Anti-aging activist Aubrey de Grey has identified medical advances that will eliminate much of the wear and tear our bodies suffer as we grow old. Those who undergo continuous repair treatments, de Grey said in this YouTube interview, could remain healthy for millennia without fears of dying from old age.
Welcome to the incredible world of innovative anti-aging healthcare, which growing numbers of future followers believe will become widely available and affordable as we move through the next decade.
With new clinical trials popping up almost daily, experts predict that by early-to-mid 2020s, doctors will use stem cells loaded with non-degrading telomeres, along with low-cost 3D bioprinters to replace aging skin and strengthen frail bones and muscles. These replacements promise to cure or make manageable most of today's age-related illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and most brain disorders.
We begin our journey with the research company Centagen's progress in using telomeres-active stem cells to renew aging muscles, bones, and skin. This entrepreneurial group, led by Bryant Villeponteau, Ph.D. (aka the "Father of Telomerase Biology") along with their Board of Directors, won financing from Maximum Life Foundation, where hope lies that 100 year-olds will soon become the new 50 year-olds.
Some say that Centagen's work might one day be considered the 'holy grail' of stem cell research. Dr. Villeponteau believes he could start studies within two years and know in months whether it was working or not. Watch this short video of a heart patient benefiting from this treatment at a Costa Rica clinic.
Next, we look at 3-D bioprinting. This procedure holds promise to save even more lives than telomeres-strengthened stem cells. With an estimated printer price of $250, 3-D bioprinting will become inexpensive enough for everyday enthusiasts to get involved. See fascinating photos of the technology in action.
Modern Meadow, an innovative 3-D bioprinting startup is developing a system that will grow meat and leather from extinct animals, such as the wooly mammoth. This TED video describes what's involved in this unique process called 'de-extinction', reconstructing the genomes of extinct animals.
We currently fight heart disease with drugs that reduce cholesterol buildup; but with new technologies predicted for the 2020s, we will simply grow new veins or hearts where necessary. In fact, nearly all of our organs, bones, muscles, hair, and skin can be replaced as these new procedures become available.
Ray Kurzweil, in his best-selling book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, confirmed that we are in early stages of a medical revolution. "By 2026," Kurzweil says, "biotech upgrades will add more than one year of life expectancy to our lives each year."
However, the concept of replacing organs and tissues to stop aging causes some to ponder. On the one hand, a natural instinct to improve ourselves is embedded in our nature. On the other hand though, it is through natural human form that we perceive ourselves. Conservatives believe that eliminating the 'older look' in seniors could risk undermining our identity and dignity as human beings.
Nevertheless, advocates counter that no one wants to suffer the pain and agony of growing old with failing health; and Kurzweil reminds us that we are the species that always seeks to extend its abilities.
Throughout history, improvements in healthcare, diet and environment have resulted in increasing our lifespan. Today, healthy people can expect to live into their 80s and beyond, but advances predicted for the 2020s could extend both health and life indefinitely. As we gain more and more benefits from 2020s medical advances, we will see an era of huge excitement for science and great hope for humanity.
The smart, sexy, strong years, once thought long lost, might soon be recaptured as we move closer to this future time. We will have at our disposal, an awesome array of innovative medical technologies that promise to improve health and provide a lifespan that could one day approach immortality.
As of this writing, more than 100,000 people die each day from age-related diseases. Can this carnage be stopped? If technology continues to advance exponentially, we have a chance. Comments welcome.
Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
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