Subscribe via RSS Feed

Michio Kaku: How to Reverse Aging

February 9, 2015 35 Comments

Don’t miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here:

Enzymes like Telomerase and Resveratrol, though not the Fountain of Youth unto themselves, offer tantalizing clues to how we might someday soon unravel the aging process.

Question: Do you think the enzyme Telomerase could be used to reverse the aging process in our lifetime? (Submitted by Paul Cellura)
Michio Kaku: Paul, Telomerase hit the headlines; however, I think we have to put it into perspective. It is not the fountain of youth; however, it is a significant breakthrough. We have to put it into a much larger perspective.
First of all, we know that DNA is sort of like a shoelace. It has plastic tips at the end. Every time a cell reproduces, the tips get shorter and shorter and shorter until finally they fray. And you know that your shoelace, without the plastic tips will simply fall apart. That’s what happens inside a cell. A cell, for example, your skin cell, will divide about 60 times, that’s called a Hayflick Limit. Then the cell goes into senescence and eventually dies.
So in some sense, every cell has a biological clock. It is doomed to die after about 60 reproductions. However, Telomerase can eliminate some of the contraction of the chromosomes and the chromosomes can maintain their length. So at first you may say, “ah-ha! We can now defeat the biological clock.” But not so fast, first of all, cancer cells also use Telomerase. Cancer cells are immortal. Cancer cells are immortal and that’s precisely why they kill you. Why are cancer cells so dangerous? Because they are immortal. They grow and they grow and they grow until they take over huge chunks of your body, meaning that your bodily functions cannot be performed and you die. So we have to make sure that when you hit ordinary cells with Telomerase that you don’t also trigger cancer in the process.
Now, also you have to realize that genes are also very essential for the aging process. It turns out that we know what aging is. Aging is the buildup of error. That’s all aging is. The build up of genetic and cellular error. And cells begin to age; they begin to get sluggish because genetic mistakes start to build up. Now cells; however, have a repair mechanism. They can repair damage to their cells; otherwise we would all basically rot very soon after birth. However, even the repair mechanisms eventually get gummed up and then the cell really starts to get old as a consequence. So then the question is, can you accelerate cell repair? That is another branch of gerontology which is being looked at using genes and using chemicals to accelerate the repair mechanisms.
For example, if I take any organism on the planet Earth from yeast cells to spiders, insects, rabbits, dogs, and even monkeys now. And I reduce their caloric intake by 30%, they live 30% longer. In fact the only organism which has not yet been deliberately tested by scientists are homo sapiens. All the other species obey this basic rule. You starve them to death, they live longer. This is independent of Telomerase. This is a function of the wear and tear that we have on the cells. And this is the only known way of actually deliberately extending the lifespan of any organisms almost at will.
Now, what we want is a genetic way of mimicking this mechanism without having to starve yourself because how many people do you know would be willing to starve themselves in order to live 30% longer? Not too many. So then the question is, are there genes that control this process. And the answer is apparently, yes. There’s something called the Sirtuin genes, Sir2 being the most prominent of them. They in turn stimulate certain enzymes, among them Resveratrol, which is found in red wine, for example. So this does not mean that drinking red wine or taking Telomerase is the fountain of youth. I don’t think that anyone has the fountain of youth yet. What I am saying is, we are now finding pieces of the fountain of youth, tantalizing clues that mean that perhaps in the coming decades, we might be able to actually unravel the aging process. We don’t have it yet. Don’t go out to the drug store and stock up on these kinds of chemicals and enzymes thinking you’re going to live forever. However it is conceivable that in the coming decades we’ll come very close to finding it.
Video Rating: 4 / 5

David Sinclair - Close To Reversing Aging

Scientists are close to finding the elixir of youth. New understanding and technology mean we can turn back the clock and live longer. The 2014 Dean’s Lecture features two of the world’s leading researchers in ageing, Professors David Sinclair and Stephen Simpson. Their work promises to enhance health and happiness into old age for individuals and reduce the huge cost burden on health systems currently imposed by aging populations. Excerpt from UNSW Medicine’s Deans lecture 2014.

David Andrew Sinclair is an Australian biologist and Professor of Genetics best known for his research on the biology of lifespan extension and driving research towards treating diseases of aging.

