Bioscience and Pushing the Limits of Lifespan

A short article on longevity science than manages to miss most of the interesting work presently taking place by focusing on the mainstream of metabolic manipulation to slow aging and researchers who talk about compression of morbidity without extending life: "As scientists make new breakthroughs in understanding the mechanics of aging, the upper limits of aging might be changing for Homo sapiens. Already, life expectancy has increased dramatically since the late nineteenth century, when it was 40 for males and 42 for females at birth, and age 58 and 59 respectively if they survived to age 10 (infant mortality was much higher in 1890). Life expectancy is expected to keep rising to perhaps age 100 sometime in the 22nd century, according to the United Nations. This comes from better hygiene and nutrition, and also from bio-med breakthroughs that range from antibiotics to targeted therapies for cancer and robotic surgery. Is it possible that new waves of discoveries might take us on a path of even more dramatic increases in life extension? Until recently, mainstream scientists would have answered with an emphatic no, suggesting that this was a fantasy offered up by alchemists, charlatans, and pseudo-scientists. Two trends have shifted this point of view. The first is a realization that aging is one of the greatest risk factors for many diseases, and therefore needs to be seriously addressed by biomedical researchers. Not with a primary endpoint of radically prolonging life, which remains controversial, but as a major element of conventional research into understanding and combating cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases of the elderly. The second trend is that scientists have succeeded in upping the lifespan of many animals, sometimes dramatically, discoveries that have launched wide-ranging research into the mechanics of aging. The big question is: Can these processes be replicated in humans?"

Link: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/08/when-im-164-how-can-bioscience-push-the-limits-of-lifespan/261814/

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