Medicine against aging, by Manel Esteller

September 12, 2021 by archyde

Humans are made of dreams. Of unfulfilled wishes. And it is said that there is no worse nightmare than having achieved all your dreams and desires. The day after this success, there is no reason to get out of bed. Motivation has been lost. Don’t worry, hardly anyone gets all their claims. Constant dissatisfaction always haunts the most dreamers. And also the visionaries. People who have accumulated huge fortunes from relatively simple ideas that we now use for many reasons, some of them far removed from the primary objective of discovery or invention. And these pioneers now look into space, the last physical frontier, not counting the underworld. And they want to open the world to a new tourism with slender and designer ships. When prices drop, if I’m on time, I’m sure I’ll buy a ticket. But they also look at biological boundaries, and beyond the Holy Grail of our brains, they have fixed their attention on how to slow down aging. These days the creation of an international investigative effort with private funds has been made public, endowed in a very generous way to fight against the imprint of the passing of the years on our body. My knees have been glad of it, also receiving a closed ovation from the rest of the organs and tissues. In particular, it seems to me to be excellent news and I am sure that, even if it is fruitful only in a small part, it will serve to better understand our biological clocks and know how to wind them in an improved and more effective way.

On vacation in the Matarranya I was looking at a century-old olive tree. A tree that has seen several generations of humans go by. Immutable from its elegance and beauty. Beyond the plant kingdom, there are many animals that live much longer than humans. Of some of them it is even almost impossible to calculate precisely how old they are. There is no reliable data that any human has lived beyond 120 years. The stories they tell about Methuselah are not believed. What is certain is that thanks to social and health advances, today the life expectancy of humans is the highest in its history. There have never been so many nonagenarians as now. But the barrier seems to be there. Surely crossing that limit will only be possible using techniques that change our DNA. We will live longer, but perhaps we will be a little less human. Another thing. Neither better nor worse. In any case very similar.

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We hear about in the media, advertising and social networks of anti-aging medicine (‘anti-aging’ if we want to be more sophisticated). The vast majority of times such approaches have little clearly demonstrated scientific basis. One of the few cases where there is a real foundation has to do with proteins that regulate caloric restriction. Some of these compounds, which were a “hit” at the pharmaceutical procurement level a few years ago, are used in certain cosmetic anti-wrinkle creams. A good business. Younger on the outside, but just as old on the inside. Another interesting line of research that has also led to millions of dollars has to do with the following experiment: the transfusion of blood from young mice to aged rodents rejuvenated the latter. Excuse me experts for simplifying the experiment. It reminds me a bit of bathing in milk or the blood of maidens, according to the legend. However, one of the areas of science where more hopes are being placed, and hence the investment of the billionaires mentioned at the beginning of this article, is in cell reprogramming. Change the machinery of an old cell to make it young. For a few years we have been able to do this to a certain extent in the laboratory: we can isolate differentiated cells from the skin and introduce factors that change the expression of genes. originate a stem cell. This undifferentiated cell is very young and has the ability to re-originate all the components of our body. How to control this process, make it safe, and apply it to entire organisms or individuals will address much of the research that will be done in the coming years.

Discoveries await us that will make us rethink how we approach life. We already are right now that 30 years are the new adolescence and an 80-year-old person is looking for a partner for a long relationship. Keeping ourselves in an ever-young state, like walking portraits of Dorian Gray, it’s a terribly ambitious goal, but pursuing healthier aging is perhaps a more affordable short-term goal. Get our chronological age to advance, but freeze our biological age. Many laboratories in the world are on that path right now. We will be attentive to events, weather and health permitting.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my