January 25, 2004
Aubrey de Grey Interview: Closing in on the Cure for Death

In a far-ranging interview with the Better Humans web site biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey outlines the reasons why so few scientists are currently working on rejuvenation therapies even though biological science and biotechnology have advanced far enough for such work to begin in earnest.

The fatalism problem can be dissected into three separate problems that form a sort of triangular logjam, each perpetuating the next. The public thinks nothing can be done. So, the state only funds very unambitious work -- very reasonably they feel that to fund stuff that their constituency thinks is a pipedream would jeopardize re-election. (Parallel logic holds for shareholders and directors in industry.)

So, scientists -- also very reasonably -- don't even submit grants to do ambitious stuff, even if they want to (of which more in a moment), because it's a waste of time -- the grant will be turned down. So, when scientists go on the television to talk about their work, they talk about the cautious stuff that they're actually doing, not about the ambitious stuff that they're not doing, and indeed this encourages them to the mindset that they don't really want to do the ambitious stuff anyway.

So, the public -- again very reasonably -- continues to view curing aging as very, very far away, because the scientists with the best information are telling them that (not in as many words, but by what they're not saying). So each of these three communities is behaving very reasonably in its own terms, but the result is stasis.

Aubrey lays out his 7 major categories of therapies that will, once they become available, make it possible for humans to have youthful bodies for decades longer than is now possible. He believes there are concrete steps that could be taken now in mice models to test out versions of those therapies and that the results could be available from mouse studies within 10 years if $100 million per year was spent to develop all these major categories of therapeutic approaches. Therapies for humans that would add years and perhaps even decades to life could be available by the 2020s if a big push was started now. Then more therapies introduced in the later 2020s and 2030s could so extend life that anyone still alive at that point who doesn't die from an accident will effectively be able to become young again.

There are enough multimillionaire and billionaire philanthropists that all the work could be done with private money if only enough wealthy people became interested. If you know any wealthy people then do us all a favor and send them Aubrey's interview and some of the articles from his web site.

Speaking of Aubrey's web site, if you haven't already been there be sure to visit Aubrey's home page for Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) and read some of his articles about how to stop and reverse aging.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2004 January 25 10:49 PM  Aging Reversal

Zarathustra2101 said at January 27, 2004 9:25 AM:

Speaking of billionaire philanthropists, Wired 12.02 has an article on John Sperling on just this topic.

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