• Question: Will we have something that we can stay alive forever in the future

    Asked by free46pen to Philip, Jake, Annette, Amy Heather on 22 Nov 2019.
    • Photo: Amy Heather Fitzpatrick

      Amy Heather Fitzpatrick answered on 22 Nov 2019:

      Nice question. So at the moment, scientists in Ireland and France are trying to figure out what genes encode/make us live longer. To study this, they are looking at bats. You see, in general, the smaller an animal is.. the shorter it’s life. So if you look at dogs and cats vs humans.. you can see the difference right? You don’t meet many cats and dogs older than 20 years? But buts are weird. Despite being very small they live for a very long time.. possibly more than 40 years and rumored up to 70, though because they live in the wild, it’s been hard to check if this is true. One explanation for their long life is that bats maintain the ends of their chromosomes, preventing cells from slipping into senescence. Senescence means that your cells stop dividing, replicating and then dying, so in humans this can happen, and you get fewer new cells and more old cells. This might help in humans preventing cancer, yet bats manage to keep cells making new cells, without turning into cancerous cells. If we can figure out how their cells can keep growing, without growing cancerous, we might be able to create a medical treatment to encourage humans to make new cells, or maybe we could edit the genes of zygotes (start of a baby forming). Editing the cells of a zygote might cause a lot of problems, because what if this expensive and only rich people can afford it.. is that fair? What if we start to change genes to make people smarter, more athletic, taller and better looking? Is that ethical/fair? What do you think?

    • Photo: Philip Schuler

      Philip Schuler answered on 22 Nov 2019:

      I think nothing, absolutely nothing, lasts forever.