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Endless Youth: Is It Worth It?

1622 words - 7 pages

An experiment was carried out on sea elegans involving the FOXO gene. Since sea elegans basic processes of life are very similar to ours it was typical to study the effects of the FOXO gene on the organism. In the experiment, one gene was changed in its genetic makeup, which had a clear effect on the worms. The worms with the altered FOXO gene functioned and moved like a newborn worm at two weeks, while worms without the FOXO gene were immobile and near death at two weeks. What the FOXO gene does is it acts as a regulator of hundreds of other genes. FOXO switches on other genes that enhance the immune system, protect cells from bacterial infection, emit proteins that kill invading ...view middle of the document...

However, through extensive research, the FOXO gene been found to cause cancer in certain experiments. Ronald Depeche’s group generated a Foxo3 mouse, in which females exhibited dramatic age-dependent infertility, due to premature ovarian failure. This is important because fertility has been linked to longer life. When we are no longer fertile, our body naturally begins picking up speed in the senescence process.
A forty yearlong study has examined and followed Japanese Americans in Hawaii since the 1960’s. Their aging process was studied throughout the forty years, and throughout that time, 800 samples were taken of the participants. In those samples, five genes were tested that have been proven to enhance a person's lifespan. The results of this study were also proven in countries such as Germany, New England, China, Italy, and in California. In those studies it was found that persons with one FOXO gene were twice as likely to be a centenarian. Persons with both FOXO genes had three times the chance of living to 100. The way a person inherits this gene is by getting a C or G nucleotide from their mom or dad. The majority has two C’s, while the lucky few, which accounts to 25% have CG. Very few do get the GG nucleotide combination, which guarantees a longer lifespan without the environmental factors. With the unlucky few who do not carry the special FOXO gene, it is important that they keep a healthy diet along with regular exercise.
Another species that could possibly lead to “curing” old age or enhancing life expectancy are the Turritopsis Dohrnii, 13 lined Ground Squirrel, naked mole rat. Turritopsis Dohrnii are a breed of jellyfish found in every ocean in the world. Until recently, biologist began noticing that Turritopsis Dohrnii populations were rising much higher than normal. Biologists soon discovered that the reason why the population of these jellyfish was rising so much was because these jellyfish evolved so that they could “reverse” their aging process and ultimately live forever. Turritopsis Dohrnii begin their life as a larvae, turn into a polyp, and eventually into a mature jellyfish.
Yet, when faced with certain dangers such as starvation, or life threatening injuries, they have the ability to revert back into a polyp and later grow into a mature adult jellyfish again. The Turritopsis Dohrnii transforms all its living cells into much younger cells, turning it into a polyp cyst through transdifferentiation. If Turritopsis Dohrnii were not prey or had any other environmental dangers, these jellyfish could, in theory, live forever as long as they have the potential to reproduce. Even though these jellyfish do not have a sense of self and do not carry memories or thoughts (they are just a bundle of nerves which detect certain stimuli), scientists believe that sometime in the future these jellyfish can give clues as to extending human life spans.
The thirteen-lined squirrel seems to give clues as well. The...

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