To go along with the recent announcement of the Longevity Dividend book, an extended argument for more government funding for the present mainstream approach to aging research, here is a position paper from one the researchers involved in this initiative:
The survival of large segments of human populations to advanced ages is a crowning achievement of improvements in public health and medicine. But, in the 21st century, our continued desire to extend life brings forth a unique dilemma. The risk of death from cardiovascular diseases and many forms of cancer have declined, but even if they continue to do so in the future, the resulting health benefits and enhanced longevities are likely to diminish. It is even possible that healthy life expectancy could decline in the future as major fatal diseases wane. The reason is that the longer we live, the greater is the influence of biological aging on the expression of fatal and disabling diseases. As long as the rates of aging of our bodies continues without amelioration, the progress we make on all major disease fronts must eventually face a point of diminishing returns.
Research in the scientific study of aging has already showed that the aging of our bodies is inherently modifiable, and that a therapeutic intervention that slows aging in people is a plausible target for science and public health. Given the speed with which population aging is progressing and chronic fatal and disabling conditions are challenging health care costs across the globe, the case is now being made in the scientific literature that delayed aging could be one of the most efficient and promising ways to combat disease, extend healthy life, compress morbidity, and reduce health care costs. A consortium of scientists and nonprofit organizations has devised a plan to initiate an accelerated program of scientific research to develop, test for safety and efficacy, and then disseminate a therapeutic intervention to delay aging if proven to be safe and effective; this is referred to as the Longevity Dividend Initiative Consortium (LDIC).