Read Up On Serious Anti-Aging Science Weekend

I am declaring this to be "Read Up On Serious Anti-Aging Science Weekend." Far too many people have formed their opinions on medical research, legislation, extending healthy longevity and the prospects for the future without having looked at what reputable, forward-looking scientists have to say on the matter. Far too many people have not looked beyond the limited, old school world of pills and supplements. Far too many people have not seen that all objections to greatly extending the healthy human life span have been debunked for decades.

This weekend, take a few minutes to read and browse - you may be surprised to find out just how close we could be to a cure for aging and how determined researchers are to achieve this goal.

Aubrey de Grey's Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence:

SENS is a detailed plan for curing human aging. SENS is an engineering project, in the same way that medicine is a branch of engineering. The key to SENS is the appreciation that aging is best viewed as a set of progressive changes in body composition at the molecular and cellular level, caused as side-effects of essential metabolic processes. These changes are therefore best thought of as an accumulation of "damage", which becomes pathogenic above a certain threshold of abundance.

Why cure aging?

Because saving lives is the most valuable thing anyone can spend their time doing, and since over 100,000 people die every single day of causes that young people essentially never die of, you'll save more lives by helping to cure aging than in any other way.

What to fix in order to cure aging

The relevance of these dates is that they are all over 20 years ago. The fact that we have not discovered another major category of even potentially pathogenic damage accumulating with age in two decades, despite so tremendous an improvement in our analytical techniques over that period, strongly suggests that no more are to be found -- at least, none that would kill us in a presently normal lifetime.

How soon could we cure aging?

Most of my colleagues absolutely refuse to answer this question, because they feel that no answer can be scientifically defended and hence that to provide an answer is to misuse their exalted status as scientists. I agree with that stance in all areas of science that are not medically relevant, but not in medical areas: I feel that those with the best information have a duty to state their best-guess timeframe.

Obstacles within the scientific community:

There are three main reasons why most mainstream gerontologists remain so conspicuously absent from the growing band of vocal advocates of the SENS approach to curing aging. They are all understandable, but given the importance of the problem and the key role that senior specialists play in determining public opinion and hence public policy, I feel that none of them is a legitimate excuse.

Joao Pedro de Magalhaes' senescence.info:

Aging is directly or indirectly the major cause of suffering, disease, and death in Western civilization. Gerontology is the science that studies the aging process aiming to prevent age-related degeneration, preserve health, and prolong life. In a sense, aging is the ultimate challenge to human quality of life and gerontology the most ambitious scientific endeavour. The highest goal of gerontological research is to make aging optional, to cure aging. With that goal in mind, senescence.info offers a scientific approach to the biology of human aging and the possible routes, the long, hard, dusty routes, to success.

Should we cure aging?

Aging fosters sickness and disability, increases human suffering, and makes us more likely to die. Yet there are a number of possible objections to the endeavour of curing aging. Most of these are unfounded myths, easy to disprove. This essay draws on my own lectures on the subject and attempts to answer the most commonly raised questions and concerns about a possible cure for aging.

The grandparents of tomorrow:

Imagine that your grandmother looks like a teenager, plays soccer, parties at the clubs all night, and works as a venture capitalist. Or imagine your grandfather teaching you the latest high-tech computer software in his office, which you hate to visit because of the loud heavy metal music. Such a scenario is hard to envision because we are taught to accept aging and the resulting suffering and death as an immutable fact of life. We cannot picture our grandparents in better physical shape than we are. Nonetheless, aging may soon become nothing more than a scary bedtime story, perhaps one your grandfather will tell your grandson after a day of white-water rafting together.

Turning back the clock:

By the year 2030, we will have (1) developed a complete model of all human cells types, obviating the need for many laboratory experiments (by doing computer simulations instead); (2) lowered the cost of doing a complete genomic sequence for an human individual to less then $1,000 each; and (3) catalogued all the genes involved in aging. Therefore, human clinical trials to extend life span could already be underway by this date."
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