Genetic engineering examines the roles and purposes for genes in our body. It is conceivable that we could find out how different genes work together to signal senescence and other results of aging. To fight the effects of aging, we would have to somehow use that knowledge to manipulate the right set of genes in the right way to slow or stop the genes from being expressed in the way that would lead to aging.
For more information on this topic, check out Long For This World by Johnathan Weiner. He has interviewed a number of scientists who are working on fighting aging with genetic engineering. One of the most promising fields is work with telomeres, which are the “caps” of DNA at the end of our chromosomes. Every time a cell divides (a normal, necessary process) the telomeres shorten slightly, and eventually allow the DNA to become damaged – which leads to aging. One scientist is suggesting that we should use genetic engineering to completely remove the telomeres, and begin a course of drugs that will protect our DNA in other ways.
Other area of genetic engineering is to remove cellular build-up. As our cells go about their daily functions, “garbage” accumulates, like dust bunnies in any house. Eventually too much of this crud (called lipofuscin) builds up and the cell dies, another cause of aging. Scientists believe genetic engineering will someday allow us to aid our cells in removing lipofuscin, and halt the aging process.
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