Science

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Scientists Train Their Sights on Death

January 17, 2008 12:30 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
According to a researcher at Cambridge University, it is possible to slow down the aging process to allow humans to add years—possibly hundreds—to their lifespan. Not all his colleagues agree.

30-Second Summary

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Dr. Aubrey de Grey believes humans being could live to be a thousand years old.

While de Grey does not believe the technology required for people to live for millennia will be available in the next 25 years, it is his conviction that 200 years will soon become a feasible life expectancy.

As The Economist explains, Dr. de Grey’s theory, known as Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), holds that there are seven components to aging. If each of the seven factors is handled correctly, the aging process stops … dead, as it were.

During a conference in July 2005, he explained that in mice researchers are repairing the damage caused by the aging process. As a result, the lifespan of mice in the laboratory has been significantly increased. He hopes that the results seen in mice can be replicated in humans.

When de Grey was asked in a 2006 interview with 60 Minutes reporter Morley Safer whether we can expect to be as spry as we are at 25 at 500, de Grey said that humans living past their expectancy will require constant maintenance.

"If you have difficultly imagining this, think about the situation with houses. With moderate maintenance they stay up, they stay intact, inhabitable more or less forever. It’s just that we have to do a bit of maintenance to keep them going. And it's going to be the same with us," says de Grey.

Dr. de Grey is not without his critics. In response to de Grey’s claims, Professor S. Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois at Chicago said, “The fact is that nothing in gerontology even comes close to fulfilling the promise of dramatically extended lifespan.”

In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control reported findings that life expectancy for Americans had hit a record high, at an average of 77.6 years. Life is getting longer, but it is yet to be seen whether this is the first intimation of immortality.

Headline Links: The science of longevity

Analysis: Quackwatch

Reactions: Dr. S. Jay Olshansky and Dr. Guy Brown

Dr. S. Jay Olshansky
Dr. Guy Brown

Reference Material: The Centers for Disease Control

Related Links: Jonathan Swift, the American Aging Association and the Immortality Institute

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