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New Drugs May Extend Our Lifespan to 150 Years

| 17 Oct 2011 13:24
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The question is whether the extra decades will be healthy or not.

In the last century, the average human lifespan has increased substantially due to better nutrition and advances in medicine. Science is trying to make our lives last even longer, and a university administrator from Australia recently said that drugs which could accomplish that task might be seen in 5 to 10 years by tapping into the human body's uncanny ability to repair itself. The compound called resveratrol, found in red wine, has been shown to extend the life of worms, yeast, flies and even mice. If a drug made from resveratrol were to come to market, we might see people living to 150 years.

"I think there is real hope we can extend human life by some decades further," Professor Peter Smith, the dean of medicine at the University of New South Wales. He stressed that the goal is not just to extend life but to make sure that those years are just as fruitful as the rest of your life.

"The aim is not just to eke out extra existence, but to facilitate a longer healthy life," he said. "People aren't going to want to retire at 65 and spend many, many decades sitting at home."

David Sinclair, an Australian in residence at Harvard University, co-founded a company that is in the early stages of testing a synthetic molecule of resveratrol on patients with type II diabetes. The drug works by activating proteins which might tell the genes that cause ageing to stop working.

"Our bodies have an extraordinary ability to repair themselves," Sinclair said. "I think we're seeing the beginning of technology that could one day allow us to reach 150 [years of age]."

Depending on your point of view, this is either really exciting news or absolutely terrifying. If you have spent any time in nursing homes or with elderly relatives who have neurological disorders, you know that prolonging their existence may not be a blessing. The goal for these drugs is of course, to provide a longer healthy life, but I worry about the complications, not just morally but economically.

You think social security is broken now? Just wait until people can claim checks for 70 years after they retire.

Source: The Age

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