Tag: Human Lifespan

advances in anti-aging might slow down the biological clock advances in anti-aging might slow down the biological clock advances in anti-aging might slow down the biological clock advances in anti-aging might slow down the biological clock

Advances In Anti-Aging Research: Will 80 Soon Be the New 60?

Most people not only wish to extend their lifespan, but also their “healthspan”, which is the number of years where they feel great and healthy. Ideally, 60 should become the new 40, and 80 the new 60, if not better. Actually, 120 being the new 80 would be nice. And with advances in anti-aging research, this might be the case.

Of course, our average lifespans have already increased quite a lot. Two hundred years ago, it was between 30 and 40. Today it has roughly doubled due to a combination of medical progress, better lifestyles, safer environments, and so on. However, even as we now manage to dodge plaque, cholera, and hunger, etc., we still do age.

What drives aging?

Simply stated there are two elements of aging. The first is mechanical wear and tear, which we can increasingly fix with procedures such as hip replacements, dental processes, eye operations, etc. However, the far more complicated challenge – and the biggest contributor to the majority of mechanical breakdowns – is genetic breakdown.

For the foreseeable future, primary genetic decay seems unavoidable. The average adult human has more than 35 trillion cells, and through a human lifespan, there are 10 quadrillion cell divisions. Some of these create unfortunate mutations. Furthermore, our DNA is also exposed to radiation, harmful chemicals, virus infections, and more, which also contribute to genetic degradation. For instance, there are more than 10.000 cases of oxidative damage per cell per day. Most will be fixed through automatic error correction, but some damage remains unfixed, and over time, it accumulates. 

It is genetic breakdown that causes cancer, but even if we could cure all cancer, it would only extend the average human lifespan by approx. 3 years, because if aging doesn’t kill us through cancer, it can through something as simple as the flu.  However, there are now many R&D projects aiming to slow down the natural aging process, and this field is about to get rather interesting. 

Advances in anti-aging research could prevent natural genomic instability

Making cells immortal: telomeres versus the Hayflick Limit

In 1961, US anatomist Leonard Hayflick discovered that human cells in culture would only divide between 40 and 70 times and then stop. This phenomenon is now known as the Hayflick Limit. This happens because DNA contains so-called telomeres at the ends of all its chromosomes. These have no useful genetic code but are there to protect the rest of the DNA. 

Why? – because every time the cell divides, some of the edges break off. As long as these edges are telomeres, you are fine, but after enough divisions, you start to lose coding DNA, and then, the cell stops dividing and may enter a state of ‘senescence’. Meaning, it becomes a zombie.

Some cells avoid this with an enzyme called telomerase, which restores telomeres. This can make cells virtually immortal. Scientists have created mice with extended telomeres, and these had longer health- and lifespans. A related study of 65,000 people found that people who naturally had longer telomeres had longer and healthier lives. In other words, protecting or expanding telomeres might slow aging.

Removing zombie cells

Another approach is to kill off the zombie cells, as these produce highly inflammatory and disturbing proteins. Studies have shown that if young mice have zombie cells transplanted into them, they quickly become weak and frail, whereas removal of naturally occurring zombie cells in mice delays their aging. Such treatment in people – called senolytics and tackled by several companies – is currently held as one of the most promising ways to slow the aging process.

Resupplying the repairmen: stem cell therapy 

We all know that as we age, we lose muscle, and eventually, this alone can kill us. Furthermore, we also lose cells necessary for immunity defense, for processing sugar, and more. This is largely because of loss of stem cells. Stem cells are special cells that can self-renew indefinitely due to telomerase and that can later turn into anything that is needed in your body. As you age, you have less and less of them, and this means loss of ability to replace old or damaged cells. However, in 2012, researchers discovered that we can turn any cell into a stem cell by adding just four genes. Interestingly, scientists have treated mice with stem cell therapy, and they became healthier and lived longer. This anti-aging approach is also promising.

Revitalizing with rapamycin

The bacterium Streomyces hydroscopicus produces a compound to protect itself against fungi. This is called rapamycin, and it inhibits a special enzyme in humans (mammalian target of rapamycin). Administered correctly, it has a life-prolonging effect in yeast, flies, worms, and mice.

There have been small safety trials in healthy humans with positive results, but it is not yet known if rapamycin could have the same positive effects as in laboratory animals. However, it is widely considered one of the most promising anti-aging drug concepts right now.

When are we there?

I cannot predict if and when any of these as well as other medications in the works will reach the market, but many are in early or late-stage human trials, and it seems very likely that some of them will work within 5-10 years, if not earlier. Based on this, it seems that 80 can soon be the new 60, and that average lifespans of 120 (or more) are now getting within sight. Some scientists even think that we are approaching technologies that will enable humans to live “forever.”

