Would you want to live forever? Half of Silicon Valley sure does. Promising companies worldwide are racing to prolong human life, and some are even meddling with the idea of cheating death altogether. Famous futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted that the road to immortality would start in 2029, and we should reach singularity – being “one” with technology – in 2045. It sounds crazy, but then again, this is the man who predicted everything from Wi-Fi to autonomous vehicles.
Before even considering immortality, there’s a small hurdle: scientists have just calculated that even if we manage to avoid all diseases and health issues, a human can still “only” live up to 120 – 150 years.
Our body can’t live forever
The analysis published in Nature Communications suggests the aging process itself is essentially enough to “kill” you.
First of all, the scientists pointed out that as you get older, it takes longer for your body to recover, until, at some point, it cannot do it at all. When you’re 40, the recovery time is around two weeks. When you’re 90, it’s more than eight weeks.
“Finally, we noted, by extrapolation, that the recovery time would diverge and hence the resilience would be ultimately lost at the critical point at the age in the range of 120–150 years, thus indicating the absolute limit of human lifespan,” the scientists concluded.
The decay of the human body was evaluated based on two factors: the number of steps taken and changes in blood cell counts. At a certain point, scientists observed a loss of natural resilience in the body. Scientific American explains that while we can evaluate blood cell counts can objectively, step counts are quite subjective. However, the research team still found the same pattern of decline. That suggests “a real pace-of-aging factor in play across different domains”.
It’s downhill from 35
What’s interesting is that the age 35-40 seems to be the point where things go significantly south. Not so coincidentally, this is where careers of athletes and dancers often end. According to the researcher Timothy Pyrkov, that is “an indication that something in physiology may really be changing at this age.”
When the body completely loses its natural resilience, it means the end of the journey. So far, no one has reached the upper age limit outlined by the scientists. The oldest woman in history, Jeanne Calment, lived until 122.
The process of aging and decay seems very much inevitable for now. However, multiple companies are working hard to crack the equation of eternal life to enable humans to live forever. One of the promising candidates would be the aptly named Life Biosciences.
This February, the company announced new plans to reverse age-related diseases. They’ve in-licensed intellectual property related to two groundbreaking scientific studies. In one of them, scientists rejuvenated the damaged or aged cells in the eye with gene therapy. As a result, the nerves did grow back, and mice regained their vision.
This study was led by David Sinclair, co-founder of Life Biosciences, Harvard professor, and a trailblazer in the field of aging. The scientist who believes that aging is a disease did also comment on the new findings on maximum human lifespan. And what he said sounds a whole lot as a challenge accepted. “The investigation shows that recovery rate is an important signature of aging that can guide the development of drugs to slow the process and extend health span,” he said for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.
Do you keep wondering why anyone would bother to stick around on this planet forever? We’ll leave you with the words of Bryan Johnson, a visionary CEO of Kernel. “I think that we are the most primitive form of intelligence we can imagine and the moment we begin opening up our cognitive expanse, there’s an existence that if we knew we could get to we would do anything in the entire world to get to.”