If you could choose, how long do you want to live? To 100, 200, 500 years of age? Perhaps your answer is, it depends—will I be healthy?
By the end of this decade, nearly 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older. Three out of 4 will have two or more serious health conditions. At least 1 in 4 can expect memory lapses and fuzzy thinking, while 1 in 10 will develop dementia.
You’re not part of the generation known as the Boomers? Don’t worry. You’ll age, too.
Aging-Factors that Cause Disease
The research is extensive. And unfortunately, there isn’t just one thing that leads to age-related diseases. There are many: inflammation; a metabolism system that doesn’t work right; inactive stem cells; stress-related damage, environmental toxins, and more. These problems of aging cells lead to diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and cancer.
Fortunately, there’s been a “perfect storm” in anti-aging research. All kinds of treatments for age-related illnesses are moving into or already in clinical trials. They aim to make us grow old in better health. If you could grow old in good health, how long do you want to live?
A new class of anti-aging drugs called senolytics may give future you the opportunity to choose.
Senolytics remove certain cells that accumulate as we age. The cells create a low level of inflammation that blocks normal mechanisms of cellular repair. These cells, called senescent cells, create a toxic neighborhood for your cells.
The goal of Unity Biotechnology, a biotechnology company in California, is to “halt, slow or reverse age-associated diseases, while restoring human health.” Their lead product is a treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. It passed the Phase I clinical trial in patients with moderate-to-severe OA of the knee in June 2019. The patients in the clinical trial tolerated the single injection well and showed improvement in pain and in function of the knee. They will publish the results of the Phase II clinical trial within the next six months.
Age-Related Respiratory Illnesses
Winter colds, flu, pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections that send over 1 million older adults to the hospital every year and kill more than 75,000. And that was before Covid.
In studies of more than 900 people by a Boston-based biotech company, their drug reduced the risk for age-related cases of respiratory diseases. Statistically clinical trial patients had 31 percent fewer respiratory infections — (colds, flu, bronchitis and pneumonia). Those with asthma had 68 percent fewer infections. People 85 and older had 67 percent fewer infections. There were fewer severe infections, too.
This drug works differently. It inhibiting an enzyme that regulates growth and metabolism in cells but goes into hyper-drive during the aging process.
A Phase 3 study of this drug started in 2019. If its results are as positive, the FDA could approve the drug for use as early as in 2021.
Other Age-Related Research
There are tons of research being done in age-related illnesses. Dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease, is one of them with some promising results.
A drug commonly used in other countries to control diabetes in human patients also has shown promising anti-aging effects.
And there are many more drugs with the promise of having anti-aging effect.
They need more research and testing to be certain, but treatments for things we thought inevitable may be just around the corner.
How Long Do You Want to Live?
If age-related diseases weren’t an issue, how long do you want to live? Even if these drugs don’t extend your life for another hundred years, you could live to be a healthy 85 or 100. How would that change society? Would we still retire at 65? What would happen to Social Security? How much retirement money would we need to live another 35 or 40 healthy years? So many questions that need answers. Health at 85 sounds pretty good. How long do you want to live? Would you take a pill or two if it guaranteed you’d be healthy at 85?