By William R. Clark
Why can we age? Is getting older inevitable? Will advances in scientific wisdom let us expand the human lifespan past its current limits? simply because getting older has lengthy been the only irreducible fact of human life, those interesting questions come up extra frequently within the context of technological know-how fiction than technology truth. yet contemporary discoveries within the fields of cellphone biology and molecular genetics are heavily hard the belief that human lifespans are past our keep an eye on. With such discoveries in brain, famous cellphone biologist William R. Clark basically and elegantly describes how senescence starts off on the point of person cells and the way mobile replication might be certain up with getting older of the full organism. He explores the evolutionary beginning and serve as of getting older, the mobile connections among getting older and melanoma, the parallels among mobile senescence and Alzheimer's ailment, and the insights received via learning human genetic disorders--such as Werner's syndrome--that mimic the indications of getting older. Clark additionally explains how relief in caloric consumption may very well support bring up lifespan, and the way the harmful results of oxidative components within the physique might be restricted by means of the intake of antioxidants present in vegetables and fruit. In a last bankruptcy, Clark considers the social and fiscal features of dwelling longer, the results of gene remedy on senescence, and what we'd know about getting older from experiments in cloning. this can be a hugely readable, provocative account of a few of the main far-reaching and arguable questions we're more likely to ask within the subsequent century.
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Additional info for A Means to an End - The Biological Basis of Aging and Death
5 weeks; (D) two months. (Drawn by Celine Park) out to the periphery fail to establish a meaningful connection. These fibers soon die by apoptosis. T h i s kind of programmed cell death is very common throughout the lifespan of many higher organisms. T h e s e two ways of dying are quite distinct at the microscopic and biochemical levels as well. Eukaryotic cells are highly organized internally, with tiny intracellular organs (called organelles) that carry out all of the cells' specialized functions such as energy production and protein synthesis.
August Weismann, the great German biologist and one of the founders of reproductive genetics, pointed out at the end of the nineteenth century that queen ants and the males who breed with them are similar in size, but the former has a maximum lifespan of several years, whereas the males live only a few weeks. T h e same is true of bees, medflies, and other insects. Birds and small rodents are similar in size, but the former often have maximum lifespans of a dozen years, whereas rats, mice, and voles rarely have maximum lifespan values in excess of three to four years.
We do not know exactly when significant senescence per se sets in in humans; tests of athletic ability in males suggest physical performance begins to decline noticeably somewhere in the late twenties. Senescence resulting in significant mortality is delayed in all species until at least the beginning of the reproductive period. Given that humans are sexually mature in their early teens, and ten years is probably a reasonable reproductive period, we might expect to see senescence setting in at around the mid- to late twenties.