On Inevitable Things and Coping Mechanisms – your comment on Ioana Petre’s essay

Ioana’s essayy:


My comment on Ioana’s essay:

“Excellent article. Thanks very much for sharing this. I’ve often thought people’s resistance to even considering whether anti-aging medicine is possible was just due to some innate thing where people always assume things that have never been done before (e.g. powered flight) are naturally considered impossible. But this essay highlights that even considering extended/indefinite life messes with people’s coping mechanism for death. Not thinking about the ‘inevitable’ thing one is trying to cope with is actually an important part of the coping process.

It is a morbid thought, but I’ve got to wonder how many people who contracted HIV in the 1980s, before effective multi drug cocktails, sailed serenely to their deaths rather than raging against the status quo? Ioana makes a good point that HIV viral infection was once an inevitable death sentance that people had to cope with.

I think HIV was different to aging though as other viruses had already been conquered by science (Polio, Smallpox) but the condition of aging has never been conquered. Perhaps it will take an indefinitely living mouse to change most people’s opinions? Until then there will be a funding gap for the basic research needed to create this mouse? There will be no large government funding without a percentage of the population supporting anti-aging research. But there will be no percentage of the population supporting anti-aging research without an indefinitely living mouse. And creating the treatments to create this mouse will go very slowly without large government funding. So anti-aging research is in a bit of a poverty trap.

Is this similar to the period before the industrial revolution where perhaps the entire world was in an economic poverty trap?”

The text of Ioana’s essay:

On Inevitable Things and Coping Mechanisms

On average, coping mechanisms are more good than bad. Imagine going through life without any guardian of your negative thoughts, destructive behavior or haunting problems. Each day would be a pretty messy business, wouldn’t it? But then again, do not think that the opposite is bliss because it really isn’t. Nobody likes overachievers anyways…

Now, as many have already pointed out, the problem with coping mechanisms is that they might gradually lead to a semi-conscious rejection of reality. And at the end of the day, reality denial perpetuates rather than eliminates one’s hardships and frustrations. Thus, don’t be surprised if and when the act of coping, which in its honest self doesn’t commit to deliver more than it promises, fails you. Coping is not problem solving. But, according to some, under certain circumstances, it is the next best thing.

And here is where the issue of inevitability comes into play. By their very definition, inevitable things are bound to happen no matter what. Moreover, most of the time, they are bound to happen in a very specific way, while nothing (or very little, at best) can be done about them. In this context, as problem solving is out of the question, coping is all we’re left with.

There are so many inevitable things around us that people have generally chosen to cope with. Among them, aging and death are my favorite examples, probably because I genuinely and equally dread and despise them. In all likelihood, it is the most rational approach to develop, at the individual level, some defense mechanisms against the disturbing thought of non-existence. But then there is this striking fact that we should not disregard: many times, the inevitability of things comes with an expiration deadline.

Through displays of genius and huge effort, people like you and me have managed to stop the unstoppable over and over again. This is by no means an exaggeration. Just think about those times when viral infections were an irreversible sentence to death or, on a less dramatic note, when one’s inborn sex would forever remain unchanged even if it didn’t correspond to one’s self-image and self-assigned gender. We might take such things for granted nowadays, but this was not always the case. The reason for the accomplishment of such grand projects lies firstly in a change of attitude: from compliance with the given to non-compliance. Only after allowing the ‘what if’ to make its way into our thoughts and speech can we actually proceed to thinking about overcoming the inevitable.

This is what the situation is now with the fight against aging and death. In some ways, embracing religious precepts and the promise of an afterlife transforms non-existence into something that many actually look forward to. Oh, the gardens and the foods and the clouds and the people and the peace… Who would want to give that up and exchange it for nothing, really, except the idea that maybe it doesn’t have to be that way?

Although there are many important scientific breakthroughs related to aging and its associated diseases, the thought of supporting this path gives many people the chills because it forces them to review their life principles and reassess their coping mechanisms. Some will say that living to 200 is not natural, while having absolutely no problem with using antibiotics or birth-control pills. Others will invoke the boredom of a long life. Who knows, non-existence can potentially be more exciting, but it’s also pretty long because it’s infinite. The point of the matter, though, is this: refusing to perceive aging and death as inevitable leaves permanent scars on one’s life views, which will possibly make one’s days a bit more daunting than otherwise. But, on the bright side of it, it prevents the self-sabotaging inertia that kills innovation, progress, and, in this specific case, a whole lot of other people too. Also, if I think about it there are some other reasons for optimism as well: personally, I know more individuals that have conquered death by still being alive than those who didn’t . What about you?

In closing, I would like to highlight the fact that the long and widespread existence of certain things doesn’t make them right, nor acceptable. Inevitability is only as inevitable as one allows it to be.

Comment on Fightaging’s post on the SENS Foundation’s June 2014 newsletter


My Comment:

I had a look at Dr Sudhir Paul’s video on the SENS website. What I found exciting was the idea that catabolic IgM antibodies that break down Alzheimer’s disease amyloids themselves may avoid the inflammation problem caused by more ‘regular’ IgG antibodies which recruit phagocytes to do the job.

I wonder if any Pharmaceutical company or any teams around the world are actively researching this? Or is Dr Paul way ahead of everyone else in the world in the area of catabolic antibodies.

Of course these catabolic IgM antibodies haven’t yet been shown to break down an amyloid in vivo, which seems to be an important milestone before more people start to take notice.

