Concerned About the Brain

Developing the means to repair the human brain is essential to engineered longevity - it's the one organ we can't just replace as a last resort. From Sentient Developments: "The human brain degrades quickly with advanced age and, as a result, represents the weakest link in the life extension chain; as far as I'm concerned it's full stop until we can meaningfully fix the cognitive problems associated with aging. Yes, age-associated diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease are clearly bad, but the most devastating of these involve the nervous system - diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. These diseases take a brutal toll on individuals and their families, often virtually killing the person well before they die. That we are facing a looming epidemic of neurological diseases shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone. But what is surprising is that very few people are actively doing anything about it. And it's not that the writing isn't on the wall - it is. The time to act is now. ... Until we can meaningfully treat age-related cognitive decline, many of these other life extending advances are a moot point; what we're in danger of doing right now is extending lifespan, but not necessarily healthy life span." I disagree with this conclusion on the grounds that I think extending life without extending healthy life would be very hard to accomplish even if we were trying - aging is biological damage, and the outcome flows from the state of damage. Reduce the damage and you extend both life and healthy life. Neurodegeneration is driven in large part by the state of general health, perhaps through the mechanisms of blood vessel health, for example.



Here's some inspiration in the doom.

Meet Walter Breuning, the world's oldest living man (114, USA).

This guy is still walking around in good health, takes no prescription medicines, looks amazing (see photo on wikipedia page). Even more amazing, his mind is still so sharp he can even do things like recall in exhaustive detail his grand-father talking about fighting in the US civil war, or where he was on particular dates!

(Run a Google search you will even find images of this guy hurling baseballs... he's 114 remember!)

It appears a very tiny fraction of people are immune to the usual diseases of aging (and if we studied the genetics of these few extraordinary super-supercentenarians we could find out why).

In an interview last year, Walter commented:

"You come back in 4 or 5 years and I think I'll be here," Bruening said. He even promised Hartman the exclusive interview.

Legend man.

Posted by: zarzuelazen at October 28th, 2010 1:13 AM
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