Renowned Gerontologist Aubrey de Gray, from the University of Cambridge, had this to say about growing old “Aging is a barbaric phenomenon that should not be tolerated in polite society”. As there has been a near fifty percent rise in the human life expectancy in the century past, it was principally due to medical technology and medicinal progress, and had nothing to do with aging. Currently there are no magic pills that will slow or reverse the aging process, only healthy lifestyle choices. Like quitting smoking, getting more physical training, eating a balanced diet and listening to the advice of your physician. Only by slowing the process of aging will we see any significant increase, in the neighborhood of fifty percent, in human life extension during this century.
Over the last number of years, there have been numerous breakthroughs in the science of anti aging, specifically in cellular research. The average human cell has a readymade program coded into it, which thwarts it from duplicating more than a set amount of times. With the telomerase enzyme, it becomes achievable to alter the human cells to over ride the preprogramming and enable them to multiply without letting up. Nevertheless, this telomerase data will not solve the aging question by itself. It is known that mice will not live any longer than normal when they have been genetically altered to contain more of this telomerase enzyme.
Gene modification has been able to double the prolonged existence of worms and increase by nearly fifty percent the life expectancy of flies. Conclusions in mammals though are encouraging. Researchers have been able to extend the lives of mice by fifty percent using gene intrusion methods. If the same results could be produced in humans, the new norm would be to have grandparents who are over one hundred twenty years of age. There are now a few groups conducting research into how to impede the aging process; these include Kronos Longevity Research Institute from Phoenix, AZ and Centagenetix out of Cambridge Massachusetts. There are other factions involved in the same array of research studies aimed at aging and it is quite possible we will witness true advances in lifespans of mice by several fold sometime in the next ten years.
Accomplishing equal outcomes in humans promises to be more difficult. Science has now recognized the genes responsible for accelerated aging in humans, but they as yet have not been able to locate the gene, which may do the reverse. Along with the sequence of the human genome, our positioning is much improved to be able to learn more regarding the process of aging in animals as well as humans. If previous research cycles are an indication, we could expect to see some techniques created that will offset human senescence over the next several decades. According to the experts, the capabilities in the offing, which will significantly increase human life expectancy, are outstanding.
There are scientists who ague this research is a fool’s errand and there will never be a “cure” for aging, our grandparent will not be around to see our children’s children graduate from university. There are a trove of other scientists and experts in the field of gerontology and aging who are certain of the coming ability to transform the way humans age. According to one acclaimed expert in the field of genetics, our generation will be remembered as the one that mapped a potential course for individual immortality.