These catabolic antibodies could be a revolutionary new treatment/technology avenue for extra cellular junk. I wonder if they could also be used to break glucospane? Although maybe that is too tangled for them to get near it, or the bonds are too tough for them to break?

How to deliver cancer inspection devices to cells

I was reading through the http://www.fightaging.org archives How to Deliver New Enzymes to Clean Up Aged Cells.

The above blog article was about this paper New Strategies for Enzyme Replacement Therapy for Lysosomal Storage Diseases. It struck me that this could be a general way for getting “DNA Nanobots” inside cells in order to examine the DNA or mRNA to see if they are cancerous. Why is that important. Well I viewed the recent google X video on DNA nanobotsM and the presenter said solving cancer required drugs/treatments that were both specific and dealt with evolved resistance. He said the DNA nanaobots could examine the cells for cancer markers on their surfaces, then deliver 5 drugs at once… but what if the cancer cells evolve resistance by getting rid of the cell surface markers that the DNA Nanobots use? Or can they not do this?

Or could cancer cells just evolve resistance by getting rid of the mRNA that the now intra-cellular Nanobots are looking for? Would this be as easy as getting rid of cell surface markers?

Questions, questions

A lot of this blog will just be comments on the excellent www.fightaging.org blog by Reason.

I find that after reading articles on there my mind immediately has a couple of unanswered questions. Usually to do with how near the technology is to fruition. Or what the remaining problems facing a technology are. I usually search around the web for answers for a bit, often not finding any.

But rather than just posting the questions in comments below the fightaging! articles. I may post them here as well, then post up any answers or information that I later find out.

Fightaging made a post that work on Allotopic Expression of Mitochondrial Genes is Spreading.

My comment was:

That is very good news that this research is spreading.

Does anyone know if:

1 ~ The use of a targeting sequence to get the protein into the mitochondria is the same approach as that being studied by Matthew O’Conner and the SENS foundation?

2 ~ Looking at Matthew “Oki” O’Conner request for funding from http://www.longecity.org I see that ND4 is part of Complex 1 which unfortunately has 6 other proteins from genes kept in the mitochodria rather than the nucleus. Will this approach work for the other 6 proteins in complex 1? What is to stop this working for all 13 proteins/genes?

Lets see what answers I can find…

Will ponies will be the first to experience regenerative medicine treatments?

This post is also a comment on the fightaging.org “Shutting Down Open Cures” article.

Reason, the author of the Fightaging! blog today posted up an article about how he was shutting down the Opencures.org website. He included a number of articles from that site, and one jumped out at me with the following goal:

“The foundational items on the Open Cures to-do list are as follows:

– Establish a repository of how-to documentation for longevity-enhancing biotechnologies demonstrated on mice in the lab, with sufficient detail and explanation to make it comprehensible and useful for garage biotech groups, DIYbio practitioners, and overseas developers.”

At first I thought “Great, we can create an online SENS cookbook that people can use to apply SENS technology to animals in their own hobbyist experiments”. Then I though about it a bit more deeply and how much of a mission even simple DNA western blotting undergrad experiments were at uni.

No enthusiast is going to be able to replicate SENS experiments to create a long living pet mouse any time soon. Unlike the hobbyist software programming movement in the 1980s, running a lab out of a garage will remain too expensive and time consuming for some time into the future. Witness Matthew O’Connor getting a grant of $21,000 from Longecity.org just to pay for the reagents and an automated cell counter necessary for his team’s mitochondrial allotopic gene expression experiment.

What is needed is a business, and no one will be traveling to asia to get anti aging treatments for themselves that haven’t been proven to work at least a couple of dozen times in humans. So we are at the situation where it is too expensive for hobbyist enthusiasts, and only businesses will be able to carry out these treatments. And due to the immense, near billion dollar expense of getting approval for this in humans, there is no market for human treatments. And no one will get anti aging treatments without the human studies. A bit of a chicken and egg situation.

I thought about if there would be a market for people to take their pet dogs to Singapore to perhaps have their senescent cells removed, or get their mitochondrial genes allotopically expressed so that they live longer than 8 to 12 years, or aren’t cripplingly ill in the last 2 to 3 of them? But this probably doesn’t have a large market, as although people love their dogs, very few of them are going to take themselves and their dogs to Singapore (Singapore being the most Western and easiest asian location) to pay ten to fifteen thousand dollars to keep their dog healthy for a bit longer (or maybe I am wrong about this?).

But then I remembered that one type of animal is already having a recent biotechnology applied to it – Polo Ponies.


This 2013 Economist article describes how cloning is being used in Polo ponies in argentina. This is an economically viable business because decent polo ponies are expensive ($100,000 to $200,000 for top ponies). Most of the clones are for breeding purposes. But clones have the advantage of having 100% of the genes of an exceptional horse rather than just 50%, perhaps reducing the odds that the offspring will be less exceptional (nuture, environment, and chance still play a role). The original company, Crestview, and a local Argentinian competitor, Kheiron Laboratories, can produce between 10 and 30 ponies per year and are already full booked for next year.

The “career” of the average Polo pony starts around age 5 to 6 and continues into its teens. If a $10,000 treatment could extend the pony’s playing career by a few years, it would probably be economically viable, given simply cloning the pony means its clone will have to first go through the cost of 5 years of training and care.