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Aging Is a Disease; Treat It Like One 625

theodp writes "In a letter to Sergey Brin, Maria Konovalenko urges the Google founder to pursue his interest in the topics of aging and longevity. 'Defeating or simply slowing down aging,' writes Konovalenko, 'is the most useful thing that can be done for all the people on the planet.' Calling for research into longevity gene therapy, extending lifespan pharmacologically, and studying close species that differ significantly in lifespan, Konovalenko says 'it is crucial to make numerous medical organizations recognize aging as a disease. If medical organizations were to recognize aging as a disease, it could significantly accelerate progress in studying its underlying mechanisms and the development of interventions to slow its progress and to reduce age-related pathologies. The prevailing regard for aging as a "natural process" rather than a disease or disease-predisposing condition is a major obstacle to development and testing of legitimate anti-aging treatments. This is the largest market in the world, since 100% of the population in every country suffers from aging.'"
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Aging Is a Disease; Treat It Like One

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  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:36PM (#44589031)

    How fabulous! If we cure aging, then we'll get to have WAR all of the fucking time because of the population pressure.

    Or we can reserve anti-aging treatments for the rich and privileged.

  • Tithonus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jonyen ( 2633919 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:44PM (#44589105)
    Make sure you ask for eternal youth.

    "when Eos asked Zeus to make Tithonus immortal, she forgot to ask for eternal youth. Tithonus indeed lived forever 'but when loathsome old age pressed full upon him, and he could not move nor lift his limbs, this seemed to her in her heart the best counsel: she laid him in a room and put to the shining doors. There he babbles endlessly, and no more has strength at all, such as once he had in his supple limbs.'" (Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite) []
  • pandora's box (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asmkm22 ( 1902712 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:44PM (#44589111)

    As much as I like the idea of a longer life, there is simply no way our planet will support it. Which means it would be a perk for the wealthy and influential, rather than the unwashed masses. Nothing good could come from that.

    • Re:pandora's box (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:49PM (#44589185)

      Who cares what 'our planet' will support?

      99.9999999999999999999999999999% of all the resources in the universe start a few hundred thousand miles above our heads. The Earth is insignificant in the long term, and as immortals you have to think in the long term.

      • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

        And until we've gotten a permanent civilization off this Earth, let alone one that will absorb vast increases in population, we have to think of the Earth as the limit of what we have with which to sustain ourselves.

      • And we've shown such an ability to get to those resources.

        Not only do you not seem to understand exponential functions, you seem to have a bit of an issue with basic concepts such as gravity.

        Reading science fiction is a wonderful hobby. Just don't mistake it for reality.

      • "99.9999999999999999999999999999% of all the resources in the universe start a few hundred thousand miles above our heads."

        Yes and you have not asked the question of whether it is cost efficient to get at those resources, i.e. by your comment you think getting at those at those resources is going to be space magic. I have serious doubts you've investigated the energy economics of space travel and ferrying space meteorites/debris back and forth across the solar system.

  • Missing a step (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davidbrit2 ( 775091 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:45PM (#44589119) Homepage
    You're going to have to "cure" starvation due to crushing population growth first.
  • by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:45PM (#44589121)

    The statement "Defeating or simply slowing down aging is the most useful thing that can be done for all the people on the planet." is nonsense, if we do not first deal with the issues of , oh, for example, sex slavery (wouldn't it be GREAT to be forced to live 150 years as a sex slave?). How 'bout getting more people to a healthy 70, free of autoimmune diseases and cancer, well nourished, with a decent roof over their heads, and decent care for injury and illness? Could we, somehow, free the millions (if not billions) of women trapped in archaic, abusive societies?

    We don't have enough decent-paying employment on the planet to support the population we have now, and you're going to double the number of years someone has to support themselves? Where do we find those jobs?

    Maria Konovalenko has a serious case of aerobic encephalitis.

    • Science is easy. Changing the behaviour and social traditions of a huge chunk of the world population that sees nothing wrong with their ways isn't.
      I think it's a better idea to stick to the science. More scientific knowledge always has absolute value, while changing the behaviour of people relies on morals, and is therefore clearly of subjective value.

    • Actually there are some promising age-extending gene therapies being demonstrated in simple invertebrates that, if they could be translated to humans, actually appear to drastically slow most age-related diseases right along with the more obvious cosmetic and metabolic effects - as in that 70 year old will still mostly be in as good a shape as today's 35 year old. Now if we coupled those technologies with a dystopian "report to the death clinic on your 100th birthday" we could all live long, healthy, produ

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:54PM (#44589247) Journal

    Aging is a tradeoff. Cell reproduction and functions build up more errors at higher churn rates (metabolism). The end result is cancer. The alternative is to slow processes down to reduce the error rate, but slowing stuff down means parts start to not work right. Thus, we either die of organ failure or of cancer. There's no free lunch.

    The only "fix" would be artificial error correction so that metabolism can be set to normal (30-year-old-like), and that's several decades away, at least.

    • Well, if you're immortal, you don't have to worry about a several decade delay.

      Oh. Wait.

    • Some organisms have cells that do not age.

  • is the most useful thing that can be done for all the people on the planet.

    Most people won't be able to afford gene therapy or "phamacology". Lots of people can't even find enough to eat and/or can't stay well long enough to die from our current old age.

  • What ever happened to hunger is a disease, treat it like one? That was too hard I guess: []

  • 'is the most useful thing that can be done for all the *super rich* people on the planet.'

    Dumbass. Should be fucking shot.

  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <> on Friday August 16, 2013 @07:46PM (#44589831)

    largest market

    Those two words tell you everything you need to know about the motivations of Maria Konovalenko and why she would make such an appeal to a guy with very deep pockets.

    Also, I can "recognize", say, unwanted body hair as a disease, but all that means is that I'm delusional; my recognition doesn't make it so.

  • by Alejux ( 2800513 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @07:49PM (#44589879)
    According to some commentators here. If you consider aging a gift and not a disease, then you must consider a gift the suffering imposed on the elderly and the trillions of dollars that are spent in treating all these "natural" diseases. People who want to grow senile and dependent on help of strangers to eat their soup, can go f*ck themselves! I rather be strong and productive when I'm in my nineties.
  • by FGT ( 2741971 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @08:44PM (#44590261)
    We seem to have quite a few people on /. who think dying is a good thing. Makes me wonder why they are spending time posting rather than just ending their lives. Oh, it's other people dying that they think is good (or themselves far enough in the future it doesn't seem real). Well, I could try to change their minds but they are entitled to their opinion. It is also one way to avoid any dramatic population increases as all the death fans check out at the age they feel is 'right'. Is that the average lifespan for Africa, North America, the current lifespan or that of just 100 years ago? Everyone picks their own? Nobody wants increased years of pain and suffering at the end of their lives. Unfortunately, that is what our medical system offers now with intrusive and expensive last ditch interventions in diseases caused by aging. In contrast, all the anti-aging research (whether slowing damage or repairing damage) would, if successful, extend the healthy years, not the unhealthy ones. Any increases in longevity are almost a side effect of that extension of healthy years. So, death fans, you check out on your schedule. Over time what should be left is a world of healthy, happy, wise, experienced people who are interested in the world and grateful to be alive.
  • by NormAtHome ( 99305 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @11:58PM (#44591369)

    Really, I honestly don't care if I live to be 70, 80 or 90 but what I do care about is quality of life. I'd take perfect health, no bad knee, no bad back, no arthritis, no shoulder problems and if that meant I dropped dead by the time I was 75 then so be it and at least I'd be better able to enjoy my life rather than being in endless pain in one way or another.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan