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Aging Discovery Yields Nobel Prize

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the i'm-still-getting-older-here dept.

Medicine 187

An anonymous reader writes This year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to three scientists who have solved a major problem in biology: how the chromosomes can be copied in a complete way during cell divisions and how they are protected against degradation. The Nobel Laureates have shown that the solution is to be found in the ends of the chromosomes, called the telomeres, and in an enzyme that forms them."

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Sooo (-1, Offtopic)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643643)

So can I be immortal yet? Or is it like Highlander, there can only be one?

Re:Sooo (0, Offtopic)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643675)

So can I be immortal yet? Or is it like Highlander, there can only be one?

Fight ya for it.

Re:Sooo (-1, Troll)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643703)

Gee, a way to keep retiring invalids alive longer. That's exactly what we need.

Re:Sooo (2, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643745)

actually, the number of retiring people who are invalids is statistically insignificant when considering load on earth's resources. the major problem is people just like you. so if you could kindly "take one for the team", so to speak, and better yet snuff a couple of your friends before you check out, we the remaining population will be most grateful.

Re:Sooo (0, Offtopic)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643921)

Actually, the imbalance between those retiring and those working is going to result in the collapse of the structures that support modern civilization, just like the excessive work force the baby boom represented created a dramatic surplus that led to our decadent lifestyle in the first place. There is no problem with earths resources... they are abundant and far in excess of what we need. The problem is in the human resources which are lacking.

Re:Sooo (2, Interesting)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643999)

That's the cycle. The baby boomers retire, the supporting population is to small to sustain them, the world gets flung into chaos for a few decades and/or we learn to deal, the boomers start dying off, there is another period of prosperity because the future generations have learned to be efficient, future generations slowly for get how to be efficient as it's no longer required to support a large aged population, future generations start having multitudes of children, cycle starts over.

Re:Sooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644315)

You forgot:

1. Supporting population too small to sustain retired population.
2. Chaos.
3. Invent Soylent Green.
4. ??????
5. Profit.

I'm pretty sure 4 involves "Soylent Green is people"

Re:Sooo (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645745)

That's an optimistic view. I wonder if the Romans felt the same way...

Re:Sooo (1)

jbacon (1327727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644129)

It's a good thing we'll have all those robots to do all our work for us, then!

Re:Sooo (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644471)

Boomer Chow is made from real Boomers?

Re:Sooo (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645297)

Yes, robots to eat the old people. A percentage is used to power the robots, the rest is automatically processed into Soylent Green. http://www.pinktentacle.com/2009/08/video-rescue-robot-does-not-eat-people/ [pinktentacle.com] http://scifiwire.com/2009/07/report-military-robots-ea.php [scifiwire.com]

Re:Sooo (2, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643715)

We need to remove the copy protection first, then there will be many.

Re:Sooo (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645433)

Copy protection... are you talking about the pill & condoms?

Re:Sooo (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643775)

Can you imagine being immortal like Duncan, and being buried alive? Assuming the soil was to hard to be clawed through, it would be an awful way to spend an eternity.

Re:Sooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29643805)

Better than being dead.

Re:Sooo (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643827)

Better than being dead.

You really think so? I tend to think that there are certain fates that are worse than death.

Re:Sooo (2, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644061)

New slashdot poll?

Re:Sooo (1)

eric-x (1348097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644785)

what options should be listed?

Re:Sooo (3, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644075)

Sorry for the reply to myself. If you have never read "I have no mouth, and I must scream", it is very applicable. It is a classic of the science fiction genre, and a well written dystopian story.

This is the only link I could find. I know I have seen it in others...
http://web.archive.org/web/20070227202043/http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/classics/classics_archive/ellison/ellison1.html [archive.org]

Re:Sooo (1)

Kostya (1146) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644667)

*shudder*

I remember reading that in High School. It freaked me out then, and it freaks me out now!

Re:Sooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644087)

No, just no.
I'd rather spend eternity thinking and clawing than not existing at all.
There is absolutely no other way about it, you either are or aren't.

In before religion of course, always with the ghost stories and after life.
And i wish it was true, i'd rather spend eternity in heaven or hell (probably the latter) than not exist at all, but i'm not getting my hopes up.

Re:Sooo (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644267)

For instance, being immortal but still aging [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Sooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645453)

Well since we [i]don't know what death is like[/i] I'd say that that is a pretty uninformed statement.

