Biology 1. After fusion was completed it was always my goal to turn to the problem of human aging. The idea was that a successful fusion company would generate the funding to pursue the ideas of others, and I also had a couple of ideas that I thought were my own that I wanted to pursue. Basically I believe the problem of aging can be broken down into two classes. The first class of problem is that we gradually lose stuff we need. The second is that we gain stuff that we don't need. So the goal of anti-aging should be to eliminate that which we don't need and add that which we do.
Biology 2. When we are born we have all of the information needed to build us all contained in a single cell, and a lot of that information is in the nucleus. The nucleus is made up of individual chromosomes. As the nucleus ages in most cells in the body, the tips of those chromosomes shorten, and eventually it is suspected that they become too short and the cells can't replicate anymore. But there are some cells in the body where the shortening does not occur. Scientists are now experimenting with an enzyme called teleomerase that might stop the shortening of the tips, and that is great. Aging causes us to lose the tips of our chromosomes, and teleomerase research may be one way to attack the problems of aging.
Biology 3. Another idea to slow aging is that perhaps the entire nucleus could be extracted from those cells in the body wherein the tips of the chromosomes stay healthy, and then that nucleus could be cloned and implanted throughout the body. It might then become a source of young tissue that over time would replace old tissue. We might only need to do this in a relatively small number of cells (perhaps one in a thousand, maybe more, maybe less) to get a very positive effect. The problem is that this has proven very hard to do. The nucleus is quite large, and putting it into a cell only works on rare occasions. And then, getting the cells to replicate is also rare. This process of nuclear transfer is what was used in the production of the first cloned sheep. In the case of the cloned sheep, the goal was reproduction of a whole organism, whereas antiaging would treat cell groups. Unfortunately, to date the technique is extremely inefficient. So much so that the original researcher gave up those efforts.
Biology 4. Nuclear transfer and telomerase are two techniques that are a start toward enabling us to replace what we lose as we age. The other problem involves getting rid of that which we gain as we age. Here my thoughts involve resonant destruction. It is known that every atom and molecule has certain resonances. A resonance involves a frequency of motion. The motion may be vibrational, rotational or consist of internal quantum states. But the important point is that these resonances can be excited by specific frequencies of light. I believe that this fact of nature can be exploited to find cures for much of what ails us, as will be discussed a bit in future posts.
Biology 5. Heat and light are presently used to pretty good efficacy in order to treat a variety of human ailments. In fact, one of the mechanisms used by the body itself to counteract an infection is a fever. Heat, understood from a quantum mechanical viewpoint, is the excitation of vibrations and rotations and velocities of the underlying molecules. (Heat is an internal energy.) By heating, the body preferentially can destroy more of the invading pathogens that the internal damage caused. But instead of applying the same heat to all our cells, both good cells and bad, if we instead apply it to just the bad, we should be able to be much more effective in our treatments. Since pathogens are made up of molecules, and all molecules have characteristic frequencies, the goal should be to determine which frequencies of light resonate with which pathogens, and shine that frequency of light on the patients, selectively heating the pathogen and not the healthy cells. While the idea is simple, there are of course some difficult issues to overcome, as will be discussed next time.
Biology 6. While it is true that molecules have resonances associated with their vibrational and rotational states, the problem is that these resonances are wide. They hence overlap the resonances of other molecules, and therefore discriminating between the pathogens and healthy tissue would likely prove quite difficult. A further problem is that light attenuates as it goes through any matter, and our skin would stop much of it before it would interact with pathogens within us. And a third issue is that even though we might be able to get the molecule vibrating or rotating, it might just re-emit the light and not be destroyed. Hence, taking the raw idea of resonant destruction of human pathogens to a useful therapeutic process faces high hurdles indeed.
Biology 7. Some of the problems of resonant destruction of human pathogens that were described in the previous post can be worked on. Even though a single frequency of light will only get a molecule vibrating or rotating, a second frequency, or perhaps a third, may well get it to chemically alter, and so kill it. Use of multiple frequencies would also lower the probability of healthy tissues being adversely affected by those same multiple frequencies. And while our skin presents a barrier, we could guide the light past the skin with wave guides. Or, in the case of blood borne pathogens such as the AIDS virus, the blood could be extracted, illuminated, and placed back into the patient.
Biology 8. Back when I worked at the Superconducting Super Collider in the early 90's, we got a letter from the leader of the National Institutes of Health that went out to all government paid scientists. The letter asked us what could be done if they were given another billion dollars. I wrote back to tell them that I thought they should begin a program of studying resonant destruction of human pathogens. I proposed a brute force approach (something the government does well) of assembling the appropriate light sources so that frequencies and intensities could be varied and the destruction of pathogens measured. Free electron lasers allow for continuous tuning of frequencies, and although they are costly, for a billion dollars the government could have set up such a program. I never heard back from them.
Biology 9 - Conclusion. At this point I only have a few ideas that I've always wanted to pursue concerning aging. Supporting telomerase and nuclear transfer research may help add back some of what we need that we lose as we age. Resonant destruction of human pathogens has the potential to take away some unneeded things we acquire as we age, as well as possibly fight some diseases. Of course these two lines of attack alone may not do all that is needed. The human organism is incredibly complex, far more complicated than even what is required for fusion energy production. However, the problem of aging is significant for us all, and the research is important to do and it might to a lot of good.