25 October 2018

Deceive evolution

Judith Campisi: "The old age pill has already been created"

Andrey Smirnov, Hi-tech+


Judith Campisi, one of the world's leading experts in the biology of aging, reported on the first results of tests of senolytic drugs developed by her – those same pills for old age. And she debunked the dreams of Silicon Valley tycoons about eternal life.

In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Campisi, professor at the Institute for Aging Research in Novato (California, USA), told about the clinical trials of senolytic drugs that began in July and that she very much expects success and the early introduction of anti-aging pills into medical practice.

Clinical research is conducted by Unity Biotechnology, a company founded with the participation of Campisi.

How to Cheat evolution

Senolytics affect the so–called aging cells - an evolutionary mechanism that protects the body from diseases such as cancer. It also contributes to physiological aging and the development of age–related diseases - primarily neurodegenerative.

"Aging cells do not divide, and therefore they cannot form a tumor," says Campisi. However, accumulating in the body, aging cells cause other problems.

"Evolution doesn't care what happens to you after you have children, so after 50 years there are no mechanisms that would destroy aging cells. They accumulate, this is old age," she explains.

Campisi's discovery consists in the development of chemical compounds that destroy aging cells. Then, she believes, the body will return to a young state and will remain so until death.

In her opinion, the senolytics she invented will give geriatric doctors a universal weapon to fight old age in general. In combination with medicines against certain age-related diseases, this should solve the most acute socio-medical problem of our time. "I want to remind you that 80% of patients who require inpatient treatment in hospitals are people over 65 years old," says the researcher.

In Silicon Valley, they count on immortality for nothing

In an interview, Judith Campisi ridiculed Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who spend millions to fund research, hoping to find a recipe for a very long, if not eternal, life.

"If you look at C. elegans, a small worm, then by biotechnological methods its maximum life span has been extended by 10 times. This is a world record," the scientist says. – In relation to a person, such success would mean a thousand years of life. But if we approach the evolutionary scale a little closer to Homo sapiens and consider, for example, the fruit fly drosophila, then its life expectancy has already been increased only twice. And we managed to increase the average life expectancy of laboratory mice by 20-30%."

Campisi notes that a mouse and a human are 97% genetically identical, but a human lives 30 times longer than a rodent. Therefore, even 3% of the difference in genes is a gap. No successful experiments to prolong the life of animals will help a person to live longer, the biologist emphasizes.

For Silicon Valley businessmen, this is religion, not science, Campisi is sure: "People want to believe in the possibility of achieving immortality, but this belief is not based on any scientific data."

In her opinion, the death of any organism is genetically programmed. And even extending the maximum life span of a person for several decades is impossible from the point of view of modern science. Simply because the biological mechanism responsible for the duration of life and "including" its end is not known.

How to beat old age

But the mechanism of aging is known. And, according to Campisi, it can be turned off.

"What really scares most people, including me, is not death. It's scary to watch, for example, my mother, who in her 90–odd years is in tolerable physical shape," the scientist says. – But she is gradually losing cognitive functions and walking is not as good as before. However, most of her peers generally move only in wheelchairs."

"But we are on the verge of fully understanding the causes of aging and will soon be able to intervene," Campisi is sure.

A person will still remain mortal, she emphasizes. Pills for old age do not prolong the maximum life span, as many hope. They "cure" not death, but old age. More precisely, they provide complex therapy for all, as the researcher hopes, age–related diseases.

In laboratory mice that were given senolytics, the average life expectancy increased, but the maximum did not change.

"In a sense, this means that the mice died healthy," says Judith Campisi. She offers the same to people: to live as long as allowed, but with a much lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or paralysis after a stroke.

Thus, a new class of drugs should prolong a healthy life, when 90-year-olds will look and feel at all 50. "I think such a prospect should attract venture entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley," the scientist says.

Campisi also emphasizes that the mass introduction of pills for old age will not lead to an aggravation of social problems. Elderly people, even healthy and outwardly young, will not be able to have children, which means that a healthy old age will not contribute to the overpopulation of the Earth.

An international team of researchers agrees with her, who came to the conclusion that an increase in the elderly population contributes to a decrease in its total number. And this will benefit the environment and the economy.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru

Found a typo? Select it and press ctrl + enter Print version