What is ageing? Can we delay it?

We carried out an unusual research project which involved interviewing eight respected biogerontologists to identify current knowledge about the biology of ageing, which treatments may show promise in delaying the ageing process, and what they see as the future outcomes from scientific research on this topic.

We supplemented these expert views with evidence from published studies on the effectiveness of the most promising new anti-ageing treatments, and developed a model to show what this might mean for the extension of human lifespan in the future. From this research we have been able to build up a picture of the latest developments in this area.

Our experts tended to agree on which possible factors are important in understanding the biology of ageing. However, they did not necessarily agree on which are the most important components of the ageing process, or on which interventions might have the greatest potential for extending lifespan.

Our goal for this project was to produce a report about the complex processes involved in ageing. We wanted it to be accessible to a wide spectrum of readers, not just those involved in academic study. It has been an important example of teamwork - bringing together Panel members with their different disciplines, the eight scientific experts, a leading social research organisation, medical writers, actuaries and modellers, among others.

This third paper from LSP, “ What is ageing? Can we delay it? examines the potential impact on society, and the diverse and sometimes contradictory views of the potential for intervening in the process of ageing to extend life expectancy. The Longevity Science Panel have commissioned this report to clarify the science behind ageing, to make this information accessible to a wide audience, and to start a discussion about the potential for various interventions to make a difference to the ageing process.

This report is based on the opinions of leading scientists who have been studying the biology of ageing. We have supplemented their views with some key evidence from the results of recent research into ageing, and have developed a model to illustrate what the impact of different treatments might be on our lifespan. It is being published because the Panel is keen to share its conclusions with others and to support the continuing debate regarding the implications of ageing. In addition, the Panel is very keen to hear from others working on any related research which can aid understanding and be recognised in our future work. Please email us at longevity@landg.com if you wish to do so.

Click to access a press release about the paper Press release - What is ageing? Can we delay it? 

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The entry for rodents in table 7 should read:

“Increased lifespan by between 14% and 45% in rats, and between 4% and 27% in mice. The rate of ageing appears to be reduced, but not the vulnerability to ageing. (57)(58). “ 

"If there is a continued sharp improvement in longevity, it will open up all sorts of public issues."