Aubrey de Grey is a scientist with The Methuselah Foundation. He's got a background in computer science. He has used his engineering mindset to come up with an engineering approach to stop the aging process dead in its tracks (pun intended). This will allow humanity to stay young forever and live an indefinate lifespan.
A few years ago, Aubrey began digging around in scientific publications in order to find out what exactly causes us to age. As it turns out, there are only 7 major processes that cause our bodies to become old and wither away.
Why is he so sure there are only 7? Because the last one of those 7 has been found over 20 years ago. And 20 years just so happens to be an eternity in science. Had there been more aging processes in our bodies, science would have surely found some of those more recently.
The seven things that slowly kill us over time are:
- Too few cells
- Too many cells (cancer)
- Chromosomal mutations (dna corruption)
- Mitochondrial mutations (another type of dna corruption)
- Junk inside cells
- Junk outside cells
- Protein crosslinking outside of cells
And that's basically it. Tweak all of those so they don't do damage anymore, and you've got yourself a non-aging human.
A huge task, but peanuts compared to the impossible task that some researchers, with the impractical researcher mindset that doesn't aim for application in practice, would have you believe.
For details, check Aubrey's site on SENS (Strategies for Engineering Negligible Senescence). Everything is explained there, from the technical stuff to the most basic of immortality-related concerns.
Aubrey's SENS has had some criticism. Nobody ever manages to build a solid case against SENS, but some keep critisizing it anyway. So Aubrey has issued a challenge in July 2005. Anybody who can construct a solid case against SENS, can win 20.000 dollars. Easy money... you'd think. Strangely, nobody has picked up the challenge yet.
Gee, I wonder why. ;)
In order to get enough funds available to engineer immortality in humans, Aubrey first wants to implement it in a mouse. Once the world has seen that it is possible to seriously intervene in the aging process, the funds will surely flow. Human immortality should come no more than a few years behind rodent immortality. Aubrey thinks it is achievable in about 25 years.
In order to achieve the world's first immortal mouse within the next 10 years, Aubrey has come up with the Methuselah Mouse Prize. The M-Prize can be donated to, and whoever demonstrates a record life extension in mice receives a financial prize.
History shows this is a very succesful model. The Ansari X-Prize for cheap spaceflights has collected several millions over several years. Those cheap spaceflights were made not too long ago.
The M-Prize is growing much faster than the X-Prize did in its day. At the moment, it is at 3.209.275 dollars. That's impressive, especially if you consider that the M-Prize has only been around for about 2.5 years. It was at only just below 2 million not so long ago, but a generous and anonimous donater put an extra million on there and pushed it towards the 3 million. Now, it has already climbed up to 3.2 million.
Aubrey has recently had some nice exposure when he went on CBS 60 Minutes (America's most popular news program, or so I've read). An inside friend of mine tells me this appearance was a really big deal, and site hits increased massively. It is fascinating to see all of this coming into the mainstream. The interviewer, Morley Safer, took Aubrey seriously. No laughing and pointing fingers at his 'crackpot' ideas. Not bad if you consider that the word 'immortality' has only been accepted in scientific circles a few years ago.
It will be extremely interesting to see this pick up even more and more in the years to come.
Statistics show that curing diseases such as cancer and diabetes will only prolong our lives by a few measly years, while intercepting aging itself will increase our lifespans with decades. We're losing 100.000 people per day to old age. The world sorely needs a cure for aging. It's about time we got practical and efficient, and pump our research dollars where they matter... into anti-aging research.
Wanna help turn this into a reality?
Spread the meme. That is very important. Tell all your friends and relatives. Post about it on your favorite forum.
Know any rich folks? Enlighten them and talk them into donating to the M-Prize.
Do whatever it takes to let it be known to the world that we can stop aging and live healthily for as long as we like. Let it be known that this is for real, and that the science behind immortality is as solid as a ton of bricks.
Together... we can take on death.