In the stifling, costly regulatory systems surrounding medical research and commercial application of therapies, aging is not classified as a disease for which one can develop treatments. This is a good deal of the reason why it is hard to raise funding for potential interventions in the aging process, and it is why, now that those interventions are more broadly recognized as plausible, we are seeing a growing chorus of calls for change. For my part, I'd rather see the whole corrupt, backwards system of medical regulation torn down, or for the research and development community to make regulators irrelevant by carrying out their work in other jurisdictions, supplying the resulting therapies via medical tourism. But the mainstream will always want to work to adjust the system from within, leaving most of the harms and unnecessary costs intact, rather than take more radical steps to speed up progress:
Aging itself is the process of the human body deteriorating over time, and its effects are now attributed to a wide range of illnesses. People gradually lose their sight and vision, their organs suffer decreased function, and in some cases people's very minds change so much that they cease being who they used to be. Several diseases and conditions are labeled as the culprits of aging, with research and treatments being directed at each of them individually. This work is certainly important, but several scientists argue that this approach is too piecemeal. According to them, such ailments represent the side effects of a greater disease, one that in fact can be treated and prevented. That disease is aging itself.
The notion of aging as a disease is not an entirely revolutionary one, and several scientists have been pushing for such recognition. Scientists have recently called on the World Health Organization to classify aging as a disease in the 11th iteration of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11). The ICD is the standard tool for identifying and classifying diseases used by medical professional throughout the world. Our current biological understanding of aging is shifting along with societal attitudes towards what can be classified as a disease, and that the ICD-11 needs to be updated to reflect this.
A change in nomenclature may not sound like it has much effect, but it has great potential. History has shown that the classification of mental disorders, such as autism, as diseases has led to increased attention to the subject, the development of more accurate diagnostic methods, and increased involvement of the pharmaceutical industry and policy makers. It also provides the basis for clinical trials, which are critical in creating specific anti-aging treatments. A formal World Health Organization classification of aging as a disease would involve the creation of a dedicated task force, in a fashion similar to what is being done for chronic pain. It would also allow for the recognition of an "ideal norm" of a disease-free state of a specified age (such as 25), which would provide a clear goal for treatments to strive towards. If we consider aging a disease, it doesn't just represent a nomenclatural change in thinking but rather a paradigm shift. The first step in tackling a problem is to define it, and while people may not specifically consider aging a disease as of yet, we have always been striving for longer and healthier lives. It is, after all, the entire purpose of medicine, and this classification is a logical next step. Science and medicine only make progress once the problem is properly identified.