High School High School Biology and Chemistry

The Quest for Immortality

On our fascination with immortality, and some contemporary research on aging.

(Originally published on August 2nd, 2014 on The Wannabe Scientist.)

Immortality. This simple concept seemed to have haunted humanity for millennia already. From the emperors of China to the famed tales of King Arthur to the searches for Fountain of Youths, immortality seemed to be the prize that kings have gone after for generations already. Is it possible? If so, how do we go about it?

Many research has been conducted on this topic already, but it is mostly still a mystery. During the past decade, medicines and medical facilities lengthened human’s life expectancies, but what comes after that? It seemed that aging indefinitely is not exactly what we have in mind–preserving youth is another topic of interest as well.

In one of the Ted talks, Cambridge researcher Aubrey de Grey argues that human aging can be outlined in seven basic ways and all of them can be averted. They are:

  1. Nuclear Mutations/Epimutations
  2. Mitochondrial Mutations
  3. Intracellular Junk
  4. Extracellular Junk
  5. Cell Loss
  6. Cell Sequence
  7. Extracellular Crosslinks

and you can read more about them here. These points pretty much sum up usual problems that come with age–organ deterioration, cancers, and other diseases.

However, it is obvious that none of these seven obstacles have been solved or will be solved anytime soon. Our technology has improved immensely and allowed us to create and provide artificial organs and skins, but it is still pretty unlikely that there’ll be a breakthrough that will allow us to live more than about 125 years any time soon. In fact, the Hayflick Limit Theory suggests that the cells in the human body may only divide themselves a certain number of times, and the restriction is placed on 125 years.

Either way, immortality is not something attainable for our current technology, if ever. It is a dream for ages, and it will remain that way for a very long time.

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