From BioSupply Trends, October 2013: Good article on regenerative medicine, defined as the “process of replacing or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function” (Wikipedia). This well-written article, a pleasure to read, lists several examples of where the science is at to prevent disease in old age, if not reverse the ravages of aging and help us function like a 40 year old when 90. It appears there is a race to find the biologic drug that can win approval and get first-to-market to feed all the self-centered boomers out there who wish to deny the aging process.
Some interesting quotes form the article:
- The highest performance to date of life-extension of a mouse is 1,819 days. A mouse in the wild lives on average 365 days.” Remember “The Green Mile”?
- “…the disabilities associated with normal aging are caused by physiological dysfunction which in many cases are ameliorable to medical treatment such that the human life-span can be increased”. You mean I’m not just psychologically dysfunctional?
- “…instead of merely slowing down the accumulation of aging damage in our tissues, rejuvenation biotechnologies will remove, repair or replace the damaged cellular and molecular machinery. This means that…a persons eyes, heart, arteries and bones….will actually become more youthful…..” I’ll bet it can’t stop my buttocks from aching if I don’t stretch!
- “…a growing consensus states that we are closer than ever to an innovative crop of drugs that will significantly extend human life spans. One report says the first could debut in just five years”. Oh gads! I can’t believe it, Big-Pharma, when thought to be done with, will succeed on the vanity of the boomer generation. But perhaps we won’t need any more Viagra, hence go the stupid commercials.
- “Ultimately, these drugs would treat one disease, but unlike drugs of today, they would prevent 20 others.” Can you be a little more exact or do I need to find out the hard way that not all will be well, for instance my bladder will only then hold 20cc of urine at a time.
- “In effect these drugs would slow aging” Wow! All the stuff I’ve experienced in life seems to speed it up. This is a first!
- “We demonstrated that we were able to reverse the process of aging for human adult stem cells …”
- “There are actually 190 factors that affect aging, but 149 that you can change” I’ve managed to change three. Better make that list and get crackin’!
- “Besides dietary changes, …lifestyle choices and personal habits can also boost longevity….” This is what I’m familiar with, but don’t always follow.
And as it goes on, the message is stated in a variety of perspectives, that we have more control over the aging process than we could have ever have imagined, and that it may be right before us. So what does this mean for the “Average Joe”? It means we probably can’t afford to extend our lives since no more than 30% of “baby boomers” have enough to retire on, based on actuarial data listing an average life expectancy of no more than 80 years, although more people are already living well into their 90’s and 100’s. But one must also ask the question, “Do we want to live this long?” Isn’t there also a psychological aging process that no drug can ameliorate, such that our illusions we traveled through life with are taken down until none are left standing hence our dreams dissipate; our purpose in life “transcends” such that we lose our selfishness and look to our children and grandchildren and seek what is best for them, not us; we also become philanthropists, probably to reconcile our greed and misgivings from earlier in life (my opinion); and last but not least- don’t we need to question if living longer is better if we are not living a purposeful life? The sarcastic view is that we would put all these resources into life-extension just so we could be mere long-term consumers of crap and more crap, but that would be purposeful in that we might then help stimulate the economy! Or perhaps we would be nothing but a drain on the younger generations since Social Security and Medicare would be most definitely insolvent. But hey, let’s go for it! Or worse, I can work until I’m 100!
Here’s the link: http://www.bstquarterly.com/emagazine/currentissue/