X-Message-Number: 19570
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 12:04:23 EDT
Subject: Aging research idea

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I have an idea for an aging experiment which I might actually be able to fund 
myself, and I wonder if some of you could comment on it or recommend a 
researcher, or tell me a better place to post it.  

I am aware of the many theories of aging, and that in fact some systems may 
fail for one reason-damage, say, while others fail for another--programming 
for example.  And there's a chance that replacing one system-say an old liver 
with the clone of a young one--might rejuvenate the whole body, wholly or 
partly -- and keep it going until the next system failed.  Years ago Dr. 
Denkla hypothesized that a single small molecule orchestrated the entire 
decline and fall, but I think he somehow dropped out of research.  

Anyway, clones allow us now to perform simple experiments to test such 
hypotheses.  Since transplants from young clones to old ones should not 
provoke rejection, we should be able to transplant organs and see if one 
causes marked "rejuvenation" and increased longevity.  

Even before that we can test whether the hormones etc. which organs put into 
the bloodstream cause the symptoms of age.  We could do this simply by a 
blood transfusion from young clones to old ones, large transfusions that 
essentially replaced old blood with young.  This was impossible in the past 
because transfusing a lot of blood caused terrible problems--I think the 
immune cells in the blood attacked the host.  But now with clones or 
quasi-clones from heavily inbred lines this shouldn't happen, so we can do 
whole-blood-supply-replacements many times.  

If "young blood" rejuvenates old animals we can conclude that some thing or 
things in the blood cause aging (or youth), and go looking for those things 
and the organs that produce them.  If such blood does not cause improvements, 
we can conclude that the machinery itself (organs, mitochondria or whenever) 
is broken down and that this is the cause of the debility.  

It is hard to know beforehand.  Scurvy damages many systems, but vitamin C in 
the blood causes general recovery.  Whereas some damage, say a ruptured 
aorta, can't be repaired by any blood chemical.  

In support of the idea, fixing one system often restores numerous moribund, 
apparently faulty organs.  I believe it was noted with the latest artificial 
heart that adequate blood flow brought back kidneys and other failing 
organs--the damage was repairable.  

So it seems to me someone should be able to buy a bunch of inbred or cloned 
animals that are blood compatible and transfused blood to old animals.  
Obviously one asks "Do they perk up and look and act young?", and "Do they 
live longer than controls?" Inbred rat lines might be cheapest but I don't 
know if you can transfuse rats or whether they are genetically close enough. 

My questions are: 

Has this been done? 

Would it be worthwhile to try--is it reasonable idea? 

Is it technically feasible (Can you transfuse rats? Would immune system 
problems arise from multiple transplants?) 

What would it cost? 

As to the cost question, I understand there is a website where you can post 
almost any project--though usually programming ones -- and people bid to 
complete it.  Often bids of  $25 come from India were that's a month's rent, 
and bring satisfactory results.  Talented programmers, well versed in their 
subjects, work many hours for that.  Perhaps biologists skilled in minor 
surgery would bid on this. Better yet would be graduate students who might do 
it free to have a thesis topic.  Do you know such a student or one who might 
work for a stipend? 

Thanks for any help you can render, 

Alan Mole


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