Re:Sooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644447)

First best is to never have been born. Second best is to die soon.

Re:Sooo (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643829)

Can you imagine being immortal like Duncan, and being buried alive? Assuming the soil was to hard to be clawed through, it would be an awful way to spend an eternity.

Nothing is too hard to claw through given enough time.

Oh shi... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644035)

Who is that? There is only one. And he is not Duncan.

c:subdue

Re:Sooo (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644527)

Rosencrantz: I mean, one thinks of it like being alive in a box. One keeps forgetting to take into account the fact that one is dead, which should make all the difference, shouldn't it? I mean, you'd never *know* you were in a box, would you? It would be just like you were asleep in a box. Not that I'd like to sleep in a box, mind you. Not without any air. You'd wake up dead for a start, and then where would you be? In a box. That's the bit I don't like, frankly. That's why I don't think of it. Because you'd be helpless, wouldn't you? Stuffed in a box like that. I mean, you'd be in there forever, even taking into account the fact that you're dead. It isn't a pleasant thought. Especially if you're dead, really. Ask yourself, if I asked you straight off, "I'm going to stuff you in this box. Now, would you rather be alive or dead?" naturally, you'd prefer to be alive. Life in a box is better than no life at all, I expect. You'd have a chance, at least. You could lie there thinking, "Well, at least I'm not dead. In a minute somebody is going to bang on the lid, and tell me to come out."

Re:Sooo (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644551)

Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood was buried alive at least twice - once for a very long time under London, the other time he was embedded in concrete. You'd go mad, I'm sure.

Re:Sooo (4, Informative)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643777)

Yes, you can be immortal if you want. But part of the problem is that, in order to achieve immortality, you have to keep adding guanines to your telomeres. The problem with that, is that it gives you cancer,... ;-)

Re:Sooo (2, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645055)

Yes, you can be immortal if you want. But part of the problem is that, in order to achieve immortality, you have to keep adding guanines to your telomeres. The problem with that, is that it gives you cancer,... ;-)

I think I would gladly take cancer if I was assured it was not going to kill me due to being immortal ;}

Re:Sooo (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644279)

How in the hell is a joke about immortality in a thread about a discovery about aging offtopic?

The joke wasn't particularly funny - obvious and all that - but it's certainly on topic.

Good find (3, Insightful)

MistrX (1566617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643693)

It's great news however how are we going to solve the population crisis when the Earth gets too small?

I always knew I was going to be 512 years old before I die. :]

Re:Good find (2, Funny)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643739)

What, you live in binary years? So, you'll die when you're 0x200?

Re:Good find (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29643881)

Naw, he's planning on moving to Mercury. He'll be 512 years old, but it will only be 2.6 * 10^9 seconds.

Re:Good find (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643747)

Well of course the wealthy elite will be allowed to breed and live longer, while the serfs will be culled at regular intervals, through war, etc.

Business as usual, really. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Re:Good find (2, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644177)

breed and live longer

There's the important phrase. As long as you don't breed, there is no economic problem with your living forever. Good news for Slashdot denizens, not such good news for Catholics.

Re:Good find (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644473)

You forget the wealthy don't like to get their hands dirty and they like to believe they are better than someone else. If the poor / middle class never existed they would be killed off by those with more power then them. There are some things you just can't get away from.

Re:Good find (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645445)

No, I'm not saying kill them off. Someone needs to clean the loo. Just manage their numbers so they don't become too much of a bother, wot eh?

Re:Good find (1)

rastilin (752802) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643813)

Technology will continue to make food production cheaper. We haven't even expanded into the oceans and large cities like Tokyo are still fairly rare on the earth's surface. We might have to give up some luxury foods for more efficiently produced goods. But I doubt that will be too crushingly widespread. More importantly; as people get wealthier the amount of children they have drops down, for example I am an only child and so is my cousin.

Beyond that; there's plenty of room among the stars.

Re:Good find (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644083)

So am I, my wife, and our son.

Re:Good find (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645251)

More importantly; as people get wealthier the amount of children they have drops down, for example I am an only child and so is my cousin.

And some people never have any children, such as my parents.

Re:Good find (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645493)

"as people get wealthier the amount of children they have drops down, for example I am an only child and so is my cousin."

In the short term. In the longer term, as people get older and there are fewer young people in the workforce, you get a situation like is happening in Japan [wikipedia.org] . It's not happening here in the US quite yet due to an influx from Mexico and a different culture, but it's still something to think about.

