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[RD] curing aging

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by caketastydelish, Jan 20, 2021.

  1. Sommerswerd

    Sommerswerd I'll sit with you

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    I'm not... it's still debatable :p
     
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  2. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I'd say it's
    GA RAN TEED

    upload_2021-1-22_22-48-7.png
     
  3. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Not really so much 'the' key, though there's some correlation and even targeted causation in some tissues. Learning to intervene in telomere length will be part of the treatment package.

    So, being optimistic about telomere science is fine, but know that it's going to create a handful of interventions and that's about it.

    All that said, every intervention is going to be one that merely 'buys' time'. So, even if telomere science cannot protect your next fail-point from causing your aging-related degeneration, it can buy time to get you to that point. If the telomer-based intervention isn't available before you need it, then the later problem never gets to rear its head before you're already too old to regenerate.

    This is a terrible rephrasing of the 'longevity escape velocity' principle, an intervention that saves your life gives you time to discover the intervention to the next threat. Quitting smoking won't halt your aging, for example, but it gives you about seven more years for lung-replacement therapy to get invented. And if you keel over dead from smoking, all the future lung-replacement in the world doesn't help.
     
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  4. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    Considering that life expectancy has been actually falling, I think your optimist in unwarranted. In society or even in science - just see how badly the covid situation being handled. Far from inspiring awe and respect for science, it's inspiring disgust. And we're only ending Year I.

    This is shaping up to be a societal experience like WW1 was for Europe. People will be thoroughly disgusted with whatever "authorities" by Year III.
     
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  5. MrCynical

    MrCynical Deity

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    From the point of view of "curing aging" the issue of telomeres is probably one of the easier problems to solve. There is already a protein in the human genome (telomerase) with the specific function of rebuilding these, although it is only active in some cell types and circumstances. You would need to come up with a way to activate it in a controlled manner across all the cells in the body which is not that far fetched compared to some of the things you would have to do to halt, let alone reverse aging. This does after all happen in some cells accidentally, although that's not a good thing. It's part of the process of cells turning cancerous, known as immortalization - breaking the limit telomeres place on the number of times it can copy itself.

    It's also questionable how much of a part this telomere limit (also known as the Hayflick limit) plays in typical deaths from old age. Different cell types go through telomeric shortening at different rates, and there's a lot of variation from metabolic rates in individuals. Most estimates put the Hayflick limit well past 100 years, typically somewhere in the 120 - 150 year range. That would imply very few, if any people die due to simply hitting the cell copying limit on some critical cell type.

    If you're out to "cure aging" you've got a lot of non-telomere problems that are both more urgent, and more complicated. Cancer, dementia, and the numerous ways the cardiovascular system breaks down as it ages are just the first few items on the list of things you are going to have to figure out how to "cure" before you can meaningfully extend the human lifespan.
     
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  6. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    I won't disagree at all, @innonimatu . We have two trendlines on this planet, both of them with exponential functions. One is the basic erosion of our ability to maintain quality-of-life. And there's another trendline, an increasing ability to provide quality-of-life. And yeah, I don't know where it's going to end up. Obviously, I'm not actually optimistic, or else I'd not be begging for help.

    I do know that pivoting effort into improving either of these trendlines is incredibly important - they're both exponential functions, afterall. And the very best resource pivoted is taking away something that worsens one trendline in order to benefit the other. Asking people help me with those resource shifts is the opposite of optimistic.
    I've said a thousand times, though, medical intervention has a huge 'information technology' component. This means that delivery of the benefit (per unit cost) can be an s-curve that explodes after sufficient input. We never reached herd immunity on smallpox, but now it's gone. Preventing a malaria-related death can be done with the amount of money that many people here make on Mondays. Those are old innovations, late in the s-curve, that haven't yet run out of potential (but hopefully will soon). So, on to the next innovation.
     
  7. MrCynical

    MrCynical Deity

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    Lifestyle changes do have rather diminishing returns on increasing life expectancy once you're past the obvious major factors (e.g. smoking, obesity) but do also play a significant role in improving the quality of those years. If you're trying to live forever though, then you're right no amount of living on kale is going to make much difference, but some things (exercise in particular) can make the years you've got rather more pleasant.

