Things You Cannot Live Without at Age 150

 Old People in Naples, Italy
Old People in Naples, Italy | Source

How Old Do You Want to Be?

I recently read the simulation of a diary based on interviews with descendents of a Great Plains woman living after the American Civil War. She moved from campsite to campsite with her family, carrying teepees and supplies on horseback.

After several years of living on the trail through the plains and the Rocky Mountains in order to follow game animals and other resources, gardening when she could, making animal skin clothing for trade, and drying meats in between moves, and raising several children, she stated that she felt too old to move further. She finally wanted to permanent home. She was only 35 years old.

A Little-Known Telomere

Crystal structure of parallel quadruplexes from human telomeric DNA.
Crystal structure of parallel quadruplexes from human telomeric DNA. | Source

Aging In Humans

In the 1990s, we were taught in medical classes that the human cell can divide to reproduce itself until it reaches that age of 113 years on average.

Telomeres (see photo, right) inside cells at the tip of chromatids that protect the ends of chromosomes shorten at each division and at age 113, most cannot survive another reproduction of themselves. Another cell division cuts off genes that the body needs.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke predicted immortality for humankind on the physical level in the future. Biology does not cooperate with that prediction, so far. However, researchers are seeking to extend the lifespan of people to at least 150 years and one obstacle they face is how to persuade cell division after age 113 without death or the production of cancer associated with the forced life span expansion of cells.

How old would you like to be?

One professor's answer was that it is best to live fully healthy for as many years as possible and then die instantly.

Mr. Spock, ST:TOS. The fictional vulcan has a life span of 200 years.
Mr. Spock, ST:TOS. The fictional vulcan has a life span of 200 years. | Source

Alzheimer's Disease and Dog Brains

One fact about Alzheimer's is that if a human brain lives long enough, given the status of current medicine, that brain will develop Alzheimer's Disease.

New drug treatments can help, music can help - as in the case of Glen Campbell - exercise can stave it off, solving puzzles is beneficial, and using a personal computer will extend healthy brain function as well as help brain trauma to heal over time, but Alzheimer's is inevitable, given a long enough lifespan.

Brain transplants are not yet a possibility and many people cringe at such an idea -- If we insert another brain into a body, who will that body be? Can we transplant sections of brain or use some of our own brain cells to grow a new brain (that will work)? -- We do not know that answer. Can we trap a human spirit in a computer program or positronic network? -- So far, this is doubtful.

All this guesswork did not prevent the Soviets from experimenting with transplanting dog brain tissue into human brains in the 1940s. I was fortunate enough to hear about this work from people who had witnessed some of these procedures and then immigrated to the USA to become teachers. Until today, the dog-human brain combination has not been successful.

In order to successfully live to age 150, we must push Alzheimer's further into the end of the human lifespan.

Woman Receives New Skull

Replacement Organs

Lab grown replacement organs are a reality in the mid-2010s, although these miracles are not yet widely used. One of the earliest cases involved a man about 75 years old that had lost his esophagus to cancer. On organic framework like biological chicken wire was surgically implanted in place of the missing esophagus and powdered pig bladder/intestine was poured onto it. In a short time, his body had grown a new esophagus internally, despite his advancing age.

Our own stem cells can also be used to grow new organs for our bodies, yet that process is not approved for wide use either. People are asking how long this will take.

The 3D Printer may be the most ingenious development of the 21st century. Not only can new organs be printed, but a man in early 2014 received a successfully applied new face that was printed on one of these machine. Another man received a new skull in the same way. A boy received a new hand in the same way in 2013.

The Face that was Printed

The Boy With the Printed Hand

Young Blood

Younger blood changes older brains in mice on the molecular level. It also creates positive changes in neuroanatomical (structure and number of neurons, which are brain cells) and neurophysiological (ways brain cells and other brain structures work) aspects of the mouse brain. Would we gain that result in a human case? Scientists hope so.

What is Infusion?

For the Stanford blood-brain studies, young mice were paired with old mice by surgically hooking together their circulatory systems for an extended period of time.

Another group contained "old mouse" - "old mouse" pairs hooked together similarly. We cannot hook people together in that manner.

If the system work sin humans, than plasma transfusions may be the method of choice. One alternative concerns certain proteins in younger blood that me be responsible for the positive changes in older mice. If these prove so useful and can be isolated and grown in the laboratory, then they might be injected instead of the more bulky plasma. The future results of these studies will be fascinating - and probably build the aged-care medical business further.

