Earlier this year, the second Scripps Florida Symposium was held and now this open access paper reports on the event. The title of of the event was ‘Advances in Therapeutic Approaches to Extend Healthspan’ and was held on January 22nd–25th, 2017 at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida.
It is once again very refreshing to see that the focus of the researchers here is now firmly on intervening on the various aging processes in order to prevent or treat age-related diseases. Less than a decade ago, suggesting addressing the aging processes to treat disease as a preventative form of medicine would have jeopardised the chances of funding, or even damaged a researcher’s career prospects.
Now, the majority of researchers are engaged in exploring the potential of increasing healthspan (the period of life spent free of age-related disease) with the aim of delaying or preventing age-related diseases.
The taboo of talking about doing something about aging
Whilst there is still resistance in academia to talk in public about the potential of these therapies leading to not only healthier but also longer lives, this is nonetheless a step in the right direction. The discussion has changed dramatically in the last decade and the taboo of targeting the aging process has largely been banished. This in our view is a good thing.
Only the most conservative scientists cling to the idea that nothing can be done about aging despite the mounting evidence suggesting otherwise.
The message that we can and should treat aging as a medical condition has spread widely in the research community and now efforts are turning to addressing this. This should really be no surprise, as rejuvenation biotechnology is simply medicine, the only difference being is that it operates from a preventative and repair approach in order to address age-related diseases.
Indeed we can see in this report that senescent cell clearance (senolytics) has been embraced by the scientific mainstream with great enthusiasm in the last year or so, an approach that was proposed by the SENS Research Foundation over a decade ago.
It has taken many years for the ideas proposed by Dr. Aubrey de Grey to filter down and gain wide acceptance, but in the light of increasing scientific evidence good scientists have adapted to the new data and begun to embrace a repair based approach to aging and age-related diseases.
Let us hope it does not take another ten years for researchers to accept that increasing healthspan may potentially increase lifespans.
Whilst we at LEAF do not support radical messaging in advocacy due to it being harmful, we also believe there is no shame or stigma in wanting to enjoy a healthier and longer life thanks to scientific progress. After all the goal of rejuvenation biotechnology is healthy, independent, and potentially longer lives, free from age-related disease and surely that is a goal worth striving for.