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Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw - 2

that about 45 minutes before sex they could take something that will provide them with more nitric oxide, particularly the man-that is an arginine, choline, vitamin B-5 formulation. Another thing is, of course, a drug like Viagra or Cialis. I think that Cialis is more interesting. First, because the timing isn’t anywhere near as critical. It’s effective for thirty-six hours. And secondly, because I really do think that Cialis may have life-extending effects mediated by mitochondrial biogenesis.

Sandy: I think it’s important to realize that we’re saying that may have that effect.

Durk: May. Repeat, may have that effect.

Sandy: This is a hypothesis.

Durk: But, in the meantime, you can have a lot of fun with it!

Sandy: Hahahaha. (laughter)

David: What are you currently working on?

Durk: Well golly, in addition to our suits against the FDA, we have a ranch with cattle with mitochondrially-elite genomes-and that’s really proving to be very important.

Sandy: Yeah, we selected the cattle so that they were very efficient in feed conversion, and an awful lot of the genes that are involved in feed conversion are those that are used by the mitochondria, because the mitochondria are the center of energy conversion.

Durk: The mitochondria are also what are responsible for being able to survive a blizzard, a drought, or a famine, and they have lot to do with the ability to produce calves and feed them to adulthood.

Sandy: Right, because the mitochondria have their own genome. A lot of people probably still don’t know this but the nuclear genome-the genome that’s found in the cell nucleus-contains most of your DNA, but not all of it. There’s a separate genome that is in the mitochondria. That’s their own genome, and the genome of the mitochondria is handed down only from the mother.

Durk: If you look at ranching publications you’ll see full page ad after full page ad for prize bulls, bull semen, and so forth, and you do need to have good bulls if you want to have good calves, because fifty percent of the nuclear genome is supplied by the bull. Also, some of the proteins that are produced by the nuclear genome are imported into the mitochondria. But there’s a limit as to how far you can go if you don’t have the right mitochondrial genome to start with. So we developed a selection process to get a very good and efficient mitochondrial genome. In fact, it’s so efficient that our calving efficiency this year is ninety-seven percent.

Sandy: Ninety-seven percent of the cows had calves. And remember, these cattle are living like wild animals. They have to take care of themselves in the winter. There’s nobody out there helping them have a calf. They’re doing that all on their own.

Durk: Most ranchers consider themselves doing well if it were in the low to mid eighties, and the University of Nevada brags about their experimental cattle herd. They had a ninety-one percent calving efficiency this year, but they admit that they have calving barns. The calves are born in the barns, and they have veterinarians on call 24 hours a day to help the cows. Ours did it all by themselves out in the field. Ninety-seven percent is absolutely unheard of.

Sandy: So what we did was we got the cattle from herds where they had these very widely distributed cattle over thousands and thousands of acres, and where the cattle were basically taking care of themselves. They were also from these areas where there’s very little scrub to eat. They’re able to manage on very small amounts of food.

Durk: What we did was we found the worst ranges in Nevada, and Nevada’s got a lot of desert. It’s got a lot of pretty hard scrabble range, and I found the worst I could find in Nevada. The rancher was going out of business there. I didn’t buy the cattle that hung around the ranch house and got supplementary feed during the winter. I waited until they were just catching what they call the “wild cows”, where a whole team of cowboys might catch one or two or three of them a day, far far out in the middle of nowhere. And, incidentally, the winter range for these cattle was-so help me God-a place called Last Chance Gulch (laughter), which is a canyon coming off Death Valley. And, man, I have never seen such a barren place. (laughter)

Sandy: So it worked like a charm. Our cattle do extremely well.

Durk: So to make sure that our hypothesis about the cattle was right, for two winters we put them up in a seventy-four hundred foot high valley during the winter-something that you’d never do if you were in your right mind. And they not only survived, they had calves during the winter.
Sandy: Yeah, that’s amazing.

Durk: And the calves survived.

