Medical researchers are developing new kinds of ammunition that could soon be unleashed to fight the war on aging.
Current approaches that target age-related diseases are expected to give way to new methods of getting to their root causes, with therapies that involve work at the cellular level to prevent problems before they start.
Treatment options that are being pursued in the lab are so promising that new anti-aging therapies might only be five to 10 years away – and could be as simple as popping a pill that can rejuvenate cells and keep people healthier longer.
Helping people to live a longer life has been an obvious goal of the medical profession, but researchers say they’re working to help people lead healthier lives while not necessarily extending their lifespan.
“I think it was Thurgood Marshall, one of our Supreme Court justices, who said he wanted to live to 110 and be killed in bed by a jealous husband. You want to be 100 years old and have a heart attack on the golf course, instead of being 60 and limping around,” said Paul Robbins, a professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Research Institute-Florida in Jupiter.
Robbins, director of the Institute’s Center on Aging, began working on age-related health issues five years ago, trying to unlock the mysteries of how the human body changes as it gets older. While traditional medicine has focused on treating specific age-related illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, Robbins has taken a different approach.
“There’s more and more data coming out saying that the main cause of whether you develop Type II diabetes or osteoarthritis or cancer or pulmonary disease is the fact that our bodies are aging,” he said. “So, the biggest risk factor for all of these diseases – whether it’s cholesterol levels or whatever – is age.
“I’ve studied all of these diseases individually, and I’ve signed on to the concept that the best way to delay the onset of them is to treat the cause, which is aging itself.”