Friday, 19 October 2012

The science of Vampires, possibly how to live longer

Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person/being. Although vampiric entities have been recorded in many cultures, and may go back to "prehistoric times", the term vampire was not popularized until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where vampire legends were frequent, such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe, although local variants were also known by different names, such as vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania. This increased level of vampire superstition in Europe led to mass hysteria and in some cases resulted in corpses actually being staked and people being accused of vampirism.
In 1985 biochemist David Dolphin proposed a link between the rare blood disorder porphyria and vampire folklore. Noting that the condition is treated by intravenous haem, he suggested that the consumption of large amounts of blood may result in haem being transported somehow across the stomach wall and into the bloodstream. Thus vampires were merely sufferers of porphyria seeking to replace haem and alleviate their symptoms. The theory has been rebuffed medically as suggestions that porphyria sufferers crave the haem in human blood, or that the consumption of blood might ease the symptoms of porphyria, are based on a misunderstanding of the disease. Furthermore, Dolphin was noted to have confused fictional (bloodsucking) vampires with those of folklore, many of whom were not noted to drink blood. Similarly, a parallel is made between sensitivity to sunlight by sufferers, yet this was associated with fictional and not folkloric vampires. In any case, Dolphin did not go on to publish his work more widely. Despite being dismissed by experts, the link gained media attention and entered popular modern folklore.
Rabies has been linked with vampire folklore. Dr Juan Gómez-Alonso, a neurologist at Xeral Hospital in Vigo, Spain, examined this possibility in a report in Neurology. The susceptibility to garlic and light could be due to hypersensitivity, which is a symptom of rabies. The disease can also affect portions of the brain that could lead to disturbance of normal sleep patterns (thus becoming nocturnal) and hypersexuality. Legend once said a man was not rabid if he could look at his own reflection (an allusion to the legend that vampires have no reflection). Wolves and bats, which are often associated with vampires, can be carriers of rabies. The disease can also lead to a drive to bite others and to a bloody frothing at the mouth.
Folkloric vampirism has been associated with clusters of deaths from unidentifiable or mysterious illnesses, usually within the same family or the same small community. The epidemic allusion is obvious in the classical cases of Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole, and even more so in the case of Mercy Brown and in the vampire beliefs of New England generally, where a specific disease, tuberculosis, was associated with outbreaks of vampirism. As with the pneumonic form of bubonic plague, it was associated with breakdown of lung tissue which would cause blood to appear at the lips.

Recently a discovery made in Stanford University’s laboratories and presented earlier this week at the Society for Neuroscience conference in New Orleans. The study showed that 18-month-old mice who had been received eight transfusions of young blood had a much easier time making it through the a watery maze than the old mice who had not received any transfusions.
"They were 18 months old but they were acting much younger, like a four to six-month-old," said Dr. Villeda, one of the lead researchers. The study also demonstrated that older mice who had received the blood transfusions also began to grow new synopses in their brain--connections which are essential for the retention of memory. This result holds promise far beyond solving the plight of grandparents accompanying their grandchildren through those pesky Halloween hay labyrinths. The researchers said that this information could, in the future, be used to prevent mental aging itself.
The concept of umbilical cord blood banking is gaining wide-spread acceptance. It has become a common topic of discussion across homes where couples are expecting babies. It is well-known that over the last few decades cord blood banking has zoomed. Health specialists realizing the benefits of banking cord blood are telling their patients to go in for this advanced concept which can potentially save the life of their baby or that of a close blood relative. Reasons Why Doctors Suggest Umbilical Cord Blood Banking.
Doctors are recommending this option and the reason is not difficult to fathom. Humans have this strong rooted desire and hope. Many families facing life-threatening and untreatable illness in their child hope and pray for a new cure to come up. Cord blood offers hope for such people. To keep their options open parents jump at the choice of Umbilical cord blood banking which might help their children in the future.
Other branches of medicine called regenerative medicine(anti-aging) and brain injury studies have benefited greatly from stem cells research and it shows a lot of promise. It is a relatively cheaper and simpler treatment procedure as the stem cells derived from cord blood is cheap. There is lot of interest in stem cells and umbilical cord blood banking for both doctors and parents because of this.

Most people are probably aware of the therapeutic value of stem cells, as they can become any other type of cell in the human body. One of their main duties, in fact, is to replace those other cells as they degrade. Once people reach an advanced age, however, even the stem cells themselves start to get old and nonfunctional - when the cells that are supposed to replace the other cells can't do their job anymore, age-related tissue problems start occurring. A team of researchers from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, however, may be on the way to solving that problem. They have succeeded in reversing the aging process in human adult stem cells. When regular cells become aged, the caps on the end of their chromosomes (known as telomeres) get shorter. It is therefore hypothesized that many age-related problems are due to the shortening of these telomeres. Given that adult stem cells retain their full telomeres, however, the scientists had to find some other discernible way in which they age.
To do so, they compared the DNA of freshly-isolated adult stem cells from young donors, with that of stem cells from the same donors, but that had undergone an accelerated aging process in the lab. It turned out that most of the DNA damage in the older cells was due to the activity of parts of the cell genome known as retrotransposons. While young cells are able to limit this activity and deal with the damage it causes, older cells are not. By suppressing the "accumulation of toxic transcripts" from the retrotransposons, however, the researchers were able to reverse the aging process in the older stem cells. They were, in fact, even able to regress them to an earlier stage of development. The Buck Institute/Georgia Tech team is now looking at how suitable the rejuvenated stem cells may be for treating degenerative disorders such as arthritis, osteoporosis and metabolic syndromes.
Looking to debunk the whole idea of vampires I found that in theory if you replace your blood with younger blood cells, it might temporary rejuvenate someone. But looking closer to the theory you can almost explain that the building blocks of all life rely on DNA. The aging process relies on the DNA to wear down the strands at the ends to eventually become older. Effectively aging is like a lot of photocopies reducing the image down and creating more imperfections along the way. If Telomeres the key to eternal youth, then the vampire issue need not be a problem. Rather using other peoples DNA its more humane to keep copies of you DNA when you were younger and place damaged DNA instead. In this case an enzyme called Telomerase is being researched, as it lengthens the DNA strands giving back its youth. The enzyme exist in the reproductive cells of male a female eggs, Which is why most children are not born damaged DNA. The super human strength of vampires or other powers might belong in fantasy books, but the longevity of these creatures might become true. But in the end the curse of immortality is a burden I rather not endure...

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