Rejuvenating the Immune System
Aubrey De Grey: Rejuvenating the Immune System of the Elderly Could Give Them a Fighting Chance Against Infectious Diseases Like Coronavirus.
Like most of us, Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist, has had his run-ins with coronavirus. His wife caught the virus in January while in China. A little later, his stepdaughter contracted the virus while in the United Kingdom. Both recovered, now de Grey is staying at home in the mountains of Silicon Valley with his supplies, pursuing his life’s work — the fight against aging.
While de Grey believes that governments across the world are doing what they can to help slow the spread of the disease, there’s one thing they’re not talking about, and that’s aging. It has become clear that the elderly population, especially those with underlying conditions, are at an increased risk of contracting coronavirus. Because of this, de Grey has pushed his passion into overdrive to find the cure for aging. He wants us to think of the elderly who contract coronavirus as persons fighting at least two diseases: aging, COVID-19, as well as any other underlying conditions.
What is Age?
Aging isn’t inevitable, natural, or universal, according to de Grey. He thinks of it as any other medical problem and believes science can beat it, and humans can live long and healthy lives past 100 years old. In the wake of coronavirus,de Grey believes that medical professionals will take a closer look at the effects of aging, lending credence to his cause. “Aging is a medical problem that everybody already has, and the problem is, we don’t think about it that way,” he says. “If we did, then we would be in a much better place in terms of the speed at which we are developing medicine to combat it.”
He is the Chief Science Officer of the SENS Research Foundation, which primarily focuses on developing regenerative medical therapies. He is also an author of Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime, and the VP of New Technology Discovery at AgeX Therapeutics, Inc., where he furthers his quest to combat aging. World leaders like Larry Ellison of Oracle, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, among others, have supported de Grey’s gerontology research and developments.
The Future of Health
Unfortunately, coronavirus has already taken over a hundred thousand lives. But de Grey sees a teachable moment within the chaos. He sees more emphasis on medicines and health care initiatives to help people with old age.
“We should concentrate our minds and influence the decision-makers of the importance of therapy to keep people healthy later in life,” he says. Therapies would help aging immune systems fight off infections, diseases, and cancers. “While there has been quite a bit of progress in these areas in certain parts of the world in figuring out how we might do this, we still have quite a way to go, and the hope is this will spur more activity and spending.”
Better Understanding of Aging
He believes people’s response to the pandemic will help save lives in the next 10 to 20 years. More attention placed on senior health and aging will only benefit his rejuvenation efforts. While some of de Grey’s research plans to extend the age of humans by hundreds of years, he believes that the focus should be on human health and not the length of life.
“Health is not controversial,” he says. Some critics of de Grey’s ideologies say that fighting aging and increasing the lives of many would burden our health care system. He argues that healthy people make the world a better place and should not be condemned for wanting to live the best life possible.
“This isn’t about longevity, this is about health,” he maintains. “People focus on longevity a lot … but the fact is longevity is not what we work on. Longevity is merely a side effect of staying healthy.”
In a worse case coronavirus scenario, de Grey says lives are lost, and agencies around the world refuse to make changes to preparation when it comes to pandemics, vaccinations, and a burdened healthcare system.
“I see this as potentially quite a big silver lining when it comes to the longer-term future of this crisis,” he observes. “[Coronavirus] will kill a lot of people directly, and it will kill a bunch of people indirectly by virtue of the fact that the economy has taken a big hit. But the hope is that when we come out of this, we will have an enhanced level of rationality with regard to health.”
In essence, de Grey views the pandemic as similar to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In both instances, the nation was attacked without much warning and had to pick up the pieces. “After 9/11, there was an enormous amount of effort put into prevention for a while, and then things returned to normal.” He adds, “In a way that’s not bad because now we have enormously increased levels of profiling to minimize the risk of terroristic events. If the same thing occurs with the coronavirus and pandemics, as well as healthcare in general, it will be a positive that comes out of this extreme crisis.”
Learn more about Aubrey de Grey and his ground-breaking research on ending aging on Throomers.com.