Any takers on the idea that we can get radical life extension through new technologies like stem cells, organ replacement, cybernetics, or genetic modification? Or just through healthier living in general?

A new Nature paper says there’s a natural limit on human lifespan around age 115 and getting past that is just not going to happen.

Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122. Photo NY TImes/Getty

They don’t discuss (that I saw on a brief look) how new technologies could break this “rule”. Carl Zimmer has a nice NYT article on this development and on human aging more generally.

It also discusses the curious case of Jeanne Calment (pictured above) who lived to be 122, which the authors of the Nature paper would say was an extreme fluke.

It’s ironic that on the same day I saw all of this about limitations, I also noticed an article (via Google alert on stem cells) in the Russian newspaper Pravda about a scientist there who will get an infusion of stem cells to try to defy aging.

I guess this physicist Andrei Karnaukhov believes in life extension through stem cells. Supposedly this has been a success in rodents, Pravda tells us, and now the guy is going to self-experiment on himself. Pravda also write these dubious claims, “The effect from the surgery will last for several decades. According to the researchers, chances for the scientist’s body to recover after the second surgery are 95 percent.”

Recovery (as in make it out alive) or have a successful anti-aging result?

This reminds me of some of the claims from stem cell clinics for treatments of almost anything that ails you here in the U.S. Some American clinics do also claim anti-aging outcomes if you can pay the steep price for the “treatment”.

Okay, so do we go with that Nature paper’s conservative view or the Russian dude’s optimism? Somewhere in between seems safe. If 115 is the “natural” limit, then I don’t see any reason why new technologies can’t bust that ceiling somewhat at least. The key issue is actually quality of life.

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