How Can We Live a longer life?
Watch Dr. Aubrey De Grey: Cure Aging & Live to 1000…Possible
Do we really want to live longer? Do we have any control on how to live a longer life? How can we slow aging? How close are we to finding an elixir for youth? Should we try to reverse aging or just accept it as an inevitable part of life? Would it make a difference if we change our attitude towards growing old or is it just a matter of genes we have no control over? Scientists may disagree on the role the environment plays, but they all agree that we will eventually be able to reverse aging and slow the aging process.
Dr. Aubrey de Grey is a pioneering theoretical scientist in the field of human aging (biogerontology). He says that we can substantially slow aging and live to be several hundred years old.
Today we are becoming more and more capable of addressing how to slow aging. However, Dr. Aubrey de Grey says it turns out that is going to be easier to reverse the aging process than to prevent it. The reason is that it is easier to repair the damage than to prevent the damage from happening.
Aging is believed to be a side effect of human metabolism. As we get older the cells and larger structures that compose our bodies, become less efficient, damaged or simply stop functioning altogether.
Dr. Aubrey de Grey believes that Metabolism (the hugely complex network of homeostatic processes that keep us alive) eventually causes pathology (the hugely complex network of anti-homeostatic processes that kill us).
Metabolism, he says, causes “damage” ongoingly, but damage only eventually causes pathology. Therefore, we should not attempt to change metabolism, because after all, one aspect of it can adversely affect another aspect of our physiology and cause damage instead of reversing the aging process. He compares the human body with a car, which we will be eventually able to repair when damage happens.
So, how can we reverse aging and live longer?
Gerontology tries to inhibit the rates at which metabolism lays down this damage. Geriatrics is trying to stop the damage from turning into pathology. However the damage continues to accumulate. On the other hand, unlike gerontology or geriatrics, the engineering approach does not interfere with any processes and can probably reverse aging and help us live a substantially longer life. So, according to Dr. Aubrey de Grey, we simply have to fix the consequences of aging.
In fact, the seven deadly things that create damage that causes pathology and consequently aging and death are:
1) Cell loss/atrophy: This can be treated with chemicals that stimulate the division of cells. Also, exercise and stem cells can play an important role in repairing cell loss and atrophy.
2) Unwanted cells: The immune system can be stimulated to attack unwanted cells. Also, cell senescence can be removed surgically.
3) Nuclear mutations and epimutations:
Cancerous cells can be treatable with “Whole-body Interdiction of Lengthening of Telomeres” (WILT). The treatment involves the use of a type of gene therapy to eliminate the ability of all somatic cells to lengthen their own telomeres, which should lead to the total defeat of cancer. Research also suggests that we may be able to slow aging by keeping the telomeres long.
4) mtDNA mutations: Diseases caused by mutated DNA can be prevented by moving the mitochondrial DNA into the cell nucleus.
5) Proteins cross links: Certain proteins over time bond to each other and become rigid. An example would be the proteins that make up the cells in the arteries. The solution to this problem lies in chemicals that can break these bonds.
6) Junk inside cells: Introduction of certain enzymes can prevent molecular garbage from disturbing cells.
7) Junk outside cells: Extracellular plaque collecting between cells can be eliminated by “beta-breakers” and by stimulating the immune system.
As we see, each of the above culprits is responsible for our aging and is potentially fixable by technologies which will reverse aging by restoring related physiological decay. Doctors will be able to repair damage to these seven systems periodically to keep damage down below pathology (death).
Aubrey de Grey also believes that we can slow aging enough to eventually live up to a few hundred years without having to succumb to the diseases of old age as early as we do now when most people die between the ages of 65 and 90. Research is becoming very promising and can be of direct benefit to ourselves and our children
Given the exponential progress in technology, we can keep the body functional for a long time. This is not a crazy idea at all! Optimistically, we may have a 50% chance in the next 25-30 years of developing therapies that could possibly add 30 years to the average human life span.
Dr. Aubrey de Grey is the Chief Science Officer of the SENS Foundation (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence), which tries to develop rejuvenation bio-technologies that address the diseases of aging by improving organ function and tissue quality. His real work is also focused on improving the lives of older adults. Who would say “no” to end Alzheimer’s disease? Or alleviate the pains and aches of older age? Or cure Cancer?
His book Ending Aging is a profoundly engaging, stimulating, and thought-provoking book. Dr. Aubrey de Grey exhorts:
Wake Up – Aging Kills!
From an engineering standpoint we can do a lot of things about it and live a longer life. Our whole future and quality of life can change.