(Eternal) life imitating art

Saturday, 7 May 2016

A story appeared in the news this month of a biotech CEO who performed gene therapy on herself. This is frighteningly similar to the plot of Ghosts in the Machine, where Angela, the CEO of a pharmaceutical company is developing an anti-aging cure.

The drug in Ghost in the Machine? Bioauxanein. The name of the biotech? BioViva.

In real life, Elizabeth Parrish has apparently used a revolutionary telomere lengthening technique to help cure her from a degenerative illness, with it having an added benefit of lengthening her life – although some are disputing the claims of the experiment.

Here is an extract from Ghosts in the Machine that explains what telomeres are: “There is already an enzyme that stops our cells dying, called Telomerase. At the end of each strand of DNA are caps called Telomeres that dictate how often a cell can replicate. Telomerase lengthens the Telomeres, allowing the cell to reproduce indefinitely.”

In my book, Angela explores telomere lengthening but finds it doesn’t cure all the symptoms of aging, and in fact makes cancer proliferate. As a result she moves onto exploring other forms of treatment.

You can read more about the story here - http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/biotech-company-claims-have-successfully-used-gene-therapy-attempt-revere-aging

The similarities are uncanny. But that’s not the only news that’s come out this month that bears resemblance to Ghosts in the Machine.

This article on CNN potentially contains a clue that could reveal the twist in my novel’s plot, so I’d advise against you reading it if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like reading spoilers!

Both these stories reveal our ongoing fascination with death and eternal life, and it seems they’re topics that will be making it into the news more frequently over the years to come.

Do these examples suggest that (eternal) life is imitating art? Or is Ghosts in the Machine a black mirror that’s being held up to our inevitable future?

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