Monday, October 4, 2010
Ponce de Leon Syndrome
Juan Ponce de Leon, in his search for the mythical Fountain of Eternal Youth,discovered and mapped much of southern Florida. He never achieved the immortality he sought since his search for the fountain was interrupted by a Seminole arrow. His contribution of the discovery of Florida was, however, a useful secondary goal. The genetic discoveries of telomere shortening in the ageing process and the role of the enzyme, telomerase,in reversing the cellular aging in vitro has led to new speculation. Extending life with enzymatic treatment, or alternatively extending cellular health through a normal life span, has been an engaging idea for some scientists. It has also piqued the interest of some entrepreneurs. Certainly Ponce de Leon had a healthy entrepreneurship in mind. Maybe we are talking about a phenomenon like The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay! It lasted perfectly for one hundred years and then it all fell apart at once. As I understood it, abrupt and complete system failure. We are more and more avidly in pursuit of physical health and longevity, which is some how, equated to happiness. We seek freedom from stress, and exercise without goals other than achieving self health. Now, the new rationale, will be increasing your telomerase levels and checking the shortening of your telomeres through relaxation and exercise. The Fountain of Relative Youth! High achievement is often associated with high stress and frequent accomplishments,often for the good of mankind. Exercise with the primary goal of producing a product, or a service, or an achievement will have two benefits, one to you and one to mankind. Those of us who were long in the health field and long in the tooth were often beset by the demands of the patients with Ponce de Leon Syndrome and were never able to provide the satisfaction they required. The many physicians from Lotus city over the last twenty years that volunteered to Vanuatu, to work for six months to a year in the primitive surroundings will recognize that the Fountain of Eternal Youth is a fantasy of the affluent world! The scientist who tries to touch this star, towards immortality, shouldn't say, "I'm doing it because it can be done"! They must say "Why am I doing this?" It's undoubtedly fascinating research, but why is it that technology always seems to drag ethics well behind it?