Healthier, Longer-Living Aging Population in Horizon as Anti-Aging Medicine Booms, Experts Claim
A healthier aging population is in the horizon as the anti-aging medicine is booming, experts claim.
With therapies for diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer's, and those meant to make aging people live healthier already in the horizon, experts say that the world may soon have an older population that is not only healthy but can live longer. With experts saying that old age is the leading risk factor for majority of diseases and is a major socioeconomic problem, there is no denying that this is, indeed, good news.
"In the last 20 years this field of research on aging has exploded. We are getting close to having treatments to prevent the illnesses related to aging," said Felipe Sierra, director of the division of aging biology at the U.S. National Institute of Aging.
Research related to a healthy and longer-living aging population currently studies laboratory animals and simple organisms like worms. By studying these, researchers were able to measure and alter life expectancy.
One significant discovery of the researchers is that a worm called C. elegans and mice can increase their life expectancy by 60 percent if 17 of their genes, which are also found in humans, are manipulated.
It has also been revealed in the said study that reducing the calorie intake can deliver the same results: Longer life expectancy.
According to Luigi Fontana, professor of nutritional science at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis and University of Brescia in Italy, accumulation of cellular damage is one of the major causes of many diseases. However, if a person goes on a longer period of time without food, it seems to result into metabolic changes that cause autophagy, the body's natural way of cleaning the damaged cells.
"There are drugs now that can mimic the effects of caloric reduction," Fontana revealed.
Apart from methods that can avert diseases, it has also been reported that science has also developed procedures to reverse or slow down aging. According Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a geneticist at the Salk Institute in California, research has shown that cells can be pre-programmed to make them more youthful.
Northwestern University in Chicago cardiologist Douglas Vaughan, on the other hand, revealed that a single mutated gene can protect humans from the multiple effects of biological aging. This came after a recent study on Amish people, headed by Vaughan himself, suggests that it seems to be the case.
"I think within 20 to 30 years there will be one or more drugs that will be available to slow the aging process or prevent aging related diseases," Vaughan said.