Indefinite lifespan can be achieved by 2020, experts say
By Dick Pelletier
"Your monthly body scan reveals damaged heart muscles, placing you at risk for a heart attack. No problem – your doctor prescribes a "supersonic drug gun” that propels regenerative protein molecules into the bloodstream. The new materials immediately bind to damaged heart-muscle cells, touching off a chemical reaction that prompts your body to make new cells, restoring you to perfect health.”
Though this scenario may sound like science fiction, it’s not. Hydra Biosciences’ Glenn Larsen says his company has already demonstrated successful experiments of this procedure with rats, and they hope to gain approval for human trials "within a few years.”
This futuristic technology falls under the heading of regenerative medicine, which researchers believe can one day be harnessed to regenerate every failing tissue, bone, and organ in the human body.
"Derived from biology, biochemistry, physics, engineering and other disciplines, this new field has the potential to extend healthy human life indefinitely”, says stem cell biologist Atilla Chordash. By as early as mid-2020s, forward-thinkers believe that regenerative medicine could eliminate nearly all diseases – even aging. The leading causes of death in the future will be from accidents, crime, and wars.
The U.S. government agrees with this upbeat assessment. A recent report declared the next evolution of healthcare to be regenerative medicine. This announcement prompted officials to create the Federal Initiative for Regenerative Medicine (FIRM), with the aggressive goal of providing tissues and organs "on demand” for every American by as early as 2020.
Beyond the obvious health benefits of regenerative medicine, this technology is desperately needed to combat rising medical expenses, which today totals $1.5 trillion annually. FIRM hopes to provide direction and resources for this wonder technology and allow private industry to focus on developing products that will lower the nation’s healthcare costs.
Commerce drives this revolutionary industry forward, with over 200 companies worldwide creating products. Revenues totaled only $16.5 million in 2006, but according to a report from the second annual Stem Cell Summit Conference in San Diego, are expected to skyrocket to $8.5 billion by 2015.
How about today’s humans – will this wonder technology arrive in time to benefit us? In his recent book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, Futurist Ray Kurzweil explains how we can "bootstrap” our way to an indefinite lifespan by maintaining good health today, then letting biotech and nanotech miracles rejuvenate our bodies and minds over the next two decades.
Advocates believe that now is the time to embrace this technology by creating a framework for the next generation of healthcare. By doing so, America can make tissue and organ failure a relic of its ancient past.
Will an indefinite life span ever become reality? Experts say it will. To stay alive is a basic human drive, a precondition for all other activities. Life-extension is the natural progression of medicine, from slowing down diseases and the effects of aging, to preventing them altogether. It even follows instructions laid down by most religions: "Human life is sacred and should be cherished and preserved”.
So, get ready for an incredible era that will add many healthy and exciting years to your life. Enjoy what promises to be a most "magical future.”
This article appeared in various print publications and on-line blogs. Comments always welcome.