Re:Good find (2, Interesting)

dword (735428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643913)

Some say it got small a long time ago, because it can support around 500.000 humans at the rate we're "eating" its resources.
Source [youtube.com] .

Re:Good find (3, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644179)

If that number were anywhere close to accurate, we would have massive amounts of starvation across the globe, considering the current population is more than 12,000 times the number you provided for the theoretical max population.

Re:Good find (5, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644403)

It's also worth pointing out that the starvation we do have is not for lack of food production.

Re:Good find (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645263)

Norman Borlaug [xrl.us] singlehandedly saved the world from starvation due to food production.

(An exaggeration, but a slight one.)

Re:Good find (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645271)

The earth can only support 500 humans?

Re:Good find (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643925)

Less reproduction.

Of course that should be happening anyway, whether or not we achieve artificially increased lifespans.

Solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644783)

There already is less reproduction. Most developed countries have a negative population growth rate. Their population grows due to immigration.

Re:Good find (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643991)

I was planning on living to about 640 thousand years. Should be enough for anyone to do & see everything. Tom...

Re:Good find (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644639)

640 years should be long enough for anybody.

Re:Good find (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644961)

Expect to get it via a combined immortality/sterilization jab.

Re:Good find (1)

LordAndrewSama (1216602) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645863)

by putting more money into space missions and eventually colonising the rest of the solar system, and then the galaxy, or by killing each other in numerous wars.

OK (5, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643719)

So they've changed the chromosome code to encode data using a lossless codec instead of a lossy one. Terrific, now we have to put up with people moaning about the lack of FLAC encoding in their music AND genes.

Thanks a bunch, stupid scientists.

Behind the times. (0, Offtopic)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643741)

In Korea, only old people have chromosomal degradation in cell replication.

I would settle for... (5, Interesting)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643877)

I would settle for being put to death at 85 to keep population under control, if it meant my bones, mussels and organs didn't age. One of the worst thing about watching someone get old is to see their self reliance taken away and needing someone to help them into and out of the bath, change their diaper, feed them and put them to bed. THE worst thing is realizing someday it could and probably will happen to you.

It's sad but you start off with needing someone to look after you and that's how it ends, if you live that long.

Re:I would settle for... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29643905)

I would hate to have my mussels age too. They really are better fresh.

Re:I would settle for... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29643935)

One of the worst thing about watching someone get old is to see their self reliance taken away and needing someone to help them into and out of the bath, change their diaper, feed them and put them to bed.

Speak for yourself.

I had to change my kids' diapers. Turnabout is fair play.

I, for one, look forward to being a burden to my family and making them change my diaper.

Re:I would settle for... (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644595)

I, for one, look forward to being a burden to my family and making them change my diaper.

I'm sure you're probably being sarcastic, but the truth is when that happens most children put their parents in old age homes where the parent has to share a room with one TV and listen to people screaming all night and potentially be abused by the staff, which seems to be coming out more and more these days.

Speak for yourself (5, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643961)

There was a story out the other day saying that 50% of the people being born now in developed countries will reach age 100.

So Speak for yourself if you want to jump off a bridge at 85. I work with several incredibly bright people who are in their mid 70's who still travel the world. With the advent of information technology we can even do our work without being physically active, just a computer and internet access.

By the time I turn 85 in the 2050's, it will be the new 55! I'll race you to the top of the mountain.

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644475)

You're right.

I would definitely love to live longer then 100 years, but consider what would happen if a person could live indefinitely. they'd have to have some pile of savings to support themselves, they'd have to have a pile of people in the supporting generation to support them or they'd have to continue to work as long as you were alive.

As it is now if someone with, what I consider, average financial skills with an average career works for 45 years, retires at 65 and doesn't die until 100, even if they were in good physical shape, they'd most likely be running low on funds to support themselves. I'm sure someone with better financial skills and the same average career could support themselves longer, but funds will run out and investments will sour eventually. I take my Dad as an example, he's works for the Canadian forces for the last 40ish years and is suppose to retire in the next year or so. However with the current market decline most of his retirement savings have been obliterated. Sure he'll survive, but there won't be very many cruises in his future. Another example, My Grandfather recently deceased, worked as a pharmacist until he was 75 at which point he sold his drugstore. He predicted he had enough in savings to support himself until he was in his late 90's. That prediction was drastically reduced when the market crashed.

