Unlocking the Secrets of Longevity

Unfortunately, achieving the same effect in humans with Resveratrol would require drinking hundreds of bottles of a wine a day, which is why Sinclair has founded a company to develop a molecule he hopes would be "1,000 times more potent" than Resveratrol.

As longevity researchers look to build on such promising findings, others in the scientific community are more cautious and warn that there may be some drawbacks to living to, say, 120.

David Meltzer, a medical economist at the University of Chicago, sees a possible scenario where people live longer, but have less enjoyable lives.

"One of the most obvious downsides," Meltzer said, "is that you also get extra years of life in retirement where you are consuming, but not earning, which means more money needs to be saved, rather than spent, in order to support yourself during those years."

"Living longer and living better aren't necessarily the same thing economically," he added.

Despite the potential benefits and pitfalls, the science of life extension is still very much in its infancy. Clinical studies, which have shown promise in animals, have yet to be duplicated in humans.

Also, tweaking the genetic circuitry that regulates aging may have limitations. Sinclair, who thinks a life-extending drug will come in the next decade, admits that he doesn't foresee a doubling or tripling of life span because the technology can't stretch it beyond a certain point.

"I would imagine people would be able to live about five to 10 years longer," said Sinclair.

"But I'd take an extra five quality years any day. Wouldn't you?"

Learn more at www.worldsciencefestival.com

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