Longer Life?


Will biotechnology stretch our legacies out longer, or are the ethical implications too damaging?

 

Although escaping mortality is out of the question, stretching its boundaries may not be, according to new discoveries in genetic research.

Geneticists discovered how to lengthen the life span of animals and insects by the alteration of a single gene. Though companies form to benefit from any future application to humans, some are raising questions about the ethical implications of such a process.

 

With the alteration of a specific gene called the daf-2, Cynthia Kenyon, the Herbert Boyer distinguished professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), successfully lengthened the life span of insects (namely, nematode C. elegan worms) by six times--the equivalent of 500 human years.

 

"More startling," reports Discover magazine, "the worms remained robust almost until they died."

Startling as it may be, creating a longer life span for a worm doesn't mean it will be easy to do the same for humans. But Kenyon is willing to move in that direction.

"Not very long ago, most people thought that aging was something that just happened," says Kenyon on UCSF's neuroscience faculty Web site. But Kenyon found differently.

Kenyon, who U.S. News & World Report calls one of the "Best Minds: People to Watch" in 2004, works with several other geneticists to pioneer age-development research. She began experimenting with the lengthening of small worms' life spans 10 years ago while finishing her post-doctoral fellowship at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. Based on her findings, Kenyon believes environmental cues and signals from the reproductive system affect the insects' daf-2 gene and that determines how long they live.

Kenyon co-founded Elixir Pharmaceuticals in hopes of creating a human anti-aging pill. She thinks the drug will target the daf-2 gene and other insulin receptors.

"If our company could make a pill, everyone would want it," Kenyon says in U.S. News & World Report.

But David Stevens, M.D., the executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Association, isn't so quick to jump in the proverbial fountain of life.

"In the larger context," Stevens says, "working to find a genetic key to prolonged life is part of the intellectual movement attempting to improve on the human condition through reason."

Stevens says the idea of a prolonged life is a "Holy Grail of sorts" for those who don't believe in any existence after death.

Before such a pill materializes, society must confront ethical implications of prolonging life, but "a magic pill or injection is unlikely to develop due to many of these concerns," Stevens says. The conception also remains lodged in the future because biologists still don't know exactly what controls the daf-2 gene in humans.

Daniel S. McConchie, director of public relations and public policy for The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, suggests a genetic intervention such as a life-lengthening pill wouldn't be much different than medical interventions we already accept.

"There is nothing wrong with eating well, exercising or medically intervening to live a better, longer, healthier life," McConchie says. "In Genesis, people lived many hundreds of years. The fall [of man] sentenced us to death, but not necessarily a short life. Believe me; we'll never be able to genetically engineer immortality."

Terry Dorian, author of Total Health and Restoration (Siloam), is one of those using exercise and current medical interventions to live a better, longer life. She eschews the idea of a gene-changing elixir. Instead, she relies on advances in nutrition.

"The greatest health problems that keep us from living longer lives are 85 percent diet- and lifestyle-related," Dorian says. "Integrated groups from the best schools and universities are already talking about living to 120 by changing dietary and lifestyle habits."

Dorian, who holds a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, has studied health in different cultures for more than 20 years. She uses natural healing therapies and takes bioidentical hormones to improve her health.

She says most people could live years longer by eating foods dense in nutrients and low in calories. This not only lengthens life but also improves the quality of life.

"Enlightened people in the medical field are talking about quality and length at the same time," Dorian says. "We need to pay attention to what the Lord has shown us [about health] and what we already know."


Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Did you enjoy this health article? Click here to receive new health articles by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • Cindy Jacobs

    2017: Year of the Breakthrough

    "There will be a significant increase in miracles and signs and wonders."

  • Are you willing to volunteer for God's offensive army?

    Prophetic Word: Preparing for God's World War 3

    God is searching for soldiers of the cross who are willing to volunteer for His offensive army.

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Growing relationship

    2017 Prophetic Word: The Supernatural Key to Growing Your Relationship With God

    It's vital that we understand what comes from God and what comes from the devil.

  • Marriage man and woman

    Why Marriage Is Not Just Between a Man and a Woman

    Marriage is a miracle. Let us treat it like one.

  • Be encouraged to slow down to hear God in unexpected ways.

    A Common Reason You May Be Missing God's Voice

    Out of thousands of people, only six didn't fall into one experiment's trap. Discover how ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit