The latest Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences is edited by biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey and entitled "Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence: Why Genuine Control of Aging May Be Foreseeable." The table of contents:
- Part I. The Nervous System
- Part II. The Cardiovascular System
- Part III. The Immune System
- Part IV. Cancer
- Part V. Protein Damage
- Part VI. DNA Damage
- Part VII. Hormones and Signaling
- Part VIII. Oxidative Stress
- Part IX. Nutrition
- Part X. Exercise
- Part XI. Exceptional Longevity
- Part XII. Ethical and Sociological Issues
- Part XIII. Other Topics
It's great to see Aubrey de Grey's vision for serious anti-aging research getting ever more support in the scientific community. You can read the many abstracts at the Annals website, but full texts are pay only. There's some good stuff in there:
The arguments against life extension are examined and found wanting. The consequences of life extension are explored and found challenging but not sufficiently daunting to warrant regulation or control. In short, there is no doubt that immortality would be a mixed blessing, but we should be slow to reject cures for terrible diseases that may be an inextricable part of life-extending procedures even if the price we have to pay for those cures is increasing life expectancy and even creating immortals.
Aging is unpopular with the general public - but, it would seem, only up to a point. Treatments that claim (sometimes justifiably) to extend the total and/or healthy life span of elderly people, or even just make them look younger, are welcomed with open wallets throughout the world. If, however, one suggests to the typical nonbiologist - or even to the typical nongerontologist biologist - that we should therefore aim, in due course, to take this desire to its logical conclusion and bring aging under the same degree of control that we currently have over most infectious diseases, one is nearly always met with strong and sometimes strident opposition. I argue here that the prevalence of this outright irrationality is largely the fault of gerontologists themselves.
Following a highly stimulating series of talks on the social and ethical implications of greatly extended life spans, a discussion of the issues was held, in which a series of straw polls was conducted. An alarming conclusion from these polls was that most participants thought it either probable or "not improbable" that comprehensive functional rejuvenation of middle-aged mice would be possible within 10-20 years, but also felt that biogerontologists should not yet discuss timescales (either for mouse rejuvenation or similar progress in humans) in society at large. This combination of views may be very dangerous, as it assumes that humanity will need little forward planning to transition smoothly from its current almost universal fatalism concerning the defeat of aging to a widespread appreciation of its foreseeability or even imminence.
If you want to see how scientists are talking about healthy life extension amongst themselves (both the nuts and bolts and more bioethics-like considerations), this is a good place to look.