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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday January 13 2015, @04:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the ought-to-be-enough-for-anybody dept.

The Guardian has an interesting article on the current quest sweeping Silicon Valley to disrupt death and the $1m prize challenging scientists to “hack the code of life” and push human lifespan past its apparent maximum of about 120 years. Hedge Fund Manager Joon Yun's Palo Alto Longevity Prize, which 15 scientific teams have so far entered, will be awarded in the first instance for restoring vitality and extending lifespan in mice by 50%:

Billionaires and companies are bullish about what they can achieve. In September 2013 Google announced the creation of Calico, short for the California Life Company. Its mission is to reverse engineer the biology that controls lifespan and “devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives”. Though much mystery surrounds the new biotech company, it seems to be looking in part to develop age-defying drugs. In April 2014 it recruited Cynthia Kenyon, a scientist acclaimed for work that included genetically engineering roundworms to live up to six times longer than normal, and who has spoken of dreaming of applying her discoveries to people. “Calico has the money to do almost anything it wants,” says Tom Johnson, an earlier pioneer of the field now at the University of Colorado who was the first to find a genetic effect on longevity in a worm.

Why might tech zillionaires choose to fund life extension research? Three reasons reckons Patrick McCray, a historian of modern technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. First, if you had that much money wouldn’t you want to live longer to enjoy it? Then there is money to be made in them there hills. But last, and what he thinks is the heart of the matter, is ideology. If your business and social world is oriented around the premise of “disruptive technologies”, what could be more disruptive than slowing down or “defeating” ageing? “Coupled to this is the idea that if you have made your billions in an industrial sector that is based on precise careful control of 0s and 1s, why not imagine you could extend this to the control of atoms and molecules?,” he says.

 
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13 2015, @07:55PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13 2015, @07:55PM (#134510)

    The same factors behind aging are responsible for Alzheimer's, cancer, forms of heart disease, etc. Treat them [wikipedia.org], and people will be reaching "natural maximal life spans" and living healthier than old people have lived in the past. Living 120+ or 1,000+ years is just a consequence of treating the diseases of aging.

  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Tuesday January 13 2015, @09:53PM

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Tuesday January 13 2015, @09:53PM (#134551) Journal

    Actually a cell must disable the limit on divisions (that is, programmed death) in order to become a cancer cell. So most likely the "cure" to ageing would not reduce, but rather advance cancer.

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13 2015, @10:57PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13 2015, @10:57PM (#134567)

      I have no problem with that. Statistically speaking, everyone will eventually get cancer, and everyone already has cancer or a cell that is partially on the path to becoming cancer. There are thousands of different kinds of cancer. So the final solution to cancer is something that can treat any kind of cancer at the level of individual faulty cells. Aka a nanobot that can destroy cells or fix DNA transcription errors. Which can also be used to target other causes of aging, like the accumulation of intracellular waste.

      A couple of stopgaps to the true nanobot cancer killer are gene therapy targeting the exact mutation that causes one kind of cancer, or nanoparticles that deliver chemotherapy directly to cancer cells, avoiding damage to healthy cells.