Are We Moving Into An Ageless Future?
For many of us, simply putting on some sunscreen, moisturising regularly and hoping for the best is the furthest we go when considering our anti-ageing routines. However, research in this area is developing at an incredibly speedy pace – with many experts claiming that an ageless future could arrive sooner than we think. Here are a few of the options that could be available in the not-too distant future…
Look younger by editing your DNA
One day you may be able to delete negative signs of ageing (grey hair, wrinkles, baldness etc) from your DNA forever. In late summer, scientists at Oregon Health & Science University in the USA, removed harmful gene mutations from human embryos. Using a gene-editing tool known as CRISPR (genetic scissors), they cut out the mutation, inserting a reparative enzyme. This cutting-edge research might only be at the start of its journey, but if this process expands into the anti-ageing field, it will be life-changing.
Once upon a time anti-ageing pills were seen as a quack’s game – with gullible-types apparently buying into the myth that time can be stopped – well at least when it comes to the physical body. However, according to University College of London ageing researcher Dr Alic, this is a potential reality – and could be set to happen in as soon as ten years. In June 2015, the UCL research team found that fruit flies given a cancer drug lived twelve percent longer than average. And just last year, another team found the drug lithium – prescribed for the treatment of bipolar disorder – could lead to a lifespan increase of up to eighteen percent.
As well as this, NAD+ boosters – a product that tops up the levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) – a commonplace chemical crucial for metabolism – is used by thousands of people. NAD+ boosters are seen as natural products that restore body chemistry to a more useful state, as by age 50, NAD+ levels are half what they were at age 20. While these pills are more about expanding ‘healthspan’ rather than lifespan, they demonstrate that the an ageless future is well underway…
In recent years, scientists have made significant steps towards the goal of growing replacement human organs by identifying that a protein – Meox1 which is found in stem cells – is central to promoting muscle growth. Imagine a world where we could easily grow our own organs! It would bring about a health revolution, saving the lives of thousands of people each year. It would mean that instead of relying on donors, of which there’s a shortage, people could go to a lab and get an organ of their choice. While this won’t be happening for a while yet (around two decades), it would change the ageing game big time.
Blood transfusions to turn back the clock
Apparently it’s possible that one day we’ll be able to grow biologically younger. According to Aubrey de Grey, a chief science officer and co-founder of SENS in California, the key is in our blood. Giving the plasma of the young to the old, could help to reverse the effects of ageing. Trials showed that infusions of blood from young mice reversed cognitive and neurological impairments in older rodents. And there was even a trial where the blood plasma of 18-year-old humans was injected into older mice that found similar effects to the original study. Perhaps this could be viewed as a little bit creepy, but it goes to show that technology is experimenting with the concept of living forever in a way like never before.
Completely customised skincare
Skin types vary – what’s good for one person could be terrible for another. As humans, we share 99 percent of our DNA – but it’s the tiny 0.1 percent as well as lifestyle variations that make all the difference. Internet and technological advances means that bespoke skincare is no longer an excessive luxury. Consumers can now be their own personal chemists, creating bespoke skincare regimes via their computer screens. Mass market brands are starting to harness technologies that could be adapted for more personalised products in the future. And in recent years mainstream brands have looked at differences between young and old skin to generate products that recreate the genetic profile of the former. To achieve this goal, it’s about understanding the skin in a way to create a personalised treatment based on the scientific characteristics of each individual.
So could we be moving into an ageless future? Potentially – and maybe sooner than we think. However, such a development could lead to all sorts of rather chaotic geopolitical issues – the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ springs to mind…