SAGE KE Bulletin Board

An unscientific and unrealistic claim made from an illogical and illusive approach

30 June 2006

Shi V. Liu

Recent debate (Science 312:171, 2006) on extending human life indefinitely by Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) ( one again brings a key issue of aging research into the spotlight: is aging a disease? Traditionally and theoretically, aging has being regarded as an intrinsic property of life (at least for multicellular macrobial life). Aging should not be treated as a disease because, from a medical point of view, it happens to every one. However, recently aging has been more directly linked with disease and even been considered as one form of disease. In practice, this implicit conceptual change has been fortified with the focus of aging research on diseases associated with, or, as claimed by some researchers, caused by aging. Thus, a large proportion of research fund in aging research has been used for identifying genes that are the culprits of the “pre-mature aging” (the so-called “senescence” genes) in some diseases or the fountain of long-lived life (the so-called “longevity” genes) in some type of organisms (long-lived artificial mutants or natural super-centenarians). The recent experimental successes in altering “life span” by manipulating these genes have generated many high-profile publications in top scientific journals and raised much high hope for long life in general public. However, I must say that identifying genes associated with long or short life span does not address the actual and the fundamental process of aging which occurs anyway regardless of the length of life span (Logical Biol. 5: 89-91, 2005). Knowledge on why some life forms live longer than the others is necessary but may not be useful for extending human life span. Genetically engineering human being merely for longer life span may be considered as unethical because it may even be perceived as a new form of Fascism implemented through genome holocaust. Thus, putting the pseudo-scientific nature of aging disease claim asides, when aging is classified as a disease and when species with longest life span is considered as the most healthy individual and most desirable for society, aging research will not only miss the opportunity to understand the real aging process but also generate many ill concepts that will have far-reaching damaging effects on science and society. SENS represents merely one extreme case of the ill-conceived and ill-funded aging research. I wish that, by revealing the true unscientific nature of SENS, people should sense what is wrong with our current aging research. Shi V. Liu Eagle Institute of Molecular Medicine Apex, NC 27502, USA P.S. This short comment was submitted to Science on April 21, 2006 with a title of "Aging, Diseases and Cure of Aging?" but Science had no space to publish it. A lengthy detailed debate entitled "Extending Life Span by SENS: Does It Make a Logical Sense?" was submitted to MIT Technol. Rev. on April 20, 2006 and was forwarded to de Gree within a week. However, the Editor of MIT Technol. Rev. has informed me that de Gree to not respond to my argument against his SENS approach to cure the aging. This lack of response demonstrated his lack of any real defensible argument upon my logical and solid criticisms.

Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150