James C. Enochs High SchoolClass of 2023Modesto, California
AboutHi! My name is Lily Nguyen, and my project is on biological immortality in the animal kingdom and how it relates to the possibilities of naturally extending human lifespan. I first became fascinated with the concept of biological immortality after learning that over 1 out of 5 Americans have a fear of death, myself included!
- "Keeping up with the Immortal Jellyfish: Biological Immortality in the Animal Kingdom & Applications for Prolonging Human Lifespan" with mentor Saam (May 31, 2023)
Lily's Symposium Presentation
Keeping up with the Immortal Jellyfish: Biological Immortality in the Animal Kingdom & Applications for Prolonging Human Lifespan
Started July 6, 2022
Abstract or project description
If you were to ask someone what they were most afraid of, what do you think they would say? Chances are, many would respond that they have a fear of death. After all, according to Chapman University’s 2017 “Survey of American Fears,” 20.3% of Americans are “afraid” or “very afraid” of dying. Unlike other fears such as fear of public speaking, spiders, or tiny holes that could be avoided, death cannot be avoided for most. Yet interestingly, some incredible yet biologically simple organisms seem to have uncovered the fountain of youth. Among them are the Hydra, the Turritopsis dohrnii jellyfish, turtles, and lobsters, each able to employ various mechanisms that could ultimately prolong their lives for thousands of years and render them biologically immortal. Such mechanisms include the telomerase enzyme, which prevents the telomere shortening that leads to age-related cellular degradation, the FoxO gene, which maintains the stem cells and supports innate immune pathways that defend the organism against microinvasion, limitless regeneration of cells/tissues/organs/DNA, the ability to revert back to an earlier stage of the lifespan by restarting the growth process of cells, and cryptobiosis, which halts metabolism to promote survival during extremely adverse conditions. The following paper overviews this variety of mechanisms and attempts to apply them to humans in order to evaluate the question: “Is it possible for humans to become biologically immortal?” It will also evaluate the nuanced consequences if humans indeed became biologically immortal by addressing the inevitable changes to life as we know it today.