Healthspan Campaign

Here is another of the signs that the more conservative advocates for aging research are slowly moving towards a better position on human longevity. This is a new campaign that's somewhat like the Longevity Dividend, but a touch more ambitious in its tone. If you look at the proposed research agenda, you'll see that it's clearly not the rejuvenation biotechnology of SENS, as the declared aim is still only to slow aging, but it's a step in the right direction. A rising tide floats all boats, and the more that the mainstream of the research community agrees that something can and should be done about aging, the easier it becomes to gain support and funding for rejuvenation research:

Scientists who study aging now generally agree that it is malleable and capable of being slowed. Rapid progress in recent years toward understanding and making use of this malleability has paved the way for breakthroughs and interventions that will increase human health in later life by opposing the primary risk factor for virtually every disease we face as we grow older - aging itself. Better understanding of this "common denominator" of disease could usher in a new era of preventive medicine, enabling interventions that stave off everything from dementia to cancer to osteoporosis. Poised as we are for an unprecedented aging of our population and staggering increases in chronic age-related diseases and disabilities, even modest extensions of healthy lifespan could produce outsized returns of extended productivity, reduced caregiver burdens, lessened Medicare spending, and more effective healthcare in future years. The field of aging research is poised to make transformational gains in the near future. Few, if any, areas for investing research dollars offer greater potential returns for public health.

The payoffs from such focused attention and investment would be large and lasting. Therapies that delay aging would lessen our healthcare system's dependence on the relatively inefficient strategy of trying to redress diseases of aging one at a time, often after it is too late for meaningful benefit. They would also address the fact that while advances in lowering mortality from heart attack and stroke have dramatically increased life expectancy, they have left us vulnerable to other age-related diseases and disorders that develop in parallel, such as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and frailty. Properly focused and funded research could benefit millions of people by adding active, healthy, and productive years to life. Furthermore, the research will provide insights into the causes of and strategies for reducing the periods of disability that generally occur at the end of life. As University of Michigan gerontologist Richard Miller aptly puts it, "The goal isn't to prolong the survival of someone who is old and sick, but to postpone the period of being old and sick. Not to produce a lot more standard-issue 100-year-olds, but to produce a brand new kind of 100-year-old person."



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