8.09.2005

Wired on Life Extension....
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Joanna Glasner at Wired has written a piece called "Taking Stock of Life Extension" which touches on the real phenomenon of Life Extension through a view of biotech companies competing for investor dollars and mindshare and people such as Terry Grossman and Aubrey de Grey, experts in the emergent field...before we give you that, we have a few thoughts since this touches on the core of what we do.


The science of radical life extension has been popular and is only becoming more so. That is, as the population ages, the promise of a Fountain of Youth is more than a glimmer in the mind's eye.

Is there any basis for such claims?

On a pure statistical basis, Dr. Wes Ashford of the Stanford/VA Alzheimer's Center has pointed out there is a clear factual basis for increased longevity. Ever since records have been kept (beginning in the 1840's) a few years of life expectancy has been added every decade for both men and women.

In the early 1960's, scientists (and even the U.N.) declared that life expectancy had probably reached a practical limit...and we should only expect incremental improvement.

However, the slope of the upward curve has not changed since the early 1960's - meaning that life expectancy is increasing at a consistent rate - even in the era of public health and advanced medical care.

This tells us that something else is at work.

And now the Wired article:

By reaping the benefits of modern medicine and following the tenets of healthy living, most of us can expect to live substantially longer than our forefathers did. How much longer, however, is a matter of much debate.

Some optimists believe we can extend the human life span almost indefinitely over the next several decades with sufficient advancements in technologies like gene therapy and tissue engineering. Others claim we humans weren't built to last much beyond our 90s, and even the hardiest folk won't outlive 120 years.
Whomever one believes, it's clear we have already benefited from scientific progress. Americans born in 1959 had a life expectancy at birth of 70 years, while those born in 1999 are likely to stick around for 77 years, according to the Human Mortality Database. Many of the diseases that used to kill us now merely afflict us.

But plowing cash into companies pursuing remedies for the ravages of age isn't the safest prescription for investors' financial well-being. Biotechnology, the industry that promises the broadest potential for life-extending breakthroughs, is a notoriously risky investment play. To reduce risk, it's best to keep a few considerations in mind:

If you like profitable companies, try a different sector: Reading the press releases of publicity-seeking medical technology firms, it's easy to get the impression that scientists are on the verge of curing cancer, eliminating Alzheimer's disease and replacing ailing organs with genetically matched substitutes.

You can read more here.

Awareness and vigilance are the watchwords with regard to your health. If you can't monitor it, you can't take action. That's why we are hard at work on building a large collection of data from which inferences can be drawn.



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