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Longevity Gene Found

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the you're-older-than-you've-ever-been dept.

Biotech 358

quixote9 writes "Calorie restriction while maintaining nutrient levels has long been known to dramatically increase life spans. Very different lab animals, from worms to mice, live up to 50% longer (or even more) on the restricted diets. However, so far, nobody has been able to figure out how this works. Scientists at the Salk Institute have found a specific gene in worms (there's a very similar one in people) that is directly involved in the longevity effect. That opens up the interesting possibility that doctors may someday be able to activate that gene directly and we can live long and prosper . . . without giving up chocolate."

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358 comments

dear slashdot, Am I racist? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18969783)

I don't like niggers but I don't show it, and act politely to them when I see them. However inside they just creep me out.

Am I racist?

Re:dear slashdot, Am I racist? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18969831)

yes

Re:dear slashdot, Am I racist? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18969989)

Yes. Almost as much so as the person who modded you funny.

Re:dear slashdot, Am I racist? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970063)

But it was funny. Get a sense of humor!

Earlier death (-1, Redundant)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#18969845)

Is it one of those genes that make you more likely to reach 100 but also make you more likely to die of a heart disease in your 40's? Seems like it's a rule when it comes to genetical reasons for longevity, the longer it allows you to live, the more likely it makes you to die young. No thanks.

Re:Earlier death (4, Interesting)

fsiefken (912606) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970001)

actually that is not the case, calorie restriction (CR) makes you live longer with a positive impact on your health - including heart diseases. the only issue is the social and psychological impact such a restrictive diet has on your life. the alternative is going on an alternate day diet, or using these longlivety genes turn-on's, like resveratol. these have non of the problems - instant extra 30 years!

Re:Earlier death (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970405)

"You can have my extended life gene when you pry it from my cold dead hands."

Seriously, if you want to extend life, ban fructose as a sweetener. Unlike regular sugar, fructose blocks the hormones that make you "feel full" so you continue eating and drinking (esp. soda pop). 2/3 of the population is overweight, and a LOT of those are obese. Of course, a fructose ban would result in lower sales of all junk foods (because you'll "feel full" sooner), so expect it to be fought by the manufacturers, who're just fattening you up fo the slaughter.

OTOH (4, Insightful)

Virtual_Raider (52165) | more than 6 years ago | (#18969847)

I am of two minds on this. I'd like to enjoy a longer lifespan than I would otherwise expect and I would want my loved ones (and everyone in the world for that matter) to have it too. But if according to the wikipedia we are well over SIX THOUSAND MILLION people alive at the moment, the world would find itself in a much worse position if we stopped dieing and clearing the way for younger generations.

Re:OTOH (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#18969915)

Don't worry about it. Market forces will make it such that only the richest 3% of the population can afford the treatment.

Re:OTOH (2, Interesting)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970053)

As long as there are gene sequencer machines on the market and people like me studying cell biology, don't worry, it'll be done in private residences. Switching on genes isn't so hard.

Re:OTOH (1)

lixee (863589) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970407)

I concur. Thomas Friedman was quoted as saying: "Capitalism eradicates poverty not mortality".

Re:OTOH (5, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970007)

Birth rates are already well below maintenance levels in most industrialized countries, and even China is set to see it's population peak soon due to the one child policy. The solution to the problem of too high growth is helping developing countries out of poverty.

We're maybe as little as a century away from actually seeing the worlds population shrinking unless we start increasing lifespans a lot faster than we have.

Re:OTOH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970083)

What is "Mainainence level"? Maintaining social security? Or maintaining rate of growth?

Re:OTOH (4, Informative)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970527)

What is "Mainainence level"? Maintaining social security? Or maintaining rate of growth?

Maintaining raw population, meaning a growth rate greater than or equal to zero. Many first-world nations (notably, Japan and much of Europe) have more people dying than being born, resulting in negative population growth.

