Will this new technology be only available to the rich?

Like the majority of new technologies, those with wealth will initially be those who are able to afford it. However, we believe that the treatments will become very shortly after available to everybody, and the reason for that is straightforward: Economics. Unlike todays high tech medicine, which simply spends massively money on keeping (old) people alive in a bad state of health for a little longer than they otherwise would. Right now, around 20% of the population (in industrialised nations) are past the age of 65, yet they consume more than 50% of the total health care expenditure (€200+ billion  alone in Germany). Unlike in this case, this medicine is going to pay for itself, because its going to keep people alive in a good state of health where they can continue to contribute wealth to the society rather than just consuming wealth. And of course whereby their loved ones are not going to have a lot of productivity by virtue looking after their elderly parents etc.  Effectively its gonna be economical suicidal for any country to make this treatments not available for a very low cost or even for free.


We can’t become immortal, we will overpopulate

Even without achieving indefinate livespans, we are still set to face challenges due to population increases. Currently an estimated 7.5 billion people are alive – a number which has more than tripled in the past hundred years. In any case, we need to make sure we are prepared for the increasing population. The main problem of overpopulation is not simply of having a certain number of people, it‘s a problem of having too more people than the planet can sustain, and that number changes as a result of technology. Food technologies are experiencing drastical advancements right now. But even today, there is more food available than all people on the planet need, still not everyone has access to it, the problem is and will not be about the supply, but about the distribution, the issue is absolutely unrelated.


Physical Living Space: Right now 50% of the worlds population live on only 1% of the land-surface. There is way more land to build on, and we can build upwards, and we can build cities on oceans, and soon we can build on other planets.
In addition, all industrial civilisations have a highly decreasing birthrate. And in the near future all remaining developing countries will undergo the demographic transition that stabilizes population sizes. Moreover women can have children before their menopause sets in, in the future they can have the choice to have them whenever they want.


What, specifically, does it take to treat aging?

There are two approaches how it can be done. 

1. Clean up the mess
It is clear that aging is the accumulation of damage in our cells and body, being embodied by what we call age-related diseases. One approach is to fight these symptoms of aging we all are familiar with. There are seven variables that lead to aging and there is research going on into every one of them right now (some more than others).

- Loss and atrophy or degeneration of cells.
- Accumulation of cells that are not wanted.
- Mutations in chromosomes.
- Mutations in mitochondria.
- The accumulation of »junk« within the cell.
- The accumulation of »junk« outside the cell.
- Cross-links in proteins outside the cell.
Once we can fix all seven of these things, we are done abolishing physical aging. With this approach it will be necessary to periodically remove these accumulated damages from our bodies, but that will be a small price to pay for near-immortality.

 

2. Keep it clean
Those symptoms of aging have all one common root cause, an inefficient cell-maintenance (homeostasis). There is strong evidence that aging and longevity are controlled by a multiplicity of molecular and cellular signaling events that interface with environmental factors to maintain cellular homeostasis. A decline of our cells capacity to keep high-efficient homeostasis leads to dysfunction of specific cell types and tissues, rendering the organism susceptible to a range of chronic diseases. Such decline is only possible through an intrinsic over-time alteration of our gene-expression. 
The only way to stop this from happening is, to determine which specific genes are involved in this process, so that their expression-setting can be reprogrammed, ultimately making you stay and look young without a time-limit. This method would require the least maintenance with maybe only even a one time treatment, but this is the high-end method and there will be probably others before

 

Like any technology, when it first starts off, it will be a bit shaky, a bit risky, it will be very laborious and expensive, but there will be enormous market pressures that will result in progressive refinement and improvement to the technology so that it becomes more effective and convenient.


How long could we live with this technological advancement?

Potentially forever, however, if you had never seen any mortality statistics, you might subscribe to what‘s called the “lightning bolt theory” of mortality.  In this view, death is the result of a sudden and unexpected event over which you have no control.  It’s sort of an ancient Greek perspective: there are angry gods carousing carelessly overhead, and every so often they hurl a lightning bolt towards Earth, which kills you if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  These are the “lightning bolts” of disease and cancer and car accidents, things that you can escape for a long time if you’re lucky but will eventually catch up to you.
Your probability of dying during a given year would be constant, and wouldn’t increase from one year to the next. From current statistics this probability for the populations of the UK [1] and USA [2] is somewhere around 0,05% per year (varying on location and lifestyle)
Taking it to numbers with such mortality rate, out of 1 mio people today, 950.000 would still be alive after 100 years, 780.000 after 500 years and around 600.000 in 1000 years. And then after ten thousand awesome years- if you are lucky - you can still hang out with your 6.000 best fellas.

Statistic Sources::

[1] Deaths Registered in England and Wales (Series DR), 2012«. Office for National Statistics. 2013-10-22.
[2] SL Murphy, J Xu, and KD Kochanek (2013-05-08). »Deaths: Final Data for 2010« (PDF). US: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Won‘t life get boring if I live for a long time?

