"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Engineered negligible senescence

Engineered negligible senescence refers to the prevention of aging. His approach to develop anti-aging medicine is called strategies for engineered negligible senescence (SENS). This innovative concept is created by British biogerontologist Dr. Aubrey de Grey in 2002. He has a Ph.D from University of Cambridge and has worked in Cambridge’s Department of Genetics since 1992. Dr. De Grey also founded the Methuselah Mouse Price to award money to researchers who are able to extend the lifespan of mice considerably. It receives media attention from BBC, the New York Times and 60 Minutes. Four roundtables and two conferences were held in United States, England and Canada. While this notion is truly ambitious, at the same time, it receives many criticisms from biogerontologists around the world.

According to Dr. De Grey, there are seven causes of aging and also seven possible solutions to it. Cell loss is one of them. However, there are therapies such as growth factors and stem cell therapy that can be used to correct this process. A mutation in the nucleus of a cell can cause malfunction of the cell. It is harmless unless the mutation is cancerous. We would be able to cure it with whole-body interdiction of lengthening telomeres. Mitochondrial mutation is believed to be responsible for progressive cellular degeneration. The remedy would be to move the DNA for mitochondria into the nucleus. Then come cellular senescence which can be corrected by apoptosis and the replacement of healthy cells. There are also extracellular cross-links which are chemical bonds between structures within your body that become weak when you are older. The recovery method would be to develop small molecular enzymes to break links caused by sugar-bonding chemical links. Also, junk outside cells can be removed by improved phagocytosis. Lastly, junk inside the cells would be removed by adding new enzymes to lysosome.

Theory of engineered negligible senescence is significant for 21st century societies and the world because ever since the dawn of time man has wanted to live forever. ENS would allow you prolong your life to 1000 years old. Just imagine, you will have the ability to live 10 lifetimes longer. It would be a revolutionized change for the world population once this is achieved. As great as it sounds, there are, however, some drawbacks to it. Arguments against this rejuvenation therapy do exist. Two social arguments would be: curing aging would cause terrible overpopulation and therapy would only be available to the rich. A philosophical argument would be that it’s not natural to escape aging, it’s against the cycle of life and it’s playing God.

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