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free radicals still are not the major cause of ageing

Chris Driver drierac at deakin.edu.au
Wed Feb 15 18:26:27 EST 1995

Since posting my comments on free radical damage and ageing I have seen a 
number of comments posted on the bulletin board and some directed to me 
personally, some of them quite insulting. Nevertheless I want to thank all 
people who responded. I still think you have no case.

Some clear thinking is needed here. Proteins, and lipids can be damaged by 
many processes including free radicals. For some cells which no longer have 
the ability to renew these components, this matters. Thus there is convincing 
evidence that the deterioration of sperm cells and erythrocytes involves free 
radical damage.

In addition hypoxia/ischemia may impair cells ability to respond to stress and 
replace damaged proteins, etc. I will concede that it is likely that free 
radical damage contributes to the damage associated with 

Therefore it seems likely that free radical blockers may contribute to the
extension of good health, at least in some cases. So does safe driving!

However the best efforts of cell biologists have failed to find any consistent 
effect of radicals in cell culture. There is consistently a big zero on this 

Furthermore in old age there are many cells which are still functionally 
intact. This most marked in the brain where some cells appear to deteriorate 
rapidly and neighbouring cells are uneffected. I read this in the mammalian 
literature and am finding it in Drosophila.

Furthermore it is possible to take cells from a very old human, transform them 
and produce immortal cell lines. There is not sufficient mutational damage to 
kill them.

Finally there is not one case in the literature that I can find where free 
radical blockers, retard a number of normal physiological declines. Without 
this data you have no case. 

Having said tha I would be delighted if one of the netters could supply me 
with this experiment in print.

Yours in hope, Chris Driver
Chris Driver, Ph D
School of Biology and Chemistry, Rusden Campus
Deakin University
662 Blackburn Rd
Clayton, VIC, 3168

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