The latest Charlie Rose show, which can be watched online at Google Video, takes a look at the modern mainstream of longevity research. By the guest list - including Cynthia Kenyon, Richard Weindruch, Robert Butler and Jay Olshansky - you might correctly guess that the focus will be in Longevity Dividend territory: modest gains, modest ambitions, the history of the past decade of genetic manipulation of longevity, calorie restriction research of the sort performed by Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, and the manipulation of metabolism to slow aging.
If you wander over to the Immortality Institute, you'll find an ongoing discussion on the show:
Well I thought it was very informative.
They talked about a lot of the research going on into longevity and aging. It was a round table discussion and they had a lot of experts sitting around (and one by satellite). They covered a lot of ground throughout the hour, but some of the things that they hit on were Caloric Restriction (and the results of study in worms, mice, monkeys, and humans so far), Resveratrol (and why it works, plus a word of warning to be cautious about the stuff you buy because of not knowing the quality of what you are buying, which could cause other problems), the effects of lengthened lifespans on society (which they all felt would be a net positive), genetic research and the results that have been shown in animals, plus a lot of other things I am probably forgetting.
I found it very interesting, and would urge all ImmInst members to watch the program if and when they get a chance. They were all very standard researchers that appeared, so there were no claims of immortality or indefinite lifespans or anything like that, but it was very interesting to see and hear what some of the top scientists in aging related fields are working on and think about some aging related issues.
The worst quotes of the show award goes to (starting at about the 45 minute mark):
Charlie Rose: "Nobody is arguing we could have a way to become immortal are they?"
One of the panel: "No, No, No. Nobody here is making that argument."
Charlie Rose: "Although there are some people that talk about it."
One of the panel: "There is a school out there that does."
Charlie Rose: "What is that school called?"
One of the panel: "The radical school."
*laughing some more*
Charlie Rose: "Yeah...right"
I'm glad there are two "schools" as it's going to take a lot of funding and there will be many possible solutions to the problems of aging. I see it boiling down to :
School A: Metabolic Tinkerers. Focus is to slow aging and maximize qaulity - Sinclair, Olshansky, et al.
School B: Radical Engineering via Damage Repair, Gene & Stem Cell Therapy, etc (SENS). Focus is to rejuvenate and maximize both quality and quantity - de Grey, SENS et al.
If you don't stretch for the greater goals, you won't attain them. if you're not working towards the best possible result, you certainly won't get there. If we want to see significant progress towards true rejuvenation within our lifetimes - enabled by the march of science towards methods of repairing the cellular damage of aging - then we'd better step up and help to support the growth of SENS-like research programs.
Repairing aging is better than slowing aging, and doesn't look like it will take much longer, or be any harder. So why take the obviously worse route? Sadly, the obviously worse route is the dominant path for that part of the modern gerontology community willing to work towards healthy life extension. This must change in the years ahead.