Refreshing New Blood

Many of us have heard tales of vampires and the rejuvenation they receive from ingesting blood. Only small vampire bats in South America actually drink blood to my knowledge, and it is the blood of cattle. However, scientists are finding that younger blood can refresh older human brains.

The Stanford School of Medicine Published research in May 2014 that shows good results from infusing older mice with the blood of younger mice. The older brains were revived and worked better. If this could be true in humans, then Alzheimer's and other dementias could be quashed. Our problem is in finding donors and in determining how much blood need be infused into senior citizens to trigger a refreshing of the brain.

Seniors might make a run on the blood banks, so to speak. How much would the procedure and the blood cost? Would the process be covered by health insurance? We have many questions to answer and blood therapy and the mere sound of if is creepy to some people.

If we could develop artificial blood that is workable, or use our own blood stem cells to make new blood, then the problems mentioned above might be avoided; and actually, only plasma was used in the mice studies, rather than whole blood.

The Stanford blood-brain research was active as far back as 2011. Researchers found that younger blood made new brain cells grow in older mice and vice versa. The newer studies found that younger blood caused older mice to produce brain chemicals associated with learning and to have a hippocampus area that worked better.

That is the part of the brain related to memory formation and to navigation (like a GPS) -- for instance, the famous Black Cab drivers of London UK learn so much information long-term that their hippocampi are significantly larger than that of the average population that does not drive a Black Cab.

Epic Blood

Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce
Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce

The good and the bad aspects of the blood industry within the field of medicine. Interesting tales in history and research.

 

New Blood Vessels Required on Earth and in Space

New blood vessels are required for new organs to function correctly and Jennifer Lewis is one of the people who has designed a method of printing them on a 3D Printer. What will likely be called the Lewis Method came from work completed at Harvard University by Lewis, a materials scientist.

I feel certain that 3D Printers will be required equipment on future space missions, because of the impossibility of making it back to Earth in time to treat certain injuries and conditions. In addition, the printers can print equipment, food, and a vast array of other products They are better than the Star TrekĀ® Replicator.

Reference: http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2014/02/essential-step-toward-printing-living-tissues Retrieved May 5, 2014.

Christopher Chen of the University of Pennsylvania and Jordan Miller at Rice University printed up a blood vessel network scaffolding of hard sugars and glycerol, much like the extracellular matrix first used in the esophagus case mentioned at the start of this Hub. After the scaffolding was in place, cells were placed upon it, they grew into the blood vessel network and the scaffolding was flushed away.

Reference: Jordan S. Miller, et.al. "Rapid casting of patterned vascular networks for perfusable engineered 3D tissues"; Nature Materials. September 2012; 11(9): 768 - 774.

Now we can print blood vessels to go along with new organs.

If science can find the answer to prolonging human life past the usual number of years telomeres can be useful, then organs, blood, and the brain are essential components that may need refurbishing in the long run.

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Comments 23 comments

gitachud profile image

gitachud 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Interesting -- how long will it take for all these technologies become common place?


Sophia Angel profile image

Sophia Angel 2 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

Medicine


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@gitachud - We have a lot of prosthetic devices already available at present and 3D Printing is being added to their production right now. You'll probably see increasing numbers of miracle cases in the news. That 3D face is awesome!

The widespread use of lab grown organs and blood vessels will take longer to accomplish, because of the number of official government approvals needed. We have people right now that need the help, so I hope we can streamline approvals. There is talk of making lab grown livers available for human drug testing and that would likely not take as long. I'd say 3-5 years to see these things begin to be more widely used,, and I hope it takes less time.

The blood infusion has not reached human clinical trials yet, so that will be the farthest into the future for use with people. I'd say a couple of years for trials and approvals, then the system for distributing the plasma or blood proteins will bog down, because for-profit companies will want to fight for control of sales of the products.

I agree with people whose opinion is that when we discover these types of things, we need to make them safe and available asap.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 2 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

This is a great, informative hub as all your hubs are. Hopefully, a pernament cure will be found for alzheimers and there will be advanced technologies to extend a high quality of life until 150 and beyond. I also read that scientists are extending high quality of life until 1000 years of age.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 2 years ago from Maryland

Fascinating, Patty! And the information about the rejuvenating power of "young" blood, which I have read elsewhere recently, is very heartening to those of us with Alzheimer's in our family trees. Voted up & shared.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Great article patty, I have been watching the young blood latest research on the news, and my one thought was how long would each transfusion work, by giving the older person a young persons blood it may well only work until we once again produce our own blood, but it is fascinating, and as for the printers that is just fantastic, fascinating read, nell


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 2 years ago from California Gold Country

