WILT: necessity, feasibility, affordability

In: The Future of Aging: Pathways to Human Life Extension (G. Fahy et al., eds.), Springer, 2010, pp. 667-685.

WILT: necessity, feasibility, affordability

de Grey, ADNJ.



Despite immense investment of resources, biomedical progress in postponing death from most cancers has fallen far short of prior expert prediction. Having intercellular natural selection at its disposal, cancer is arguably the hardest part of aging to combat biomedically. WILT (Whole-body Interdiction of Lengthening of Telomeres), first suggested in 2004, is a radical proposal that seeks to address this feature of cancer head-on, by pre-emptively altering as many as possible of our mitotically competent cells in such a way that the capacity for indefinite cell division could not be achieved even by the high degree of mutagenesis and selection that a tumour harbours. WILT also incorporates proposals for addressing the severe side-effects that these alterations would certainly have. In this chapter, following an introduction to the motivation for WILT, I first evaluate the likelihood that alternative, less daunting but comparably effective approaches to controlling cancer will emerge in a similar timeframe, thereby making WILT mercifully unnecessary. Then I provide an update on the various technologies that comprise WILT, with emphasis on progress showing that WILT is likely both to be implementable within a few decades and to achieve the anti-cancer efficacy that I have previously claimed for it. Finally I address a different type of concern: that, even if technologically achievable, WILT is so complex that it may never be economically practicable.