Re:Speak for yourself (2, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644833)

Once people start living to be 1,000 or so then it begins to influence behavior in many ways. Things that have an acceptable risk now become absurdly dangerous. Over time, nearly everyone you know who dies does so from some tragic accident. Things like drinking and driving, motorcycles, small planes, crossing a busy street against the light, etc. all become too risky.
The minimum age for voting, driving, drinking all go way up. We're all just skulls full of mush at 21 and have no business making important decisions. (The age for enlistment in the armed forces of course stays the same, as nobody else would actually do it.)

General health care becomes much more important, as does nutrition and controlling obesity. Smoking of course is right out. This is only scratching the surface, but everything takes on a longer-term view, and no doubt ultimately we're better off for it.

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645661)

I work with several incredibly bright people who are in their mid 70's who still travel the world.

My next-door neighbors are in their mid-80s. He just recently gave up farming, and she's having a great time writing articles for travel magazines. They go to their condo in Hawaii for a couple of months each year, and just left to take an RV cross-country.

My other next-door neighbors recently passed away. Their minds were sharp, but your body tends to give out when you're in your late 90s.

I'm really hoping that it's something in the water.

Re:I would settle for... (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644111)

You don't see the health 85-year-olds because they are out doing things. They don't just sit in front of the TV and waste away. Okay, many of them do. But the ones that are physically fit are out there as well. Just saw an 82 year old that still works 6 hours a day (don't know how many days a week) at Walmart. He said he'll quit when he's dead, and I believe him.

Over-population is going to be a problem with no easy solutions, but why put to death the 82 year old contributing member of society (just because of his age), when there are so many younger people that will never contribute to society?

Re:I would settle for... (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644135)

Right. You say that now, but when you turn 85, we'd have to send out an enforcer to consummate the contract.

(And don't even bring up Logan's Run. The last thing I want to imagine is looking up the robes of a gaggle of 85-year-olds, levitating skyward to their deaths.)

Re:I would settle for... (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644509)

(And don't even bring up Logan's Run.

Drat foiled again.

aging model like movie "The Hunger" (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644525)

Youthful until the very end, then decline quickly.

Re:aging model like movie "The Hunger" (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644605)

Yeah, I could settle for that

Re:I would settle for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644861)

I would settle for being put to death at 85 to keep population under control, if it meant my bones, mussels and organs didn't age.

I'm reminded of Logan's Run. [imdb.com]

Re:I would settle for... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645043)

I would settle for being put to death at 85 to keep population under control, if it meant my bones, mussels and organs didn't age.

I suspect you'd feel differently about that when you're actually 85 and still in perfect health. Still, if an arbitrary age-limit can be set, who says it has to be 85, or will stay 85, or be 85 for everyone?

The world of Logan's Run [wikipedia.org] (movie: Logan's Run [wikipedia.org] ) wasn't all that great for everyone...

old news (4, Informative)

Tim4444 (1122173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643907)

The summary makes this sound like a recent discovery but this has been known for some time. Also, it has more to do with cell aging than human aging. It's very important in cancer research since abnormal telomere activity is one of the factors in making cancer cells immortal (so to speak). They mention this in TFA. BTW, senescence is (naturally) programmed cell death:

Most normal cells do not divide frequently, therefore their chromosomes are not at risk of shortening and they do not require high telomerase activity. In contrast, cancer cells have the ability to divide infinitely and yet preserve their telomeres. How do they escape cellular senescence? One explanation became apparent with the finding that cancer cells often have increased telomerase activity. It was therefore proposed that cancer might be treated by eradicating telomerase. Several studies are underway in this area, including clinical trials evaluating vaccines directed against cells with elevated telomerase activity.

Re:old news (2, Insightful)

ashtophoenix (929197) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644057)

I agree that the article makes it sound recent and I got misled too before reading TFA. But can you explain why you differentiate between cell aging and human aging? Isn't human aging a consequence of cell aging?

Re:old news (3, Insightful)

herring0 (1286926) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644395)

From what I recall of genetics, the cellular aging is (partially) what leads to shorter life spans and increased age related problems in clones. If you are cloning an animal it is kind of like making a copy of a copy since the telomeres are actually a part of the chromosomes they are transferred into the new host.

