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Question:

Can be possible to live 100 years?
George

Answer:

Dear George,

In the long run we are all dead. But the short run can be elongated in a way that makes the long run longer.

People are like machines: they wear out. However a machine can always be repaired.
A good mechanic with a stock of spare parts can keep it going indefinitely.

Managing wear and tear may not be as complicated as it looks, all is linked by a single word: oxidation.
A lot of oxygen is needed to power a cell and some of it goes absent without leave.

Instead of reacting with carbon from the sugar to form carbon dioxide, it forms highly reactive molecules called free radicals. These go around oxidizing—and thus damaging—other molecules, such as DNA and proteins, which causes all sorts of trouble.

Clear up free radicals and their kin, and you will slow down the process of ageing. And the chemicals you use to do that are antioxidants.

Some vitamins, such as vitamin C, are antioxidants in their own right. This is the basis of the high-street propaganda, though there is no evidence that consuming such antioxidants in large quantities brings any benefit.

One way that might let people to live 100 years is to accept the machine analogy literally.

When you take your car to be serviced or repaired, you expect the mechanic to replace any worn or damaged parts with new ones. That, roughly, is what those proposing an idea called partial immortalization are suggesting. And they will make the new parts with stem cells.

The world has heard much of stem cells recently. They come in several varieties, from those found in embryos, which can turn into any sort of body cell, to those whose destiny is constrained to becoming just one or a few sorts of cell.

The thing about stem cells of all types, which makes them different from ordinary body cells, is that they have special permission to multiply indefinitely.

There are scientific researchers who propose what is known as regenerative medicine—using stem cells to grow replacements for tissues and organs that have worn out. The most visionary of them contemplate the routine renewal of the body's organs in a Lincoln's axis sort of way.


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