Upon till this point, mankind’s only option on attaining immortality was by relying on old biblical and theoretical eschatological promises concerning our soul and its supposed eternal perpetuation. However, for the first time since our inception, humanity may be on the precipice of taking the promise of everlasting existence into our own hands. Enter biological immortality.
Biological Immortality is defined as a stable or decreasing rate of mortality of a living organism from cellular senescence. If you read between the lines an organism may still die, just not from any age induced diseases. So how is this related to humans?
Senescence & DNA Degradation
Well first, let’s examine senescence (the process of deteriorating due to age). As you age, your cells replicate a countless amount of times. And in each of the estimated 30 to 40 trillion cells that makes up the average person, lies your DNA.We are all somewhat familiar with DNA correct? DNA is to living organisms what a computer program is to a software. It dictates all that we are, from the complex metabolic process that occur in our bodies to mundane traits such as how tall we are and the color of our hair, DNA is the structural blueprint that makes up an organism. During mitosis, the process of cellular reproduction, DNA has to be meticulously copied for the nucleus of the daughter cell. As you can imagine, after the countless billions if not trillions of times of going through this process, errors occur in the process and the DNA code is damaged. This is believed to be the reason we age.
There lies a direct correlation with aging and pathologies such as cancer and certain neuro-degenerative disorders. So it would make sense that if we can prevent the process of aging all together, these diseases can be circumvented. But how would this be made possible?
It’s not as if biological immortality is some never before seen phenomenon, there are more than one species that we would consider biological immortal, some have been hiding right under you nose on your dinner plate!
Lobsters! Yes, Lobsters do not undergo senescence. There has been recent debates on rather lobsters are biologically immortal or not, but the fact is they do not undergo senescence. At least not in the traditional sense. Lobsters grow by molting, and there is a set limit on the amount of times they may go through the process. Each molt requires more energy than the last until they reach a point where the energy expenditure required to molt is too great and they die. However, as time progresses, lobsters do not deteriorate due to the passage of time. So in essence lobsters are biologically immortal!
The phenomenon of biological immortality is not just limited to lobsters either. The Greenland sharks are the longest living vertebrates, estimated to live for up to 400 years. Aldabra giant turtles lives to be 150 years old, with the oldest one said to have been around 250 years old. Rougheye rockfish live to be as old as 205 years old. These are just a few of the many different vertebrates that exhibit negligible senescence (biological immortality).
Biological Immortality & Humans
The key to unlocking biological immortality in humans lies within these many animals. By studying their genome, we can discover the mechanisms which enables these animals to have these great lifespans and compound upon this knowledge. And great strides are being made from these studies.
Make no mistake this is a controversial topic. Due to deep cultural feelings and beliefs systems, the concept of altering the make up of a human being to make them better remains somewhat in the realm of what’s taboo. Nevertheless, research into a viable way of achieving biological immortality in humans are currently underway throughout the world and leading the way is Bioviva USA Inc., who’s CEO Elizabeth Parrish has already undergone gene therapy to reverse her biological age. Also, there is the SENS Research Foundation, who currently are researching plausible pathways in which humans can achieve biological immortality.
Contrary to its name, biological immortality is not true immortality. As mentioned before, any animal that is biologically immortal is still susceptible to death from injury or disease. However, immortality is still within reach. Negligible senescence is just the first part of that process and with future advancements in nano-medicine eventually even dying from disease will become a thing of the past. And while the threat of injury still remains eventually we will find a way to overcome even this. It’s what we do. We humans.
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