With the average global life expectancy at 70, many people have, at some point in their lives, asked how to increase their life span and scientists may have just found the answer!
A new and controversial cell rejuvenation technique could stretch the average life expectancy to 108, which is a 54% increase!
The National Center for Health Statistics shows that, even though women tend to outlive men by an average of 7 years, the average life expectancy reached a record high in 2014 at 78.8 years, which shows that improvements are being made to increase it.
Factors such as gender, race, occupation, income, diet, and lifestyle all affect overall life expectancy, which is the reason that many first world countries have higher overall averages. Monaco has the highest average life expectancy at 89.52 years and is closely followed by Japan, Singapore, and Macau. The lowest life expectancy is in Chad at 49.81 years.
How will lifespan be increased?
Scientists have found a way to “reprogram” cells to inhibit their aging process, a method which has already been proven to extend the lifespan of mice by 30% by keeping cells young and healthy.
Skin cells were taken and made to partly revert, resembling the form they took in the embryo stage of development. Live mice diagnosed with progeria, a premature aging disease that humans can also get, were given the DNA-reprogramming treatment and it was found that they not only looked younger but also had better-functioning hearts and a lower risk of developing cancer than untreated mice.
When healthy mice received the same treatment, they were shown to improve in the regeneration of cells in the muscle tissue and pancreas, which offers incredible potential for human longevity. In fact, scientists have said that their cell rejuvenation treatment could potentially extend human life span to an average of 108 years.
Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte from the Salk Institute in California and the lead author of the study, said: “Our study shows that aging may not have to proceed in one single direction. It has plasticity and, with careful modulation, aging might be reversed.”
Professor Belmonte explains that the cell rejuvenation treatment involves the genetic altering of cells to become like stem cells, which means that they can transform into any cell needed in the human body.
“What we and other stem-cell labs have observed is that when you induce cellular reprogramming, cells look younger. The next question was whether we could induce this rejuvenation process in a live animal,” said Alejandro Ocampo, one of the authors of the study.
When will treatment become available?
“Obviously, mice are not humans and we know it will be much more complex to rejuvenate a person. But this study shows that aging is a very dynamic process, and therefore will be more amenable to therapeutic interventions than what we previously thought,” said Professor Belmonte.
The team says that it could be at least 10 more years before a clinical trial will be conducted on humans and that research is still ongoing.