Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Aging as a Disease

Source: Reuters
5/16/12 - UPDATE -  Researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre have announced that they have successfully extended the lifespans of mice by as much as 24% through a gene therapy directed at telomerase, the enzyme responsible for repairing the telomeres, also known as the "caps" at the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres shorten over time with each cell division, and studies have linked this phenomenon to various age-related diseases.

Previous entry (2011): There's a reasonably fresh story running around the wires from Aubrey de Grey, a fairly well-known gerontologist, which reminds me of some of the pieces of the Ray Kurzweil keynote I saw at SC a number of years ago. Ray showed one of his many exponential progress curves that indicated human lifespan was getting close to a point were for every year we lived, we would gain more than a year in average lifespan. Aubrey's claim is that "we have a 50/50 chance of bringing aging under what I'd call a decisive level of medical control within the next 25 years or so" and that "the first person who will live to see their 150th birthday has already been born". Perhaps most mind-bending is his claim that within 20 years of the first person to turn 150, someone will be born who will live to 1000.