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Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan discusses ageing, death in new book

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New Delhi, Apr 2 (PTI) Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Venki Ramakrishnan's upcoming book, "Why We Die: The New Science of Ageing and the Quest for Immortality", transforms understanding of why humans age and die, and whether there's anything that they can do about it.

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Scheduled to release this week, the book, published by Hachette India, explains how we are living through a revolution in biology and giant strides are being made to extend human life.

"Immortality, once a faint hope, has never been more within our grasp. Examining recent scientific breakthroughs, Ramakrishnan shows how cutting-edge efforts to extend lifespan by altering our natural biology raise profound questions," read the description of the book.

In the last decade, more than 3,00,000 scientific articles have been published and 700 start-up companies have invested tens of billions of dollars into anti-ageing research.

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Many of the celebrity tech billionaires -- including Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg -- have all expressed an interest in this area.

Does death serve a necessary biological purpose? How can we increase our chances of living long, healthy and fulfilled lives? are some of the questions that the book seeks to answer.

According to the book, ageing is the accumulation of chemical damage to our molecules and cells over time.

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"It starts gradually with small defects; these lead to medium-sized ones that manifest as the morbidities of old age, leading eventually to the system-wide failure that is death," it explained.

The book has been endorsed by the likes of physician-author Siddhartha Mukherjee and English actor-broadcaster Stephen Fry.

While Pulitzer Prize-winning Mukherjee called Ramakrishnan's writing "honest, lucid and engaging", Fry described the book as "riveting and revealing" that takes readers on a thrilling ride through the science of ageing and death.

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"Venki Ramakrishnan, a Nobel laureate at the very cutting edge of molecular biology has an extraordinary gift for explaining the science behind ageing and death with clarity, wit and enviably entertaining narrative flair. A must-read," said Fry in his praise for the book.

Ramakrishnan, 72, who received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for uncovering the structure of the ribosome, runs the Ramakrishnan Lab at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK.

He is also the author of the scientific memoir "Gene Machine".

"Why We Die", priced at Rs 699, is currently available for pre-order online. PTI MG RB RB

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