The fountain of youth- something that many people have been looking for since time immemorial. This is because we want to stop the process of aging and to remain youthful and healthy for as long as possible. Through the said fountain of youth, we can enjoy our lives more and spend more time with our family and loved ones. The advances in modern medicine can help fight off aging and slow the aging process but are these advances enough to completely stop it? It seems like recent advances in the field of medicine may provide the answer when it comes to making the process of aging to stop. But is this claim based on science and at the current level of technology, is it even possible? Read on to find out more!
The Global Population and Aging: A Brief Backgrounder
Around 10 billion individuals will be alive across the globe by the year 2050 and around two (2) billion will be older than 60 years of age. One of the primary risk factors for life-threatening conditions and other multiple chronic illnesses (such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes) is old age. This morbidity is considered quite burdensome and can be a distressing thought for most people as it can lead to individual independence that is compromised and can also lead to a healthcare system that is strained.
To aid in the continued flourishing of older adults, one must first understand the biological aspects of the aging process at the levels of the molecule, cellular, and tissue level before having it converted into different forms of preventive medicine. There was recently a tantalizing concept put forward in terms of an anti-aging pill in the not so distant future. The said anti-aging pill can help in ensuring that humans can live up to the ripe old age of 150 years old and also help in the regeneration of vital organs by 2020 at a price point that is quite affordable. But how expectant should we be about this supposed breakthrough in the fight against aging? We first need to look at the available evidence.
Since ancient Greece, individuals have posited that a clear relationship between disease and aging. At present, it is safe to assume that age-related diseases can be associated with the process of aging. It must be noted though, that some age-related processes are not completely detrimental. As a whole, there are mechanisms for the maintenance of health which can promote a healthy condition in us as individuals during our lives earlier years. The problems start to pile up though when we age and our health starts to fail us. In theory, a pill that can stop the aging process should be able to boost these health mechanisms to aid in keeping people healthy and well.
What are the primary approaches for the development of this anti-aging pill?
Thanks to the advances made by science, we now have a better grasp of the major mechanisms for health. One such example is the presence of senescent cells, cells that are dysfunctional and which can multiply as we get older, and also gets removed and formed as time progresses. This particular process or mechanism for health has evolved to keep us free from cancer. On the other hand, once the cell removal for this process starts to fail, they can lead to tissue damage which can, in turn, lead to ill health and advanced aging. As such, having these tissues taken out under clinical conditions can bring about a ton of health advantages.
Another mechanism essential to the aging process is protein synthesis and breakdown. These proteins that are partially degraded can accumulate as time passes by and can lead to cellular functions that are compromised. Using the drug known as rapamycin to treat the aforementioned condition has been observed to improve the mechanisms for protein turnover. The same observations were noted in mice with lifespans that were extended and in people with their improved immune response and function.
As we grow older, our bodies begin to accumulate waste products and lose mass. On the other hand, during our younger years, the cell’s cyclical replenishment within the tissues and organs have been touted as the reserve army of the body made up of uncommitted stem cells (cells that can eventually become specialized) can contribute to our overall health, which is comparable to us drawing from a savings account when the balance on the current one begins to drop. As such, doctors are also looking into the prospect of utilizing stem cell therapy to combat the negative effects of the aging process.
While stem cell delivery acquired from outside the body is still a challenging process, there is data to suggest that the activation of a protein type called sirtuins can help in the enhancement of the maintenance of stem cells. This means that using nicotinamide riboside as a form of treatment can help boost the activity of these sirtuin proteins, and help in the restoration of the stem cells of the muscles as observed in the laboratory test subjects (mice). This means that the possible use of this process for treatment is indeed promising. The diet can also be a source of various molecules that can help the body in making the mechanisms of the body stop, particularly in the elderly, whenever they are faced with acute physiological stress.
Experts are also looking into how the functions of the organs and the brains can be disrupted by the aging process. Also, on how this process can be delayed for later onset rather than sooner. So are there anti-aging pills about to be released shortly (around 2020)? The answer to this is quite tricky. People should stay skeptical about these claims, but the good news is that medical advances are still happening at breakneck speed, and many of the needed technologies to pull this kind of product off may well be available at present.