While it may sound like science fiction, scientists are working hard to develop a drug that could add another 100+ years to the human lifespan. What was once considered a pipe dream, may soon be very real.
Advances over the last century have allowed humans, mostly in wealthier nations, to live into their 80s and 90s, this is almost double what the average life expectancy was at the turn of the 20th century. The key to prolonging human lifespan is thought to be improved nutrition, better sanitation, clean water, and advances in the medical field.
There is much debate on whether or not humans can naturally live much beyond that, but there are longevity warriors challenging this, such as Jeanne Calment dying at the age of 122 in 1997, and Jiroemon Kimura dying at the age of 116 in 2013. Scientists are working to push this even further.
This longevity pill would work by eliminating the cells that contribute to the aging processing within the human body to potentially double lifespan to 200 years. The drug was tested on mice in a 2020 trial with the results showing improved physical function and extension of both health and lifespan. Scientists are now working to replicate these remarkable super centenarian results in humans.
Aging is accelerated by senescent cells, also known as zombie cells. These are cells that have stopped dividing and accumulate within our body. But they are not exactly dead, eventually, these cells release toxic compounds that damage tissues around them and speed up the aging process.
According to British computational biologist, Dr. Andrew Steele, it is feasible for humans to be able to live beyond 100 years of age, he argued in his book on the longevity of human life that it could be done with the aid of certain senolytic drugs. Senolytic drugs work to eliminate cells that degrade tissue function, some of which are showing promising results and could become available within the next decade.
“I don’t think there is any kind of absolute cap on how long we can live,” said Dr. Steele in an interview with MailOnline.
“I can’t see a physical or biological reason why people couldn’t live to 200 — the challenge is whether we can develop the biomedical science to make it possible,” said Steele.
“Studies come out every few years that propose some kind of fundamental limit on human lifespan, but they’re always missing one crucial piece: we’ve never tried treating the ageing process before,” explains Steele.
“Scientists have given these drugs to mice, and they basically get biologically younger: they live longer, get less cancer and heart disease, are less frail — they can run further and faster on the tiny mouse-sized treadmills used in these experiments — and, honestly, they just look great, with plumper skin and thicker fur.”
“What this shows us is that tackling the hallmarks of ageing can affect the whole ageing process, from disease risk to the cosmetic stuff, and can do so preventatively — this is the holy grail of anti-ageing medicine,” said Steele.
If not for chronic illness, Dr. Peter Fedichev, a Russian molecular physicist who also runs the biomedical AI firm Gero, believes that humans could live to 150 years old naturally. His company has been studying genetic data in the pursuit of hacking aging using an instrument called DOSI. DOSi calculated that the maximum age of the un-altered human body is between 120-150 years. These findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.
Fedichev warns that while life extension is great, without improving the quality of life it is pointless because the body would become incredibly frail and prone to illness, meaning that new drugs will be needed for the quest for longer life.
“Such life extension would increase their lifespan past the end of their health span and thus reduce their quality of life.”
“Only addressing the root causes of ageing may help bring humans closer to negligibly senescent animals, intercept aging and increase our productive lifespan by a hundred years or more.”
“That is why we are calling on a refocusing of our attention from diseases to ageing, from incremental to more radical solutions using those slow-aging animals as inspiration,” said Fedichev.
Reportedly some of these senolytic drugs are already in the human trial stage and could very well hit the market within the next ten to 20 years. That is wonderful news, but even if the anti-aging science is successful and without side effects, the important question remains on whether people would want to live for another 100 years. After all, what is the point of living longer if you can’t enjoy it, and this is where living a healthful anti-aging lifestyle comes in.
Living a healthful anti-aging lifestyle means taking care of yourself to help extend your health and lifespan. There are many ways to promote longevity via a more healthful lifestyle such as getting enough sleep, keeping stress in check, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, eating a well-balanced healthy diet, being mindful, maintaining social bonds with family and friends, getting outside to enjoy nature, and challenging your brain with mentally stimulating activities. What you do or don’t do now in the present will affect you in the future. There are always choices to make, the option is yours to make wiser choices now to help better yourself in the future, and you are worth it.