In general, education level and availability of technology correlate negatively with birth rate, and this holds true both between countries and between socio-economic groups within countries.

Re:OTOH (2, Insightful)

Virtual_Raider (52165) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970089)

Wow, my first "flamebait" :P Totally undeserved if we judge by the responses I got, which by the way were exactly the kind of discussion I wanted to have. Oh well, enough whining. I know that population rates decline on industrialized countries, but they don't hold the bulk of the population anyway. China alone has over a billion people, yes, but India has another and they have no such policy. And neither do many of the developing countries. So unfortunately it just seems like the weight of the population is just going to shift even more towards the places where living standards aren't the greatest, which will make all the more difficult for them to improve their quality of life.

Re:OTOH (0, Troll)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970509)

"I know that population rates decline on industrialized countries"

You want a real flame - try the truth, like this:

The US is going to be among the worst offenders in contributing to over-population over the next 40 years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overpopulation [wikipedia.org]

During 2005-2050, nine countries are expected to account for half of the world's projected population increase: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, United States of America, Ethiopia, and China, listed according to the size of their contribution to population growth.

China, with 4 times the population, will grow less than the US.

Now keep in mind the US's environmental footprint (5% of the worlds' population, 26% of all energy consumption) - so as the US population more than doubles to 650 million, you're looking at some serious shortages.

Of course, there's always this "inconvenient truth" http://www.worldwatch.org/node/810 [worldwatch.org]

An estimated 65 % of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, leading to an annual loss of 300,000 lives and at least $117 billion in health care costs in 1999.

In 2002, 61 % of U.S. credit card users carried a monthly balance, averaging $12,000 at 16 % interest. This amounts to about $1,900 a year in finance charges--more than the average per capita income in at least 35 countries (in purchasing power parity).

A nation drowning in debt at all levels, addicted to junk food, junk credit, and junk science for its environmental "policies".

Its the truth, and its also flamebait :-)

Re:OTOH (1)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970203)

If "we" help the poor countries out of poverty and into a society like those of the industrialized nations where birth-rates pr. person are negative, would there still be food and raw materials on this planet left to run a society like that?

Re:OTOH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970493)

FEOY (for every one's information), the increase in population is not related to increase in birth rate, but decrease in death rate. It is a common myth that people are giving birth to too many children. It is the decrease in death rate that China's population is still increasing even though their birth rate has decreased from a long time. (It will decrease in time, when it will look like Europe - too many old people and not many children)

And yes, even then the solution is helping developing countries out of poverty.

Re:OTOH (4, Insightful)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970087)

(...) the world would find itself in a much worse position if we stopped dieing and clearing the way for younger generations.
Well, that's the thing, we won't stop dying - we'll only stop dying of old age. There's still plenty of accidents and murders to keep the population under control. Also, I'm pretty sure that if you could actually have eternal life, you'll get bored of it eventually and will top yourself given that nature's no longer doing the job for you. And I'll bet that would happen before your 200th birthday.

I'd like to enjoy a longer lifespan than I would otherwise expect
I guess not all long lives are the same - having the body of a 20 year old for 100 years instead of, well, one is one thing, having the body of a 150 year old who would normally have died 80 years ago for 100 years is quite another. So be careful what you wish for when you ask for longer lifespans. Make sure you read the fine print first :)

Re:OTOH (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970099)

There's still plenty of accidents and murders to keep the population under control.
And illnesses, sicknesses and the like. Forgot them, sorry - but they are important.

Re:OTOH (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970285)

I think the point the poster is making is that if we increase life span by say 50% then we are effectively increasing the population (in the long run) by 50%. Three people that live to 80 are the equivalent to 2 people that live to 120, 3 people soon to be living to 120 is a 50% increase in the population.

Re:OTOH (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970403)

Also, I'm pretty sure that if you could actually have eternal life, you'll get bored of it eventually and will top yourself given that nature's no longer doing the job for you. And I'll bet that would happen before your 200th birthday.

