Youth is wasted on the young – as the bitter old saying goes.
But perhaps the elderly will now get a chance to show what they can do with it.
Imagine a pill that could stave off the spectre of ageing – such a thing could be available within a decade. Note the word ‘could’ is doing some heavy lifting here.
The emerging science of senolytics is showing some success in targeting senescent cells – faulty cells that get left behind as we age – like irritating people who don’t get the hint at a house party. Rather than getting removed by the body, these ‘zombie cells’ hang around, emitting substances that cause inflammation which can in turn transform other cells into senescent cells. Which is why we tend to fall apart as we age. Annoying.
However progress is being made. Scientists working at the Mayo Clinic, based in Minnesota, were able to genetically manipulate the cells of mice in 2016 – proving the effectiveness of their theories by releasing a photograph of two mice. Both the same age, one is obviously younger looking, having had its zombie cells removed by the scientists. And whilst this treatment is not yet safe to use on human patients, research is continuing apace – with the possibility of using the treatment within the decade. While the senolytics treatment will not make you live forever – it can in theory prolong healthy old age. That said, there’s a good chance that, if it can be made to work, it will help extend lifespan – staving off chronic diseases which doctors are currently called upon to fend off like a big game of wack-a-mole.
Of course, just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.
Who should be eligible for such a life prolonging treatment? Inevitably, because life isn’t fair, it will be given to those who have the largest bank accounts.
And at a time when the planet is struggling from human over population, do we really need people to live longer? Have you met older people – most of them are bloody awful.
Maybe youth should remain the preserve of the young.