Aubrey De Grey, in California. He speculates humans live their lives to 5,000, and wants 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 such issues we conjured “. His reply, says Novoselov, was ” a expose of invasion by Europe against everything civilised “; Young, he says, characterised his job as a scheme led from on high by” someone important “. But its not surprising that Novoselov’s abrasive tactics have raised eyebrows; he has menaced 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 newspaper did have a second sponsor. The peer-reviewed version being issued in Rejuvenation Research, the publication devoted to life-extension research edited by Aubrey de Grey, the controversial gerontologist and life-extension advocate who has claimed that, by 2100, the human lifespan could reach 5,000 years. 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 those of us studying the biology of ageing ,” he tells me.
Speaking on the telephone from London, where he is on a stopover between Berlin and his home in California, De Grey is evasive of determining whether his strategy is to force the liberation of Calment’s blood test. But he does think it should be made available for science:” In the interests of saving lives, finding out more about ageing to eventually postpone ageing- then that’s actually quite important .” Would he require his own study footing, Sens, to do the DNA testing? Not necessarily, he says,” but I would definitely 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 centre in Paris, refuses even to confirm that it is keeping Jeanne Calment’s blood; merely that it has a collection of biosamples it alone can use for research under anonymised states. 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 outlaw 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 asset. In 2013, Google invested $1.5 bn in an entire divide, Calico, are dedicated to” solving death “. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has given millions of dollars to Sens.
But Sens, are consistent with its annual reports, has been running at heavy losings. 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 method; wouldn’t fastening the DNA of the oldest lady 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 information 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 place of interest is how Calment bypassed cancer, coronary thrombosis, 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 are supportive of the room Zak and De Grey have seemingly attempted to force the foundation’s side. One cause of promoting the switch theory, they point out, is that they have alienated family members whose own DNA might be crucial to a better understanding of Calment’s.
Earlier this month, a Russian news organisation announced that a woman who was purportedly 123 had died in the Astrakhan region of southern Russia. This is almost certainly impossible- even Novoselov thinks so; generated her children’s ages, she would have given birth three times in her 50 s. But the narrative 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 ponder 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 representation high on his priorities, he plans to devote another issue 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 ruler fraudster.” I would really like the switching narration is correct, like in the tales I love reading ,” says Cecile Pellegrini.” I find that kind of thing super-exciting. If it’s actually true-life, she was really something !” But perhaps the doyenne has something else to school the would-be immortals of Silicon Valley: what extra misfortune would 5,000 years of universe wreaking, if we can’t get the record directly on a single everyday life-time?
* Additional reporting by Marc Bennetts
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