 10x as many annoying relatives you have to make small talk with… it’s bad enough we have overpopulation, and now they won’t die? Where are the tobacco companies when we need them? Save us Philip Morris!

Gigabyte Eschaton said:

I think this paragraph sums up the only pertinent questions: “If this work could ever be translated into humans, it would mean that we might one day see people living for 800 years. But is this ever going to be a realistic possibility?” Not to mention how this will unpredictably alter societies and psychologies.

Call me skeptical, but I won’t hold my breath until they make some headway with something more than just yeast. Furthermore, which years would be extended? I doubt many would enjoy living 65 years of their life as adult, then 650 years as a pensioner.

I also noticed the scientists last name is Longo ^_^

Astaroth said:

It’s gonna end up with some living forever, others not. A bi-polar society.
The Methusalehs will become the ruling caste, lording it over those who cannot afford the treatment.
Read “Altered Carbon” by Richard Morgan, you’ll understand it better than I can explain.

February 20, 2008

Kaura said:

Meh. Immortality only makes sense if it comes hand in hand with at least mental youthfulness. Trying to guarantee the two’s likely to be far more difficult than, say, simply uploading your mental vectors… using that new synapse-mapping robot they recently developed.

Or, to be more succinct, why live forever in an inefficient, fleshy bag of soup and bones?

February 21, 2008

HobbyHorse said:

“My estimate for the time until this milestone [life extension] is reached, starting from the time the mouse target is achieved, is 15 years…”.

~ Aubrey de Grey, The Methuselah Foundation.

If TMF receives substantial funding this coming decade, then rejuvenation therapies can be expected to work on mice in 15 years. So, in 30 years, a 50 year old human will live to be the first 1000 year old, and 50 years old just so happens to be how old I will be in 30 years time :D

February 27, 2008

Ben Abba said:

I just found your blog post and found it quite interesting.

If you are serious about this subject, then you will be quite interested in my research and findings on this very topic.

I have summarized what I have found on my main blog:

Check out the post “Summary of the Facts” when you get a chance and then my follow up book “Secrets of an Immortal - An Eyewitness Account of 2,800 Years of History”.


March 2, 2008

Jim said:

We only lack two things: 1. The biological data and 2. The tools to engineer at nanoscales and speeds. Both are progressing, albeit at a slow and steady pace.

The human organism already has numerous repair and replenishment mechanisms that allow it to survive 100+ years after maturity. Finding the genes and pathways that regulate these and then engineering early intervention therapies will lead to exponential increases in lifespan.

March 12, 2008

tyler said:

Thats crazy! I cant beleive the stuff humans have accomplished but those people that have lived to be 125 and 121 arent realy that old they cant prove it be cause the people just make up the birth date so theyll seem old but the bible says man can only live to be 120 is the max age so these people are just wasting their time

June 10, 2008

wonder said:


wonder said:

Since the body of the humanbeing is just a more complex system,I think we could find out the rule how our body work.’Immortality’ could be achieved. I hope this technology will come true soon so that we could live a longer time with my family.

June 15, 2008

Christhy15 said:

people,i think we’re forgetting something here.U talk about and heroically mention’imortality’, but just an expaded life is not imortality.In fact, i think that could never be achieved, because that means the anihilation of time, and since time is infinite, no engineering can expand a life infinetly, because f the word’s description:nt being able to touch.

Christhy15 said:

not* (sry about the typing, ive got flexible components connected to my pc, and im still geting used to them) :D

June 21, 2008

Autibot_prime said:

Time to be a total buzzkill here, sorry. Life sucks. If you live forever, life will suck forever. The only thing we all can look forward to is death and taxes. Eliminate death, and you’ll be taxed by a group of stupid polititans for all eternity. I live in a crappy apartment with bad wiring, a toilet that refusis to flush evry time i take a dump, my job doesn’t pay enough to pay my basic rent and utility bills, I can’t get laid to save my life, and all my friends treat me like a loser. I can’t imagine living this life forever. In fact I’m supprised I havent decided to reach for the warm imbrace of oblivion with the sweet kiss from a .357 Magnum as it stands right now. I’d rather have one year of complete happiness and die than live an eternity of the bullcrap I’m forced to deal with now.

October 21, 2008

Thanatos said:


October 25, 2008

Anonymous said:

November 7, 2008

Dervish said:

Even if you could live forever, you would last about 120 years. By then some tragic accident will have taken your life anyway. Will people live for hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years? Sure, there just won’t be very many.

kabukiman said:

If we were immortals, our society would change so much it would be unrecognisable. People mind’s would change in impredictable ways, not worth try to guess how.

March 9, 2009

Muppet Killer said:

Silly… Just because the Bible says man can’t live beyond 120, doesn’t mean it is true. As for proving birthdates, what is your source??

May 5, 2009

darkavengr said:

Just because it’s in the bible doesn’t mean it’s true.

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