It depends, does life bore you now? If life bores you now, then chances might be good that it will continue to bore you, but living a long time should not affect that. Many people have commented that given all they know about today, there is enough to keep them busy for 10 lifetimes (of current time spans). Think of all the wonderful things that you have yet to experience in today‘s world. Can you honestly say that you have traveled everywhere, tried everything, and experienced life as much as you would want, just given today‘s state of affairs? Wouldn‘t you like to stick around to see a society of unlimited resources, energy, health and wealth? Think of anything and everything that you have ever wanted to do. Now, take into account anything and everything you will think of to do in the next 10, 100, 1000 years. Over a long enough time period, anything is possible. Imagine the possibility of private space travel, undersea exploration, few survival pressures, and anything else you can imagine. Society has been progressing faster and faster (think all the accomplishments in just the last 100 years), why is there any reason to believe that you will get bored if you live a long time? The answer is, there is no reason.


If lifespan is increased, won’t this lead to more years of sickness and infirmity?

No, the objective of this regenerative medicine is not to extend life in a miserable condition as it has been done in the past few decades. Addressing the aging-process at its source will not only improve lifespan but also healthspan. As a side effect, people will not express the signs of aging anymore (like age-related diseases and wrinkles). Furthermore it will be possible for old individuals to become young again - rejuvenate. Again, this is not science fiction (at least not anymore), but simply the advance of biotechnology.


Shouldn’t we solve world hunger, pollution and poverty first?

No, because society is quite able to tackle all these problems at the same time. These issues that trouble society are of course serious issues but there is no reason why all these problems and more cannot be dealt with at the same time.  After all, the division of labor is one of the most important achievements of our civilisation, which can ensure that we can tackle many problems at once. We, the HIP team, choose to help solving the problem of aging - which, in turn, can help in solving such problems as poverty and hunger, because if a person is healthy and able to study and work, he or she can avoid poverty and hunger.


Shouldn’t we cure first cancer first, Alzheimer’s, Heart disease etc… ?

No. Most of the severe non-communicable diseases like cancer or Alzheimer have one unique root cause: aging. In a sense, these diseases are just symptoms of aging. To study aging and to developing the treatments to address the processes that underlie aging is more productive, as such treatments can prevent many age-related diseases at once - instead of spending resources to treat diseases. 


Isn’t increasing human lifespan unnatural?

We have always sought ways to extend healthy human lifespans, even basic hygiene like washing your hands, first aid, antibiotics, immunisation and any form of medicine, preventative, emergency and chronic are all steps in this direction. Effective ways of food production and transportation also play a big role in life extension. In fact, during the last two centuries, human lifespan has increased more than twofold, all thanks to the scientific and technical progress of our civilization. So if you are older than 35, you have already crossed the line of natural average lifespans due to these improvements in medicine, hygiene and sanitation.  

But let us change the focus. Let us think about what is good for us and what is not. We believe that being healthy is good. Being able to maintain health is good. Defeating severe diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, heart disease and other age-related diseases is good. What people usually are afraid of when they question the naturalness of life extension is the novelty of the idea. As a species we are inclined to be cautious towards new ideas until we know the consequences. The best way to let that fear go away is to think how a long and healthy life will affect you personally and also society as a whole.  

The specialists who make such predictions are confident that we can all benefit from developing longevity technologies: we can become healthier, live longer, and free lifelong education models will make us all smarter and increase our financial well-being. 
And since we have the tools now to tackle aging do it, it even would be amoral not to do it. 


If I live longer, will that mean I have to work longer? How will this affect my pension?

Probably, but you will be enjoying life in a body that is functionally younger and healthier. We consider this a more than reasonable exchange, considering the benefits of longer healthy life spent with family, children and friends and enjoying the things you love. 
Being physically younger, healthier and physically active, you will have more time to build a pension should you need one. We consider longer life in a healthy functionally younger body to be ample compensation for not retiring as soon as people do today. If you are fit and healthy why would you want to stop working, learning and enjoying a full life?

It is true that, at present, apart from becoming physically aged and lacking vigour and energy, one reason people might want to retire is having become bored of their jobs. However if a person has increased physical youth there would be nothing to stop them saving for a period of retraining. Alternatively, some people theorise that in a future with increased lifespans it would be logical to pay into a pension scheme allowing about 10 years of rest or retraining, so as to start a new working period feeling refreshed and enthusiastic again. 


Where will be the main part of research be done and why?

It’s pretty clear that several countries in Europe, the USA and one or two countries elsewhere, are at the forefront of developments in these medical technologies in regenerative medicine. But they can’t do everything. We have to recognize that there are very good academic, clinical, and commercial entities all around the world. And we think it is appropriate that we interact with them in order to get the best of everything.
In our industrialized countries are - sometimes understandably - many limitations and barriers to how far and how fast specific research can go. And there are opportunities in other parts of the world where there are different formats and different styles. Part of our rationale is to try to get the best of all possible academic and clinical opportunities in different parts of the world. For example, Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan, have a somewhat different attitude, and they are not trying to move things faster or do things cheaper or less rigorously, but they have very different sets of principles than both the FDA and the European Union do.