There are several technologies in development that could dramatically reduce the effects of aging, even in the next few years.
Sophie Weiner | Popular Mechanics
Even in 2017, anti-aging and lifespan-increasing technology still feels futuristic. But this new video from Kurzgesagt presents several technologies close to completion that could make a big impact on how we age.
The first of these is a way to kill off senescent cells–zombie cells that clog up your body and disrupt normal functioning. These dead cells hang around and cause problems, and up till now, there’s been no way to get rid of them. But a new trial in mice used drugs that were able to kill up to 80% of senescent cells without harming healthy cells. The treated mice were healthier and regrew lost hair. Another study, which used mice genetically engineered to get rid of senescent cells, saw an incredible 30% increase in lifespan, along with improved health and less cancer.
Another way to combat aging is to flood the body with the the coenzyme NAD+, which helps to keep cell function running smoothly. We have fifty percent less NAD+ at age 50 than we do at age 20, and a deficiently of NAD+ is linked to skin cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases. When scientists figured out a way to get NAD+ through the cell walls of mice, the result was healthier mice with more brain, skin, and other stem cells and a slightly longer life span.
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Stem cells are the other promising anti-aging technology. Mice who had stem cells injected into their thalamus were healthier than average mice and lived 10% longer. Of course, it’s not so easy to find extra stem cells in humans, and the debate rages on about the ethics of using stem cells from embryos.
None of these technologies are going to cure aging once and for all or let us live forever, but it seems likely that some combination of them will have an impact on what it means to age within our own lifetimes–and that’s good news.