    On the genetic front though I'm not entirely convinced the average person will get much out of a genetic test for long term risk factors. The list of conditions which are both robustly predictable from this kind of analysis, and can be meaningfully altered with advance knowledge is not all that long at present (there are some - e.g. BRCA1 wrt breast cancer). I work in biochem research, but I'm still fairly dubious whether I'd even want a long term genetic risk analysis on myself given the current state of the science. For some things like, for example, predisposition to Alzheimer's I'd be much happier not knowing - it's not like there's much you can do to alter the outcome on that one.

    Don't get me started on the media's beloved "X is good/bad for you" articles and the questionable classification of many of the studies that fuel them as "science" :twitch:. In the interests of avoiding a long and rather off topic rant, I'll just say that even as a scientist I've never altered my lifestyle based on one of these.

    In fairness, this is an entirely rational (if arguably slightly selfish) approach if said research is unlikely to produce practical results in a time frame that will benefit you. Decades of research into Alzheimer's treatment for instance has pretty much amounted to a list of things that don't work, and I wouldn't care to place any bets on that changing in the forseeable future.
     
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  8. sendos

    sendos Immortal

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    Isn't this really a question about how to defy entropy, at least for organic matter? Is it even possible?
     
  9. MrCynical

    MrCynical Deity

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    It's not really an entropy issue. Even if we accept the premise that a younger body is more ordered than an older one, (with aging being a part of the trend towards disorder) entropy just says that you aren't going to spontaneously get younger without expending any energy. Entropy has no problem with a local increase in order, provided you're using energy to make it happen. Every time your body heals itself it's in that hand-wavy sense "defying entropy", and reversing aging isn't fundamentally different as far as the laws of thermodynamics are concerned.

    Whether your cure for aging involves some kind of molecule by molecule overhaul by external machinery, or some augmentation of the body's own repair mechanisms, it's all fine as far as the second law is concerned. You're just going to have to pay the price in energy, and so increase the entropy of the universe as a whole. Figuring out how to get either of these approaches to curing aging to work is a bit more tricky though. :)
     
  10. GenMarshall

    GenMarshall Night Elven Ghost Agent

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    I hate to butcher Dune, but....

    The energy must flow!
     
  11. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Deity

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    Indeed. Also, Lebron would probably look younger if he just shaved.
     
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  12. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    I'm just pointing out the extreme diminishing returns curve, which we agree on, but I wanted to emphasize early. There are oodles of things that are 'wise' to do, absolutely. And those not only improve ones normal life but also increase the odds that Cake will make it over the finish line. But Cake's OP was about the intense things he could do, and I took him at his word. That said, if he's not willing to target 7+ vegetable servings a day and incorporate exercise and stretching into his life ... well, then there was no intense mindset (QED.
    I have a Schrödinger's agreement here. The risk profiles are only going to get better. And also, if you pop on one, then the mind can be focused during the lifelong learning process. If you have Huntington's, you'll be more alert to Huntington's interventions as they come online and you know which target to focus on. But on the other hand, just knowing could drastically shorten your lifespan. I've never gotten the commercial tests, but I likely will eventually.

    Again, Cake was asking for intense options. Regularly popping $200 onto the best commercial science available would be useful with the right mental state. Still won't get him anywhere near the finish line, but it's a chance that it will buy time
    It's true. Conversely, there is no solution superior to bringing the research forward in time, if one's goal is to actually cure aging in time for themselves. But yeah, there's a psychological difference between my "creating the groundwork technologies" and "doing research where there's a pressing need" (e.g., Huntington's vs Alzheimer's). Knowing I'm not just helping myself does motivate me, I will grant.

    And if you're assisting in an area where there's a large need (or future need) then the fact that you're doing good for other people would provide some of the psychological support. Lower down on the totem pole of intensity would be 'get as rich as possible', betting that alternatives will be available for purchase before you need them (or lump-sum funding options to get them over the hump). I've engaged in both strategies (funding the science and amassing wealth), and while I cannot prove my intuitions, I'm reporting them. But, I enjoy charity more than I enjoy earning money, so YMMV. It's money that's needed, though, and if one is asking for intense options, then never take the eye off the ball.

    Given the OP feedback on the thread though, I have no idea how many people he has on the Ignore Feature. And also, he might be interested in simple (but 'intense') options that are actually longshots. If so, then following Liz Parrish, a CEO who's genetically modifying herself might be the thing to do. She did the thing mentioned in my last paragraph - 'got rich' then 'funded a longshot'.


