Technology to enable longevity is around the corner

Technology has been improving human life since decades. Most aspects of human life have been enhanced by technology. Everything from airplanes, to telephones, to radios, to smartphones, have morphed our lives. We are able to do more in our lives than previous generations. We are also living longer as life expectancy is increasing throughout the world. However, people are unwell for longer periods in their life even though they live longer. While life spans have increased, healthy part of life has not increased in the same proportion. So people are spending significant portions of life under care. Most of the healthcare spending is in the area of caring and treating older people. What we need to focus on now is extending the healthy life, so people enjoy the extended life. Technology has helped us understand the aging process and explore ways to slow the aging process.

Aging has to do more with Physics than Biology. If you buy a new car, it will wear down over time. You will need to repair some parts and replace others. The human body also wears out and needs repairs. Cell division occurs in the body as old cells die and new ones take their place. Sometimes old cells stay around. These are the senescent cells. They stick around and cause harm to other neighboring cells, in turn causing a lot of problems. We have learned that killing these cells leads to healthier lives. We could soon see pills that you can take to kill the senescent cells in your body, resulting in a overall healthier life with lesser sickness.

Another aspect is decreasing production of NAD+ in our body as we age. NAD+ is a useful coenzyme produced in our body that keeps our body functioning correctly. Scientists have tried making pills that introduce extra NAD+ in our body. But this did not work because it was unable to reach the places in the body where it needed to go. We have recently learned that we could inject other substitutes to NAD+ in our body which is able to reach the right areas, and that our body is able to convert into the NAD+ coenzyme. This means we can have plenty of NAD+ in our body as we age, keeping us healthier.

Finally, we are making progress towards stem cell research. With regenerative medicine, we can study how stem cells create tissue and design therapy to introduce new stem cells in the body that can be made into tissue. This will further help in having a healthier life. None of these technologies are the single solution to combat the aging process, but all of them combined can be used to slow the aging process and increase the healthier life spans in a person’s life. We are seeing a lot of advancements in this area and it might be the next big technological solution that shapes our lives.