Either that, or after 200 years, they'll have figured out how to not be bored. Frankly, it's not that hard.

Population control, NOW! (4, Insightful)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970129)

It's not the drugs that are the problem, it's our never-ending population growth! The more land we turn into farmland, the more kids we have, that again will need to turn new land into farmland, or squeeze even more out of what is allready there to stay alive, and have more kids that needs more farmland... and so on, so forth...

Seriously, we know that we will crack the secrets to long life at one point or another. We know that we want to maintain a high standards of living, and achieve self-realiszation. We want there to be wild nature left. We want there to be more species that rats, cockroaches, dogs and cats living alongside us.

It doesn't take a genious to see that a major pieces in the puzzle that is our long-term survival is population control, and we need to enact it now. Global warming is a small piece in comparison.

To those who wish to endulge, I'd stornly reccomend Daniel Quinn's excellend books 'Ishmael [amazon.co.uk]', and 'The Story of B'.

Re:Population control, NOW! (4, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970431)

It doesn't take a genious to see that a major pieces in the puzzle that is our long-term survival is population control, and we need to enact it now.

We've been doing it since the dawn of time. It's called war.

Re:OTOH (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970349)

I guess it would be something of an effort to figure out. But is the lives of 6 billion people worth the effort to figure this problem out? Of course.

competing for food (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970411)

Wait 'till you're 80, pensions have long since been abandoned, and you have to compete for food with twenty year-olds who have chips in their heads, and no sense of what it means to slow down and enjoy life. Longer lifespans aren't such a nice prospect, in a capitalist culture.

Re:OTOH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970429)

Don't worry, there's probably a downside to this gene, otherwise evolution would have likely made it common place.

My guess is either:
* sterility (if you're starving, there's little point in reproducing)
* cancer or vulnerability to disease

Retirement age.. (4, Funny)

rf0 (159958) | more than 6 years ago | (#18969849)

If we do live longer to say 150 and you retire at say 70 would you really want to spend 80 years doing nothing..

Re:Retirement age.. (2, Insightful)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 6 years ago | (#18969869)

There's no way society would be able to afford that. If we all lived to 150, you'd see the retirement age raised to 100+.

That said, being retired doesn't mean you do nothing...

Retirement age = 63 in Finland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18969971)

Just to correct you - retirement age in Finland is 63.

Re:Retirement age.. (4, Insightful)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 6 years ago | (#18969977)

Well, "retirement age" is just a reflection of what point in your life you become:

1) able to financially support yourself for the rest of your life without continuing to work, and

2) possibly no longer valuable in the workforce (i.e. too expensive for the quality/quantity of work you can contribute)

Living longer would mean you need more money to support yourself in retirement, or that you need to delay retiring. The second point depends on what health state (and mental state) you're in at an older age.

Personally, I plan to retire as soon as possible - but there's no way I could support myself and wife/etc. for 80+ years on what I've saved to date!

MadCow.

Re:Retirement age.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970075)

The only way to support this if your networth generate more revenue than inflation and your _SPENDING_.

If I stay single and live the same fugal way that I am right now and work the next 6-7 year in a high paying job, I can do this at age 50.

Why would someone want to stop working? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970547)

Just stop working on jobs/things you don't like once you become financially secure enough. Better yet, start your own business or if that is too much stress just work what you like. That doesn't even have to be your field - could be charity or whatever.

Waiting around to die would suck.

Re:Retirement age.. (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970229)

If we do live longer to say 150 and you retire at say 70 would you really want to spend 80 years doing nothing..

What makes you think your government would allow you to retire at 70 if you lived to 150?

Re:Retirement age.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970539)

you mean 80 more years? rhetorical question really.

Gene sequence in hex is... (5, Funny)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 6 years ago | (#18969883)

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

(That is going to hurt my karma but I am still no bored of that joke...)

