By Stephen S. Hall

An award-winning author explores science's boldest frontier - extension of the human existence span - with the researchers and marketers who're racing to create drugs that might let us stay longer and better.
getting older, melanoma, stem cells, cloning - the topics of retailers of Immortality are the stuff of state-of-the-art headlines, but they mirror a few of humankind's so much old hopes and fears. Stephen S. corridor delves in the back of the headlines to bare simply how shut scientists are to enjoyable hopes of longer, more healthy lives. retailers of Immortality tackles profound social questions: How shut are we to cloning people? Can stem mobilephone remedies tame health problems comparable to middle assaults, Parkinson's illness, and diabetes? How lengthy may perhaps our youngsters live?
Hall's account of life-extension learn is as dramatic because it is authoritative. the tale follows a close-knit yet fractious band of scientists and marketers who paintings within the shadowy sector among revenue and the general public reliable. corridor tracks the technology of getting older again to its father determine, the iconoclastic Leonard Hayflick, who was once the 1st to teach that cells age and whose epic criminal battles with the government prepared the ground for state-of-the-art biotech visionaries. leader between these is the charismatic Michael West, a former creationist who based the 1st biotech corporation dedicated to getting older examine. West has gained either ardent admirers and dedicated foes in his relentless quest to advertise stem cells, healing cloning, and different applied sciences of "practical immortality." retailers of Immortality breathes scintillating lifestyles into the main momentous technological know-how of our day, assesses the political and bioethical controversies it has spawned, and explores its in all probability dramatic impression at the size and caliber of our lives.

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The ideas that came to O l o v n i k o v that night in the subway station, and which he elaborated and refined over the next five years, brilliantly knit together the process of cellular aging, the immortality of cancer cells, and the biological mechanism that could explain both. O l o v n i k o v t o o k Hayflick's notion of cellular mortality and reduced it — theoretically, of course — to the movement of molecules through an infinitesimally small threedimensional space. He imagined the choreography of D N A and enzymes as they went about their minute-by-minute business of cellular replication.

Shortly after his birth in Vladivostok in 1936, his father, a journalist, narrowly escaped imprisonment and almost certain death during Stalin's purges. While on a trip organized for journalists to the SovietChinese border in late 1936 or 1937, Alexey told me, his father " s o m e h o w contrived to read a kind of hidden threat" in the faces of Soviet officials accompanying the journalists. Within an h o u r of his return to Vladivostok, Olovnikov's father had hustled his wife out of their h o m e , with neither luggage nor possessions ("As t h o u g h they simply decided to go for a walk at sunset," Alexey said), led her to the train station, and boarded the next train to Moscow, never to return.

A l t h o u g h the pedigree was not sterling, it certainly offered more medical history than that of a m o n k e y captured in the jungles of Southeast Asia. " T h e tissue came from a w o m a n whose husband was a mariner," T h e Hayflick Limit 31 Hayflick said, "and he was apparently a drunkard and she didn't want more children, and so this was a surgical abortion. " As before, Hayflick cultured the cells, using primarily fetal lung tissue, and then his technicians — w o r k i n g in tiny isolation r o o m s barely larger than phone booths, using m o u t h pipettes and Bunsen burners — began laying d o w n the ampules in June 1962.

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