Sinclair is Co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging at Harvard Medical School. Sinclair obtained a Bachelors of Science (Honours Class I) at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, and received the Australian Commonwealth Prize. In 1995, he received a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Leonard Guarente.
Since 1999 he has been a tenured professor in the Genetics Department of Harvard Medical School.

Sinclair has received over 25 awards including The Australian Commonwealth Prize, A Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship, the Nathan Shock Award, a Leukemia and Lymphoma Fellow, a MERIT Awards from the National Institutes of Health, the Merck Prize, the Arminese Fellowship, the Genzyme Outstanding Achievement in Biomedical Science Award, an Ellison Medical Senior Fellow, the Bio-Innovator award, the Bright Sparks Award for Top Scientists under 40, The Denham Harman Award in Biogerontology, a medal from the Australian Society for Medical Research, and a TIME 100 honoree, TIME magazine’s list of the 100 “most influential people in the world” (2014).
Video Rating: 4 / 5

Filed in: Health & Beauty • Tags: , , ,

About the Author:

Breaking News Web: Find the latest news from all around the web!

Comments (35)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ivan Buzatović says:

    This is bad explanation, because to someone who don’t know anything about
    cancer will come to conclusion that anything that’s immortal is bad. Cancer
    cells are immortal, but that’s not the main reason why they are bad. It’s
    because they don’t do any function that makes them bad for the body. And
    the immortality of them is just a problem of curing cancer. If all cells,
    good ones, the ones that do function with the body are immortal (under
    condition that they don’t multiply) there wouldn’t be a problem. The
    immortality itself is not a problem.

  2. Aaron Kasparov says:

    Physicists are conspiracy theorists.

  3. Emeline Barthélémy says:

    That’s awesome news. I googled if I could buy some NMA but bad news, it’s
    still like $2000 per gram right now 🙁 However the good news is,
    Resveratrol, the other option he talked about, is available! I found the
    best quality and cheapest one at .
    You’re welcome ;)

  4. TicTacZac says:

    Overpopulation? Sterilize everybody who receives aging treatments, problem

  5. LetsPlaywithBronies says:

    I’m dedicating my life to Biology and wanna study life. Age is very
    interesting and I’d like to live to see many things, nothing wrong with
    that :)

  6. Computer_Legend says:

    Unless, I am sure what I am running into after death, there’s no way, I am
    giving up my life, I’m with you, Dr. Kaku. 

  7. jaywar69 says:

    Immortal : living forever, never dying or decaying.

    It’s interesting that he states “cancer cells are immortal.” I have always
    believed that when the host dies, cancer cells along with all cells would
    die. When your body, being the host dies, your heart stops and there is no
    longer any blood or oxygen flow. So all cells would die. If cancer cells
    are immortal, it would appear that they continue to live even if the host
    is a rotting corpse.

    I’m certain that they die. Have I been misinformed all these years? All
    cells need oxygen to survive, no? They must certainly die when one is
    cremated. Fire destroys all. 

  8. Kirito Ω says:

    I remember reading something a while back where they experimented with
    Resveratrol in mices and manage to increase their overall life span and
    health by injecting them with large amounts of Resveratrol or something
    like that, but in order for humans to get the same results we have to drink
    about 200 cups of red wine a day which is impractical.

  9. MrBeautifulba1 says:

    I’ve gotten really really good at making myself drink Red Wine. I only
    drink it for the health benefits. Discipline is what keeps me drinking at
    least a bottle a day. I’m so proud of myself and my ability not to quit

  10. Requiem says:

    Can I just say something? Please only use Michio Kaku and other
    “documentary” physicists as inspiration and introductions to a subject–do
    not take their analogies as fact, or as realistic representations of the
    mathematical models and sciences behind the theories. Upon questioning both
    my college physics professors regarding Michio Kaku’s representations and
    analogies, they shook their heads and told me flat-out that what he’s on
    about all the time is this sugar-coated, overly simplified version of

    So when Michio Kaku is openly declaring that time travel is possible, and
    multiverses are a fundamental doctrine of string theory, and that
    warp-holes could become reality in about a hundred years, or that he can
    theoretically build you a lightsaber–please keep in mind that in order for
    you to actually grasp what’s going on here, you need about 8-9 years of
    physic. Advanced physics (often with heavy calculus and
    transcendental/linear algebra). If you don’t have that, then please don’t
    be an anus and crap over everyone about how science trumps all or that it
    has these magnificent properties or answers. Let’s get real. 99% of the
    cow-brained atheists on this website couldn’t tell their Gauss’ Law from
    their Faraday Law, let alone Maxwell’s equations. OR your religion. For
    Pete’s sake please shut the f*** up about your religion. If you really
    believed in it enough you wouldn’t be quibbling about it on YouTube.

