(Reuters) – If Aubrey de Grey’s predictions are right, the first person who will live to see their 150th birthday has already been born. And the first person to live for 1,000 years could be less than 20 years younger.
A biomedical gerontologist and chief scientist of a foundation dedicated to longevity research, de Grey reckons that within his own lifetime doctors could have all the tools they need to “cure” aging — banishing diseases that come with it and extending life indefinitely.
“I’d say we have a 50/50 chance of bringing aging under what I’d call a decisive level of medical control within the next 25 years or so,” de Grey said in an interview before delivering a lecture at Britain’s Royal Institution academy of science.
“And what I mean by decisive is the same sort of medical control that we have over most infectious diseases today.”
De Grey sees a time when people will go to their doctors for regular “maintenance,” which by then will include gene therapies, stem cell therapies, immune stimulation and a range of other advanced medical techniques to keep them in good shape.
De Grey lives near Cambridge University where he won his doctorate in 2000 and is chief scientific officer of the non-profit California-based SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Foundation, which he co-founded in 2009.
He describes aging as the lifelong accumulation of various types of molecular and cellular damage throughout the body.
“The idea is to engage in what you might call preventative geriatrics, where you go in to periodically repair that molecular and cellular damage before it gets to the level of abundance that is pathogenic,” he explained.
Exactly how far and how fast life expectancy will increase in the future is a subject of some debate, but the trend is clear. An average of three months is being added to life expectancy every year at the moment and experts estimate there could be a million centenarians across the world by 2030.
To date, the world’s longest-living person on record lived to 122 and in Japan alone there were more than 44,000 centenarians in 2010.
Some researchers say, however, that the trend toward longer lifespan may falter due to an epidemic of obesity now spilling over from rich nations into the developing world.