27 May 2008

Live Twice as Long: Burn the Candle at Both Ends

At least it seems to work that way for PEPCK-C genetically augmented mice. An updated study on these brave new mice reinforces earlier findings: these genetically modified mice live longer, are stronger, more assertive, and bear young at a previously unprecedented old age.
Two founder lines generated by this procedure were bred together, creating a line of mice that have 9.0 units/g skeletal muscle of PEPCK-C, as compared to 0.080 units/g in muscle from control animals. The mice were more active than controls in their cages and could run for up to 5 km, at a speed of 20 m/min without stopping (control mice run for 0.2 km at the same speed). Male PEPCK-Cmus mice are extremely aggressive, as well as hyperactive. During strenuous exercise, they use fatty acids as a fuel more efficiently than do controls and produce far less lactate than do control animals, perhaps due to the greatly increased number of mitochondria in their skeletal muscle. PEPCK-Cmus mice also store up to five-times more triglyceride in their skeletal muscle, but have only marginal amounts of triglyceride in their adipose tissue depots, despite eating 60% more than controls. The concentration of leptin and insulin the blood of 8–12 months of PEPCK-Cmus mice is far lower than noted in the blood of control animals of the same age. These mice live longer than controls and the females remain reproductively active for as long as 35 months. __Biochimie__via__Ouroborus
Remember, these mice were specially bred, twice over. They are the cross-bred offspring of two lines of mice which were genetically engineered mice for heightened PEPCK-C expression. There is no pill that you can take to achieve the same result.

But there are lessons to be learned from these super-mice. Humans live long enough so that genetic modifications can be made to them long after they are born--but long before they are due to die.

Think of what Olympic or professional athletes could do with higher levels of skeletal muscle PEPCK-C, and more muscle mitochondria. Who will be the first humans to volunteer for PEPCK-C gene therapy? Where will the human research be done first? China? Russia?

The total package would have to include higher intelligence, longer life, greater strength and speed, less need for sleep, higher resistance to infections and disease, and heightened executive function. But we have to start somewhere.

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Blogger The Pwnee said...

This makes a lot of intuitive sense to me. I figure the main reason evolution hasn't favored super mice and supermen is simply that they have to eat so much. But in a laboratory setting where you can feed the mice to their little hearts content it doesn't seem like it should be difficult to breed super mice.

I wonder, have there been any long term breeding attempts to increase mice longevity? Not just a few generations but hundreds?

Tuesday, 27 May, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Hundreds of mice generations would entail hundreds of years of research. They are not nearly that far along yet.

The PEPCK-C research is a followup on a fortuitous lab discovery and hunch. With a few more discoveries and hunches of that sort, we may be on the road.

Wednesday, 28 May, 2008  

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