Back to Immortality

Dr. Michael West created a series of five videos which are on Youtube – Back to Immortality.

Dr. Michael West led the team that discovered Telomerase and the Telomerase gene and used to immortalize human cells in a petri dish.

Currently have telomerase which can immortalize human cells in a petri dish.
Currently we have stem cells and we can take regular cells even from someone who is 100 years old and we can deprogram the cells back to a pluripotent stem cell state. This is effectively de-aging the cells.
There is an effort by some researchers (not Dr West) to achieve partial reprogramming of cells. This would be to use the reprogramming mechanisms to de-age cells while retaining differentiation.

Dr West mentions in the fifth video that he strongly disapproves of current stem cell treatment centers.

Dr. West notes that people did not believe that immortalizing human cells (even in a petri dish was possible). This was a belief held until the 1980s. Even Dr. Hayflick thought it was extremely unlikely to be achieved. Hayflick had found over 300 changes in the cells as they divided and reached their limit of division.

Dr. West believes in Antagonistic Plietropy. This is while evolution is optomizing for reproduction then sometimes something reduces cancer before you can reproduce then increases the chances of you dying after you have reproduced.

Pleiotropy: phenomenon where a gene affects several different traits. Antagonistic Pleiotropy: where a gene has a positive effect on one trait but a negative effect on another trait (example: a gene that increases heat tolerance but reduces cold tolerance) Antagonistic Pleiotropy Theory of Aging: Mutations that are beneficial early in life (before reproduction), but are deleterious later in life do not get selected out of a population because selection is less efficient later in life. Antagonistic pleiotropy could lead to evolutionary trade-offs (sometimes between fecundity and longevity)

We evolved out of full regeneration and cellular immortality to reduce cancer risks prior to reproduction

We could bring back full generation and cellular immortality and solve cancer in some other way.

First is the Introduction to the five part video series Back to Immortality. The series provides a history of mankind’s quest for immortality and frames that history in the context of modern science that is uncovering the actual biology behind immortal renewal.

This episode called The Green Face of Neter, discusses tthe observation by ancient peoples that there is an immortal substratum of life seen, for instance, in the perpetual renewal of life in Springtime. This was the basis of ancient mystery religions such as those practiced in Egypt and Greece. These myths have important parallels with modern science which has uncovered the molecular mechanisms regulating immortal renewal, cell aging, and cell immortality.

In Episode 2 called The Evolution of Death the scientific developments of the 19th century are discussed. Scientists discovered that the human body is composed of cells, that life evolved over many millions of years, and that death is an ancient feature of life, reflecting the properties of only some, not all, cell types in the body. This opened the door to modern gerontology in its efforts to discover the actual clockwork mechanisms of aging and death.

This episode (3) called “The Immortalization of Dr. Hayflick” describes aging research in the 20th century beginning with the controversial research of Alexis Carrel and Charles Lindbergh through to the work of the “erector set” and finally the discovery of cell aging and the role of telomerase in immortalizing human cells.

Wealthy aviator Charles Lindbergh was deeply involved in experimentation with cells in the pursuit of longevity.

Episode 4 called Renatus (Latin for being born a second time) describes the origins of regenerative medicine as a search to isolate for the first time cells from the immortal human germ-line. The science led to techniques like somatic cell nuclear transfer and induced pluripotency to transport human cells back in time and back to immortality.

Episode 5 called The Last Enemy, looks to the future of aging and biotechnology, both from the perspective of what science can do (such as learning how to induce immortal tissue regeneration in humans) as well as what it should do as individuals and a society.