Tatiana Al Rahbany
Man and science are in a constant state of evolution. Most scientific mysteries and problems have been solved, but one is yet to change life as we know it, drastically. Aging is the process of becoming weaker with time, and by that, one develops certain morphological characteristics and physical weaknesses which can be a problem affecting him socially and psychologically. Scientists have been working on this for quite some time, perhaps for decades now. They’ve done the unthinkable; managed to land on the moon, created nuclear weaponry… How longer will this stay an issue for them? Can they ever find a way to slow down the aging process, or even reverse it?
Reversing the aging process is an experiment that is bound to become a fact sooner or later. Growing older always meant growing weaker, but due to new enhanced technologies and modern scientific innovations, there are many ways we can hold our vigor together and stay healthy. Nutrition science provides much advice on how to live a healthy lifestyle, through the consumption of the right kinds of food and exercising effectively, consequently improving the quality of our lives.
According to recent researches, telomeres are small fragments located at the end of each chromosome. These DNA sequences are said to “cap” or protect chromosomes as a cell divides. But what is really interesting about telomeres is that they appear to be the “clock” that regulates how many times an individual cell can divide. With every division, the telomere gets a bit shorter and the individual gets a bit older. Telomere shortening is considered the probable reason for premature mortality. Hence, if we could find a way to prevent the telomere’s wearing out-responsible for the appearance of morphological aging, we would make our cells immortal and theoretically stay young forever. Luckily, there are such ways. Scientists have found that the enzyme telomerase, responsible for the production of telomeres will take care of that and keep the telomere intact. But unfortunately, telomerase injections were found to be carcinogenic-develop cancer-in humans. What scientists are working on today is the possibility of promoting telomerase production in one’s healthy cells. However, what we know now is that there are certain supplements—multivitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, green tea extract—that are associated with longer telomere length.
Other methods, such as organ transplantation, can also contribute to prolonging human lifespan. Recent technologies have found ways to “freeze” human embryonic stem cells found with new-born children. These cells can live for about thirty years, put aside, and always ready to make a new organ in case their owner needed transplantation.
So the mystery is almost solved. And science will probably find solutions for every problem with time. Man will soon be able to live for hundreds of years and have enough time to enjoy life; all of it. Perhaps whoever wrote “The Lion King” had no such long-term prospects for this kind of change in the “circle of life”. After all, who said life has to be short? But this will in turn give rise to new sociological problems, such as increased population, rather than economic crises. Would we want the aging process back, then?