Immortality is being realized, and immortality is gradually becoming possible ... So what happens when immortality is realized? What does it mean to die in the first place?
Sachiko Takahashi, a life scientist who leads gene analysis services as President of GeneQuest Co., Ltd./Executive Executive Officer of Euglena Co., Ltd., will explain about "realization of immortality".
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Relationship between "death mechanism" and survival of life
-It's "death" that makes you feel uncomfortable, but there are also merits.
What are the benefits?
Takahashi: Before giving specific benefits, let's think biologically what it means to have death.
The fact that one individual in a living thing "dies" means that it has a "death mechanism" as an ecosystem of living things.
-Is it that there is something to "die"? ??
Takahashi: That's right. Thinking that the fact that an ecosystem of living things has a "death mechanism" is an act of breaking the "continuity" that an individual continues to live, that is, to intentionally create "discontinuity". I can do it.
-Intentionally create "discontinuity"? ?? ?? ?? I don't know what you're talking about.
Takahashi: We, human beings, and other living things are living on the premise that the environment around us is constantly changing, and responding to those changes. And when the surrounding environment changes, the individual also responds to that change. However, it is impossible to suddenly make a big change at the individual level, and the range that can be dealt with is limited.
Considering the unit of human beings, society, and the ecosystem of living things, and over a long span, there is a high possibility that we will face situations that cannot be dealt with by changes at the individual level.
-You can't survive in a situation that you can't handle, right?
Takahashi: That's right.
Therefore, in order to respond to large changes, one of the solutions is to create another individual by partially changing the gene. That is the role of genes, which change when parents give birth to another individual, the child.
In a sense, we intentionally create discontinuity.
Death for a changing environment
-Creating discontinuity makes it possible to respond to change. ..
By the way, I understand the need to create a new individual, but do I need to die? ??
Takahashi: I think this is easy to understand if you think about it in terms of "skin," but in order for our skin to withstand external stimuli, new cells that adapt to changes in the environment are born every day on the surface of the skin. The old cells in the area are replaced every day in the form of dying and peeling off.
The point is that the old one dies and the new one is active on the surface of the skin.
If skin cells do not "die" and the same old cells continue to exist on top of the skin and interfere with the activity of new cells, the skin may become unable to respond to changes in the environment. It is highly sexual.
-It's a skin turnover! I often hear it.
Takahashi: Because it has a cell death mechanism, it can respond to changes in the environment and achieve a healthy state.
The era of designing "death" will come
-I somehow understood the reason why life does not let go of the "death mechanism".
So what happens if immortality is realized?
Takahashi: As we have said, "dying" can be said to be a mechanism that can respond to the changing environment for all living things. Therefore, even if immortality becomes possible, choosing immortality and staying alive may not be healthy for the survival of the species.
However, with the possibility of immortality, I think that each person will actively choose death, that is, design death. I believe that one of the biggest reasons humans are afraid of death and saddened, even though you and yourself understand that they will die someday, is because they come at unexpected reasons and timings.
-If you can design death, do you mean that the number of people who are afraid and sad will decrease?
Takahashi: It's a story about a remote island in Japan, but an elderly village chief said, "I've done everything I've done in my life," and I'm surrounded by my favorite things in a place where I can see my favorite sea. I've heard that he died in Japan.
If each person understands what death is and can design it as he or she wants, death will never be sad. I myself don't want to be immortal, but if possible I would like to design the timing and environment of "death" myself.
-Designing death ... Honestly, I don't know how to think about it in an unknown area, but if it is realized, a different future may open up.
Thank you very much!
[Summary of the main points of immortality (first part & second part)]
・ It is necessary to consider "immortality" and "immortality" separately.
・ "Immortality" has already been realized to some extent and will continue to be realized.
・ "Immortality that you can choose to die" may be realized in the future.
・ There are merits that the mechanism of death brings to living things.
・ There may be a future of designing death.
Euglena Co., Ltd. Executive Officer in charge of bioinformatics business
/ Representative Director of GeneQuest Co., Ltd.
Graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture, Kyoto University. In June 2013, he started GeneQuest Co., Ltd. while enrolled in the doctoral program at the Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the University of Tokyo. Completed the doctoral course in March 2015 and obtained a doctorate. We provide a genome analysis service that conveys genetic information on disease risk and constitution to individuals. April 2018 Appointed Executive Officer in charge of Bioinformatics Business, Euglena Co., Ltd.
Received the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry "2nd Japan Venture Award" Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Award (Female Entrepreneur Award), the 10th "Japan Bio-Venture Award" Japan Venture Society Award, World Economic Forum "Young Global Leaders" Selected for "2018".
In his book, "How does genome analysis change the world of" I "? -The future that can be created by life science technology- ".
Gene analysis platform "Euglena My Health"