What Do Life Extension and Anti-Aging Research Look Like From a Distance?

Occasionally, it's good to suffer a reminder that we advocates for research into healthy life extension medicine - and the development of working, scientific anti-aging therapies capable of repairing age-related cellular damage - have a great deal of work left to do. This particular reminder comes in the form of a Maclean's article: the healthy life extension movement as seen from the outside, from a distance, with a typical level of man-in-the-street understanding. From this perspective, lie-down-and-die aging apologist Dr. Weil stands on the same platform as the worst of the anti-aging marketplace, right next to Cynthia Kenyon's prodigously long-lived worms and Aubrey de Grey's Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence - no differentiation between nonsense, marketing and science, nor between factions of scientists with quite different aims and opinions.

Realistically, this is about we can expect for anyone with no real interest in what's going on - we have to do a far better, more expansive job of framing the picture for the public if we want widespread support for the right sort of anti-aging research. That said, progress on the media and public awareness front in recent years has been rather gratifying. The Macleans piece ends on this note, after all:

After talk of all these experiments, Weil's final advice is rather disappointing. "Get adequate rest and sleep." "Exercise your mind as well as your body." "Learn and practise methods of stress protection." What, when there's a worm just lying there increasing its lifespan by leaps and bounds? Readers might want to wait for the pill.

While a flawed statement in a number of ways, it illustrates that biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey is quite right in his notion that extremely long-lived, healthy mice - when they arive - are going to provide a real boost in public understanding and support for scientific anti-aging research.

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