October 1st is the UN International Day of Older Persons, but our community would like it to also be Longevity Day, a time to remind the world that research into human rejuvenation is practical, that near-future therapies are plausible, and that all of this will move much faster with greater funding and support. This year, as last, grassroots advocates will hold events around the globe, many of which are coordinated through the International Longevity Alliance and related groups.
October 1st is also the launch date for this year's Fight Aging! matching fundraiser in support of the rejuvenation biotechnology programs coordinated by the SENS Research Foundation. This is a chance for all of us to do our part to help speed things along; the progress you see today in SENS technologies relevant to treating aging as a medical condition came about as the result of similar fundraising in past years. The matching fund for 2015 weighs in $125,000, and we'll be seeking to raise that much again, matching every $1 donated with $1 from the fund. This is a stretch goal for our community, and all offers of assistance in preparation and fundraising are greatly appreciated.
If you are interested in holding an event this year to mark Longevity Day, then contact the International Longevity Alliance: there is a month left in which to organize, and the Alliance has plenty of helpful materials and references. With regards to the Fight Aging! fundraiser, there are message posters that we'd love to see more widely distributed. Pass them around, show them off, or - even better - improve on them and share the results.
There has been emerging a tradition by longevity researchers and activists around the world to organize events dedicated to promotion of longevity research on or around October 1 - the UN International Day of Older Persons. This day is sometimes referred to in some parts of the longevity activists community as the "International Longevity Day". As this is the official UN Day of Older Persons, this provides the longevity research activists a perfect opportunity, perhaps even a perfect excuse, to emphasize the importance of aging and longevity research for the development of effective health care for the elderly, in the wide public as well as among decision makers.
Let us maintain and strengthen this tradition! Let us plan and organize a mutually reinforcing network of events worldwide. If you plan to organize an event for that day - either live meetings or on-line publications and promotions - please let us know. Together we can create an activism wave of strong impact.
The critical importance and the critical need to promote biological research of aging derives from the realization that tackling the degenerative processes and negative biological effects of human aging, at once and in an interrelated manner, can provide the best foundations to find holistic and effective ways for intervention and prevention against age-related ill health. Such an approach has been supported by scientific proofs of concept, involving the increase in healthy lifespan in animal models and the emerging technological capabilities to intervene into fundamental aging processes.
The focus on intervention into degenerative aging processes can provide solutions to a number of non-communicable, age-related diseases (such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases), insofar as such diseases are strongly determined by degenerative aging processes (such as chronic inflammation, cross-linkage of macromolecules, somatic mutations, loss of stem cell populations, and others). This approach is likely to decrease susceptibility of the elderly also to communicable, infectious diseases due to improvements in immunity. The innovative, applied results of such research and development will lead to sustainable, economically viable solutions for a large array of age-related medical and social challenges, that may be globally applicable. Furthermore, such research and development should be supported on ethical grounds, to provide equal health care chances for the elderly as for the young.
Therefore it is the societal duty, especially of the professionals in biology, medicine, health care, economy and socio-political organizations, to strongly recommend greater investments, incentives and institutional support for the research and development dealing with the understanding of mechanisms associated with the human biological aging process and translating these insights into safe, affordable and universally available applied technologies and treatments. October 1 - the International Day of Older Persons - provides the researchers and advocates an opportunity to raise these points and make these demands.
Due to the aging of the global population and the derivative increase in aging-related non-communicable diseases and their economic burden, there is an urgent need to promote research on aging and aging-related diseases as a way to improve healthy and productive longevity for the elderly population. To accomplish this goal, we advocate the following policies: 1) Increasing funding for research and development specifically directed to ameliorate degenerative aging processes and to extend healthy and productive lifespan for the population; 2) Providing a set of incentives for commercial, academic, public and governmental organizations to foster engagement in such research and development; and 3) Establishing and expanding coordination and consultation structures, programs and institutions involved in aging-related research, development and education in academia, industry, public policy agencies and at governmental and supra-governmental levels.
The task of healthy life extension, or healthy longevity extension, dictates a broad variety of questions and tasks, relating to science and technology, individual and communal ethics, and finally public policy, especially health and research policy. Despite the wide variety, the related questions may be classified into 3 groups.
The first group of questions concerns the feasibility of the accomplishment of life extension. Is it theoretically and technologically possible? What are our grounds for optimism? What are the means to ensure that the life extension will be healthy life extension?
The second group concerns the desirability of the accomplishment of life extension for the individual and the society, provided it will become some day possible through scientific intervention. How will then life extension affect the perception of personhood? How will it affect the availability of resources for the population?
Yet, the third and final group can be termed normative. What actions should we take? Assuming that life extension is scientifically possible and socially desirable, and that its implications are either demonstrably positive or, in case of a negative forecast, they are amenable - what practical implications should these determinations have for public policy, in particular health policy and research policy, in a democratic society? Should we pursue the goal of life extension? If yes, then how? How can we make it an individual and social priority?
Given the rapid population aging and the increasing incidence and burden of age-related diseases, on the pessimistic side, and the rapid development of medical technologies, on the optimistic side, these become vital questions of social responsibility.