  11. jonny battn says:

    if we take some of your dna and store it for long term. after you age for a
    wile you can use your alder dna to reverce the aging porses back to what
    the older dna was. in affect fill in or replace the aged dna, fix the error.
    how would we do that. with tanks and stem cells or ?

  12. Nick R. says:

    Once they crack the fountain of youth we’re really going to have an even
    bigger problem with over population. Better get well aquatinted with your
    existential reality before this happens because shit is going to get REAL.
    Or become wealthy as quickly as possible. 

  13. Maximus Neo says:

    IF human open and discover the key to live forever, the negative impact on
    human civilization will be most more greater then positive impact, giving
    birth rights will be taken away from us from the government due to the
    explosion of human population. And by that time i think space on earth will
    not efficient to contain that much of human being, and also food production
    and supple will be the key problems, but the positive effects willl be the
    force increasement of human physical and mental evolution, we will be
    force to develop or finding ways for space colonial expedition. And also if
    time has no longer one of the limits to human being, mentally evolution
    will be dramatically increase. 

  14. BlitzoftheReich says:

    Ok this boredom argument and overpopulation arguments are idiotic.

    Solve overpopulation by genetically enhancing humans to live in different
    conditions than our own Earth, therefore we can unlock some suitable places
    in the solar system. I am specifically referring to maybe Mars and Titan
    because gene enhancement would be a lot of cash. Also our population is
    only 7 billion and if we regulate it similar to how China is doing now,
    then it would take centuries for overpopulation to become an increasing
    concern; this does not take into account the exponential growth of
    technological advances. Also by the time it does become a problem we would
    have achieved some form of faster than light travel, built stations
    orbiting the planet to house more individuals, or even build life ships to
    nearby stars? It sounds like science fiction but science fiction has been
    influencing the progress of science a lot lately. We actually need more
    people to colonize places throughout the world in order to become a type 1
    civilization too or type 2. We have 100-400 billion star systems to

    Also many of the countries with the highest life expectancy are actually
    experiencing negative population growth because people are having kids
    later. This whole procreation argument revolves around the medieval nuclear
    family that was needed to maintain the harvest and because of child
    Now for the boredom argument.

    There are 100-400 billion star systems alone in the galaxy, even if you are
    100 you have the option of visiting many of these for as long as you want
    and even that would take a while. Ffs people don’t even see enough of the
    beauty of the world in their whole lives, and complain that things would
    get boring when they haven’t even experienced the beauty of a fraction of
    their galactic neighborhood. Also with the exponential increase of
    technology would come new things that would enhance our lives and keep us
    enjoying; virtual reality, space travel, new fields of research. Virtually
    so many things to do, I do not even know how people think they would get
    bored. Minds that have vision and ambition are truly the ones who want to
    live forever, and people who think I am going to become lazy are idiots who
    need a ticking clock to actually influence their lives. It’s pathetic.

  15. ProGamerGov says:

    The comments are filled with religious bigotry saying living forever bad.
    But who the fuck has the right to say how long you can live for? Not
    everyone is religious or believes in an after life. For some this is the
    only life and death is the worst possible thing to happen.

  16. MechDuck QuackAttack says:

    What if this is the secret of Deadpool? Maybe the Weapon X program had the
    technology to use telomerase to make cells immortal and regenerate
    rapidly…the only downside is that it supercharged his cancer , but since
    his cells were now immortal too, they were able to hold back the cancer. 

  17. bob mcbob says:

    I will never get old. My life sucks and i will be sure to die before i get
    old. Getting old sounds fucking awful. If life sucks at 21 and being fit i
    can only imagine living in a weak, ugly, slow and degraded body. 

  18. poweredbyaaron99 says:

    “So we have to make sure that when you hit ordinary cells with Telomerase
    that you don’t also ‘trigger’ cancer in the process.” -Michio Kaku

    I have a problem with how he used the word ‘trigger’ in this
    sentence. Telomerase doesn’t ‘trigger’ cancer cells, it just rebuilds
    Telomeres. The problem with aging is that genetic errors pose a cumulative
    effect in the body, eventually resulting in a variety of age-related
    diseases including cancer. Consuming Telomerase does not remove these
    unhealthy cells, rather, -it prevents further genetic degeneration of the
    healthy ones. If you wanted to significantly prolong your life expectancy,
    you would have to find some way of targeting those unhealthy cells and
    removing them from the body. Think of it like taking out the ‘cellular
    trash.’ Michio Kaku failed to mention this.