(OK, maybe a little over it)

Re:Gene sequence in hex is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970031)

+4 Funny?
Ouch, your poor karma.

Re:Gene sequence in hex is... (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970155)

You know, it would be even funnier if you had changed a digit or two, or swapped some...

Re:Gene sequence in hex is... (1)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970253)

Well, we know there must be two variants of the gene, one for long life and one not. We just need to find some "next-key" HD-DVDs to find the other the variant...

Re:Gene sequence in hex is... (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970237)

I hope this helps people realize that once a digital secret is out of the bag, it really is out of the bag.

Re:Gene sequence in hex is... (0, Offtopic)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970273)

I don't see it as out of the bag, I see it as free advertising to HD-DVD and digg

Think about the blanket coverage this number is getting, you couldn't pay for something like this.
How many people watching the normal news now know that HD-DVD is the high definition format that just wouldn't have known before?

The MPAA overlords must be really happy.
Who has most to gain by us "fighting the man" about this number?

ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970281)

If you don't know what Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2 are for, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If the name "Clarus" means nothing to you, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real [imageshack.us] Mac [imageshack.us] users [imageshack.us]. Keep your filthy, beige [imageshack.us] PC fingers to yourself.

Who would want to live forever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18969895)

Who would want to live more than say, 70 years? You don't want nurses to take you to toilet etc. because you're too old to be able to do that yourself. I say 70 years is enough.

Re:Who would want to live forever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18969965)

Yep. 70-80 years should be enough for anybody to get tired of life. If they discovered anything to life better (not longer)... that would be something interesting.

Good work. Not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18969899)

The longevity gene would be the one we DON'T need.

Today's society (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 6 years ago | (#18969905)

Give it a year or two and these'll be in pill form, no doubt. Interesting research though.

Re:Today's society (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18969937)

Great. Like we really need the Boomer generation hanging around for another 90 years.

Ponce de León still searching... (5, Insightful)

Door in Cart (940474) | more than 6 years ago | (#18969921)

Our current life expectancy is already putting such a burden on our social security system. When will people realize that quality of life != quantity of life? How is our great-grandkids' generation supposed to support millions of supercentenarians?

Re:Ponce de León still searching... (2, Funny)

yoprst (944706) | more than 6 years ago | (#18969985)

Don't worry! Goverments all around the world are already working on this problem. Lower prison terms, sensible immigration policies, and humane international policies are already there. More to come...

Re:Ponce de León still searching... (2, Funny)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970011)

How is our great-grandkids' generation supposed to support millions of supercentenarians?

Won't somebody please think of the great-grandchildren!?

Re:Ponce de León still searching... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970219)

OH JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, if you have double longevity you dont get infirm at 70 and live like a cabbage for another 90 years. your entire life scales up, so you'd get infirm at 140 and have 20 years as a leech, which aint much more than people have now.

Re:Ponce de León still searching... (1)

Angstroem (692547) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970257)

Our current life expectancy is already putting such a burden on our social security system. When will people realize that quality of life != quantity of life? How is our great-grandkids' generation supposed to support millions of supercentenarians?
Well, the point here is not to prolongue the life for the sake of staying merely alive, i.e. losing your mind and control over body functions, but instead staying *young*. What good is it to become 250 years old, when the last 180 years of that you spend in the clinic section of a retirement home not knowing what happened 5 minutes ago -- which is a good thing cause you don't remember that you just got new diapers cause you lost control over bladder and sphincter almost two centuries ago.

I wouldn't mind if my age would be biologically frozen at about 50 (I'm 35 now and I think that 15 years is about as fast as possible in developing such an anti-age cure) where I then have another 50-70 years of staying 50. If they can make it within 5 years, even better. As a 50-year-old becoming 100-120 I wouldn't be a burden on the social security system or medicare, as I will be still able to maintain a job -- or just retire and live self-sufficient after I accumulated enough money.

