There are many different ideas about how to help us stay younger and live longer. Some of them are pretty radical in terms of what we need to do to our own bodies. Some others don’t involve such obviously scary procedures such as mind-uploading or cybernetic parts. Nanobots injected into the body are an example, but we may be centuries away from that technology, depending on who we ask.
In the end, radical life extension and long-term health and youth will probably require treatments and technologies from all over the place working together, but right now the first candidate will most likely be a drug taken orally or injected. This will come before genetic treatments or more invasive methods. Now at the end of the second decade of the 21st century we’re starting to see drugs that have the potential to make us stay younger for longer. Some of these candidates are new drugs and some of them are old drugs that are being re-evaluated from a new angle.
The Kurzweil Diet
Raymond Kurzweil is one of the best-known public transhumanists and a popularizer of the movement. Ray is not a young man and he’d very much like to live long enough to live forever, as the saying goes. He desperately wants to make it to the purported time of the Singularity, so he’s done everything a person of his considerable financial means can do extend his life. A lot of what he does hasn’t been properly tested, but of course it’s an academic matter, since Ray would not live long enough to see all the trials completed to confirm the effects of each drug he takes.
Just how many pills does Raymond Kurzweil take? Well, when he started it was apparently a staggering 250 pills every day. Currently that number is down to 100, which is still a lot. Why have the pills become fewer? Apparently that’s thanks to the improvements in drug technology.
It’s not all pills either. He follows a very specific, calorie restricted diet, because calorie restriction is one of the main ways we’ve learned that lifespan can be extended. In lab rodents the extension has show to be radical and, theoretically, what Raymond is doing in total could help him live to be 120 years old. It will be interesting to see how long Ray Kurzweil does live, but of course as a single subject it will not prove that this method doesn’t work should he die at a younger age. If he does live well past 100 he may be onto something though, since so few humans have made it that far.
So What Drugs?
There are quite a few drugs that are thought to have the potential for anti-aging and life extension. Metformin is one that comes to mind immediately. This chemical is used as a first-line treatment of Type II Diabetes.
In 2016, Metformin was approved for study as an anti-aging drug by the FDA. It’s a pretty important development and it gives legitimacy to the idea that aging will eventually be considered an actual disease.
Metformin itself has been shown to extend the life of some animals under lab conditions, but it remains to be seen if it will do anything for humans. The drug is pretty well tolerated, with common side effects that can be irritating but not debilitating, mostly related to gastric discomfort.
Resveratrol is a substance that has long carried the flag of anti-aging chemical. It can be found in things like grape skins and raspberries. It’s one of the reasons that a glass of red wine has been thought to have health benefits, but these days you can buy resveratrol in concentrated pill form. Some research suggests that the substance can decrease the incidence of heart disease and diabetes.
The new poster child for a real anti-ageing drug is something called NWN or “nicotinamide mononucleotide”. Human testing is soon to be underway as I write this, and testing in mice has been very promising. The chemical has been shown to slow down and reverse many of the biological markers of aging in mice. Also, it has improved glucose tolerance with age and general metabolic decline.
The Fountain of Youth?
Whether drugs will take us to a healthy 120 years of age is still a question that’s up in the air, but for those of us who are still quite young today, this may be the first line of treatment to get us to more radical and advanced technologies to reverse and stop aging. Here’s holding thumbs that those clinical trials show good results!