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The search for eternal youth.


This article was taken from another site (see link below) and posted on this blog by Leonardo Santos for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES


People have always wanted to stay young and live a very long time. But nobody has ever succeeded. Everybody, it seems, must get old and die. But is this really true?

Dr Aubrey de Grey is scientist who thinks that we can stop people getting old. In about 20 years, de Grey says, people will be able to live to be 1,000 years old! At the same time, people’s bodies will stay young and healthy.

De Grey has a PhD in biology from Cambridge University. Before getting his PhD he was a software engineer. As an engineer he was used to solving problems. He uses the same method in biology. For example, most biologists believe that it is normal to get old. But in de Grey’s opinion, getting old is a problem that can be solved. When our bodies change as we get older, this is like a disease. If we can cure this disease, we can stop the ageing process, de Grey says. We can also make people have young bodies again.

De Grey then tried to solve the problem of ageing. He studied how the body changes when people get old. He found seven causes of ageing. He believes that science will soon be able to stop those causes of ageing. In this way, a person’s body won’t get weak and it won’t suffer from certain diseases.

It would be nice not to grow old!

The methods that we need to stop ageing already exist, says de Grey. Some are used already in clinical trials. Other kinds of therapy must be applied in new ways. More research is necessary. But de Grey is sure that we will have all the methods needed to stop ageing in less than 20 years. “When we have these therapies,” says de Grey, “we won’t become weak and we won’t suffer from the typical diseases of old age. We will still die of course – in road accidents, or because we have a new kind of disease – but we won’t die in the long, slow way that many people do now.”

De Grey compares the human body to a house. As the house gets older, some things must be repaired. Broken parts must be replaced. The same thing can happen with the human body, he thinks. We can use stem cell technology to grow new tissue. The new, healthy tissue can replace the old, damaged tissue. People get some diseases because their body cannot get rid of certain molecules. These molecules stay in the body and sometimes cause disease. But de Grey says that we could use certain enzymes to eliminate these molecules. So if a person’s body is repaired and maintained in this way, de Grey says, that person could easily live to be 1,000 years old.

A lot of scientists do not agree with de Grey’s methods and his ideas. A group of 28 scientists criticized de Grey’s ideas in an article published in an important biological journal. They wrote: “The idea that in the near future we can stop ageing and make people have young-looking bodies is not realistic. Most scientists who study ageing do not take de Grey’s ideas seriously.” However, the scientists admit that de Grey’s ideas have not yet been proved wrong.

De Grey is convinced that his opinions are realistic. He also thinks that his research is very important. If ageing is a disease, he says, we must try to cure it. “Saving lives and extending lives,” de Grey writes, “is the same thing. In both cases, we give people the chance of more life. People who say that we shouldn’t cure ageing, are saying that old people shouldn’t have medical care.”

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