As I was browsing the web this past week, I came across this article about a woman named Hendrikje van Andel-
Schipper who lived to be 115 years old and was the oldest woman alive before her death in 2005. In the article, two points are brought up regarding how van Andel-Schipper may have died and why she may have lived for so long. When van Andel-Schipper died (her brain was in great condition), she had two remaining stem cells. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the potential to become specialized cells, such as heart cells or blood cells. The article states, “humans are typically born with around 20,000 of these cells, and on average about 1,000 work to keep your bloodstream pumping.” The depleted quantity of stem cells may have been the cause of van Andel-Schipper’s death. However, her cause of death is still unknown. I thought it was interesting that a person’s quantity of stem cells might determine that person’s lifespan. If this is true, this just highlights the fact that stem cells are important to human livelihood. I had never thought that running out of stem cells may cause death, or that humans even ran out of stem cells. Another point the article bought up was that van Andel-Schipper’s white blood cells were mutated, which might have the key to her long life. This reaffirms that some genetic mutations may be beneficial.
I really enjoyed thinking about the points the article bought up. If stem cells are the key to long life, then stem cell research may become even more popular than it is now. Also if van Andel-Schipper’s mutated blood cells were the key to her long life, is it possible that the mutated gene could be isolated and inserted into another being through gene therapy? If such technology should arise that humans could extend their lifespan, should humans take advantage of it? van Andel-Schipper may have given us clues to the secret of long life. I am excited to see what new discoveries arise in the next decade.
Click here to read the article: Blood from world’s oldest woman suggests life limit
“Blood from World’s Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit.” AOL. AOL Inc., 24 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. <http://www.aol.com/article/2014/04/24/blood-from-worlds-oldest-woman-suggests-life-limit/20875023/>.
Nederlands: Van Andel-Schipper’s 113de verjaardag foto van Gebruiker:Houghi, ter beschikking gesteld onder GNU/FDL. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons, 24 Mar. 2004. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Van_andel_113_large.jpg>.