SAGE KE Bulletin Board

Response to Liu - my first chance to do so

30 June 2006

Aubrey D.N.J. de Grey

First I must correct Dr. Liu concerning his remarks at the end of his note. The editor of Technology Review, Jason Pontin, rejected Dr. Liu's entry to the SENS Challenge without offering me the opportunity to rebut it, apparently because it was not well enough written. I have therefore at no time declined to respond to Dr. Liu's opinions. <p> Dr. Liu's first suggestion is that the question of whether aging is a disease is "a key issue of aging research." I strongly disagree -- I think it is purely a matter of terminology and therefore a distraction. Whether one calls aging a disease depends on one's definition of the term "diseases", but irrespective of that, aging is certainly a health condition that brings about debilitation and death. <p> However, I absolutely agree with Dr. Liu's other point, namely that it is highly doubtful whether manipulation of the genes that have been found to influence the rate of aging in model organisms will substantially postpone human age-related debilitation and death. What Dr. Liu apparently overlooks is that SENS contrasts sharply with that approach: SENS focuses on using the greater versatility of molecular biology to offset the greater ingenuity of evolution by doing things that evolution, with its one available tool of selection between spontaneous mutations, cannot. I therefore encourage Dr. Liu to study the SENS agenda more closely, after which I am sure he will appreciate that it is designed precisely to address what, in his words, "is wrong with our current aging research".

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