Sandy: And we keep the same maternal line, so we’re continuing with the maternal genome for the mitochondria that we selected them for.

Durk: Yeah, it doesn’t get diluted by the bulls. A hundred generations from now it’ll be the same mitochondrial line.

David: When I interviewed British biochemist Aubrey de Grey for this book he suggested that we move the DNA from the mitochondria into the cell nucleus as a step toward extending human life.

Durk: I think that there may be problems with that. It’s an interesting hypothesis. Aubrey de Grey thinks that maybe we should move the DNA from the mitochondria into the nucleus because there’s far less free radical activity in the nucleus than in mitochondria. Now, the thing is a lot of genes have moved from the mitochondria to the nucleus. It’s happened over the past couple of billion years. So it’s already happened to some extent. What I think is that it’s going to be very difficult to move the remainder because if it weren’t it would have already happened. Many of the genes that are involved in specifying proteins for the mitochondria, in fact, are now found in the nucleus.

Sandy: Yeah, and presumably they remain there because it was an advantage to the animals that had that happen.

Durk: I suspect that if you move the remaining genes from the mitochondria to the nucleus you’ll end frying the nucleus, just like the mitochondria fry themselves. But you’ve only got one set of genes in the nucleus, whereas a typical cell has about twenty thousand sets of mitochondrial genomes in twenty thousand mitochondria.

Sandy: Yeah, because remember that there’s a tradeoff. It’s true that the mitochondria genome does not have anywhere near the kind of DNA repair mechanisms as the nuclear DNA, but there’s a lot more of it. There are large numbers of mitochondria in each cell, so you have a large number of sets of the mitochondrial genome in each cell, whereas you only have one set of the nuclear DNA in each cell. So it’s a tradeoff. And I think that if we’re able to use those mechanisms that we were discussing before, for increasing the number of mitochondria, and regenerating the mitochondrial genome, then, actually, it could be an advantage to leaving the genes in the mitochondria.

David: Is there anything we haven’t spoken about that you would like to add?

Durk: I think that one of things that people really need to look at is the government entitlement systems for people as they age. They are really completely unsustainable, and if something isn’t done about it now there’s going to be a crackup and perhaps even a war between generations. And that would be very bad for life expectancy.

Sandy: Yeah, when you think about it, the Constitution was a very noble model for a government, but perhaps they didn’t realize the problems that it would cause. And maybe you couldn’t even write this into a constitution, really. The problem is that once people find out that they can vote for benefits to themselves, and that other’s people’s stuff can be taken and given to them, it just becomes very difficult to control that. I mean, how do you prevent people from taking advantage of a system where you can just vote yourself money out of somebody’s else’s pocket?

Durk: It’s inherently unstable. Now, one of the ways of dealing with that would be to have a system where to increase a tax you might require a three-quarters vote, or to expend money in an appropriations bill you might require three-quarters vote, effectively. If one quarter plus one vote voted against it, then the money couldn’t be spent. That would be a very effective limit on spending money. But, of course, you’re going to have a very hard time getting that put into The Constitution nowadays, because so many people are getting so much money from the federal government.

Sandy: Actually, you put anything that you want to into the Constitution, but you can’t change people’s natures. That’s a problem that we’re going to have to deal with. Whatever the Constitution is that you have, people can decide that they want to misunderstand or modify the meaning of what was originally put into it, so as to get benefits for themselves at someone else’s expense. That’s a problem.

Durk: One thing we’d like to suggest that you do is you interview a gentleman named Don Ernsberger, who we’ve known from 1960s.

Sandy: He’s an aide to Congressman Rohrabacher.

Durk: Dana Rohrabacher. Don Ernsberger has written a bill, which Rohrabacher has introduced, which would eliminate most of the problems with the high cost of drugs.

Sandy: That bill was introduced last year.

Durk: Yeah, and what this does, effectively, is it eliminates the Kefauver amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Before the

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