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July 16, 2005

Human Innovation: Fixing your mitochondria

Hundreds of millions of years ago small psuedo-bacteria invaded more complex cells, beginning eons of bio-economic trade and eventual symbiosis – the permanent joining of two organisms into one.

These invisible invaders are inside you right now, all throughout every part of your body. And without them, you would not even have the energy to read what follows – news of a breakthrough that could effect your personal fate, and that of your “little invaders.”

The “little invaders” are called mitochondria. Many people don’t even know they have them, but they provide the power for every cell in your body, and by extension, everything you think and do. You only inherit your mitochondria from your mother, and they all have their own genome – a package of DNA separate from the DNA that determines your height, eye color, and other physical features. Mutations in mitochondrial DNA have long been implicated in aging and in age-related diseases. This is highly significant.

Age related diseases are the major target for federal health care dollars. But nearly all of this money goes to study and treat the symptoms of age-related disease, rather than identifying and curing the underlying causes of aging itself (and thereby the ailments that result from it.) Successful research toward understanding and fixing mutations in mitochondrial DNA could result in a whole series of beneficial outcomes – life extension, youth restoration, and fundamental cures for age-related diseases. Such an achievement would not only result in a younger, healthier, more long-lived you, but it would also make much federal healthcare spending obsolete, especially if the new treatments could be provided to people at a low cost.

Happily, new research has achieved a major breakthrough on two fronts:

  1. It has become possible to identify mitochondrial mutations, and . . .
  2. Fix them.

Not only that, but this new procedure has been shown to work not just in cells and mitochondria isolated in a test tube, but in the actual bodies of living, breathing mice. This is a major thing, because often techniques that work in the controlled environment of test tube or a petri dish, do not work in the chaotic conditions of an actual organism.

This latest demonstration of the power of human innovation holds great promise for each and every person on planet earth, but also for Downsizing DC. Or, looked at another way, Downsizing DC holds great promise for freeing up private funds to finance this kind of fundamental research, as opposed to the politics-driven, symptom-oriented research that is funded with taxpayer dollars.

A summary of this research and its implications can be found here.

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