On Earth, tissues degrade, and all biological markers fade out with it. Humans are also part of this decaying process. However, this doesn’t stop us from dreaming of a time when science finds the answer to eternal life. Numerous experiments and projects have been trying to discover the fountain of youth. However, a new team of scientists assessed if this goal can be realistic or not.
THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH IS A PROCESS OF PERFECTING THE SELECTION BETWEEN ORGANISMS
According to University of Arizona researchers, it is impossible for humans to stop the aging process. They proved from a mathematical, logical, and theoretical point of view that multicellular organisms couldn’t override aging.
Joanna Masel is a professor of evolutionary biology and ecology at UA. She has been working with UA postdoctoral researcher Paul Nelson to assess whether there is any loophole in the inevitability of aging. Their findings are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Photo: Joanna Masel
So far, people believed that immortality could be gained the moment scientists find out how to refine the selection between organisms to perfection. There are already theories to how to achieve this progress.
For instance, science could make cells linked to aging feel like in a competition. This way, they will feel the need to eliminate those among them that are not doing great work. As a result, only intact cells are left.
However, Masel and Nelson believe it is more to the story than this simple idea. The aging process consists of two phenomena. First of all, all cells lose efficiency in time. For instance, hair cells stop generating pigment.
Secondly, some cells start reproducing in higher numbers. This process increases the rates of cancer cells. Researchers claimed that the more people advance in their mortality, the more cancer cells they produce without triggering symptoms.
THE PURSUE OF ETERNAL LIFE WILL ONLY INCREASE CHANCES OF CANCER
Knowing all these, Masel and Nelson simulated what would happen if natural selection reached a perfect stage. Their main conclusion was that this ideal state would actually cause a record number of cancer cells.
“If you get rid of those poorly functioning, sluggish cells, then that allows cancer cells to proliferate, and if you get rid of, or slow down, those cancer cells, then that allows sluggish cells to accumulate.”
As a result, the eternal life cannot happen to multicellular organisms. Mortality is an intrinsic part of humans. This annuls the idea that at some point the evolution will eliminate aging from its equation. According to math, the attempt to perfect the biology will only lead to worse scenarios.