This is a question about the same magic explained in this one. I also explain the magic below.


In my fantasy novel, magic is a natural part of the world. It is not some mystical force shrouded in mystery, but rather backed by science (though only I, the author, know it's true workings).

In my world, magic is a force that by its nature changes living cells. It is similar to radiation, but different in the respect that it changes what the cell does, usually in a beneficial way. For example, if the cells of an eye were exposed to magic, the magic might make the eye also see infrared light.

There are those in my world who can control the change worked by the magic. (They can force the magic to make the eye see infrared light. They can also use magic to make that same eye go blind.)


If this magic were used on humans (or elves, which have basically the same physiology), could it be used to increase their life span? If so, how would that be accomplished merely by altering what the cells do?

  • $\begingroup$ Another couple of places to look are telomere regeneration, which can sometimes go wrong and create truly immortal but cancerous cells, and stem cell stimulation, as with a pregnant mother who receives an infusion of health-improving stem cells from her child. $\endgroup$
    – Emmett R.
    Apr 14, 2015 at 2:21

4 Answers 4


This is similar to Rozwels.
Every time a cell divides, a piece on the end of the DNA called a telomere gets a little shorter.

Telomeres are an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces.

Once the telomere is gone, the cell can no longer reproduce. As cells wear out, we age.

If the magic can lengthen/restore the telomeres in the DNA, then the cells can reproduce forever, meaning you can reverse ageing.

  • $\begingroup$ Would life be extended if the subjects in question simply started out with longer telomeres? (So in effect, you can determine life-span by measuring a telomere?) $\endgroup$ Apr 14, 2015 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ @TommyMyron That's the way I understand it. There is a rare condition called progeria, which causes children to age very rapidly. The studies show that people with this condition have very short telomeres, comparable to an 85 year old. There are also links between shorter telomeres and a protien called progerin, which has links to aging and is a key factor in progeria. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Apr 14, 2015 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ @TommyMyron You can't determine the lifespan of someone only with its telomeres. That is one important factor, but it isn't the only one. There are a lot more like damaged caused by ROS, the FRTA, glycation, and a lot more things. More info. PS: I only read some of them in the Spanish version of the links. $\endgroup$
    – Ender Look
    Apr 4, 2018 at 3:04

One of the theories on old age is that every time your cells divide the copies have miniscule variations from the original. Over time these changes reach a point where the cell is no longer viable or able to reproduce. Think about running a blueprint through a copier, then taking the copy and making a copy of it, then taking that copy and making a copy of it, and on and on. Several thousand copies later, compare the latest copy to the original, it is almost certain that there will be noticeable differences, and eventually you will reach a point where the latest copy is no longer usable for the original purpose. If we accept this theory as a cause for old age, then there are two basic ways of slowing the aging process...

More perfect copies
Alter the cells so that the copies do not degrade as much with each division. This would be like using a brand new ultra high res copier to make your copies, things will still shift a bit, but it will take many more cycles for the changes to be apparent. This could potentially also mean that the altered person heals slightly faster and more completely. No scars or achy joints from old injuries because the body is able to fully repair itself, not just get things close.

Slow the division rates
We still have the tiny degeneration in the cellular blueprint with each copy, but we don't make the copies as quickly. So the total elapse time before notable degradation is apparent is longer. The draw back to this approach is that the healing rate for said persons would be slowed. Cuts that an average person would no longer notice after a week would still be tender and vulnerable to reopening for a month or more depending on the level of dilation you are seeking. Broken bones may take a year or more to heal.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't know that slowing the division rate globally would work. Things like gut lining/red blood cells ~have~ to replicate quickly. You'd have to overhaul the immune system and gut substantially. Futhermore that's not really how scars work, scars are a result of scar tissue formation, which is a complement to wound healing. Scar tissue is laid down on purpose after an injury to close large wounds quickly. Part of the theory on regeneration is that regenerative animals have much less scar formation. $\endgroup$
    – Resonating
    Apr 14, 2015 at 17:05

Some creatures can regenerate limbs or other organs: lizard tails, shark teeth, starfish legs. Researchers are currently studying how to accomplish this with humans. I believe a finger-tip was regenerated on one person.

Permit your magic to transfer abilities from one species to another. This would permit regeneration.

Assume that the average gene of the average cell of a given organ has the correct DNA code. If your magic could make every cell converge toward the average DNA, it would heal the person, except insofar as that person was born with a genetic defect.

  • $\begingroup$ Magical copy-paste is the best way of manipulating the complexity of cellular DNA practically(the madness that is epigenetics and cell signaling state has so much information in it it's literally incomprehensible). I'd be careful converging towards the global average, because you want heart cells to stay heart cells, among other things. Also you would lose all your acquired immunity, as memory B cells and cancer cells both have 'genetic defects'. $\endgroup$
    – Resonating
    Apr 14, 2015 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ Note the phrase "of a given organ". And yes, epigenetics would pose a problem. Good insight. $\endgroup$ Apr 14, 2015 at 18:57

The magic could stop the aging of the cells or prevent the stopping of cell regeneration which why we grow old.

Edit addition:

Many papers exist on cell growth, regeneration and replacement. Perhaps on way that may fit best with the magic theme could be the manipulation of the cells themselves by their proteins. So with that, perhaps your mage has the ability to see individual cells working within the body in real time and can alter the proteins within them for a desired effect. Here is a paper of several cell types and what effects manipulation could have on them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_kinase_A Hope this helps

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the general idea, but try linking in some information on ideas like mitochondrial aging or other theories of cellular ageing. Welcome to worldbuilding! $\endgroup$ Apr 14, 2015 at 2:15
  • $\begingroup$ If so, how would that be accomplished merely by altering what the cells do? Feas, welcome to the site. As you can see the poster is asking how this would work, not just for ideas. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Apr 14, 2015 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ @James thanks for the welcoming. Perhaps I misread the question but it seemed he said the science behind it was only know by him. But I will edit my answer to provide a scenario. $\endgroup$
    – feas
    Apr 14, 2015 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ The nature of what the magic is, is known only by me. What it does is simply alter cells. As long as an effect can be produced just by changing what a cell does, magic can make that happen. $\endgroup$ Apr 14, 2015 at 17:24

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