If there is so much boiling around the promise of this anti-aging pill, it’s that science has come a long way in recent years. What was until recently considered impossible – for example, extending the lifespan of animal models by modifying a gene or injecting a molecule – is now possible. Several routes have been discovered to increase longevity. One of the best known is a caloric restriction . of regime slow in calories have indeed raised the lifespan of worms, flies and laboratory mice. “It also reduces the risk of cancer in rodents and primates by 70%,” says Hugo Aguilaniu. But this approach has deleterious effects in reducing fertility and healing ability. Other recent, rather spectacular studies have demonstrated the rejuvenating effect of blood transfusion of “young” mice in older mice and in particular the role of specific molecules circulating in the blood. There is also research on telomeres, located at the ends of our chromosomes and whose wear causes the degradation of our cells, as well as on free radicals, sources of oxidative stress.
All this work will potentially lead to the development of drugs that can delay specific effects of aging in humans and extend life expectancy. As a reminder, in 2015, life expectancy in France was 85 years for women and 78.9 years for men. Some think that we will all be able to live tomorrow until 120 years or beyond, for the most optimistic (see box)! These perspectives, however, raise ethical and economic issues. While waiting for the arrival of the miracle pills, it is undoubtedly by leading a healthy and active life that one can give oneself the best chances of dying young and as late as possible.
Stop Aging: The Quest for Amortization
Proponents of transhumanism, a current born in the United States that advocates the use of new technologies to improve human life, think we can live beyond 120 years, up to 500 years or even 1000 years (!). “Slowing down the degradation associated with aging could be possible in twenty to thirty years because we are progressing in many areas (gene therapy, nanotechnology, microsurgery), said Didier Coeurnelle, spokesman of the French Transhumanist Association (AFT-Technoprog). We can live longer in good health and therefore die later. In the longer term, it will be possible to stop aging. The hope is to reach, not immortality, but the amortization (a life without limit) “. This opinion is however far from being shared by all researchers. “Scientifically, there is nothing to say that we can all live much more than 120 years, says Patrick Gaudray, geneticist, director of research at the CNRS and member of the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE). The so-called quest for immortality is for my fantasy and illusion. “