After the publication of the human genome sequences, there have been assertions that this new knowledge will reveal genes whose manipulation may permit us to intervene directly in the processes of aging. Although it is likely that advances in molecular genetics will soon lead to effective treatments for inherited and age-related diseases, it is unlikely that scientists will be able to influence aging directly through genetic engineering92,93 because, as stated above, there are no genes directly responsible for the processes of aging. Centuries of selective breeding experience (in agricultural, domesticated and experimental plants and animals) has revealed that genetic manipulations designed to enhance one or only a few biological characteristics of an organism frequently have adverse consequences for health and vigor. As such, there is a very real danger that enhancing biological attributes associated with extended survival late in life might compromise biological properties important to growth and development early in life.
92Rattan SIS. "Gene therapy for aging: mission impossible?" Hum Reprod Gen Ethics. 1997;3:27-29.
93Rattan SIS. "Is gene therapy for aging possible?" Ind J Exp Biol. 1998;36:233-236.
Next: Replacing Body Parts
Back to The Truth About Human Aging