Wolverine No Longer SciFi

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Science Fiction has inspired many innovations over the past few decades. Cloaking devices, chameleon-esque camouflage, memory manipulations (including erasures and implants), suspended animation, artificial intelligence, underwater breathing without tanks, Jedi mind control (almost), total immersion gaming, mind controlled prosthetics, personal drivable airplanes, guilt by brain scans, speeder bikes, lightsabers (almost), warp drive (it’s coming), combat robots, and many others appear on the radar screen daily.  Today’s topic has been envisioned through the lens of science fiction and fantasy stories for hundreds of years: the fountain of youth, man’s quest for immortality, miraculous healing, etc.  Some favorite heroes and villains have arisen out of these ideas: Gilgamesh, Voldemort, Immortal Man, Qin Shi Huang (okay, he’s real), Duncan MacLeod of Highlander, and of perhaps the most famous and well-loved of all, Wolverine. In such epic company, it almost seems too farfetched to imagine that such lofty goals of immortality could even be discussed as a reasonable possibility. Could we really live forever? The answer seems to be leaning towards a big “yes.”

i09.com reports that the a newly developed cocktail of senolytic “drugs work by selectively targeting and killing senescent cells — older cells that have stopped dividing but are steadily accumulating and [that are] contributing to the aging process.”  This cocktail of drugs essentially rids the body of deadweight cells in various parts of the body (which may also prevent cancer … we’ll have to wait and see about that).  Improvement in heart functions were evident within five days of treatment.  “We view this study as a big, first step toward developing treatments that can be given safely to patients to extend healthspan or to treat age-related diseases and disorders,” noted Scripps lead researcher Paul Robbins in a statement. “When senolytic agents, like the combination we identified, are used clinically, the results could be transformative.”  In other words, we’re not so far from getting a drink from the fountain of youth … though it may take more than that to extend life indefinitely.  While side effects are expected, treatment with these drugs would be infrequent so side effects wouldn’t be as large of a concern as you might expect.  Doctors say human trials will be sitting in queue for quite some time … no details about an expected date at this time.

As for instant healing … that’s another leap in medical technology we’ll just have to wait for.  So what do you think?  Is this mega exciting?  How do you think our world would change if our lifespans doubled again?  Would it be a good or bad thing?  Tell me what you think in the comments below.

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5 Responses

  1. Auralee says:

    Whoa. That is mind blowing. The things that are developing in our day and age are crazy. It think to have this kind of things would make our advancements speed up because those who are well educated will have more time to accomplish stuff with their knowledge. It would be interesting to see what would happen with age gaps too.

  2. Yeah – I think the ramifications of this particular change is drastic in terms of selective evolution. In other words:
    In nature, a deficient creature tends to die earlier in its life and therefore has little opportunity to reproduce – the fittest survive.
    In modern society however, a very deficient individual can inherit a lot of money. That individual then has access to drugs to prolong his/her life and is more likely to have the opportunity to reproduce than a similarly deficient individual who inherited no money. How big of an effect will that make on society? We don’t know but we’ve already seen a certain degree of this in modern society. The bell curve of intelligence does not seem to be changing in a positive way – there are not more smart people and less dumb people for instance. If, on the other hand, these technologies are being used to offer superior individuals the opportunity to live longer and therefore reproduce more, that would be the effect we would see in nature. That however seems unlikely. Further, in modern society, it is questionable as to what “superior” and “inferior” should mean in terms of natural selection. Very foggy issues with no clear answers but lots of room for interesting speculation. Thanks for actively commenting.

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