This leads to the telomeres being extended far beyond their 'normal' lifespan and you end up with all kinds of abnormalities that usually wouldn't be present until the subject is much older even though they still look young.

If nothing else, this discovery should help in the research of cloned animals and livestock, etc. But take all this with a grain of salt...I've not been involved with genetics for the better part of 12 years.

Re:old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644519)

Cell aging is part of the story of human aging, but not the only part.

Why do we get grey/silver hair when we get older? It's an evolved trait to indicate age/maturity. Other traits we associate with aging are likely the consequence of most of our ancestors being reproductively dead by that time. (Evolution doesn't care what happens to the body after it stops reproducing.)

There are animals which are thought to essentially not age, such as some turtles/tortoises and some trees, but they have the unusual characteristic where the elderly are more succesful breeders than the young which has lead to evolution "caring" for what happened to them as they age.

Single celled organisms are reproductively viable as long as they exist and as a consequence have evolved to not age. Single cells from a larger organism do age because the body they make does.

Re:old news (5, Insightful)

KraftDinner (1273626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644093)

I'm not sure where you are seeing that the summary sounds like it's a recent discovery. The only thing would be that the scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize this year, which is true. And yes, you're right, this discovery is not recent. Of course, it sometimes takes decades for people to be awarded a Nobel Prize for work they did decades ago.

Re:old news (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645017)

Implication by omission. Even having heard something about telomeres a couple of years ago, based on the summary alone, I thought they might have made some new discovery on the subject more recently. You have to get about halfway through TFA before the actual date of the award-winning discovery (late 1984) is specified.

Re:old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644105)

The above is perhaps the dumbest post ever in the history of the internets. Of course this is old news. The people who discovered and characterized telomeres/telomerase twenty-odd years ago just won the Nobel Prize for it. That's the news.

Re:old news (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645015)

The summary makes this sound like a recent discovery but this has been known for some time. Also, it has more to do with cell aging than human aging.

That's kind of funny. At first, I read the title as the discovery itself was aging, and came to the correct conclusion if it not being a new discovery, despite that being a clear misunderstanding of the title.

CRC16 or CRC32? (-1, Offtopic)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#29643989)

Hmm, I wonder what algorithm is that Telumere and whether it is look-up tables based...

Bio 101 (1)

bondiblueos9 (1599575) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644001)

I thought I remembered learning about this four years ago in my introductory college biology class, if not sooner. Does the article not address the actual new discoveries (I did RTFA), or did their work just make it into textbooks and common knowledge before they had a chance to perfect, formalize, be recognized, and win a Nobel prize for it?

Re:Bio 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644137)

The Nobel committee typically waits for several years after a discovery to gain some historical perspective on its importance.

Re:Bio 101 (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644297)

Nobel prizes are never awarded for new work, they are awarded for work you did sufficiently far in the past that it has been extensively peer reviewed and tested and is now accepted as being one of the bits of scientific knowledge that everyone in the field knows. This one is being awarded for work originally published around 1980 (as it says in TFA). Others have now tested this the published results in sufficient detail that it is now something that almost everyone with any awareness of biology knows.

A Nobel Prize is not like a 'best paper in conference' award. You don't get it for new and exciting theories, you get it for theories that have withstood careful examination and testing. If the LHC finds a Higgs Boson then Peter Higgs will almost certainly get a Nobel, for the work that he did predicting it back in 1964.

Really old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644003)

I know I saw something about the degenerative effects of aging being brought about by telomeres breaking off during cellular division in a Popular Science or Discover Magazine around ten years ago.

Obviously (1)

casals (885017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644283)

That's evolutionary checksum for you. :D

Switch it on, switch it off (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644317)

It is certainly beginning to look like aging is less a series of complex interactions and more like a fairly simple "on/off" switch. Granted that we don't have the whole puzzle figured out but this discovery does not point to a massively complex series of systems that cause aging. if anything it seems to suggest that we only need to get good at inserting DNA into specific points in a cell in order to stop or reverse aging.

Why even bother with things like HRT when you can just tell people's cells to stop aging. Personally I have always found it odd that an organism with nearly unlimited access to energy still grows old and dies. It seems to me that death should only happen when the organism does not have access to enough energy to stave off entropy. Again, it looks like a kill switch to me and it looks designed to be such.

