Our success in delaying death in late life made us vulnerable to COVID-19 mortality. Photo by Carlos Osorio/Reuters
Underlying the research are some cold, hard facts about human biology. Evolution, it seems, has ensured humans live healthily long enough to reproduce and look after their offspring until they become independent.
That translates into an average biological warranty period of about 70 years, the time before which the body begins to undermine itself, increasing the risk of disease and frailty, says Farrelly. So as weve learned to at least manage diseases of old-age and get people to live longer, the result is often years of illness and disability at the end of life, he said.
But thats not to say that growing old and weak in the way we expect is written in stone.
Theres no law of physics or law of the universe that says that aging has to occur, said Austad. Living organisms are almost definable by their ability to repair themselves Aging is the ultimate failure of repair. (But) that doesnt mean its not possible to intervene in the system.
Such intervention would not necessarily extend lifespans, but ideally make the later years healthier and more productive, a major advance in itself.
That would change the nature of human existence incredibly, said Austad. If you had another 10 to 20 years of healthy life to look forward to, that might influence almost everything you did when you went to school, when you had kids, how many careers you had.
Rapamycin may be the most promising of possible anti-aging treatments.
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COVID-19 the new disease of growing old, hastening the work of anti-aging scientists - National Post
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