Scientists are working to postpone or even reverse ageing processes. How? How long will one be able to live? 30 years from now, are we going to be immortal as some allege ? Is this going to apply only to the rich?.
As if it were an illness, scientists, for the first time, are considering to slow down or stop the ageing process. A change in approach which has already obtained some success in laboratories, albeit extending by 40% the lifespan in mice. Applied to humans this would mean living up to 120 years. The test conducted by the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas de Madrid (CNIO; Spanish National Cancer Research Centre) represents only one of many experiments in the field.
"To speak in terms of the fountain of youth makes sense, we are already into it. We've already found out how to slow down ageing, how to revert the process in animals. It's only a matter of time before we have the medicines at hand and show we can slow down and revert the ageing process in humans." David Sinclair, Harvard Medical School
To do so they are trying to ascertain why the body starts deteriorating between ages 40 and 50. A time when cancer, cardiovascular and other degenerative illnesses associated with age appear. The new strategy is to find a remedy, a pill which can keep us young, for instance.
"I don't know if the limit will be 120 or 140, but I'm sure it's going to increase." Manuel Serrano, ICREA researcher at the Institut de Recerca Biomèdica of Barcelona (IRB; Institute for Research in Biomedicine).
A team from TV3-Televisió de Catalunya has accessed the laboratories and interviewed the world's top researchers such as Maria Blasco, from CNIO; Manuel Serrano, from IRB; Cynthia Kenyon, from California Life Corporation (CALICO) and David Sinclair, from Harvard Medical School, among others. The programme also reflects people's wish to keep young and extend their life span, a concern that makes some go to the extent of paying 8.000 dollars for a transfusion of blood from a 17 to 25 year-old person. We've visited the clinic where this practice takes place and spoken to the people in charge who have been criticized for the premature basis of the scientific studies employed.
Young blood may be, however, one of the means to gain youthfulness. This is what Stanford University and the firm Alkahest are currently studying by trying to find in plasma the solution to illnesses related to ageing such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. There are some hefty investors behind the quest for longevity who pour millions into what's bound to be huge business. Some are moved by personal reasons and fear of dying and others are main companies such as Google and the technological centres of Silicon Valley.
All of this has resurfaced the long-standing dream of immortality among some to the extent that spokespeople like José Luís Cordeiro give conferences whereby assure that within 30 years, the death of death will be achieved.
TV3-Televisió de Catalunya has been able to interview a young man who lives between Palma of Majorca and Barcelona and who recently had his father cryopreserved. The programme also travels to the largest cryopreserving centre in the world.