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Kevin Jacobson

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Could we study cancer as a means of obtaining immortality in humans?

Cancer, the deadliest disease known to man, may just extend our lifetimes. Think about it, cancer is so deadly because cancer cells are immortal. They just keep multiplying and multiplying and none of the cancer cells die because they don have the 30 multiplications bio clock that normal cells have. So, if we could somehow study and decode cancer in such a way that the human genome could be modified for extended lifetime or immortality purposes, we could all avoid death, at least, for a very long time. What do you folks think?

Topics: cancer
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    Jan 6 2013: I think they have been working on this for some time. We just don't know enough yet.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Henrietta-Lacks-Immortal-Cells.html
  • Jan 7 2013: Decoding cancer will no doubt have many benefits. I do not see any variant of it being used to slow aging or prolong life. Once decoded, coding cells and producing them such that they had the desired effect in all bodies seems like it would be quite a challenge. Cancer does not affect everyone equally, consequently, it would seem that recoding would require a custom tailoring of the cells for each body. Then there is the effect of physical and chemical things in the environment that might have a different effect on the body over period of time linger than a normal human lifespan. This increased life would likely also come in a body that was frail unless the effects were somehow distributed over the life of those receiving the cells.

    There is a lot of science between now and when this could even be realistically imagined. There would also be some pretty big political hurdles.
    • Jan 7 2013: I agree with you, but there is one trait that all types of cancer have and all people with cancer suffer from. Immortality. Cancer is deadly because a cancer cell will live forever as long as it has a blood supply. If the specific part of a cancers DNA that makes it immortal were to be separated, this could have great benefits for humans.
  • Jan 6 2013: Kevin,
    I am not "up to speed" on the recent interest in immortality. Why are you and others interested? Help me understand why this topic and discussion of immortality is important.

    I do agree we humans should continue research to rid us of disease. Would a complete eradication of all diseases actually result in immortality? Are there not other factors preventing immortality?

    You use the words "avoid death". As I understand, death is merely a graduation from human level of life to the next level, which I understand, is profoundly different and far more attractive regarding relationships and personality progress.

    But first, to understand desire for immortality here on this life level.

    Your response is kindly solicited.
    • Jan 6 2013: I don't want to turn this into a religious argument, but I don't believe in a "next level." This is partly why I, personally, am so interested in this field. We have made much progress in terms of tissue regeneration and organ growing, so why not take it even further as to expand the human lifetime.Now, I wouldn't suggest trying to eradicate disease because that would slowly make the generations prone to any new strain of virus or bacteria that may pop up.
      • Jan 6 2013: OK. Thanks for the clarification. Maintaining this life level as long as possible, if understand you correctly. Are you actually visualizing immortality? My understanding of immortality is never a death.

        Let's see what others say with this new clarification.
        • Jan 6 2013: Well, if our cells behaved more like a cancer, with the exception of rampant growth, we could, in theory live a very long time, however, we would be limited by how much information our brains could store. So, we would live a very long time, but eventually, our brains would reach their limit in terms of data storage. This may be solved by computer interface technology.
  • Jan 6 2013: Even if we did - Aren't there many other causes of death?
    • Jan 6 2013: Why would other causes of death matter if we achieved extended life using a cancer derived genetic code. I'm sure there would be health problems that came along with this, but they could be solved when we get there, but since said health problems are unknown to us yet because we haven't achieved the above idea, what health problems could you possibly be referring to?
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    R H 30+

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    Jan 12 2013: I have also read that science is proposing harvesting our DNA to grow '2nd selves' in a lab, thereby have a 'replacement' body available to 'download' our essential personalities into. This would also, theoretically, accomplish perpetuity. The socio/ethical ramifications are enormous, and I don't believe we yet have the skills, or even the dialogue, to approach this issue. Possibly the long-term ramifications of women selling their eggs, and men their sperm, is a beginning to understanding the complexity, and singularity, of this issue.