The jellyfish Turritopsis dohrnii practically lives forever by reprogramming its old cells to make them young again. Researchers and scientists not only study the jellyfish, but they study a variety of other means by which humans can achieve the same biological longevity as this jellyfish.
As one of the only known organisms on the Earth capable of this, the jellyfish's immortality comes with drawbacks: It reverts to its earlier, polyp-like state, which allows it to mature again as an adult. If humans did this, it would be like something out of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" movie, reverting back to a baby to start life all over again. Researchers look at this and other ways to achieve immortality in humans.
Supplements and Treatments for Age Reversal
Researchers and academics around the world continue to debate as to whether the aging process is truly natural, a disease or both. Some researchers would like to see aging classified as a disease to advance funding for studies and research. Regardless of the outcome of that question, supplements and treatments exist today to stem the tides of aging and aging-related diseases.
Treatments include pills to repair the telomeres at the ends of chromosomes and pills that repair DNA at a cellular level, along with a whole host of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements to boost immunity and prevent aging. But scientists at the University of California in San Francisco state that diet, meditation, stress management, exercise and social support are the best ways to ensure longevity.
Those who can afford it, often turn to other means to reduce the effects of aging. Botox injections, anti-aging creams and lotions, fat removal and cosmetic surgery are often the go-to choices for these people. These types of treatments don't do anything to the body to improve it physically, rather they just treat aging as a surface problem, as something wiped away on the body's surface rather than addressed from the inside out. And these treatments may work for a while, but don't do anything to stop the aging process altogether.
In every corner of the world, scientists run tests on mice and other lab creatures to find ways to increase lifespans. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, for example, conducted experiments in 2015 using genetic engineering to increase the lifespan in mice by 25 percent. The experiment included removing a specific group of living, but stagnant cells, which are cells that no longer reproduce. A side benefit to this method included the slackening of the aging process in the remaining cells and essentially slowed the start of age-related diseases like tumor formation, heart or kidney decline and cataract formation.
At Harvard University, researchers and scientists also study the effect of stem cells on aging. By studying how the human body ages, and its effects of aging on major bodily systems, these researchers hope to find therapeutic treatments that can intervene in the effects of aging.
People Who Benefit
Anti-aging suppliers insist that their products are not just for aging people. They say that vitamins, herbs and supplements that restore telomeres or repair DNA at the cellular level benefits anyone old enough to take them. These products are not for children, but for adults who have reached full maturity. Children are still growing and don't need these kinds of supplements. Regardless of the claims of the suppliers, it's always a good idea to check with your doctor or read up on the product if you have questions about a specific supplement before taking it.
A Society that Lives Longer
The effects of an aging population on society are diverse. Because of the Great Recession that occurred beginning in the late 2000s through 2010 and longer, many baby boomers, those born between 1946 to 1964, lost their savings, their jobs and their homes. Many of these seniors must now work longer just to live, even with Social Security retirement. This means that a lot of younger workers face issues advancing in a job market populated with older workers, who are usually more educated and experienced.
Additionally, younger people have put off having children and families. This becomes a problem for a country when deaths exceed births, as new people joining the workforce continue to decline. In 2014, Time Magazine reported that the gap between births and deaths hit all-time lows and researchers expect this trend to continue. If it weren't for a healthier, aging population, some of the service jobs typically held by younger people would disappear altogether.
- Harvard University: Resetting the Aging Clock: The Science of Age Reversal
- Life Extension Advocacy Foundation: Is Aging Natural, a Disease That We Can Treat, or Both?
- University of California San Francisco: Lifestyle Changes May Lengthen Telomeres, a Measure of Cell Aging
- Popular Mechanics: Scientists Can Now Radically Expand the Lifespan of Mice—and Humans May Be Next
- Harvard University: Aging
- Princeton University: The Quest to Beat Aging
- University of California Los Angeles: UCLA Biologist Slow Aging Extend Lifespan of Fruit Flies
- History: Recession
- TIME: More Americans Dying as Birth Rates Hit Record Lows
About the Author
As a journalist and editor for several years, Laurie Brenner has covered many topics in her writings, but science is one of her first loves. Her stint as Manager of the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in California's gold country served to deepen her interest in science which she now fulfills by writing for online science websites. Brenner is also a published sci-fi author. She graduated from San Diego's Coleman College in 1972.