Pointing out Rejuvenaction

A slowly growing group of people are setting forth to publish web sites that aim at similar goals to those of Fight Aging!: regular updates on aging research, advocacy for specific research programs, such as those of the SENS Research Foundation, and original opinion pieces. LifeMAG, the Longevity Reporter, and the Healthspan Campaign are a few of the comparatively recent additions, ranging from amateur to professional and single author to organizational publication. As the field of longevity science grows I expect its associated journalism to grow also, at one end from funded interests putting forward their positions and gathering public support, and at the other from ever more motivated individuals deciding that they cannot possibly remain silent in their support for bringing an end to aging.

Of course there are a very wide range of opinions regarding exactly what research we should be supporting in order to make the best possible progress. Just look at the SENS proposals versus the Hallmarks of Aging proposals, and then the Seven Pillars of Aging proposals from the Trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group. That's just within some of the fairly well-trafficked portions of the aging research community. Then compare the Fight Aging! support for SENS rejuvenation research based on repair of cell and tissue damage to attain radical life extension versus the advocacy of sites like AgingSciences, which is very focused on near term pharmaceutical strategies to make very slight differences to aging.

Today I thought that I'd point out another new single author effort that is closer to the Fight Aging! position on advocacy and research, a site called Rejuvenaction. It always pleases me to see yet another person motivated to step up and speak out on this topic. Eventually there will be many more voices than is presently the case, no-one will miss mine when I finally sit back down, and that is exactly as it should be, a sign that we are making meaningful progress towards the goal of ending frailty and disease in aging:

Rejuvenaction

Imagine a world where your well-being doesn't depend on your age - a world where your health as a 90-year-old is indistinguishable from your health as a 25-year-old. In this world, once you're an adult you can be whatever you wish whenever you wish. No need to worry about when is the "right time" to have a family or a career, or to leave everything behind and explore yourself. This is not a world where you need to worry about your limited lifespan or about the fact that the more you approach its end, the less able you will be to even just take care of yourself.

This is a world where biological ageing has been cured.

What is biological ageing?

No offense, but you probably don't know what biological ageing actually is; I didn't either, until not too long ago. And maybe just like me, you might never have given much thought about the matter before, or you may be one of those who think that we age because the body "wears out" somehow, or maybe that it's a genetic thing. It isn't any of these things, really. In order to properly understand the matter, we can make use of an example.

Imagine a clean, tidy bedroom. Books are on the shelves, the bed is made, the floor is clean and washed, everything smells nicely and is exactly where it is supposed to be. You can't really expect the room to stay like that forever if you use it, and it will undergo a certain degree of untidiness and dirt even if you don't use it. One day you will take a few books to read off the shelves, and put only two or three back because something distracted you and you left the rest hanging around on the desk. You've been busy and you didn't have time to dust the floor lately. You spilled a drink on the desk and you didn't clean it as thoroughly as you thought you had. And you will have no trouble believing, if your desk is anything like mine, that papers and pens and whatnot tend to accumulate on top of it, without you really knowing how you managed to go from a clear and usable desktop to a complete chaos where you can hardly find anything.

You get the hang of it: there comes a point when the room becomes gradually unusable. Using the room for what it was (more or less) designed has led to causing "damage" to the room itself. The room didn't "wear out" on its own, nor was this programmed. It's a side-effect of using the room in the first place. And you've got to do something about it, if you want to be able to use it again. Of course you might try to prevent havoc from wreaking, by being more tidy, trying to put things back in place as soon as you've done using them, perhaps not to drink anything in the bedroom, and so on; this preventative approach can work really well for some people, but in general, we all know there will come a time when a thorough clean-up of the room is called for, and it will come more than once. If we do it regularly and often enough, we can expect the room to reach only a certain amount of untidiness that still allows to use it comfortably: if we perform regular maintenance to fix up "damage" that has accumulated in the room over time, and we do it before the room becomes a complete mess, we can prevent it from ever reaching a threshold after which is unusable.

Our bodies aren't rooms; however, it's no matter of controversy that the human body is just a machine - a very complex one, with an astronomical amount of tiny moving parts, but still a machine. And just like any human-made machine, the human body does damage to itself, as a side-effect of its normal operations. These are carried out by our metabolism, the incredibly complex set of processes that keep us alive.

Advocacy

During these past few years in which I've been interested in negligible senescence, I've faced many objections to the possibility of human rejuvenation. I must say that the vast majority of people opposing it seemed to be acting out of a gut instinct: a feeling inside them that questioning the inevitability of ageing is somehow a threat to their own mental peace. This is probably due to the fact that all humans need to come to terms with what they consider inevitable, namely ageing and death, and once they've done it they don't really want to go through the trouble of re-examining the case, particularly for the sake of something that still feels like science fiction. Also, I suspect that people tend to repeat what is considered conventional wisdom rather acritically, probably assuming that if nearly everyone says it, it must be true; in addition, it seems that people feel they're being wise and experienced in life by accepting ageing and death as they are.
Comments

Thank you Reason for the Rejuvenaction website/blog. I put it into my favorites section to view it daily. Not sure how often he updates it, but I'll be sure to find out.

Posted by: Robert Church at June 9th, 2015 9:53 PM

I got directed to Rejuvenaction a week or so ago, via reddit. I'm always glad to see more advocacy on these issues. Hopefully it develops a substantial following. The more attention we can get directed towards this field, the better.

Reason, what you mentioned about there being many group proposing various research methods for aging is exactly what makes me uneasy about the 20-30 year outlook in the field. Too many people that don't agree on what to focus on fragments the already small (but growing) research community. I don't think there should be just one area of research, but there are too many that view mimicking calorie restriction as the holy grail. Not to mention the debate on if aging is programmed or of it's a result of accumulated damage. I guess a huge wild card could be calico, given their funding, and since they haven't really announced their plans yet. I'm hoping for a rejuvenation approach but I'm not expecting it, after seeing some of their partnerships.

Sorry to get a bit side tracked.

Posted by: Ham at June 10th, 2015 4:25 AM

We need a million advocates, but we don't need a million arguing advocacy organizations, especially if each one believes in a small portion that only has a piece of the puzzle.

Advocates: If you have a source of money, just pipe it straight to SENS unless you're actually sure you want to fund labs yourself (and you almost certainly don't). Let a unified organization fund the blind men trying to figure out this elephant.

"in addition, it seems that people feel they're being wise and experienced in life by accepting ageing and death as they are." - This, infinitely this, largely among senior high schoolers and freshman college students. It's what their parents told them, and it used to be true, and it sounds stoic, so of course they repeat it until they believe it.

Posted by: Slicer at June 10th, 2015 11:25 AM

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