Monday, July 09, 2012

Soon we will all live forever

Two articles cross my RSS feed today that herald fortuitous new medical discoveries that will soon usher in our immortal future.

The first, "You cannot poison an opossum", by Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing references Jason Bittel's article on the unique protein produced by opossums, the Lethal Toxin Neutralizing Factor (LTNF), that makes the marsupials nigh invulnerable to all environmental and even man-made poisons. More astoundingly, by injecting the protein into other mammals, rats in the case cited by Bittel, they also exhibited an immunity to everything from the venom from Thailand cobras, Australian taipans, Brazilian rattlesnakes, scorpions and honeybees, even always deadly man-made poisons like ricin.

Of course human trials of this protein would, I think, be quite unethical, as it would require poisoning your experimental group with all manner of known toxins to see if they are, indeed, immune. Mistakes would be lethal. But there is a lot of medical potential here if the ethical issues can be worked out. Just think of the huge boon/setback this will provide to the espionage/assassination industry.

The second article, "Scientists Find Molecule That Will Make Your Teeth Cavityproof," by Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo references research by Yale and Universidad de Santiago scientists who have discovered a compound that effectively kills the bacteria that cause tooth decay and, used regularly, would put an end to dental cavities. Which is good, because if we are no longer able to poison ourselves before we reach old age, we're going to need good, strong teeth to feed our immortal bodies.

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