The goal of soon stopping the aging process entirely is something Ray Kurzweil swears by, and for this he gets a lot of criticism. But U of R scientists have recently discovered that a protein named SIRT6 extends the lifespans of mice, and this is a step towards its application in our own bodies. Although this may seem like a menial leap, the team plans on using their research to eventually extend a person’s life and treat cancer.
This makes me wonder what societal changes will be made about the collective perception of an average lifespan. In my lifetime, will it be normal for me to live out 120 years before passing away? Will that be the norm? I’m not sure what to expect, but with great jumps in medicine and the exponential growth of technology, I’m wondering if I really will see these breakthroughs in my life.
Enhancing the way cells repair DNA increases lifespan, U of R scientists found. By overexpressing the SIRT6 protein, DNA repair by cells can take place for an extended amount of time. Old cells are 38 times less efficient at repairing critically broken DNA than younger ones, and SIRT6 lowers this number. Vera Gorbunova, one of the U of R scientists, sums the idea up well:
“Our research looked at DNA repair and found a reason for the longevity, and that is SIRT6’s role in promoting more efficient DNA repair.”
With a recent poll showing that nearly half of Americans either feel they look their age or older than their age, it’s clear U of R scientists are headed in the right direction. Medicine is evolving into a practice that caters to the needs of the masses and to the wants of the masses as well. Whether fiddling with our lifespan is ethical or not is beyond my capacity for a philosophical discussion, but I’m excitedly waiting for the day I can enhance the way my cells repair DNA, entirely avoid any terminal illnesses like cancer, and maybe even live well past 120.