Commentary on the Developing UK Government Position on Healthy Longevity

One option for patient advocacy for the treatment of aging as a medical condition is to petition governments and large international organizations such as the World Health Organization to adjust their positions on research funding and goals in medicine. This a fairly popular path, for all that I think it not terribly effective at speeding up the cutting edge of research and development. Large organizations of any sort are inherently conservative, and tend to get meaningfully involved in new fields of human endeavor only long after their support would have been truly influential.

Nonetheless, numerous examples of government focused initiatives have emerged from our community over the past decade. They include the Longevity Dividend initiative, petitioning the US government for greater public funding for translational aging research; the small single issue political parties focused on longevity in Germany, Russia, and elsewhere; efforts to influence the contents of the International Classification of Diseases produced by the World Health Organization, in order to classify aging as a disease; and so forth. In recent years, an informal collaboration between advocates, investors, and others in the UK has been making inroads into influencing thinking on aging and longevity in government circles in that country. One of their successes is noted here.

Success, yes, and somewhat more than has been achieved elsewhere. Nonetheless, progress in these efforts in any part of the world tends to be painfully slow and incremental. Persuading bureaucrats to think about making a formal goal of the addition of just a few years to life expectancy over the next few decades is considered a victory. But this is far too little. We live now in an era of biotechnology in which much larger gains in life expectancy are possible and plausible given sufficient investment in research and development. The implementation of rejuvenation therapies, of which senolytic treatments to clear senescent cells are only the first, will up-end all these minor expectations of a few years here and a few years there. That should be the goal.

UK Government Prioritizes Healthy Longevity as a Major National Priority in New Green Paper

This week the UK Government published the green paper of its Preventive Medicine National Strategy, entitled "Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s - consultation document". In practice, this indicates that the UK will be the first country to officially implement P4 (Personalized, Preventive, Precision and Participatory) medicine into its national healthcare system.

This is the newest development in a series of large steps that the UK government has made in recent years towards the development of a proactive, progressive and technology-driven national Healthy Longevity development strategy, beginning with the formation of the Ageing Industrial Grand Challenge (prioritizing the problem of ageing population as one of four key national industrial development challenges for the nation) in 2017, followed by the launch of the £98 million Government-led Healthy Ageing Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund in 2018, and the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity in 2019.

These are some of the major factors that led to the UK being ranked first in Aging Analytics Agency's National Longevity Development Plans analytical report, which used quantitative metrics to rank the strength, proactivity and relevance of various nations' Longevity development projects and initiatives.

Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s - consultation document

Thanks to developments in public health and healthcare, we've made great progress in helping people to live longer lives. For example, life expectancy has increased by almost 30 years over the past century. Cancer survival rates are up and mortality rates from heart disease and stroke are down. However, these improvements in life expectancy are beginning to slow, and over 20% of years lived are expected to be spent in poor health.

Last year, the government set a mission as part of the Ageing Society Grand Challenge to "ensure that people can enjoy at least 5 extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest". The green paper proposals will not deliver the whole '5 years'. But they will help us towards achieving this mission. Further details on this will be provided later in the year, through a government response to the green paper.

Comments

Too bad they are only going for longevity, and not rejuvenation.

Posted by: Jonathan Weaver at July 26th, 2019 6:46 PM

@Jonathan Weaver
You have to start somewhere.

Posted by: Cuberat at July 26th, 2019 6:53 PM

I thought this was a "health" initiative? Fluoridation has no place in promoting health, on the contrary.

