Before slowing down the biological clock that determines the life span, we must especially focus on the quality of life
Nowadays the maximal human age is 122 years; the record is broken by French Jean Kalman. Scientists foretell that human age may even reach 180 years and more. It is said that thanks to scientific achievements people may live up to 500 years.
Economy Professor Michael Zey from the Mont Claire State University, the author of numerous books about the future is sure that mankind is "knocking at the door of immortality". The professor said at the annual conference World Future Society in San Francisco that people might reach immortality by 2075. However, majority of scientists say the idea is fantastic.
Gerontologist Carlo Vergani from the University of Milan doesn't support the opinion saying that mankind may reach immortality. "We are living to reproduce future generations but not for never ending living. Ageing is a social process. Let's get back to the beginning of the past century when the life span was 40-50 years, now it is 70-80 years thanks to better sanitary conditions, nutrition, medicine and vaccines."
At the same time, it is quite typical of people to wish to live longer. There are just few of us who would risk to sell souls to the devil for immortality, but almost all of us want to be healthy and live longer. The average life expectancy in Italy now makes up 77 years for men and 83 years for women. The number of people at the age of 80, 90 and even 100 years is increasing in industrially developed countries.
It is highly likely that results of experiments held on animals may help prolong human life even more. Results of researches make people more optimistic about the future; however this future is rather remote. Scientists have already succeeded with changing the genes of flies, worms and mice with a view to prolong their life span. Carlo Vergani says: "Manipulations with the genes of the fruit midge helped increase the life expectancy of the insect for one third. If the experiment is applied to humans, people will be able to live for 120 years which is probably our genetic limit and even advance to 180 years."
Usually the genes are connected with metabolism, to be more exact with production of free radicals, the particles that destroy cells and cause ageing. Ageing can be stopped if production of free radicals is reduced.
It is not only genetics that hopes for creation of a youth serum. If we let imagination run high, we may arrive at an idea of transplantation of ageing tissues or organs; replacement of such organs with analogous ones made at laboratories with the help of elementary cells. Nanotechnologies that may produce particular molecules can be also applied for this purpose.
Umberto Senin, a gerontologist from the University of Perugia says that before we think over slowing down of the biological clock that determines the life span, we must especially focus on the quality of life. It is an open secret that a period within which old people are incapable makes up 7.5 years for women and 5.4 years for men. "Scientists must focus on the following problems: why do old people lose independence and what can be done to guarantee them better psychophysical living conditions?"