I just read today about some new advances in bionic eye research which can help restore vision. (Search Bionic eye breakthrough). If some of these advances do become somewhat available will only a certain elite group have use of them? Or will they actually become a general benefit? It seems that most of these technological miracles are very expensive.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

What a fascinating topic and you brought out some interesting facts. I don't know if I would want to live to be 113, but if I do then I would know what I'm up against. I do practice mind and body exercises to keep active, pray and meditate, and eat healthy in order to keep active. Wow, Spock is doing well for his age! Great post, Patty.


no body profile image

no body 2 years ago from Rochester, New York

I know you are a smart woman. Do you know much of this stuff already or do you simply keep your eyes open and discover things as they come about? The ideas you voiced are amazing. The video is so wild I can hardly fathom it! Such technology is wondrous.

Another thing about increasing the longevity of the elderly, I do think that such things will be decided by money of the individual in the end.

To even dream these things is an explosion of the mind. I am torn about how one copes with the ability to live beyond a "normal" lifetime. I wonder just how frail life really is at that age. How much of a person will be synthesized and how much natural? How "normal" will synthesized be anyway? By the very definition, not normal at all. It would be believed to be better than normal which gives out and is irreplaceable. Great article. voted up and interesting. Bob.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@no body - Hi Bob! I am fascinated by aerospace industries and aerospace medicine, which have given rise to the development and invention of some of these life-prolonging technologies. Bioengineering is a jaw-dropping surprise of a field as well. I look at science journals and university reports of developments every week, but a lot ends up on Google News. The American Psychological Association has also become involved in these things and I receive word from them monthly.

Even with all that, I still think that the bodies of humans and other living things cannot last indefinitely, because I don't think we can change the base genetic codes that much -- Immortality is in Heaven, which is not on Earth as far as I understand.


no body profile image

no body 2 years ago from Rochester, New York

I agree Patti. Thank you. I will keep reading.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@teaches12345 - It sounds like you are doing everything correctly! Let's stay healthy as long as possible, following your example.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@Rochele Frank - I think you are right - those with the most money and influence will benefit from the new technologies first, as usual. So many more people could be helped, though, right now.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@Nell Rose - Hi Nell! I don't know how that blood transfer in humans might work, since the rats were never disconnected from their younger donors. I wonder if bone marrow transplants might be better?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@The Dirt Farmer - The symptoms and death by Alzheimer's are terrifying for humanity. That's what we need to cure fast.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@gmwilliams - Imagine that - 1,000 years old! There would be so much time to read and travel, but I suppose the retirement age will increase even MORE!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

@gmwilliams - Imagine that - 1,000 years old! There would be so much time to read and travel, but I suppose the retirement age will increase even MORE!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 2 years ago from America

Very interesting. I always said I never wanted to live to 100 by that time you've out lived some of your kids. They would have to do something with all these wrinkles if they want me to live that long. Voted up.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

We don't want to outlive the kids and all our friends, but the losses accumulate as we age, don't they? How does someone at 100 cope with all the loss? Can they make new friends if they can't get out as often as before? I think about these things.

I see ads for wrinkle removers and weird facelifts without surgery. Kind of scary. The TV commercials are full of ads about wrinkles, catheters, scooters, joint replacements, medications - and new cars! LOL


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 2 years ago from Central Virginia

As the adult child of a parent with Alzheimer's, I am interested in anything that can prevent it. This was very interesting and informative. Thank you.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

And I really want someone to find a way to prevent the disease altogether. At least we have Alzheimer's Care Centers and Memory Care Centers in Central Ohio now. In the 1980s, many of our medical professionals largely turned away and left families to struggle with the disease, causing caregivers to become sicker than the Alzheimers-afflicted. Still angry about that.


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 2 years ago from Central Virginia

Patty, it is a disease that touches every human emotion. It is painful to watch, frustrating to deal with, and heartbreaking at best. I have been writing a blog about this journey with my Dad's disease and I am brutally honest. I promised myself that I would own my thoughts and feelings, no matter how someone else might perceive them. Some days I am so angry I can barely stand myself. Other days are spent in tears over the lost dignity my Dad has experienced at the hands of people called "care givers". And then there are the days when I just can't make myself visit him. The rest of my days are just days filled with memories of times past, gratitude for the chance to make one more, and love for a man who deserves so much more than he has been given. Yes, it is easier now but it is still hard and we need to all get angry enough to push for more research and a cure before it bankrupts this society.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 2 years ago from France

Amazing and you have a gift to make all this high tech developments so easy to understand. It would be good if all these new technologies could be used widely but I really dread that it might end up in just a huge business for only those who can afford it.

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