Posted by: Helga Sands at July 27th, 2019 3:33 AM

It is a fascinating thing that in an age of individualized, instantaneous, and access-anywhere communication; remarkably immersive, online collaborative tools; and the ability to keep a detailed analytical database of any professional or institution; that we still resort to the blunt and multi-decade old instruments of government lobbying, 'cause' conferences/ conventions, and rich-elitist tin-cup fund-raising. Even major league sports teams have vast and detailed databases of each and every potential 'player' from age 10 in any backwater, developing country to the 35-year old seasoned veteran on the front-page ready to impart valuable experience on their way to 'retirement'. Why do big-league scouts visit tiny middle schools in towns of less than 1000 to meet parents and make contributions to schools without even fields? - 'value' seeding the future. Why do big business tech firms make contributions to university departments/profs that are not even developing tech that directly leads to current improvements? - 'value' seeding the future. Why do near-trillionaire-cap firms create do-what-you-want 'days', using company resources during busy times, to develop projects from top individuals unrelated to their profit focus? - 'value' seeding the future. Why do institutions fund and develop private collaborative projects with rich rewards from disparate and unrelated academic super-stars, meant only to provide occasional and extended term access and contributions? - 'value' seeding the future. What do all these initiatives have in common: private, database focussed and implemented, not public-advocacy based, not intended to bring a large group of well-wishers and cause celebres into the mix, not specifically intended to make the world a better place right now. When One is dealing with an issue that is not, at this time, popular, short-term realizable, aligned with common values, or exclusive of funding/policy that will take away from other more popular/immediate issues/ resources; One must focus on working with those individuals/ entities who will provide non-specific, 'high' value in the near-term and long-term (cultivating that professional relationship), with the intention of activating them fully at a future time, if possible. It is not about working in the shadows or cherry-picking per se, but being focussed and resource-specific rather than trying to ride a problem on the unreliable, trend-based, likely cyclical, and unpredictable tide of popular self-interest (a remarkably non-precise and internally-conflicting trait). Witness the 'remote institution', the 'virtual collaborative lab', the Friday afternoon 'project', etc. As I have often alluded: Stop trying to save the World - better to provide a product/ service that an enlightened few will use as the vanguard of a lifestyle choice that others will eventually take up as a means to further their own values rather than follow as a perceived 'keeping up with the Joneses'. Everyone knows the 'future' value of exercise/healthy choices, most have tried the immediate acts, and many have thus chosen to value the future at a low level and the co-miserating of getting old at a high level. Ho-hum - who cares? Focus resources, minimize popularity chasing, and define/establish the essential components. It is not the number of labs or conferences but the quality (and possibly by extension exclusivity) of the participants and their specific needs.

Posted by: Jer at July 28th, 2019 9:31 AM

Wow! New design!

The side bar is a bit too wide, at least in my computer, but apart from that all seems to work ok.

I preferred the old look and feel, but this is good too.

Posted by: Antonio at July 28th, 2019 6:49 PM

Now it works much better on mobile

Posted by: Cuberat at July 28th, 2019 9:50 PM

Is there any way to get the old site layout on mobile?

On iPhone at least in the top right hand corner of the Safari browser their are the four parallel bars that you click to go into reader mode.

I remember when reddit changed their layout, but you could still get the old layout by typing in old.reddit.com rather than http://www.reddit.com

Posted by: jimofoz at July 29th, 2019 4:14 AM

Personally I now find the site extremely difficult to navigate on mobile now. The old site was 100% better.

It also looks a lot more just like a cheap template WordPress site and blog that someone is cranking out in their basement, rather than a professional site.

I know it probably isn't possible without a lot of resources, but a site with an article list like that of http://www.arstechnica.con is probably the current gold standard for a mobile site.

Posted by: jimofoz at July 29th, 2019 4:20 AM

@jimofoz
The site now is different. For me personally, it is extremely irritating to adapt to new ways when I am used to the way it worked before. Unless, the original way was so broken that I welcome the change. The desktop site has changed, because it is using a "mobile first" design. On the other hand, the article are way more readable on my phone. A bit harder to navigate, though.

Posted by: cuberat at July 29th, 2019 9:43 AM

I think it looks better - narrower columns help readability. I believe that 80 characters is normally recommended as a maximum (reading on desktop.)

Posted by: John S at July 29th, 2019 10:37 AM

Reason, keep doing what you're doing, the new site layout is lovely and it works great on mobile! Everything looks much more readable and accessible now. Good job!

Posted by: Emiliano at July 29th, 2019 10:38 AM

In fact, I am already used to it.

The bookstore care about the substance not the form. (Btw, it is good that you don't fall for the fad of adding parallax scrolling )

Posted by: Cuberat at July 29th, 2019 12:43 PM

@Jer, What you wrote is spot on, and something we've been prosecuting here at Methuselah for the last 10 years by co-founding and seeding startups - then assisting with strategy and early stage management to build the ships and get them launched. No products - no prospects. We keep score via Return on Mission (ROM as well as ROI).

I appreciate that you took the time to share your point of view - very wise.

Dave

Posted by: David Gobel at July 30th, 2019 7:39 AM

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