Science » Technologies and discoveries
Author`s name Michael Simpson

Immortality for Choice

Old age is a very serious disease that can be cured with conservative methods
Within the whole of its history, mankind is pondering over a problem that is topical in all epochs. Can old age be defeated and how if possible? More and more scientists now say they have neared creation of a remedy to defeat death. Candidate of historical sciences Lyudmila Orekhova, senior research assistant with the State Historical Museum says that mankind's struggle against death has lasted for many years. Antique scientists and medieval alchemists, doctors and sorcerers, kings and men of the common people sought for eternal life. In Ancient Rome, spectators rushed to the arena as soon as gladiators' fights were over to wash with the blood of the defeated. Drinking of blood of new-born babies was considered a more radical method to get immortal. There are many "secret" longevity formulas developed in different centuries, some of them are over 4,000 years old. For example, it was believed in the old times that a man should dry up 600 spiders, 300 bats and 99 toads, pound them, make a drink of the mixture and drink it on a fool moon night. At that, it was very important that toads must be 100 years old. The recipe said that if a man woke up alive next morning after drinking the beverage, he was promised a long unclouded life. The formula allowed drinking the beverage several times, but each time the number of disgusting creatures required for grinding increased three times.

An old Persian manuscript recommended the following method: "To become immortal, take a red-haired freckled man and feed him with fruit until he reaches the age of 30. Then put him into a brass vessel filled with honey and herbs, bind the vessel with gold hoops and seal hermetically." The author of the manuscript says that the body of the freckled man will turn into a mummy in 120 years. It was recommended to eat the contents of the vessel in small portions every day, which was said to be a guarantee to prolong the life for 300-500 years. 

Nowadays, mankind is preoccupied with the idea of immortality not less than people used to be in the old times. In the early 1920s, specialists who were called juvenologists tried to prolong men's youth and implanted genital glands of macaque to them. Swedish scientist Peter Niegans suggested injecting serum made of a new-born fallow-deer's tissues. Gerontologists from Moscow's 2nd Medical Institute held an experiment in 1975 that made the life of test mice last twice as long with the help of queen bee's milk. However, neither those methods nor autotransfusion (re-infusion of blood shed from surgery or trauma) produced any sensational results. It seemed at that time that old age was invincible. However, more sensations concerning life prolongation have emerged at the threshold of the century.

American Doctors of Medicine Write and Shown from the University of Cleveland declared two years ago that they had discovered clockwork responsible for life and death on the cell level. The Discovery popular scientific magazine reported that the scientists had discovered a ferment called telomeraza that could make human cells never stop the division and constantly rejuvenate. It was said that if telomeraza was synthesized artificially, human life could last endlessly. Unfortunately, the sensation failed in several months: "ever young" test mice fell ill with cancer in 2-3 months and died.

Doctor of biological science Alexander Dubrov, the leading research assistant from the Institute of Ecology and Evolution Problems of Russia's Academy of Sciences explains: "Hormones became the next step on the way toward longevity. They strengthen bones and muscles, smooth the skin; others, melatonin for example, prolong the life cycles."

Italian biologists held a number of experiments with mice that became slenderer and livelier as a result of the experiment. But the test mice died in half a year. At that very moment, Russian scientists came up to the scene. Doctor of Biology Sciences Lyudmila Obukhova from the Biochemical Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences says that at the beginning of the year some colleagues of hers have managed to find immortal cells of the conjunctive tissue; this may prolong the human life at least 2-3 times in the future. Unlike western scientists, Russian specialists stake on antioxidants, the substance reducing the activity of oxidation processes in the human body. They are the main cause of ageing. It is too early to speak about any results of experiments held in this connection: experiments on mice and rats were started just several months ago. But Lyudmila Obukhova says that scientists are nevertheless full of optimism.

It would take much space and time to speak about all methods declared as effective against ageing. Scientists from the Siberian department of Russia's Academy of Sciences offered to bomb the human organism with artificially synthesized macrofag cells, those ones that are responsible for renovation of cells. Doesn't it make more sense to save not the body but human brain and information it contains? It is this information that determines people's personality. Attempts to immortalize a personality by placing of "intellect" into special reservoirs are carried out in the Brain Institute of Russia's Academy of Sciences.

Recently, famous neurosurgeon Professor Gerhard von Klike published results of his talks with competent scientists and pronounced a death sentence to death. In his words, old age is a serious disease that can be cured with conservative methods. Intervention into the human genetic apparatus will soon allow prolonging the life limits considerably. The next generation, he says, may expect to live 150-160 years of normal life, and their descendants may live even 1.5-2 times longer. According to the estimates of the British Future Foundation Director, Biology Professor Anthony Grayham, "the pension age of people will be 80-90 years in 30-35 years; after that, people will have about 60 years of active life more." He says that the life chronology will seriously change: people will be able to get not 1-2 educations, but 5-6 ones within their lifetime; he says it will be possible to change workplaces every two or three years; marriages will be possible every 5-6 years. On the whole, scientists say that the institution of marriage will gradually become obsolete: they say that people of the future will prefer to freely cohabitate with each other which will allow them to change lovers in all ages, 40 or 70. Scientists admit it will be possible on condition that people will be forever young. Children will come to this world only as a result of artificial insemination. But is it the longevity we have been dreaming of?

Natalia Leskova
Nezavisimaya Gazeta

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