With a longer and healthier lifespan maybe the interest of humankind then changes back from the fast buck to things which are profitable to the entire race, like basic research (which might result in a useful product 50 years later), keeping this planet inhabitable, exploring the solar system and space, and spread the human race to some more planets.

not only do people live longer on calorie restrict (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970415)

they are also healthy and vibrant

so your calorie restricted 90 year old is like your uncalorie restricted 60 year old

in other words, you don't just extend lifespan, you extend the period of robust physical ability to continue working and earning a living

in a hypothetical society where these longevity genes were activated somehow in a large segment of the population, it wouldn't be crazy to imagine retirement ages of 90 or 100

Yes, "... without giving up chocolate." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18969945)

Yes, "... without giving up chocolate."

As someone who is self-unemployed, I wouldn't want to live a lot longer just to pay an additional 30-50 years of medical insurance premiums. Can't imagine what premiums would be after you passed 100-years old.

tinfoil response (5, Funny)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970005)

How long do we really want these worms to live? Till they become sentient long-lived invertebrate overlords?

Re:tinfoil response (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970163)

Well, since the longer they live, the slower they evolve, I wouldn't worry too much.

Re:tinfoil response (3, Funny)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970201)

I was just thinking that if we work on their size too, maybe they'll start producing spice and then space exploration will start getting really interesting.

Re:tinfoil response (1)

bodan (619290) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970469)

Nah, we need foldspace engines first, and a Butlerian jihad maybe. Spice is only useful for navigation, and we still have computers.

Trade-offs (1)

Immerial (1093103) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970061)

You know that there will be some sort of biological trade-off for this. Our bodies are complex systems and it is almost never a simple case of 'turn-this-gene-on-and everybody-lives-longer'. Since this seems to be related to diet, I can't imagine how bad things will turn out for the way some people eat now. We already have people that are obese without some longevity gene in the mix! (INAGBIPOOSD- INA geneticist but I play one on \.)

Re:Trade-offs (1)

robinvanleeuwen (1009809) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970503)

Offcourse when you are spouting things like:

INAGBIPOOSD- INA geneticist

people want to know what that means... :-)

I came as far as I Am Not A Geo Biologist (Information Politics Oriented Or... :-) )
So don't keep us in suspense...

CNN Did a story about this ... (1)

Bobosan (917446) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970107)

CNN did a special report about this a few weeks or month ago. There was a couple on there who' daily calorie count could not exceed 640 I think it was. They showed them eating tomato's for dinner along with something else, I think if was just leafy greens. Personally I could never eat that little. I only eat 2 meals a day, and sometimes skip my lunch, so I get most of my calories in one or two sittings. Even then, since I can't really cook, I either eat easily prepared food (Aka pizza rolls and hotpockets!) or grab something out on the way home. I probably only take in maybe 1600 calories, but it's the saturated fat that's going to kill me eventually. That's assuming smoking three packs a day doesn't kill me first. What was really interesting about that CNN program was they didn't talk about just living longer, they talked about improving the standard of living during your later years. After all, what goes is living another 50 years if you're strapped to an oxygen tank or bed bound? Speaking of, the moment some doctor tells me I have lung cancer, I'm going to do what the Duke did....grow gils and breathe like a fish ;)

Re:CNN Did a story about this ... (1)

knapper_tech (813569) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970171)

Something about the smoking really struck me as ironic. You could use smoking in place of eating to bump down your calory intake since smoking is effective for reducing hunger (I don't know the mechanism.) Kids in bad places do it to keep from feeling like they're starving all the time. I did it for a while in Kyoto when I was short on cash. 300yen worth of cigarettes is like 2000yen worth of food in terms of staying ahead of the hunger. Now...if only it was something other than cigarettes XD

Re:CNN Did a story about this ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970233)

There was a couple on there who' daily calorie count could not exceed 640 I think it was.
Still running DOS, huh? (But who'd need more than 640 cal., anyway?)

