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Carol Forsloff – Kurzweil is devoted to examining man’s highest potential for creating a healthy, harmonious universe for aging well and promoting longevity that scientists say needs to happen to avert an aging crisis that will be very serious worldwide.

The hope of scientists is to offer a new direction so the world does not “fall off a cliff” as people get older and there are more and more pressures on food, health and environmental systems.  It is a science that is called “translational” in that it looks at the direction we are going and how the negatives of it can be averted.

Scientists say we are literally headed toward an “unprecedented global aging crisis” if we don’t act soon.

The rise of retired elderly in developing and industrialized nations around the world requires attention, as the world is having increased costs and pressures with too many sick elderly and outrageous costs.

It is time, therefore, scientists say to fund research for prevention, slowing or even reversing the biological damage caused by simply living.  In other words, it is urgent to focus on our environment from the inside out.

This is Kurzweil’s focus as a scientific Institute which focuses on this issue from a number of different directions.

One of the things of note is that of the entire National Institutes of Health $28 billion budget, there is only about $10 million or 0.1 percent of it devoted to prevention strategies and again issues.

The authors of a study called Scientific Translation maintain aging is s “a progressive, roughly synchronous rise in the incidence of disease, disability, and death from chronic diseases, beginning after midlife [examples in “Chronic diseases and aging” chart] and suggests a causal—rather than a casual—relationship/” 

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Chronic diseases and aging. The incidence of major chronic diseases increases with age: cardiovascular disease (blue squares), cancer (red diamonds), AD (gray squares), and influenza-associated hospitalization (green triangles). Incidence rates are normalized to the first data point. (Chart: AAAS)

A number of scientists are presently involved in looking at the problems of aging and the need for prevention strategies.  These include, Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist and author of the popular science book Ending Aging,  who tells us this, “We argue for a more balanced approach to the quest for interventions to postpone age-related ill health.” 

“There are no surprises there,” de Grey says. “It’s all about the fact that biology is irreducibly expensive. In particular, as more and more of our research programs move from the cell culture stage into live mice, the expense rises sharply.”De Grey, the Chief Science Officer of the SENS (Strategies for Engineering Negligible Senescence) Foundation (SENSF), Sunnyvale, California,  is familiar with funding problems and the seriousness of the crisis that lies ahead if the world does not act.

This is the focused direction, and the need for research de Grey says, three intervention strategies researchers at SENSF and other organizations, including the International Longevity Center in New York, and the Andrus Gerontology Center, University of Southern California of Los Angeles) are examining.  They include:

  • “Reduce exposure to environmental toxins and ameliorate other risk factors through improved public health.
  • Slow down damage to metabolic pathways, which contributes to age-related changes.
  • Develop a more broadly conceived regenerative medicine to embrace the repair, removal, or replacement of existing aging damage or its decoupling from its pathological sequelae.”

Proper nutrition, aggressive public health interventions beginning at middle age and then late-onset regenerative therapies would help with the problem of aging and even allow the reversal of some of the damage caused by aging.

Bio-gerontologists point to the barriers of people’s thinking aging is a sure thing and that pursuing the “fountain of youth” will fail.

But scientists like de Grey are not inhibited by these barriers because he says perspectives are changing and ideas are moving positively.

“The surprising conclusion from the past two decades of research on biological aging is that aging is plastic,” the authors of the paper state. “Within a species, maximum life span is not fixed, but can be increased by dietary manipulation (particularly calorie restriction) or genetic manipulation.”

But a new world of indefinite lifespans has also raised questions about potential population impacts. “Contrary to what is widely assumed, however, the net effect should be relatively minor,” the authors respond, reasoning that new human births have a greater effect on population than adding a fraction of life span to existing humans. 

“A policy of aging as usual will lead to enormous humanitarian, social, and financial costs. Efforts to avert that scenario are unequivocally merited, even if those efforts are costly and their success and full consequences uncertain. To realize any chance of success, the drive to tackle biological aging head-on must begin now.”

 

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