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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Aging Reversed, but There's a Catch

If you are as much of an ancient relic as I am, you probably as a general rule don't get too excited about news reports of experimental progress in reversing aging in lab animals. The reason is that these type of stories have been coming out for many years. I've been reading for a good 40 years that scientists have been making interesting progress in learning about aging. The stories often tend to make it sound as if an anti-aging pill may be just around the corner. But after 40 years of such stories, there's still no anti-aging treatment for humans.

But I must admit my eyebrow raised when I read this week's story about a new experimental treatment in mice. In the study (done at Harvard University and the University of NSW) some two-year-old mice were given a compound which caused them in several ways to appear or act as young as six-month-old mice. The mice were injected a compound called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD. The drug works on the mitochondria, which is called the “powerhouse” of a cell.

The most amazing thing about the treatment is how fast it worked. The mice started looking and acting younger after only one week.

Upon reading these facts, my hopes were raised. This is just what I was hoping for to revitalize my tired old wrinkled body – a simple injection. No need for some lengthy treatment involving long hours of sitting on a hospital bed; just a nice simple injection as easy as a vaccination.

When the news article suggested that human trials might start as early as next year, my hopes were further raised. But then I came to one little detail in the story that made the whole thing burst like a child's balloon.

Near the end of the story it mentioned that the cost of the treatment would be 50,000 dollars a day.

So apparently what we have is an “age reversal for billionaires” kind of treatment. Nice if you're Bill Gates, but not terribly relevant if you are an average guy like me.

I hope very much that no taxpayer dollars are used to fund research on any treatment with a cost of 50,000 dollars a day. If billionaires want to fund research for insanely expensive age-reversal drugs, for their own benefit, they should be allowed to do so. But the average man should not be funding research for drugs that only the super-rich will be able to afford.

Rejuvenated 95-year-old, but wait until he gets the bill!