Tractability of life extension

de Magalhães1 2:

The failure (thus far) of the war on cancer exemplifies how, no matter how much money and human resources are invested into a complex medical problem, solving it often depends on the overall technological development. This is not surprising since, historically, science progresses in bursts driven by new ideas and particularly by new technologies, yet it has important implications for resource allocation, career choices, and marketing in context of life-extension research.

(page 464)

Curing aging is unlikely to be achieved by a single intervention, but rather by a combination of therapies dealing with different facets of age-related degeneration, possibly developed over time, and that might require periodic application to maintain youth indefinitely. Therefore, the development and application of the necessary technologies can take much longer than anticipated. Nevertheless, there is no inherent reason for not being able to cure aging.

(page 459)

Age-related disorders are an established priority of medical research. Few would disagree with the elimination of individual age-related diseases (e.g., cancer, Alzheimer’s disease) and with stopping and reversing individual age-related degenerative changes (e.g., muscle loss, cognitive decline, visual impairment), so why oppose the elimination of all age-related diseases and degenerative changes? Furthermore, if developments allow for slowing aging by, say, 5%, no doubt efforts will be made to slow it by 10% and so on until aging can be stopped and reversed. The goal of biomedical research is to help people be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. This is an important point often overlooked: Ultimately, and whether we agree with it or not, biomedical research is progressing toward the development of a cure for human aging.

(page 459)

Arking3 (pg 505):

[A]ging is a nonprogrammed, almost inadvertent, biological process that can be modified by combined genetic and environmental effects and, as such, represents a legitimate and promising area of biological research. The old views, which held that aging was not susceptible to manipulation and/or was not worthy of serious interest because it could be due to nothing more than the wear and tear of the body, are no longer tenable and have been discarded, as indeed they deserved to be.

  1. João Pedro de Magalhães. “The Scientific Quest for Lasting Youth: Prospects for Curing Aging”. Rejuvenation Research. Volume 17, Number 5, 2014.

  2. See also What do people in biology/aging think of the João Pedro de Magalhães paper “The scientific quest for lasting youth: prospects for curing aging.”? on Quora.

  3. Robert Arking. The Biology of Aging: Observations & Principles. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press. 2006.