The recent Nature journal special edition is dedicated completely to the problem of aging. Among various articles covering topics from demographics to comparative biology and robots, there’s one about the interventions in the aging processes. It is a nice overview about the current successes in slowing down aging in mammals, however I found the last paragraph rather disappointing. It says….
What I find interesting is the view of some people that while it’s okay to find ways to treat and cure diseases, including those understood to be age related, but that we *should* not interfere with ‘normal aging.’
Well okay, so we learn to cure all forms of cancer, dementia, heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, arthritis, all vision and hearing deficiencies, osteoporosis, any specific disease condition that gets put on a death certificate (‘old age’ hasn’t been considered a ‘cause of death’ since the 50’s)...what’s left? Baldness? (not a life-threatening state, but one we consider subject to treatment as well) What does such a person die of? What do they look like? Are we allowed to intervene in everything, other than letting your telomeres run out? (and the ability to intervene there, will fall naturally out of cancer research and treatment)
“Ageing isn’t a disease, and lifespan extension will be almost impossible to prove in humans”
That assertion is silly. Show me someone of documented advanced age (preferably older than Jeanne Calmet was), but in most, if not all ways physiologically indistinguishable from someone much younger (preferably early adulthood), and I’m sold…
Isn’t this what we would look for in experimental animals? Yes, it would take longer to prove in long-lived species like ourselves (assuming that rejuvenation of those of advanced age isn’t possible, which I doubt), but that’s only a matter of patience. No harder than multi-decade heart studies.