Thursday, March 29, 2007

Longevity- What needs improvement?

S. Jay Olshansky, Robert N. Butler, and Bruce A. Carnes ask a simple question, What if Humans were designed to last? in the latest issue of The Scientist.

A coordinated network of molecular processes providing cells with nearly flawless surveillance, maintenance, and repair capabilities exemplifies the "perfection" of the human body. Living things need this precision in order to survive to reproductive
maturity in the face of a hostile environment and the toxic debris that the
cellular machinery of life generates. Meanwhile, subtle changes and imperfections at every level of biological organization give rise to the diseases and disorders associated with aging and impose limits on the duration of life, but ultimately, these changes and imperfections drive the evolutionary process itself. The juxtaposition of Michelangelo's perfection and Darwin's flaws embodies the linked stories of reproduction and death.

I particularly like that the authors say,

Our goal is not to create new methods of combating disease, but rather, to
spark an idea, trigger a thought, and inspire others to think outside the box by
first imagining a new future of human health that is better than the present -
and then working to make it so.

What do you think? If you could embark on making a long lived perfect human what would you change and why?