Making Life Extension Therapies A Reality
Making Life Extension Therapies A Reality
Aubrey de Grey (Chairman, Methuselah Foundation) gives expert video advice on: Will life extension therapies be covered by my health insurance?; Will life extension therapies be accompanied by unknown diseases or side effects?; What is being done to raise awareness of life extension therapies? and more...
Will life extension therapies be accompanied by unknown diseases or side effects?
It's quite likely that some of these therapies will have side effects that have to be addressed. And really, in a sense, it's a matter of terminology whether we call the addressing of the side effects part of the therapy or not. For example, within the SENS program, the approach I think we're going have to take to combat cancer thoroughly enough to actually really defeat it is something that will inherently have a lot of very big side effects. And the whole structure of my approach discusses where to address those side effects.
What is being done to raise awareness of life extension therapies?
The big challenge at the moment is trying to get the possibility of serious life extension and serious combating of aging out there as something that people appreciate as actually foreseeable. One of the big challenges is that a lot of people in the senior echelons of gerontology have, essentially, a vested interest in ridiculing ideas that appear to overturn the established orthodoxy that aging is more or less impossible to do anything about. But really, that's just a short-lived problem because ultimately, all gerontologists do know that aging is really bad for you and they'd really like to do something about it. So, it's just a matter of time. However, in order to make it happen faster, we really need initial results in the laboratory that are taken seriously and that show that some of the more ambitious sounding aspects of rejuvenation therapy may actually be not quite as hard as they may appear at first sight. And gradually, the whole aura of impossibility will break down. Another aspect of course is to get people to just think about it more because the terrible problem that exists at the moment where people will refuse to think seriously about the feasibility of seriously combating aging because they feel, well it would be bad anyway, we wouldn't want to do this, it would be too disruptive to society. While at the same time, when you point out that actually their reasons for being scared of a poor state in the world are not actually well thought out, it becomes apparent that the reason they are refusing to think seriously about the desirability of seriously combating aging is precisely because they don't think it's possible, and so it's completely circular.
Why is it difficult to get funding for anti aging studies?
The main challenge in getting funding for serious studies to combat aging is that there are only three types of sources of such funding. And two of them are really not well placed to be putting this money in yet. One of those is public funding, the government. They're not well placed to put money into this in a big way yet because there really aren't enough votes in it. People are still too ambivalent, too scared of the idea of a post-aging world, and too sceptical about whether it can be done anyway. So they might not appreciate having their taxpayer's money spent on these blue-sky pipe dreams, so to speak. Another potential source of money is the private sector. But there the problem is the timeframes are rather long from the point of view of making serious money. People want an exit strategy. They'd like to be able to get out and have their profits within, let's say, 10 years. And it's a bit difficult to structure a much longer timeframe project in a manner that is compatible with that. But that's actually becoming more realistic as time goes on. The third main potential source of funding is private individuals, philanthropy, and that's the area that I've been focusing on, because I think it's much more realistic. People who don't have an electorate or share holders can make their own decisions. And also those people are often much more far sighted and visionary and able to understand the value of all of this. So the main funding that we've received in the Methuselah Foundation so far has been from philanthropic sources. And that is accelerating as time goes on, as people become more comfortable with this and more familiar with it.