Tuesday, February 26, 2008
We are still not quite sure why we age. Consequently, there are many theories that scientist are considering. Most important, though, is that once a theory is found to be solid, the likelihood of humans living for centuries is not so far fetched, as cell regeneration techniques will be just around the corner. We can already see the benefits of our deep understanding of the human body; for example, we know that certain things cause cancer--a fact that 100 years ago was madness.
Will we want to live forever? Or centuries?
It sounds appealing, if you have something important to do (that is a different discussion). What intrigues me, however, is what I'm calling the Medawar limit. No, this is not a scientific fact nor have I researched this so called Medawar limit. I made it up. Nonetheless, I think it can be simply deducted from Peter Medawar
Medawar stipulated that as we age certain genetic defects become more prominent and things that can kill us sprout into action. It's rather simple to prove, as we look at the older population you encounter the recurrence of illnesses that are not present during youth. Of course, you get the odd young human with a rare disease; however, it can be explained with a genetic disorder.
Having this fact in mind, my thesis for the Medawar limit is quite simple: as we increase the longevity of a human life we will keep finding genetic mutations that we have never seen and, worst of all, they will become illnesses we will not know how to cure. The problem will not be with the lack of understanding of the biology and chemistry. The problem will come from the unnatural extension of genes that are not suppose to survive for centuries inside a human body.
I will have to research a bit more and see if there is such a thing as the Medawar limit, or anything related to it. Have you found anything remotely close to what I'm talking about?