Re:CNN Did a story about this ... (1)

knapper_tech (813569) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970317)

lol...sue them. The US...FDA(?) decided that people would be too confused (after the laughable failure to convert to metric?) so they opted to drop the 'k' from kcal. It's usage is so ubiquitous that people in the states have to use the term "calorie" in place of "kcal" in order for 99% of people to know what they're talking about.

Furthermore, if suddenly the FDA decided labels should start carrying kcals, people would be confused into thinking that every meal would constitute hedonism. There would be environmentalist groups (not the respectable kind) shouting at congress to mandate the burning of fast-food for power generation following the technological advancement in the food industry that lead to a 1000X increase in energy density. You're talking about a nation that elected George Bush and Cheney...twice.

Re:CNN Did a story about this ... (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970301)

640 Calories is a rapid starvation diet. An adult could not survive very long on that. As a benchmark they got something like 1300 Calories a day in Auswitz, 1700 Calories is doing hard labour.

Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970109)

- You can not control life - NEVER! Even if you have all the money in the world you can not control your life.
 
- You should aim to become retired as soon as possible. Life is ment for living, not working.

Who Doesn't Wan't More Time? (5, Insightful)

knapper_tech (813569) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970119)

If I could get a few more years earlier in life while I still have gobs of energy and relatively no responsibilities... Suddenly four years for a degree wouldn't seem like a huge investment. A year of study abroad in Japan wouldn't be an issue. I might have two hobbies. Long term investments would make more sense. I would take more time to learn more things, aquire more skills, and experience a broader life.

In short, I think living longer would make it a lot easier to live sensibly. As it is, if I have to weight the risks of investing time or taking something I can do now, I end up taking the most courageous and risky courses possible.

I don't think it's a relative thing either. Not in the sense that, regardless of whatever time-span I had, I would always wish, "Wow, if only I had twice as much." In an absolute sense, I just don't think I'll ever have the years to do all the things I want to. It makes it seem really pointless to invest eight years into something (for instance, undergrad + med-school) when it's such a large investment that, by the time I get done, I will have lost many opportunities of youth, but I couldn't put such a thing off because, who wants to invest eight years in something that will only pay off for twenty?

Humanity is robbed. People live crazy lives because we are going to die too soon to live fully, so life is futile. Damn whatever you recognize as the determining factor of our longevity. The light is green to research like this.

Re:Who Doesn't Wan't More Time? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970327)

Humanity is robbed. People live crazy lives because we are going to die too soon to live fully, so life is futile. Damn whatever you recognize as the determining factor of our longevity. The light is green to research like this.

Yes but the piecemeal approach of medicine won't get there fast enough to work for me. The only real possibility I can see is transhumanism.

Re:Who Doesn't Wan't More Time? (1)

knapper_tech (813569) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970453)

I honestly had to pull up wikipedia and do a quick overview just to get on the same page, as I have niether really studied into any transhumanist schools nor encountered enough of the opposition arguments to have much of a sense of where the argument exists. On it's face, however, I can say I don't feel the need for a complete overhaul. Just some basics. I'm not interested in being immune to death. I just wish I had more time so that I wouldn't feel like I'm limited on what I can accomplish with one brief lifetime. My argument for this is that our lives are too short, so short that a generation is only twenty years and there's neither time nor incentive to worry about a single life that's going to be so insignificant.

My initial impression of transhumanism is that it's a desire to defeat a universe that inevitably kills us. To that, I'll say there are countless ways to live forever through the echoes of your life. Make an impression you want to leave.

In response to transhumanism, I can say only this: The desire to extend the capabilities of our physical bodies is not nearly as commendible as the desire to extend the defining human characteristic and essense: will; and you can do that all by yourself.

