A proposal: Project "Homo sapiens liberatus II"!
Independent researcher, Naples, Italy
Ageing is commonly considered not a physiological event but a mixed set of diseases with age-related increasing frequency and severity: ageing manifestations are empirically treated for their dysfunctions, in analogy with diseases showing the same alterations, and the cures allow often an increase in survival time in conditions of low quality of life.
But, it is indispensable to acquire the awareness that ageing is something other than a disease and that it needs specific measures. It is possible to conceive an ambitious project for the solution of the problem, with a possible honorific name indicating the inspiration of Prof. Skulachev's great design.
It the first phase, same preliminary targets will be pursued, that is a better understanding of: a) telomere-telomerase system; b) apoptosis phenomenon; c) cell turnover of all tissues and its effect on the function of the organs in each age of the life; d) morphogenetic mechanism, in particular for dentition. Another important goal of the same phase is the development of genetic techniques for: a) the effective and precise insertion of a genetic sequence in a point of the genome not causing dangerous alterations; b) the effective and precise substitution of a genetic sequence with another sequence.
In the second phase, with experiments on animals, genetic sequences will be inserted or substituted with the aim of modifying the modulation of telomere-telomerase system for increasing longevity. The same techniques will be applied for the treatment of severe genetic diseases and for age-related severe diseases such as Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. In the same phase, on animals, experiments will be performed with the same techniques to obtain multiple dentitions and other experiments for testing possible drugs with increasing longevity qualities.
In the third phase, on man, first experiments of gene therapy (not on germinal cells) will be performed and possible drugs with increasing longevity qualities will be tested, with the verification of the results and progressive widening of the experiments.
In the fourth phase, the project plans possible experimentation and application of gene therapy on human germinal cells and applications on a large scale of safe and tested techniques and drugs.
For the extreme weight of the argument, it could be useful the creation of an apposite international agency, adequately funded, with the specific aim of controlling ageing and, as a very important corollary, genetic diseases, following the example and the wonderful outcomes of NASA.
But, to go on the moon or to live one thousand years must not be a foolish attempt to compete with the Infinite but just another way to contemplate It.
Homo Sapiens Liberatus Workshop, Moscow State University, May 2010