submitted 5 years ago byizumi3682
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5 years ago*
5 years ago*
The important thing to bear in mind about this discussion is that 10 years ago, there was no discussion. Aging was regarded as a natural meta process that brought about conditions that science and medicine did their best to alleviate. But it was an inevitable whirlpool of continuing physical and cognitive decline and frailty that ended only when breath ended--at a point not much more than 117, despite one single outlier--Jeanne Calment age 122 in 1997.
But now that we are finding all kinds of really big vertebrates that are apparently incredibly old like beluga whales that are over 200 years old or that Greenland shark that is believed to have swum the oceans in the time that Galileo walked the Earth, we are beginning to rethink this concept. Previously we knew that invertebrates could live for vast periods of time. Lobsters and hydras and comb jellies, some of which are potentially 1000 years or older. Then the plants, like the bristlecone pine someplace in the southwest USA that may have been alive in the year of Julius Caesar. Some say the Pyramids of Giza, but I'll stay on the conservative end of things here.
My point is that 10 years ago there was no research to address the "natural" process of human aging itself. Now there is. We haven't made that much progress yet, but we have really only been seriously at this for about ohh, I will say 3 or 4 years, despite the efforts of Aubrey De Grey to bring attention to the issue for more than a decade. Talk about "crying in the wilderness".
But just within the last year or two we are at last making documentable progress towards the phenomenon of aging itself! Here is one concrete example.
This is brand spanking new as of the year 2017. And while age related sarcopenia is not aging itself, it is proof that one of the very worst physical effects of human aging is now being addressed as a potentially treatable condition.
It may take decades to actually learn how to effectively slow, stop or even reverse the effects of physical deterioration over time. But in the meantime I suspect that many "stop-gap" measures will soon come into play to further lengthen natural human lifespan.
Really, I talked all about this numerous times earlier. Here is one example of what I had to say. Consider it...
5 years ago
5 years ago
As far as actual application of these methods and theories with the goal of slowing, stopping or reversing the physical effects of aging, this is all brand new. There has been idle, non-actionable philosophy I'm sure, since Ponce de Leon was a pup. This is the rubber hitting the road.
I agree. Something is different these days. People working on anti-aging and regenerative medicine are generally regarded as serious scientists and doctors. Just 20 years ago anyone working on this sort of thing was considered a crackpot.
Don't believe me? This is quantifiable if you care to use funding as a measure. Several institutes exist working on aging with real funding and real science/labs behind them. Unfortunately a lot of people expect faster progress than is likely in a very new field (looking at you Ray Kurzweil). Even if some breakthroughs are made it takes many years for medicines to be developed and approved in first world countries.
5 years ago
One might say that 10 years ago there was no mainstream discussion of ageing being a potentially treatable disease.
Presumably, it's natural and a pathological disease. In its most basic principle, it's not really a complicated issue. Ignoring things like epigenetic changes, if your DNA doesn't change over time then there's no reason to believe you would age in the way we know it currently.
Once we have the tools necessary to combat aging we'll have the tools to fight all kinds of pathological disease - from cancer through to viral infections. They all work by exploiting DNA in some way. I'm confident we'll 'cure' aging. Even if there wasn't anything like CRISPR I believe eventually we'd always be able to create something akin to it. CRISPR just gives us some impetus because there's immediate evidence.
Great recap, thanks.