Re:Who Doesn't Wan't More Time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970389)

For those of us who are evolutionists, perhaps an extended life span would be important as you will simply no longer exist after death. But for those of us who are creationists, the time we spend here is simply a prelude to the eternity beyond this small fraction of earthly time. ;-)

I can see the people spending a small fortune on switching on this gene, then being hit by a bus the next day.

Re:Who Doesn't Wan't More Time? (1)

knapper_tech (813569) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970495)

Lol. Read my response to the transhumanist. I think you'll find more than a binary argument going on. Mathematically, living in an ideological point seperates you from being able to engage with values that exist in any other number of dimensions. (I'm have yet to ever hear of negative dimensions, but if they have been defined, I don't know of their behavior, so I can't speak to them.) Where's another place I've heard this...someone find the quote from Spock in the Wrath of Khan =D

machine lifetime (1)

forgethistory (1083917) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970141)

Essentially a living organism is like a machine; and machines come with a certain lifespan.
You could potentially reduce 'usage' and increase life
I would think there is only a certain amount of resources that an organism can consume before it wears out.
Isn't the gene that the article refers to a regulator that moderates the efficiency with which resources are utilized to maintain life?
So we might be able to doctor the gene to process chocolate with greater efficiency
But for some reason I cannot intuit that we are going to be able to consume unlimited quantities of food and not die from it.

Re:machine lifetime (1)

knapper_tech (813569) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970261)

I certainly can't see the body as being something so simple that it works as if each enzyme has 1,000,000,000 uses before it breaks and only 1,000,000,000,000 such enzymes can be created. There certainly could be subtle variables that influence how things operate in the sense that some conditions could cause things to operate without breaking themselves or other machinery. Even in simple o-chem experiments, altering proportions can lead to an entirely different reactions because new pathways become favorable. For something as complex as an organism, there are undoubtedly trillions of relationships between processes that can affect the efficiency or alter the outcome of another. Isolating them is of course another matter altogether, but if nature has hardcoded in something to do that work (expirimentally determining how to tweak the machine to operate less self-destructively) can't we take advantage of it?

Where did the funding come from? (2, Funny)

lar3ry (10905) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970193)

Why do I have the feeling that this study was funded by the Ira Howard foundation?

Re:Where did the funding come from? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970359)

Why do I have the feeling that this study was funded by the Ira Howard foundation?

Offhand I can't think of an example of Lazarus Long passing on his longetivity trait to his decendents. There were his two clone sisters but both were heavily engineered. So IMHO the foundation failed, because few people directly lived long lives as a result of their efforts.

Note that I am really referring to TEFL, not Methuselas children.

I wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970205)

Only if they could find a gene to make me look athletic without working out and despite the junk food and despite sitting in front of a computer 15 hours a day.

That's correct (1)

Tawg (1078217) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970247)

"Very different lab animals, from worms to mice, live up to 50% longer"

Ah yes, i remember reading about the long cat before.

Interesting similarities (5, Informative)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970259)

BBC article has a link [bbc.co.uk] to another BBC article about an example of a man who followed this diet:

On a typical day, I will eat an oatmeal-based recipe for breakfast, which is about 455 calories and it gives me about half of my daily nutrients.

I don't eat lunch - after this breakfast I just don't feel hungry - so that leaves me about 1,350 calories for my evening meal, which is a lot.
This is very close to the dieting of the Muslims when they fast (obligatory fast during Ramadhan or voluntary fast during the month of Sha'ban, on Mondays and Thursdays, on 13,14 and 15th of each Islamic month or other recommended days).

We have a breakfast (Suhur) before dawn and do not eat or drink until sunset. After sunset we have a usual meal (Iftar). The only difference to the diet described in this BBC article is that we do not drink while Mr. Cavanaugh does.

Re:Interesting similarities (1)

phayes (202222) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970499)

Not eating/drinking while the sun is up has little to do with a low calorie diet.

