LONDON, England, Friday May 1, 2015 – Just weeks after Austrian researchers declared that old age has now been pushed back until 74 because of advances in health and medicine, an anti-ageing expert has expressed the conviction that he will live to be 150 or older.
The director of the UK-based Biogerontology Research Foundation think-tank, Dr Alex Zhavoronkov, believes that medical advancements and the widespread use of antibiotics mean that life expectancy is now much greater than is generally thought.
Dr Zhavoronkov, who is also a professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, heads the laboratory of regenerative medicine at the Federal Clinical Research Centre for Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology in Moscow.
He is also the co-founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine, a biotech company dedicated to drug discovery for cancer and aging located at Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
In order to maximise his chance of living to a ripe old age and concentrate on anti-ageing research, Dr Zhavoronkov takes 100 different drugs and supplements each day, exercises regularly, goes for frequent check-ups and monitors his own blood biochemistry and cell counts. He also vaccinates as soon as vaccines become available and claims to have “suppressed cravings” for marriage, children and material assets.
The 37-year-old scientist believes the biggest ageing culprits are not biological, but economic, social and behavioural and that much of the battle still lies in people’s heads.
“The toughest level of ageing to address is psychological aging,” he indicated.
“People are evolved to accept their certain decline and demise and human behaviour and attitude to life changes throughout life and events like childbirth or retirement trigger many processes that are very difficult to reverse.
“People form their longevity expectations primarily using their family history and country averages and are not prepared to change their expectations quickly,” he added.
Zhavoronkov nevertheless thinks that even people past their 70s, who are in good health, have a “fighting chance” to live past 150.
“All of the supercentenarians alive today lived through tough times, when no antibiotics were available and our understanding of human biology was not that far from the Stone Age,” he pointed out.
“Longevity of these people is attributed mostly to luck and stress resistance attributed to multiple factors including genetics.
“But people alive today will soon see the fruits of biomedical research come to market and gradually reduce mortality from many diseases and extend healthy longevity.
“I think that in two-three years we will have effective pharmacological solutions based on already approved drugs that will help people remain younger and healthier until other advances in regenerative medicine and gene therapy become available to further extend their longevity,” he maintained.
Zhavoronkov is convinced that rapid advances in medicines and technology will make it possible to extend human lives well beyond the evolutionary necessity of surviving long enough to reproduce.
“Even if you look at the previous century, life expectancies in developed countries doubled even without major technological interventions,” he said.
“So unless our civilization suffers a major blow from one of the catastrophic events like a global economic crisis, rise of militant religions or bioterrorism, many people alive today will be living extraordinarily long lives and take an active role in further human evolution.”