Can we really delay, stop, or reverse aging?
Many mature athletes associate diseases with aging. Indeed, as we grow old, our bodies become more susceptible to injuries and illnesses. Even MMA or BJJ practitioners tend to slow down and take it a little easier with age. So, it’s perhaps normal to say that most people want to reverse aging. Or does everybody think that way?
In a documentary by BBC News, they explore several technology firms that are working on a “cure” to aging. Watch the full BBC News documentary here:
Longer Telomeres, Longer Life?
BioViva is one of the many companies looking into possible solutions to prolong youthfulness, which according to CEO Elizabeth Parrish, is equivalent to healthiness. She is undergoing an experiment designed to lengthen the telomeres, which are one of the building blocks of DNA. According to their findings, their testing has reversed 20 years of normal telomere shortening. Telomeres shorten as we age.
The idea behind this experiment is based off a study from 2008 by a team headed by Maria Blasco, director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center. They managed to lengthen the telomeres of mice and found that mice with longer telomeres lived 40% longer than others. However, it was also found to increase cancer risks unless mice were altered to be cancer-resistant, which is something that cannot be done with humans.
Google Calico, Cellular Senescence, and More
The documentary also delves into other companies working to fight aging. Calico, which is a research and development biotech company backed by Google, is pretty secretive with their initiatives. However, the basic idea according to Cynthia Kenyon, VP for Aging Research, is to postpone aging so we can delay age-related diseases as well.
It also takes a look at cellular senescence, an area being studied by Unity Biotechnology. “I see no beauty in it (aging),” co-founder Nathaniel David said. Unity’s animal testing has found their approach to limit diseases such as heart and bone problems, arthritis, and cataracts.
Other firms, meanwhile, are looking into Metformin, the anti-diabetes drug. It’s been found that patients who took Metformin lived longer than those who didn’t. Experts say they’re working to understand why.
FDA: Aging is Not a Disease
Are there any approved clinical trials for cures against aging? The short answer is no. That’s because the FDA, the regulatory body overseeing trials, does not consider aging to be a disease. So right now, approved clinical trials are for drugs or procedures that address age-related diseases, and not aging itself.