When thinking about the future, I usually do not discuss technical details, nor am I an expert in biomedicine. However, now many people are skeptical about anti-aging technology due to lack of relevant information, and popularizing anti-aging technology to people is conducive to increasing the investment of anti-aging research in human society, which will have a great impact on human beings, so in this article, I will simply sort out the research ideas of anti-aging technology for non-professionals.
From a genetic level analysis, I explained in the Dorderism, that death is an inevitable choice for species evolution. So for such an important function, genes are likely to have strong redundancy like the brain nervous system, that is, many genes will begin to adversely affect the human body as the human body grows and develops, especially after human sexual maturity. Although we can use genetic editing techniques such as CRISPR to directly modify related genes, genetic modification will be difficult, especially they are related to each other, and many long-term effects may be difficult to test in the short term.
But we have other ways. Before I first considered the anti-aging problem, I was particularly fascinated by a problem. I also hope that readers can think about it:
Why can human sperm be resistant to aging?
The anti-aging ability of human sperm is quite good. The sperm produced by old men can also produce healthy babies, while women's eggs are much more delicate, and women's eggs tend to have an aging tendency when they are over 35 years old. Sperms are not prone to aging, and eggs are prone to aging, but they contain as much genetic material. Why are eggs more susceptible to aging than sperms? The main difference between sperm and egg is that the egg is very large, and it contains a lot of other substances. The anti-aging difference between sperm and egg shows that the main problem that affects cell aging is not the genetic material such as DNA, but the changes in other substances in the cells.
The notable size difference between sperm and egg
Let us look at another fact: from the human fetus to adulthood, a large number of new cells are produced, and a large amount of DNA replication still has no obvious genetic mutations. This indicates that in an ideal state, the replication process of DNA is relatively stable, and even if the process will cause many problems, it is also acceptable, non-fatal, and not the core cause of aging. This also explains to some extent that the main problem of human aging lies in substances other than DNA.
More specifically, one of the root cause of cell senescence should be that the harmful substances produced during the life of the cell continuously accumulate and circulate in the body, and continue to destroy other cells. The accumulation of these harmful substances to a certain extent will directly interfere with and disrupt the replication of DNA, resulting in genetic mutations. When a large number of genetic mutations occur in sperms and eggs, they cause various genetic diseases in the fetus; when they occur in somatic cells, they will cause cancer and other diseases.
Then, why do the fertilized eggs of middle-aged and old women still grow into healthy babies? Female egg cells are all present at birth in baby girls, why aren't most of the cell damage accumulated in middle-aged and old parents passed on to their children? Why don't these injuries accumulate from generation to generation? Through previous analysis, this reason should have little to do with DNA, but mainly related to other substances in the cell. There are many specific reasons, such as germ cells being screened (sperm races, etc.), and stronger cell repair capabilities, but cell damage is still inevitable for decades.
I propose a crude hypothesis: the reason why aging germ cells can also grow into healthy people, and the damages to germ cells do not accumulate from generation to generation, is that the process of continuous division and proliferation dilutes the aging substances (i.e. the products of cell damage) derived from parents. In the process of dividing a fertilized egg into countless cells in the human body, the original harmful substances in each new cell are rapidly diluted to negligible levels as long as the harmful substances in it do not interfere with DNA replication during the initial cell division process. For example, 1024 new cells will be formed after just 10 divisions from the fertilized egg, and the concentration of harmful substances will be only one thousandth of the original.
A counter example is that the effect of injecting stem cells into adults should be less effective than that of children, because the substances of stem cell division to produce new cells are still derived from their bodies, so there are still a lot of harmful substances in the new cells produced by adult stem cells.
Back to the anti-aging problem, how can we make our body's cells as young as old sperm?
To make the cells of our bodies younger, an effective way is to constantly generate new cells to replace old cells and to dilute the harmful substances in the cells. However, the new cells still produced from old substances in the human body, and all kinds of harmful substances in the human body will inevitably enter into the new cells. Therefore, we must constantly clear the harmful substances in the body, otherwise the new cells are produced directly from the original harmful substances. At the current level of science and technology, completely eliminating the harmful substances in each cell is completely impossible, but the human body has a complex body fluid circulation system. We just need to utilize the body fluid circulation system to cut the circulation chain of these harmful substances. Therefore, we should start with the two directions: apoptosis and the circulation of body fluid, on the one hand, by inducing apoptosis of aging cells, on the other hand, removing or filtering out harmful substances in body fluid to avoid the harmful substances in apoptotic cells re-entering into new cells.
