The scientifically-based fountain of youth will keep us from aging little by little until humans live ten times longer than in 2018, which is an average of about 80 years. If we use science to get this fountain of youth, we have a good chance to meet that goal sometime in the future certainly by the 30th century. It will be a step by step process may be doubling our lifespan in the first hundred years.
There are many organizations trying to make this happen by the year 2045. In this post, I will discuss several methods and several organization with the goal of immortality. I will focus on explaining how life could be extended from an average lifespan of 80 years to 800 years.
There are many methods to be developed, but the first steps may be close. The factor-of-ten-increase in lifespan will take centuries; however, it will be possible to extend life by a factor of two in humans not by one method but a combination of many. In my trilogy 30th Century, people living in the 2900s enjoy an average lifespan of 800 years.
Yes, we can approach immortality, but it requires some changes in thinking, such as uploading our consciousness onto computers. That is not the best way forward, in my view.
The first method involves stem cells. Major research has taken place between the years 2000 to 2018. Stem cells are the first cells created by the union of gametes (sperm and egg) cells, which have not yet differentiated by functions. These stem cell will later turn into cells such as bone, muscle, nerve, skin, etc. Stem cells have the potential to become any type of cell needed by the growing body, using information held within the DNA of all cells.
Figure 1. The gradual change from pink-to-blue cells above illustrates the transition from endothelial cells to blood progenitor cells during normal embryonic blood development. Daley, Sugimura and colleagues recreated this process in the lab, then added genetic factors to produce a mixture of blood stem and progenitor cells. (O’Reilly Science Art)
Cells from the body of an organism, not including sperm and egg cells, are called somatic cells. Due to advances in recent science, somatic cells such as blood cells can now be turned into pluripotent stem cells that can self-renew. The reprogramming of cells has transformed the fields of developmental biology and regenerative medicine. In 2012, scientists at Johns Hopkins and other nonprofit age-related research groups discovered an efficient and totally safe method to turn adult blood cells “all the way back to ultimate youth, that is when that person was a one- to two-week–old embryo,” says Elias Zambidis, M.D., Ph.D. assistant professor of oncology and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and the Kimmel Cancer Center. This discovery may turn out to be one important step toward a longer life for humans. So far, these experiments are only being performed on mice and other animals.
Many researchers suspect that stem cell therapy will one day change treatments of illness and aging. These therapies are limited to the lab for now, awaiting the development of large-scale manufacturing and FDA approvals. In the past, embryonic stem cells (0ften from aborted embryos) were used, and later, umbilical cord stem cells were found to be acceptable to society as an alternative to embryonic stem cells for research use.
Recently Johns Hopkins developed a new and exciting method, which may change everything. This new method uses normal blood cells from the patient’s own blood, so there is no need for umbilical cord storage or other sources. This new method doesn’t use any viruses, reducing the risk of cancer. Researchers successfully transformed slightly over half of all adult blood cells into stem cells that can then be turned into any type of cell, such as heart muscle cell, a nerve cell, a brain cell or any other somatic cell.
This new method is further described in the August 8, 2012 issue of the journal Public Library of Science. This rejuvenating method employs plasmids, DNA molecules that are usually present in bacteria and other primitive organisms. The plasmids can replicate themselves independently from the chromosomal DNA, then conveniently disappear after they complete their function.
Scientists use an electrical pulse to open tiny holes in the membrane of blood cells, which may be taken from a patient’s spinal cord. The researchers use the small holes to inject plasmids containing four genes that make the cells revert to a stem cell. After the plasmids complete their function, the scientists culture the cells with irradiated bone-marrow cells. One to two weeks later, these transformed blood cells become what researchers have named induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPS).
Much research has led to the above progress such as the mouse experiments shown below in Figure 2, converting skin cells to pluripotent stem cells in mice.
Looking back to 2006, Kazutoshi Takahashi and Shinya Yamanaka were the first to establish embryonic stem (ES), for example ES-like cell lines from mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and skin fibroblasts, by simply expressing four transcription factor genes encoding Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc (See Figure 2 and the research paper by Takahashi & Yamanaka 2006 for all the details). They called these somatic cell-derived cell lines iPS cells. These iPS cell lines exhibit similar morphology and growth properties as ES cells and express ES cell-specific genes. Transplantation of iPS cells into immunodeficient mice resulted in the formation of germ-cell-tumor (teratoma)-containing tissues from all three germ layers, confirming the pluripotent potential of iPS cells. However, there were two problems: the low efficiency of establishing iPS cell lines and some variations in gene expression profiling between iPS cells and ES cells. The latter issue raised the concern that cell reprogramming may be insufficient to restore full pluripotency in somatic cells as exhibited by ES cells. These induced stem cells could hold the key to either slowing or even stopping ageing, as the trial tripled the lifespan of the mice.
Injection of iPS cells made mice grow bigger and stronger — and younger. The effects on ageing-disorder cells even works in lab dishes. This new technology could hold promise for injections that offer humans the scientific fountain of youth.
One of these important experiments has demonstrated that a single injection of stem cells could triple mouse lifespan, which is truly amazing. Scientists including David Sinclair think that studying the proteins within stem cells might hold the key to injections that offer human beings a fountain of youth sometime in the near decades. Stem cells can stop ageing and even prolong lifespans up to three times.
Studying the proteins within stem cells might hold the key to injections that offer similar benefits to human beings.
One of the researchers, Dr. Laura Niedernhofer at the University of Pittsburgh, says further research could help us hold off the ageing process altogether. She was an author of a study published in the journal Nature Communications. “Our experiments showed that mice that have progeria, a disorder of premature aging, were healthier and lived longer after an injection of stem cells from young, healthy animals,” Dr. Niedernhofer said.
To look where all this research will go over the next 900 years, one can read the 30th Century trilogy. The second eBook, 30th Century: Revived, is scheduled to be released by the end of April 2018.
Dr. Levin was born and grew up in Vermont with many winters spent in Florida as a child. As a teenager he wrote poetry, served as a lifeguard and played football. He currently enjoys sailing, exploring underwater caves, snorkeling, writing science fiction and other pursuits. After working on the Apollo and Mars projects, he returned to school to study under Nobel Laureate Paul Dirac, obtaining his PhD in 2.5 years. Dr. Levin founded two companies and served the science policy apparatus in President Ford’s administration. He has been published over 44 times in scientific literature and was awarded over 32 US patents. The science fiction writer is now emerging with his first work, a trilogy entitled 30th Century. The first award-winning book, 30th Century: Escape, is currently available on Amazon. Book two in the series, 30th Century: Revived, should be released before the end of April 2018.