Most of my colleagues who follow ramadan actually gain weight during it as they eat copiously of high calorie food while the sun is down. A big breakfast to tide you through the day & a big, though late, dinner annihilates any gain you might get by not eating during the day.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970263)

Live long, procreate, deplete, fight, repeat...
Hopefully, respective legislation limiting the number of dogs per family will be implemented...

They Shall Have Stars (1)

Charles Wilson (995273) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970293)

The greatest single piece of SciFi I ever read was James Blish's _They Shall Have Stars_, from the assembled epic _Cities in Flight_. Always interesting to see the RILLY good stuff have a little traction in the real world. Antiagathics first - Now on to the Spindizzies! CW

I find it strange (2, Interesting)

Mgns (934567) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970351)

that when confronted with the possibility of a greatly increased lifespan, say a hundred years extra, so few actually want it. Ask some people and watch their initial reaction. The ones I've queried have almost invariably argued that it would become boring.
IMHO this stems from a belief that zest for life is NOT a biological effect, but rather a result of inexperience.

People grow jaded with age, many even grown comfortable with their own mortality.

I am inclined to believe that the biological decay of our bodies is a main cause of declining appetite for life.

abstract of original article (4, Informative)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970361)

Abstract of original article in Nature [nature.com]:

Reduced food intake as a result of dietary restriction increases the lifespan of a wide variety of metazoans and delays the onset of multiple age-related pathologies. Dietary restriction elicits a genetically programmed response to nutrient availability that cannot be explained by a simple reduction in metabolism or slower growth of the organism. In the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, the transcription factor PHA-4 has an essential role in the embryonic development of the foregut and is orthologous to genes encoding the mammalian family of Foxa transcription factors, Foxa1, Foxa2 and Foxa3. Foxa family members have important roles during development, but also act later in life to regulate glucagon production and glucose homeostasis, particularly in response to fasting. Here we describe a newly discovered, adult-specific function for PHA-4 in the regulation of diet-restriction-mediated longevity in C. elegans. The role of PHA-4 in lifespan determination is specific for dietary restriction, because it is not required for the increased longevity caused by other genetic pathways that regulate ageing.
The paper has a supplement PDF [nature.com] which unfortunately you won't be able to see unless your institution is subscribed to Nature. The figure S2 in it is an alignment of PHA-4 protein product to 3 most similar proteins in human. Some domains called forkhead are 85% identical, but really good alignment covers only about 90 of 506 residues of PHA-4 protein product. From my experience with proteins that qualify as orthologs, this alignment does not qualify. Homologene [nih.gov] does not have a family of orthologs containing that worm product as well.

It does not mean that FOXA family does not do something for our longer lives, it just mean that article does not prove that via sequence similarity. Since I enjoy "trolling" I would add that (once again) Nature capitalizes on the subject importance and publishes articles with overstretching conclusions.

chocolate (1)

MalHavoc (590724) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970383)

That opens up the interesting possibility that doctors may someday be able to activate that gene directly and we can live long and prosper . . . without giving up chocolate
No one says that you need to give up chocolate. It's been shown many times that high quality dark chocolate with a high percentage of Cocoa is good for you. It's the milk chocolate that has tons of extra sugar added that isn't. And everything in moderation, right? If you want to have a piece of chocolate, go ahead - maybe skip the beer afterward. The beer is just going to ruin the aftertaste of the good chocolate anyway.

Live long and prosperous (2, Funny)

coldhg (735102) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970437)

So, can we expect long lifes like vulcans have?
Does this gene transforms our ears in pointy ones?
...

the only way this could be a good thing (1)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970471)

The only way that this could possibly be good is if the action of flipping that switch on (or off) turns off a persons ability to reproduce (retroactively, if need be!)

Pha-4 Gene information (2, Informative)

achillean (1031500) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970523)

The article is light on any real scientific information, so for the few people that are interested in what Pha-4 is about, checkout the following link:

pha-4 Gene Information [wormbase.org]
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