    It's a 3 minute video. She obviously has longer talks and interviews out there.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
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  13. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    For most individuals supporting life extending research, it is a zero sum game. Giving "here" means not giving or giving less "there" and one doesn't even know if such giving is on the right path. It is just supporting people and keeping them employed. Might it not be more impactful to give those same dollars and effort towards extending the life span of the impoverished living now? Supporting future tech is interesting and perhaps beneficial in some future, but an equal amount of dollars feeding or educating people who otherwise would not get them seems more beneficial and would have a definite impact rather than a speculative one.
     
  14. Moriarte

    Moriarte Immortal

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    Somewhere along the line arise philosophical, economical issues of having too many people. Imagine, in few hundred years the ageing is significantly slowed down. Btw, “curing ageing” is just a silly bait term, as “curing” ageing would contradict known laws of physics. The universe is going to end, as such human life isn’t infinite either. But lets say we slow it down. What happens is we quickly overpopulate Earth, so, unless we have an option to terraform and colonise nearby planets and/or introduce severe restrictions on birth of children, the whole “longevity” thing is going to be a disaster, as Earth cannot practically sustain beyond a certain number of human species. Then again, the ongoing treatment is probably going to be so expensive, only a few dozen people are going to be able to afford it, and I’m not sure these people won’t create some sort of elitist club to keep such treatment “in the family”.
     
  15. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Deity

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    I'm fine with not having children. And you would die long before the universe ends, even though it isn't proven that that would even happen.

    Why? There are a million ways you can that aren't age-related. It's only a matter of time until something happens. Immortality isn't plausible. Living your existence as if your body is in your twenties is what I'm interested in.
     
  16. Imaus

    Imaus King

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    'Curing' ageing doesn't mean we're immortal.

    It means that we don't have to spend decades as deprecate old people who are stuck to wheelchairs or tanks. We've made great strides in our lifespan, now it's time to smooth out the healthspan. It's unethical, I'll say, to make every human being look forward to the absolute decay of old age for such a long time to begin with.

    We're still going to die in our 70s, 80s, 90s. Something with fail. An organ, or a sickness, will still get us. Cancers. Strokes. Pneumonia. Hopefully not Dementia, that's another thing we should gun to fix.

    But at least people will look better and lead more active lives for a few more decades before they croak. There's nothing wrong with that.

    Nor is it going to be some expensive, ongoing treatment. From what I've seen and read, from right before the pandemic, it was a sort of solution? dealing with the Telomeres, and even then they just reverted to a stage recorded five or so years prior. But it's a start.
     
  17. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Maybe after the next world war.
    Human life is cheap, really, since there's a near endless supply of more.
     
  18. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Deity

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    As simple question:
    Did you wanted to know the current state of development on ageing ?
    And is that about mainly a more healthy vital life-span ?
     
  19. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    As I mentioned upthread, this effort is in the 'selfish' aspect of my budget: it's the same budget that allows me to see a movie, tip a waiter, or buy Girl Guide cookies from a friend. The work in this area is expected to benefit me and to benefit the people I care about. If I cared only about helping people, I'd not rent movies, I'd forgo my tip to donate to malaria, and I'd not buy Girl Guide cookies but give to malaria. You have loved ones that will benefit from the progress here I am trying to fund, and there's no amount of kale I can eat that will help them.

    I get your point about efficiency, and it's a good one that's worthy of consideration! But we also have to remember scale, aging contributes to about 100k people dying daily after a decade of degradation. Just compare the scale to covid-19 and the relative effort we put into either.

    I certainly do think that there are leisure activities whose budgets should be questioned, with regards to poverty-related death*, but no one appreciates when I question their new car purchase, their vacation, or their early viewing of WW84 in terms of zero-sum choices. Isn't it weird that I mention Huntington's (or aging) and people then want to talk about malaria, but we have thread after thread about buying a new video game and na da? Psychologically, we budget our spending weirdly, and my efforts here are earmarked as selfish-but-altruistic. Like, I dunno, saving for my kids education.

    There's a longer discussion about giving not being zero-sum, because there are too many styles of giving that create compounding benefits and too many styles of giving that do not. But, that might be beyond the thread.
     
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  20. Manfred Belheim

    Manfred Belheim Moaner Lisa

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    I think the obsession with wanting to remain in your 20s forever is a lot less healthy than simply accepting the aging process. Life shouldn't be about acting like you're in your 20s forever anymore than it should be about acting like you're a child forever.
     
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