Hey there and welcome to Life Noggin. Growing old is a fact of life… or is it? What if I told you it was possible to stay young forever? No, this isn’t some infomercial for my new cosmetics line, Pixelface. Though my skin does look flawless, if I do say so myself. No, I’m talking about biologically staying young forever. Is modern science navigating its way to the Fountain of Youth? Grab your compass and let’s find out! Let’s start by looking at why we age in the first place.
When your DNA replicates, mistakes can be made that lead to changes in the DNA sequence. These mistakes are usually fixed, but sometimes they slip through the cracks, leaving your DNA damaged. And this decay has been directly linked to aging. If the damage gets too bad, the cell with that DNA will die or enter a process called senescence, which means it won’t replicate. These non-replicating cells may speed up the process of aging by releasing inflammatory proteins. Even in their dead dormancy, these cells wear down your internal economy like that friend who keeps asking for lunch money. Dang it Triangle Bob, not again! One of the worst forms of DNA damage is with your chromosomes’ telomeres.
Telomeres are at the ends of your chromosomes, protecting the DNA. Most telomeres shrink every time their cell divides. And once they become too short, the cell dies or becomes one of those free-loading senescent cells. So, maybe a way to stay young is to simply find a way to replenish the telomeres? Every cell in your body actually has the genetic code to do this, but the answer isn’t that simple because most of your cells don’t replenish their telomeres to protect the body from cancer. Foiled again! Your cell’s mitochondria may also hold secrets for delaying the aging process. You remember those, right? Say it with me now; The Mitochondria is the Powerhouse of the Cell! That’s at least one thing I remember from High School. Still don’t know how that thing works, whatever it is. Anyway, it seems as though the right amount of stress and oxidation to your mitochondria is key to staying younger.
The theory used to be that all free-radical damage to your mitochondria would cause you to age faster. However, due to recent studies, stressing your mitochondria seems to actually /extend/ your lifespan, not shorten it. This is provided the damage isn’t too severe. I guess what doesn’t kill you truly does make you stronger. But maybe we can learn something from another animal, like the Immortal Jellyfish. As a survival method, these jellyfish can leap back to when they were a baby. They do this through transdifferentiation, where their adult cells can revert back to an entirely different cell. But what if we just became vampires instead? It’s actually less science-fiction than you’d think. Researchers were able to surgically join older mice with younger ones so that the pairs shared the same blood circulation. By having the younger blood flowing through their body, age-related heart conditions in the older mice were actually reversed
As found on Youtube