It seems to me, that if we break it down, there are really only a handful of bugs between our current cellular capabilities, and those of an immortal.
- Limited redundancy
- Limited error checking
- Limited genetic repair
- Limited control of cellular division timers and/or triggers
- Limited protection of genetic material resulting in a higher rate of corruption.
- Limited means for patching adult tissue with enhanced genetic code
Notes on Redundancy:
The issue with redundancy is that if a large portion of DNA is damaged on both strands, there is little if any way for the cell restore that information. So the key would be to add some sort of extra redundancy and backup so that if such a loss occurred, the cell would have additional references from which to rebuild the damaged code. I can think of a few solutions to this problem that seem like they might be possible.
- The first is an internal approach where an extra strand or two of DNA and other genetic structures in the cell are injected into each cell and maybe wrapped in some sort of protective material that will be maintained by the cell. This vault locked code is the emergency reference in case to much of a DNA strand is lost for the cell to repair. Code and enzyme producers would have to be added that would create enzymes which would maintain the protective material and also be cable of using it the code contained to restore any damage or mutated DNA.
- The second may be easier to implement but requires a more manual approach to DNA repair. Basically a copy of the persons DNA is kept externally and protected in a lab or storage facility of some sort. Every so often this is used along with a programmed virus or some other means of cellular injection to send enzymes into the tissue to do some spring cleaning. In other words the enzymes would be administered by a physician on a maintenance basis sort of like going to the Dentist for a routine checkup.
- A third solution I've thought of may be a little risky and more difficult to encode. The idea would be that as a last resort, new cells could look to neighboring cells to find the necessary portions of the DNA that are needed for a repair. Basically a remote DNA request enzyme would get packaged up and be sent out to a neighboring cell. The neighboring cell duplicates a portion or all of it's DNA but instead of doing so for reproduction, it simply packages it up and sends it off to the neighboring cell for repair. Upon receipt of the updated package, the enzyme takes the existing DNA package which has been flagged as corrupt, and ejects it and installs the replacement.
It may be that the best solution would be a combination of all 3. None of them alone are a perfect solution. The 2 internal solutions are prone error because even the backup systems are not guaranteed to be free from corruption. And while an externally stored and monitored sample may be more consistent, the external solution may not occur often enough to prevent some loss of tissue before the next cleansing is administered. Also the external solution has something of a tethering effect that would require the user to always be within range of someone capable performing the procedure.
Notes on Error Checking:
This is the next big on the list is error checking. What good is having redundancy and backups if the cell is never made aware that there is a problem that needs fixing? The only real solution I've thought about here would be some sort of checksum is created for the DNA and stored and again protected. This is checked as often as possibly against a new checksum generated from the DNA to see if any corruption has occurred. If so than a repair operation is triggered. Although there would also need to be some redundancy in the checksums i'd imagine.
Notes on Genetic Repair:
Notes on Control of Cellular Division:
Notes on Genetic Protection:
Notes on Genetic Patching: