When world class scientists and physicians call for a global project to modify human aging, it is time for policymakers in Washington and elsewhere to take notice.
An early salvo for translating aging research into potentially powerfully applications was launched this week in a peer-reviewed paper in Science Transitional Medicine . The paper outlines a strategy of harnessing metabolic and regenerative medicine interventions in the underlying causes of aging itself. The authors assert their strategy holds promise “to retard, arrest, and even reverse aging damage, extending and even restoring the period of youthful health and functionality in older people.” If a less prestigious group put forth such a sweeping proposal if might be written off as mere wishful thinking by naive dreamers. But the authors of this paper are some of the leading lights in the science of aging and geriatric medicine, including the late Dr. Robert N. Butler whose sudden death just days before publication lends a painfully poignant note to this story. Dr. Butler's untimely death also contributes a particular sense of urgency for moving the science of aging forward on all fronts. That medical control of aging is possible in mammals perhaps including our own species is now an orthodox view among gerontologists. That such efforts to reduce the human and economic toll of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, stroke and other rising geriatric conditions needs to be recognized and acted upon by government, industry, and the healthcare establishment. There will be more fuel to pour onto this fire in the months and years just ahead. For now we applaud those who are nurturing the early flames of hope, and we are profoundly grateful for the understanding and appreciation of aging given to us by Dr. Robert Butler.