The quest for different ways to increase the human lifespan has continued to expand. So, how do we achieve longevity? How can we live longer and yet feel younger?
Scientists have been working to find the answers to these questions as they attempt to uncover the secret to the fountain of youth.
Understanding the Phenomenon of Aging
The special science field that studies the biological basis of aging and age-related diseases is called Biogerontology.
Recent studies have determined the nine key traits that explain the phenomenon of aging, and they are as follows:
- Altered Intercellular Communication – as we age the communication of the cells in our body is interrupted causing damage and inflammation of the tissues.
- Cellular senescence – the build-up of the old cells as human age leading to harmful effects.
- Deregulated nutrient-sensing – this refers to the four pathways that regulate metabolism and influence aging.
- Epigenetic alterations – the genetic alterations that don’t affect the DNA sequence but lead change in gene expression and affect aging.
- Genomic instability - the internal and external factors that accelerate aging.
- Loss of proteostasis – the decline of the mechanisms in the body that are responsible for maintaining proper protein composition.
- Mitochondrial dysfunction – the malfunctioning of mitochondria as we age.
- Stem cell exhaustion – the stem cells which aid in cell regeneration tails off with aging.
- Telomere attrition – the shortening of the protective nucleotide sequences, called telomeres, at the ends of each chromosome which eventually result to disease.
Age and Age-Related Diseases
Today, we are gaining more knowledge about the biological processes involved as humans age, thanks to the progress in longevity research.
This has also paved the way for breakthroughs in the study concerning degenerative diseases which have been found to have a higher probability to develop as one age.
The rate of lethal gene mutations that can cause cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases tend to escalate as an individual reach the ripe age.
From drug therapeutics to organ regeneration, several advances are now made in an attempt to slow down the process of aging. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Many drug therapies are made to slow down aging, examples are Senolytics, Rapamycins and Metformin.
- Regenerative Medicine
This type of medicine seeks to replace damaged organs or tissues which are seen to be critical for longevity. Stem cells and organ regeneration are examples of breakthroughs in regenerative medicines.
- Reducing Calorie Intake
Waves of studies suggest that restricting calorie intake helps to promote longevity.
- Dietary Supplements
Anti-aging supplements such as vitamins B1, B3 and B12 are believed to aid in the slow down of the aging process.
No Way Out – Risks and Controversies
As death is inevitable, so is aging. The search for longevity is not without issues and controversies particularly concerning ethical, moral and religious repercussions.
Many researchers are skeptical about the effects of such study and believe it could potentially do more harm to our health. Still, there is a growing interest in the study of longevity, and they are redefining boundaries to promote healthy aging.