Aubrey De Grey, in California. He belief humen could live to 5,000, and requires Calment’s DNA tested. Photograph: Carlos Chavarria/ Redux/ eyevine
Novoselov wrote to Young at Guinness World Records about Calment in October 2018,” asking him to look attentively at the questions we caused “. His response, says Novoselov, was ” a showing of invasion by Europe against everything civilised “; Young, he says, characterised his cultivate as a conspiracy led from on high by” person important “. But its not surprising that Novoselov’s abrasive tactics have raised eyebrows; he has warned Young, as well as Calment’s validators, with investigation by Sledkom, the Russian FBI.
The evidence for a Russian disinformation campaign is thin, but Zak’s article did have a second sponsor. The peer-reviewed version was published in Rejuvenation Research, the journal devoted to life-extension research revised by Aubrey de Grey, the controversial gerontologist and life-extension advocate who has claimed that, by 2100, the human lifespan could contact 5,000 times. Even if Zak doesn’t believe it, the possibility that Calment did reach 122 is tantalising for De Grey.” Anyone who is the world record holder of longevity are of concern to the interests of any of us studying the biology of ageing ,” he tells me.
Speaking on the phone from London, where he is on a stopover between Berlin and his home in California, De Grey is evasive about whether his strategy is to force the liberate of Calment’s blood sample. But he does think it should be made available for science:” In the interests of saving lives, used to identify more about ageing to eventually defer ageing- then that’s actually quite important .” Would he want his own research foundation, Sens, to do the DNA testing? Not inevitably, he says,” but I would certainly are aware of the right kind of researchers to recommend “.
That analysis seems unlikely to happen any time soon. The Fondation Jean Dausset, a private genetic experiment core in Paris, refuses even to confirm that it is keeping Jeanne Calment’s blood; just that it has a collection of biosamples it alone can use for research under anonymised provisions. But Francois Schachter, the scientist who in the 1990 s founded its Chronos Project, the first genetic examination of centenarians in the world, has confirmed that her blood was taken and her DNA extracted.
Twenty years ago, the life-extension field promoted by mavericks like De Grey was outlawed science. Now, the landscape has changed: the technical means for ” hacking ” the human lifespan have come into being, and the sector is beginning to attract serious speculation. In 2013, Google invested $1.5 bn in an entire separation, Calico, devoted to” solving fatality “. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has given millions of dollars to Sens.
But Sens, are in accordance with its annual reports, has been running at heavy damages. De Grey says it has been spending the $13 m he put into the foundation in 2011 on research for anti-ageing regimen that will save” various million” lives. But it must start to pay its channel; wouldn’t locking the DNA of the oldest woman in the world be a great publicity coup, as death-dodging tech billionaires pile into the sector? De Grey at-bats off this idea.” I get enough media attention as it is .”
If he could study Calment’s DNA, what might he expect to learn? De Grey points out that supercentenarians’ genetic material contains a high ratio of useful information,” because they have to get more things right in order to get to the age they do “. One obvious region of interest is how Calment bypassed cancer, congestive heart failure, diabetes and other late-life killers.
Several scientists I spoke to believe that Calment’s genome should be made available for study; but they don’t approve of the way Zak and De Grey have seemingly attempted to force the foundation’s handwriting. One repercussion of promoting the switch theory, they point out, is that they have alienated family members whose own DNA might be crucial for a clearer understanding of Calment’s.
Earlier this month, a Russian news organization announced that a woman who was purportedly 123 have been killed in the Astrakhan region of southern Russia. This is almost certainly hopeless- even Novoselov thinks so; leaved her children’s ages, she would have given birth three times in her 50 s. But the narration underlines the need for gerontology to keep its house in order.
At the time of going to press, scientists all over the world were due to discuss the impact of the Calment affair on gerontology at a special meeting in Paris. As for her mortal remains, some feel the Fondation Jean Dausset might be more open to collaboration as anti-ageing science evolves- but it is unlikely to be with De Grey. Despite telling me that Jeanne Calment does not figure high on his priorities, he plans to devote another matter of Rejuvenation Research to age validation and Calment next year.
In Arles, despite everything, the counter-investigation group are tickled by the idea that Jeanne Calment might have been a employer fraudster.” I would really like the switching floor to be true, like in the tales I affection speaking ,” says Cecile Pellegrini.” I find that kind of thing super-exciting. If it’s actually true, she was really something !” But perhaps the doyenne has something else to educate the would-be immortals of Silicon Valley: what additional misfortune would 5,000 years of existence creating, if we can’t get the record straight on a single everyday lifetime?
* Additional reporting by Marc Bennetts
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