Army Seeks Fountain of Youth in Body's Powerhouses
2008-02-04 0:00

By Noah Shachtman | blog.wired.com


The hip-hop world has been all a-flutter, lately, over accusations that 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige took human growth hormone, or HGH, to get big and stay youthful. Army scientists want their soldiers to stay strong and spritely, too. But they're taking a slightly different approach, in a new program for "Optimized Human Performance." Instead of HGH, the Army is looking for its fountain of youth in mitochondria -- the body's powerhouses, which turn sugars into energy.

"The modern Army is constrained by biology. Highly qualified and very experienced soldiers routinely leave the Army because they are old," a new military request for proposals complains. These long-time soldiers, alas, are finding that "their physical and/or cognitive performance capabilities are significantly less than that of a 20 year old."
The biological basis of this reduction in performance capability may be an injury, but in most cases is simply due to the reduced efficiency of old mitochondria, resulting in reduced levels of energy (adenosine triphosphate) provided to the body to power cognitive and physical tasks.

The ability to stimulate mitochondrial energy production would extend the time that soldiers remain fit for duty, boost soldier physical and performance capabilities, and expand the age range of suitable recruits. It would also eliminate the current dichotomy of the ideal soldier being optimized both for youth (high performance capabilities) and experience.


"The past twenty years have seen a revolutionary breakthrough in understanding how mitochondria function," the Army adds. And military-funded scientists have tried to take advantage of that increased knowledge, researching new ways to use mitochondria to give soldiers more strength and stamina.

Oxford University biochemists look for ways to get mitochondria to feed on fats, instead of sugars -- without all the nasty side-effects of a constant cheeseburger binge. If the scientists are successful, small rations of the ketone cuisine could boost a soldier's stamina, and maybe even keep him nourished for days at a time.


Lan Bo Chen, a pathologist at the Dan Farber Cancer Institute in Cambridge, MA, combined green tea extract with a B-vitamin cocktail for a drink boosts the overall production of mitochondria. In series of trials, high-performance cyclists saw a small, but significant, increase in their times. The Army is now testing the drink out in its Natick, MA Soldier Systems Center.

In contrast, this new Army program has much more far-reaching goals.

The world contains approximately 4.2 billion people over the age of twenty. Even a small enhancement of cognitive capacity in these individuals would probably have an impact on the world economy rivaling that of the internet.


Article from: http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/01/armys-age-retar.html



Related Articles
Supercharging Soldiers' Cells
Pentagon's PCs Bend to Your Brain
Squirrel = Super Soldier?
Stronger, Tougher, Faster: Building Next-Gen G.I.s
Transgressive technologies: Does a posthuman dystopia await us?
Aubrey de Grey, Artificial Intelligence, Singularity, Longevity and the Holy Grail
In A First, Scientists Develop Tiny Implantable Biocomputers
The next big bang: Man meets machine
Science's new blend mixes man and beast


Latest News from our Front Page

Minister of Migration attacked by asylum seeker with fire extinguisher
2015-03-27 2:12
Sweden’s Minister of Justice & Migration also known as Morgan “only 1%” Johansson, has been attacked with a fire extinguisher when he visited an asylum home for future Swedes. Regional newspaper, Kristiandstadsbladet reported that a man who had been living at the home for a couple of weeks grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed foam all over the minister who didn’t ...
Hollywood agents: Difficult for white actors to find work now that shows required ‘to go ethnic’
2015-03-27 1:51
According to an article by Nellie Andreeva published yesterday at Deadline Hollywood, the television landscape has shifted so much this season that white actors are finding it increasingly difficult to find roles. In addition to new hit shows with mostly minority casts — Black-ish, Empire, Fresh Off the Boat, and How to Get Away with Murder — shows that were originally ...
Congratulations Pussy Porters!
2015-03-26 18:52
Mural paid for by the government, decorates a Swedish school. On International Women’s day Julia Caesar published this chronicle in Swedish on Snaphanen which I’ve translated but prior to reading it I’d like to provide you with some background information on certain terms which are incomprehensible to non-Swedes. First and foremost “pussy porter” and “penis porter” are terms that third-wave feminists in ...
Germanwings co-pilot appears to have crashed plane deliberately – prosecutor
2015-03-26 18:08
The Germanwings co-pilot seemed to have crashed the plane deliberately, killing 150 people on board. The co-pilot wouldn’t let the captain inside the cabin, with the “intension to destroy” the jet, the French prosecutor said at a press conference. Follow RT’s live updates on investigation into Germanwings plane crash The Germanwings co-pilot was identified as Andreas Lubitz. The captain was between 30 ...
Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary
2015-03-25 19:38
The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced. “Hen” will be added to “han” (he) and “hon” (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy’s SAOL. The pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender – either because ...
More News