There have been many drugs that have claimed to give longer life to its user. Historically longer life in a pill has been associated with snake oil salesmen, scientists till only about a decade ago have strictly restricted the quest for a “longevity pill” to basic research. Now on the other hand. The race is on to the find the “Fountain of Youth”.
The aim is not just to eke out an extra few years of life, but to facilitate a longer healthier life. With age comes a whole host of conditions that affect us not only physically but mentally. And those have to be sorted first.
Trials on how already existing drugs have delayed age-related diseases and increase the lifespan of flies, worms, and mice have been fruitful, yet human trials have been slow to be conducted.
There’s Metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes that could help people live longer, healthier lives at the cost of just 10 cents a pill. Metformin is a modified version of a compound found in the flower French lilac. For now, the evidence on metformin and aging are reserved for observational studies.
Then there is blood transfusion, where the “old blood” is rejuvenated with the help of the use of “younger blood” pumped into the system. Now, this, of course, brings to mind images of vampires but the science behind it is solid. Even if it makes some of us cringe.
Now a new pill that cost the price of a cup of coffee a day is set to change how we age. The process involves reprogramming our cells in a manner that could result in us living for up to 150 years and even regrow our organs by 2020. Now, this isn’t the same as living forever, but the pill brings us one step closer to immortality.
Harvard Professor David Sinclair and researchers from the University of New South Wales developed a process, which involves reprogramming cells. The work on this pill Dr. Sinclair and his team have spanned a decade and may be ready for prime time.
The science behind the new technique involves the molecule Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD), which is understood to be capable of generating energy in our body. The chemical is already used for treating Parkinson’s disease and even for jet lag.
Dr. Sinclair said the breakthrough could potentially allow people to regenerate organs and even let people living with paralysis to move again, with human trials due within two years. The pill should be available to the general public within five years.
Now the question here is not about what you think of aging and death. Extending the days we live has been ongoing, the better understanding of diseases and conditions and breakthroughs in how we “fix” our bodies is not going to stop. The more important question here is, how are you going to spend that time.