Meanwhile, I will continue to exercise and eat my spinach. I might not live long enough to live forever, but if I can live long enough to experience the launch of effective anti-aging treatments, count me in. 


As you can see, there are various active research areas within anti-aging. For a more complete overview, you could take a look at our Supertrends in Anti-Aging dynamic report, in which we dive into the most promising research avenues and weigh their benefits, challenges, as well as list the companies working to make them happen. True to our future-as-a-service promise, this report will be periodically updated with the most promising advances in anti-aging research and additional deep-dives such as future market analyses and more.

Want to know how you can live a long and healthy life? Read our practical guide “How to live 100 years?” to learn what you can start doing today to live longer and healthier, according to science.

© 2021 Supertrends

Senolytics showcase link between life extension and therapeutics

A significant part of ongoing anti-aging research has conventional applications in the treatment of gerontological conditions while also opening up potential avenues for life extension. Two entrepreneurs – Lewis Gruber of Siwa Therapeutics and Marc Ramis Castelltort of Senolytic Therapeutics and Rejuversen AG – discuss how their cutting-edge research serves two purposes – to improve health at old age, and to move one step closer to the dream of vastly expanded human longevity.

Over the past three to four decades, scientists have refined their understanding of cellular aging processes and their effects, in terms both of specific pathologies and of the overall biological aging of the body. These insights have opened up ways to treatments that may one day help us achieve vastly extended health- and lifespans simultaneously. Indeed, among the potentially life-extending interventions that companies are actively researching today, there are many approaches that could not only help us live longer, but could also pave the way for new cures for specific illnesses and conditions that are currently untreatable. Given the close overlap between clinical therapeutics for diseases and life extension research, some even argue that “aging” should be considered a condition in its own right.

A glance at companies’ portfolios confirms this nexus between life extension and disease treatment. There is no firewall between longevity research and conventional medical R&D. A prime example is the field of cellular senescence, in which researchers use senolytic compounds to try and kill off “zombie” cells that have reached Hayflick’s Limit and stopped dividing due to shortening of telomeres. These senescent cells emit cytokines that cause inflammation and immune cell activation in the surrounding tissue and can even induce senescence in healthy cells. Cytokines are especially important in regulating the immune response, and research on immunosenescence ties in with more general efforts to understand the functioning and eventual dysfunction of the immune system, which have gained urgency in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 research: full speed ahead

“Although the pandemic has caused a slowdown in many areas, any solutions that are potentially effective in stopping the coronavirus will of course be fast-tracked,” said Lewis Gruber, CEO and co-founder of Siwa Therapeutics, in a recent interview with Supertrends. This biopharmaceutical company, based in Chicago, USA, has developed a humanized monoclonal antibody, SIWA 318H, which it hopes can directly target cells affected by viruses, including COVID-19. The antibody seeks out cells that have an abnormally high level of glycolysis and oxidative stress. Among these are cancerous, senescent, and virally infected cells.

“By removing those cells, we eliminate deleterious [damaging] secretions and stimulate regenerative processes,” Gruber explains. While the company remains focused on aggressive cancers, the devastation wreaked by COVID-19 has prompted Siwa Therapeutics to test its antibody as a potential treatment for infectious diseases and related cytokine storms and as a potential building block for a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

Expanding lifespans – and health-spans

Another company that concentrates on the removal of senescent cells is Senolytic Therapeutics, a Barcelona-based biotech firm seeking to develop novel medicines and drugs for life extension and health improvement while also offering consulting services to other firms in the biotech sphere. The company’s co-founder, Marc Ramis Castelltort, noted in an interview with Supertrends that the main focus for now is on conventional life extension: “We are developing senolytic-based drugs that can treat diseases including fibrosis and certain forms of cancer. To the extent that such therapies can help people live longer, we are also expanding their lifespans, but our main goal for now is the treatment of pathologies that are associated with the biology of aging.” With support from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, the company hopes to come up with new medicines to combat fibrotic diseases and other age-related disorders.

Nevertheless, the insights that Castelltort and his team have gained into cellular aging and the role of senescent cells as a cause of frailty in old people have prompted him to found a second company, Rejuversen AG, which hopes to find cures for therapy-induced senescence in the field of oncology. “We aim to be able to present our first clinical trial by 2023,” he says.

“Although we are still at the discovery stage, we are confident that we will soon be able to treat aging-associated diseases and thus extend not only our lifespans, but also our ‘health-spans” (Marc Ramis Castelltort)

The best approach to do this, according to Castelltort, is to treat age-related diseases first and then life extension as two sides of the same coin.

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