At the recent World Science Festival in New York, long life was a hot topic. David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School professor and an expert on the health benefits of a substance found in red wine called resveratrol, reported that lab rats show dramatic resistance to age-related diseases like diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s when fed copious amounts of resveratrol, which is also a component of some weeds.
The good news is that new drugs will likely be able to extend human lifespan averages through increasing quality of health. However, lifespans are genetically determined by cell death, which is called apoptosis. It is unlikely that any drug would be able to add years beyond that. Thus, we are each born with an auto-destruct program for cells of a certain age, and this (among other genetic factors) sets our lifespans. Isaiah 65:20 indicates that in the future the current lifespans will be reprogrammed, though how and when are as yet unknown.
Single chemicals do not reprogram DNA with new, useful information. They may “reprogram” DNA in the sense of wrecking pre-existing information, which often leads to cancer. Resveratrol, chemically named trans-3,5,4'-trihydroxystilbene, has shown anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. It is an antioxidant, able to help sequester other electron-thieving molecules in cells. This function is likely related to its ability to dampen apoptosis in diseased cells.
We ought to give credit to God the Creator for providing plants not just for food and air, but also for the myriad of vitamins like resveratrol.
Ho, David. 2008. Expect new drugs to treat aging, researchers say. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Published June 3, accessed online June 5.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.
Article posted on June 9, 2008.