A Means to an End: The Biological Basis of Aging and Death by William R. Clark

By William R. Clark

Why will we age? Is getting older inevitable? Will advances in scientific wisdom let us expand the human lifespan past its current limits? simply because getting old has lengthy been the only irreducible truth of human lifestyles, those interesting questions come up extra frequently within the context of technology fiction than technological know-how truth. yet contemporary discoveries within the fields of cellphone biology and molecular genetics are heavily tough the idea that human lifespans are past our regulate. With such discoveries in brain, famous cellphone biologist William R. Clark truly and elegantly describes how senescence starts off on the point of person cells and the way mobile replication could be certain up with getting older of the total organism. He explores the evolutionary starting place and serve as of getting older, the mobile connections among getting older and melanoma, the parallels among mobile senescence and Alzheimer's sickness, and the insights received via learning human genetic disorders--such as Werner's syndrome--that mimic the indications of getting older. Clark additionally explains how relief in caloric consumption may very well aid elevate lifespan, and the way the harmful results of oxidative components within the physique can be constrained by way of the intake of antioxidants present in fruit and veggies. In a last bankruptcy, Clark considers the social and financial facets of dwelling longer, the results of gene treatment on senescence, and what we would know about getting older from experiments in cloning. it is a hugely readable, provocative account of a few of the main far-reaching and debatable questions we're prone to ask within the subsequent century.

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Accidental cell death can occur virtually instantly, for example, in the case of physical trauma; a cell smashed by a hammer does not go through a particularly elaborate process of 24 THE NATURE OF CELLULAR SENESCENCE AND DEATH dying. But other forms of accidental cell death do involve something like a process, and the process is called necrosis. The main feature of necrosis as a way of dying is that it is resisted with everything the cell under challenge has at its command. Cells that are deprived of oxygen, for example, can switch their internal metabolic pathways to those not requiring oxygen, and those deprived of nutrients may begin to burn internal stores of food until external sources become available again.

Unimpeachable documentation is required before recognizing the longevity claims of anyone over 100 years old. For mammalian species other than humans, as mentioned earlier, maximum lifespan is normally observed only in animals kept in zoos or maintained in laboratories, where accidental death can be controlled. 2. 3 ter cases, and it is remarkably constant within a species even though only rarely, if ever, reached in the wild. On the other hand, maximum lifespan can be quite different between physically similar species living in the same ecological niche, and these differences are stably transmitted from one generation to the next.

Warmblooded animals use metabolic energy together with ambient solar energy to keep their internal temperatures within a reasonable working range. For most biologists, then, the various definitions of life can nearly all be traced back to the presence within individual cells of an active metabolism—an ability to extract energy from the environment and 22 THE NATURE OF CELLULAR SENESCENCE AND DEATH use it to carry out the range of biological functions that we call life. Cellular death can then largely be defined in terms of the absence— but it must be the complete absence—of an active metabolism.

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