Saturday, December 17, 2016
You Are As Old As You ...
Aging, the relentless march into senescence, seems to have gradually morphed from a scientific and philosophic certainty into more of an open question of late, at least as a scientific assertion.
(all above links provided by Brian Wang's Next Big Future)
Over the last year, we have learned how to treat some of the effects of MS, create a replacement heart for a patient, re-grow parts of different organs, grow blood from our own stem cells and produce large quantities of that blood, build replacement joint structures from living tissue for joint replacement, how to treat skin burns at a much accelerated rate of healing, how to create mice entirely outside a living body, how to replace damaged neuron cells in a living patient, how to create quantities of pluripotent cells from an adult stem cell source, and much else. It seems entirely unreasonable to believe this discovery trend won't continue, or that further developments won't result from what we learn.
Despite the regulatory burden placed on development of specific therapies up to now, it seems clear that these therapies will become available, either from within the health care system in the United States or elsewhere. From that it seems only reasonable to begin modifying our life styles so as to make ourselves into viable candidates for the treatments as they become available. Achieve and maintain a general level of physical fitness. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight and muscle/fat ratio. All the obvious things we are familiar with.
One form of technically (perhaps "technologically" would be better?) available therapy I think needs greater emphasis, is that of blood replacement with pluripotent stem cells derived from our own adult stem cells and introduced in a serum matrix on a unit-to-unit basis over an extended period of time. Perhaps 500 cc's of whole blood removed and replaced with an equal amount of pluripotent stem cell bearing neutral saline, every other week, for 20 weeks. The intended object being to reduce the presence of damaged proteins as a percentage of overall blood volume in an aged patient, and to infuse existing body tissues with young stem cells generally, thereby restoring at least some of the normal cellular function of a younger body to an older patient.
Even without benefit of specific genetic modifications, providing one's body with a supply of your own youthful stem cells seems likely to be of general benefit to extending healthy life span. I suggest that cancer cells being defective cells by their nature, they would not benefit from a procedure such as this, but that cancer development monitoring could easily be incorporated into such an extended time frame as suggested here. Should cancerous cells increase, stop the serum replacement and begin cancer treatment instead (since this would suggest the existence of previously undetected cancerous cells in your body before you began the blood replacement regimen).
I wonder if there aren't D-I-Y'ers out there doing something very like this already? It just doesn't seem all that technically challenging or expensive.
As to the philosophic issues; I suppose I'm too much a believer in the concept of Individual Rights to accept anyone having final say over me without my consent, or at least my passive non-aggression to such an assertion. I understand that there are many who are afraid of change, or of any perception of elevated risk/threat to themselves even indirectly, but I'm too well grounded in classical strategy precepts for that to be an option I can accept for myself. Every old (or young, come to that) gym rat is familiar with the mantra, "No pain, no gain". The strategic principle of "risk = opportunity" is simply a restatement of that same idea. To gain from a perceived opportunity, you must accept an elevated exposure to increased risk (pain).
By causing to be created (from a reputable laboratory source) pluripotent stem cells from your own adult stem cells, you avoid any risk of tissue incompatibility. Replacing a limited quantity of your blood with these stem cells over a controlled time span permits observation of results via available blood and other testing metrics (like for elevated levels of cancerous cells, for instance). Doing this repeatedly for multiple replacement cycles (I have suggested 10 cycles over a 20 week time span, mostly because it seems a reasonable framework to begin with - I am open to counter arguments on this point certainly) allows for recursive effects (that is, an effect in one area of the body to stimulate seemingly unrelated effects elsewhere) to develop within the body's cellular structure, thereby increasing the improved level of health one can expect to achieve from this procedure.
In order to still be alive to receive more refined (and hopefully genetically personalized) treatments and therapies, we must still be alive when they become available. Doing what we individually can to assure that eventuality ultimately falls to each of us, as individuals, exercising our individual rights of choice, and accepting personal responsibility for the outcomes of those decisions.
You know; adulthood?
At some point in humanity's journey into the future, we will all make just such choices as the one I have suggested here. I believe such a choice is upon us now, not next year, or next decade, or after someone else has put in sufficient work to make us feel less frightened.
It remains only for each of us to decide, and then act.