    As it turns out, ‘Phytocannabinoids’ have a recognized ability to
    selectivity stimulate apoptosis in unhealthy cells, causing their
    mitochondria to shut-down. This results in the death of that cell. Several
    scientific, peer-reviewed studies demonstrate this unique ability in a
    variety of ‘cannabinoids,’ which have led to the promising THC cancer
    research we hear so much about in the media.

    I hypothesize that consuming telomerase enzymes and phytocannabinoids
    together could significantly increase your longevity and dramatically
    reduce instances of age-related illness. ‘The Fountain of Youth’ – If I had
    the scientific tools to conduct a proper experiment, I would most certainly
    do so regardless of legality.

    Perhaps this is why marijuana is still classified as a ‘schedule 1
    narcotic’ drug with high potential for abuse and zero medicinal value. Come
    to think of it, sickly old people are fantastic for the economy! No doubt
    about that! 

  19. Blackjack49 says:

    when kaku’s hair is no longer grey, we’ll know hes stumbled on to something
    more than theoretical 

  20. etmax1 says:

    Well this is a real worry, we are on track to be 10 billion by 2030 even
    though ~55 million people are dying each year, and are running out of
    resources. Imagine the population grows at 130 million per year instead of
    the current 75 million? Madness I say

  21. Bob Schuch says:

    Michio Kaku: How to Reverse Aging:

  22. Darryl Chang says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you came back around 3015 and humans no longer

  23. Shafaq HafeeZ says:

    The Holy Prophet Muhammad pbuh said that eat in three parts: 1. Keep space
    for water 2. For air and 3. For food in your stomach. And stop eating when
    2/3 full. Also kept fasts on three days of the week.

  24. Juan Pablo Arbeláez Gómez says:

    Michio Kaku is The Pimp!

  25. Walter Marlin says:

    Replacing the cells mitochondria with a new mitochondria/battery pack?
    Brown fat cells have large numbers of mitochondria. Brown fat also keeps
    the blood warm. The older we get the more difficult it is to stay warm in
    the cold. Is there a connection?

  26. zarkoff45 says:

    My father is in his 90s, hope they come out in time for him.

  27. Phil Kane says:

    Anyone born now will live as long as they want. if your 30+ it is
    absolutely critical that you stay healthy as possible. Right now it’s all
    about surviving to the next technological breakthrough so you can survive
    to the one after that. And for all those people worried about over
    population, in the developed world the population is actually falling. As
    we lift the third world out of poverty and become better educated
    (particularly women), the population will start to fall. The future will be
    fantastic, just live long enough to live forever. 

  28. Emeline Barthélémy says:

    That’s awesome news. I googled if I could buy some NMA but bad news, it’s
    still like $2000 per gram right now 🙁 However the good news is,
    Resveratrol, the other option David talked about, is available! I found the
    best quality and cheapest one at .
    You’re welcome ;)

  29. xyhmo says:

    Let’s get together and do what we can to get rid of this god damn aging
    once and for all. I’m sick of it. At the very least consider making a small
    monthly donation to SENS, but if possible also read up on the topic and
    start pushing anti-aging ideas, or go into research if you got the aptitude
    and motivation. There will be resistance and obstacles but the payoff if we
    succeed will be huge. We will never get biologically old. What can possibly
    be more important to fight for.

  30. Kayleen Sumner says:

    That’s awesome news. I googled if I could buy some NMA but bad news, it’s
    still like $2000 per gram right now 🙁 However the good news is,
    Resveratrol, the other option David talked about, is available! I found the
    best quality and cheapest one at .
    You’re welcome ;)

  31. Levi DeHaan says:

    This is so amazing, there are days I think I should have been a geneticist
    it’s just so cool.

  32. Bill Atlas says:

    The presentation doesn’t start until 11 minutes in 

  33. Butch DeLoria says:

    real human bean

  34. Light Magi says:

    Anti-Aging Drugs coming soon – hot off the press photo proof

  35. Groove Gangster says:


Leave a Reply