These two technologies are relatively simple, more realistic and more feasible route, which can be achieved faster and attract more resources from the society, then form a virtuous circle of R & D and investment. There are a lot of anti-aging experiments in these two fields, but it seems that scientists are studying the two issues separately, either to study the apoptosis of senescent cells or to study the harmful substances in the blood. However, it only promotes the apoptosis of aging cells, and the harmful substances in decomposed cells still exist in the body, which will be re-entered into other cells and accumulated. And only removing the harmful substances in the blood is too narrow to effectively improve the state of most cells in the human body. I hope that scientists will combine these methods in the future, and I believe this will produce the effect of "1+1>2".
Some technical details worth considering:
- Some harmful substances may be decomposed into harmless substances, or even converted into substances beneficial to human body.
- The problem of some harmful substances can be solved through genetic modification.
- Just filtering out harmful substances is safer than medicine and genetic modification. Anti-aging scientists can consider collaborating with scientists who study artificial kidneys, so that anti-aging scientists can use the existing research results of artificial kidney devices and do some long-term human experiments in the future. After all, it is difficult to tell which substances the artificial kidney needs to remove. Applying for human experiments in the name of artificial kidneys may reduce many unnecessary resistance. And artificial kidney products have the opportunity to join the anti-aging function, naturally will get much more attention and investment than the present, so that the two areas also achieve a win-win situation.
It may be troublesome for human beings to reach eternal life. Genetic modification should be indispensable. It may also need to deal with telomeres, culture of stem cells in vitro, and so on. But we can set the target smaller first, just to delay the aging of the human body, which is enough for us to wait until the technology continues to make progress, so that we can continue to use the new anti-aging technology.
In short, anti-aging technology can make progress in a short period of time, we should not doubt it, and the attractiveness of anti-aging is so strong that it is impossible for anyone to stop this process, and what we really need to consider is the deep effect of anti-aging technology on human society.
The social impact of anti-aging technology
Anti-aging technology will play a leverage role for human health. Everyone knows that young people are not prone to illness. Even if we only partially solve the anti-aging problem, we can greatly reduce the incidence of human diseases. For governments, the easiest and most effective way to solve the problem of medical insurance funds is to strengthen research on anti-aging technology. Every dollar invested in anti-aging technology may bring tens of dollars in savings to the health insurance system. And now our investment in anti-aging technology is only a tiny fraction of medical research and development expenditure, which is very unwise.
With the human health problems be solved gradually, and even the aging problem is completely solved, the financial problems of the old-age care and medical systems will be naturally eliminated, and the shortage of labor brought by aging will not exist too (assuming that artificial intelligence technology still does not solve these problems).
As for the problems that old people can’t adapt to change quickly, poor learning ability and so on, can also be solved in the future through technological means, rejuvenation itself can enable the elderly to regain their learning ability.
Once we understand the benefits of anti-aging technology for human health, we should think about it: Will the government restrict ordinary people from receiving anti-aging treatment?
From the government's point of view, anti-aging technology can solve the financial pressure of medical insurance and pension insurance at the same time, and it can solve all kinds of social problems caused by aging, so they will vigorously promote anti-aging technology. You can doubt the motives of the government, but you must believe in the power of money. Let's reconsider what other countries will do. The popularization of anti-aging technology is the same as the diffusion of AI technology. The game between countries and between regions will inevitably make the government promote anti-aging technology as soon as possible in order to gain competitive advantage over other countries or regions.
From a productivity point of view, when anti-aging technology matures, the application of AI technology in the medical industry should be quite deep, so productivity should not be a big problem.
In short, as long as the technology is really mature, our ordinary people do not have to worry about being abandoned by the world, just try to stay healthy and wait patiently.
A few questions left to the reader to think about:
- How to solve the social class solidification caused by long life?
- What adjustments should be made to the structure and ethics of human society to accommodate long life?
- What work should be done with a long-lived human? What will you pursue?
These issues are discussed in Dorderism, and interested readers may wish to take a look.