Photo courtesy of Sergei Golyshev via Flickr.
Lifespans may already be increasing steadily, but the current progression isn’t fast enough for some. Extending life, or rather, putting off death, has become the singular goal of various companies and organizations.
The appeal of life extension is not news, but the science that may actually makes the dream feasible is. “Super-longevity” is likely a long way away (if attainable at all) — but perhaps the idea isn’t as mythically ludicrous as it once seemed.
Here are some organizations and companies devoted to the
mystical art science of anti-aging.
Human Longevity Inc
[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”1hrYDCG2Qlen1a3cJijWmF24ZfVSukkc”]Having sequenced one of the first human genomes, Ventner’s new company, which has received $70 million in initial funding, aims to scan the DNA of nearly 100,000 people annually to create a massive database by which new longevity tests and therapies can be developed.
Longevity Genes Project
The Albert Einstein College Of Medicine’s Longevity Genes Project is another research program that hopes to identify genetic factors that lead to exceptionally long lives, which could be used for gene therapy to extend lives down the line.
Phase one of their research made several key findings:
- Longevity is highly correlated with “good” and “bad” cholesterol levels; mutations in cholesterol genes associated with longer lives
- Mutations in a growth hormone are also associated with longevity
- Longevity is largely inherited from generation to generation
Phase two, called “LonGenity,” is currently in process to study the genes of centenarians and their offspring.
The American Academy for Anti-Aging Medicine
This mouthful of alliteration, more simply known as A4M, is a non-profit medical society of 26,000 doctors, scientists, and health practitioners whose mission is to advance technology that can detect, prevent, and treat age-related disease and optimize the human aging process.
The Academy is controversial, however, in that their promotion of pricey and less-than-effective anti-aging medicine has been called out as a threat to credible age-related studies. Many have disassociated themselves with the group for this reason.
The Methuselah Foundation, named after the longest-living man in the Bible, was founded in 2003 by Aubrey de Grey. The company finances grants to tissue engineering and regenerative medical research to create a world where “90-year olds can be as healthy as 50-year olds” by 2030.
Since then, de Grey and several others have also founded the SENS Research Foundation, which conducts research on the aging process and helps fund medical regenerative research in universities around the world.
Though we don’t know exactly how much money or energy Google is putting into the project or what they’re doing (Calico has previously been lumped among ideas considered “moon shots” by Google’s nomenclature), it seems as if the company will be largely focused on discovering and developing anti-aging drugs.
Are we on the right track?
The number of foundations and companies devoted to extending life spans is indicative of how far medicine has come to make such goals viable.
We can expect these groups, and others that may emerge, to investigate anti-aging drugs, nanotechnology, stem cell therapy, genetic modification and more to put off death as long as possible.
Even so, we suggest you don’t burn your will or spend your life insurance just yet.