Voices Anand Neelakantan Shinie Antony Ravi Shankar Satya Mohanty Badri Narayanan Mata Amritanandamayi MAGAZINE NEW DELHI October 10 2021 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Turning the Clock Back Bioscientists have arrived at the maximum human lifespan but billions are being spent on life extension projects. Experts estimate that the person who will live beyond 150 years has already been born. T By Ayesha Singh and smitha verma he gods do not grow old. They live in human imagination as luminous forms of splendour, ever youthful and glowing, exactly as they are in mythological stories and calendar illustrations. But men and women who worship them do age, even as some strive to be gods themselves. For millennia, mankind, obsessed with the divine and immortality , has been struggling to find ways and means to live longer—‘may you live long’ is an ancient blessing, or a curse depending upon the time, place and situation. From Kaya Kalp in Ayurveda to the latest genetic technology the fastest-growing science in the world is anti-ageing. , The first Longevity Economy report released in 2013 by AARP and Oxford Economics calculated that the Longevity Economy was worth $7.1 trillion in annual economic activity This figure has . been revised up to $7.6 trillion. British biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey who claims to be “spearheading the global crusade against ageing” predicts that by 2023, people who can afford therapies like making molecules younger won’t be affected by aging-related diseases entirely . Biogerontologists at Sierra Sciences are working to lengthen telomeres, the “caps” at the end of each strand of DNA, which get shorter every time a cell divides itself. After a well past middle age, the cells become inactive, as the telomeres get very short. Putting the telomeres in reverse gear to their state at your birth is posited to reduce your biological age to 25, not like the world according to Garp, but the age when maturity begins to arrive. The CEO of Sierra Sciences competitor Bio Viva, Elizabeth Parrish, underwent telomere therapy in 2015 and found that her telomeres had “grown younger” by roughly 30 years, causing her body to reverse age. Setting the Age Bar: The uniqueness of such experiments apart, human life is just a wrinkle in the great topsail of time. But the global anti-ageing services market size, estimated at $24.6 billion in 2019, was expected to reach $25.9 billion before the pandemic. Science isn’t giving up. A Bank of America report predicts that the market will expand to $610 billion by 2025, from the currently estimated $110 billion. In secret government-financed facilities, university research centres and corporate-funded labs, the search has moved on from extending life to reversing ageing. Findings of research published in May in the respected science journal Nature Communications reveal that humans can live up to somewhere between 120 and 150 years. The spirit of science is as much contradiction as it is discovery In 2018, a study . published in its prestigious rival, Science magazine, concluded that the chance of people dying rose when they neared 80, but slowed and plateaued at around 105, giving them a 50 percent chance of reaching next year. The same was true at 106, 107, 108, and 109. The findings “strongly suggest that longevity is continuing to increase over time, and that a limit, if any has not , been reached.” Creating a healthy long-living young person is the Holy Grail of biotechnology And it doesn’t . come cheap. For example, Libella Gene Therapeutics charges $1 million to reverse what it claims ageing by up to 20 years. Dr Keshav K Singh, Scientific Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of US-based Yuva Biosciences, and Director of Cancer Genetics at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, US, believes that the cost attached to procedures and price of drugs will come down with ongoing research. “Since there is a huge market, prices will come down eventually Also, India . needs to develop infrastructure and expand research on ageing,” he says. Many life-extending products and procedures are being discovered, but most of them haven’t been tested on humans. The pill 516 can get you a fit body without a single pushup—it tricks the brain into believing muscle has been exercised daily It . works by reprogramming the muscles and increases endurance by 70 percent. Another tablet named Compound 14 deceives the body’s fat burning system into believing that the cells have depleted all their energy; it is still in animal trial stage. At Northwestern University in the US, scientists managed to turn off the “genetic switch” that causes ageing in worms. American researchers revived old mice by infusing blood from young mice and believe the procedure will be successful in humans in three to five years. Scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory in collaboration , with colleagues from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California, and Nanjing University in China, have Turn to page 2 Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment
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