Re:Switch it on, switch it off (1)

Entropy2016 (751922) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644895)

Life doesn't revolve around making the lives of individual organisms comfortable or convenient. It revolves around the ability of the species genes to propagate. Having immortal organisms would actually hinder genetic variation and hurt the species. If an organism did stumble upon an unlimited source of energy, the specie's survival is best served if that organism still eventually dies and it's then the energy source is utilized by offspring, who in turn later die too.

It serves a purpose that's somewhat analogous to Presidential term limits.
Evolution and immortality wouldn't mix well.

Re:Switch it on, switch it off (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645557)

So evolution finds a state where the organism can live indefinitely and it still must die? That seems self-defeating from a biological point of view. The organism adapts until it is optimally suited to the environment. It isn't clear to me why that MUST include dying.

Then again maybe the designer made aging relatively easy to turn off so that we can do so when we're ready.

Re:Switch it on, switch it off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644933)

>>Why even bother with things like HRT when you can just tell people's cells to stop aging. Personally I have always found it odd that an organism with nearly unlimited access to energy still grows old and dies.

The purpose of life isn't to live forever, it is for your genes to live forever, and the best way for that to happen is through multiple generations. The time it takes between generations is variable, but as inevitable as it is important.

Reader (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644333)

the solution is to be found in the ends of the chromosomes

The solution is left as a exercise for the reader.

Maybe we are living too long already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644367)

People used to have a much lower life expectancy long time ago.

Maybe cancer is the innevitable result of us trying to live too long, overpopulating/lack of diversity of genes?

If we push the telomerase activity higher, I'm afraid the result will not be immortality, but cancer.

I find it ironic how death is a part of life - litterally.

Sure I'd love to be immortal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644623)

...just not the way Henrietta Lacks did.

Where are we with Viral Immortality? (2, Interesting)

Adustust (1650351) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644641)

I was actually wondering how viral technology was evolving. I'm far from a biologist, so correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't we able to reverse engineer and create our own viruses in laboratories now? Doesn't a virus take over your cell and reprogram it with the code wrapped up in the virus itself? It starts making the cell pump out tons of new viruses which ultimately bursts the cell and kills it. How much more difficult would it be to create a virus with your DNA from saved blood at age 20 (say your 60 now), program it to hijack the cell and reprogram it with the new DNA? There would have to be a few modifications made, for example, making it invisible to your immune system, coding the virus to die after reprogramming the cell, etc. Then just fill up an IV and let them flow into your body. I'm sure there's a huge difference from the kind we can engineer versus the type I'm suggesting, but is it possible? Or would the temporary pause of cell function during the reprogramming phase kill you?

Re:Where are we with Viral Immortality? (1)

wurp (51446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645319)

A very interesting idea, but...

I'm not a biologist either, but mammalian viruses are all RNA, afaik, and "additive" not replacements. I.e. they just make the cell do new things, they can't make it not do old things (apoptasis). Even retroviruses add more to the genome; they don't replace the genome.

This is all per my biology recall supplemented with Wikipedia.

Re:Where are we with Viral Immortality? (0)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645657)

Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Where are we with Viral Immortality? (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645939)

Yes this is called 'Gene Therapy' and one of the big issues is getting a virus to place the DNA inside the chromosome in the correct spot.

If you were immortal, (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644753)

In another replay I posted,

As it is now if someone with, what I consider, average financial skills with an average career works for 45 years, retires at 65 and doesn't die until 100, even if they were in good physical shape, they'd most likely be running low on funds to support themselves. I'm sure someone with better financial skills and the same average career could support themselves longer, but funds will run out and investments will sour eventually.

so I'd like to know, How would you support yourself indefinitely?

Re:If you were immortal, (1)

Adustust (1650351) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645597)

If you were in good physical shape and running low on funds with a modest retirement, I think you would do what most old people in that situation would do. Work at Wal-mart.

Live long, don't age.. (1)

DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644909)

I'm sure there are going to be the usual 'if we lived longer civilization would collapse' arguments, forgetting that if I can live into my 100's.. I'm going to be aging a lot slower, hence working a lot longer as well. If I have the body of a 50 y/o and I'm 100, why would I stop working? The whole point would be to keep busy and active throughout my longer, healthier life.

Flashback 2004 (0)

besalope (1186101) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644951)

We studied this back in my High School Genetics course... we knew all about Telomeres/Telomerase back then and scientists were already working on creating synthetic Telomerase... Glad to see the International community is finally catching up 5 years later.
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