Forever Young

By 2050, the number of people aged over 60 years is projected to be five times that in 1950. Credit: Luigi Fontana, Brian K. Kennedy, and and Valter D. Longo/Nature

Remember Bob Dylan (if not refresh your memory with the clip)? "May you stay forever young".

At that time if was a way of speaking, at best a way to wish you that in "spirit" you would remain young.

But now science is looking seriously into ageing trying to understand why we get old with the aim a taking action. This is what researchers at the University of Saint Louis in cooperation with other groups are trying to do, and they argue that too few investment is dedicated to promote well being and probably to much is being dedicated to fix problems generated by diseases. They claim that from an economical point of view it makes more sense to help people stay fit and healthy than to try fix the problems once they happen.

In a way this is also the reasoning behind the investment at EIT ICT Labs in the area of Health and Well being: using ICT to promote a better and healthier life style.

The researchers at St Louis take a look at the molecular and metabolic causes of human ageing and have already started experimenting with animals in preventing and repairing the effects of ageing at molecular level. For sure, exercise, a good and balance diet, a general healthy style of living are important but there are biological processes (and the ugly face of the second law of thermodynamics) that work at molecular level and even in the best of possibile life style one gets old.

They are not chasing the spring of eternal youth, rather they would like to tweak molecular processes in such a way to stave off pathologies that hit, most of the time in combination, as people reach 70-80 years. More advanced researches are looking at the replication of the DNA and telomeres: they get short as times goes by and this creates problems in the duplication leading to errors and degeneration at cellular level.

Interesting to see how science is expanding in the domain of what used to be impossible dreams...

Author - Roberto Saracco

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