Futurism Part IV: Longevity
by Ralph Broadwater, MD, CFP®, AIF®
One of the most disruptive changes in society is the study of aging and longevity research. There will be a ripple effect in every aspect of society as our health care system changes and people live much longer. Many in this field of longevity research believe that science will have stopped aging in the next 5-10 years, and that within 20 years we will have developed the tools to reverse aging.
If true, it is likely that your children will live to be 150, and healthy.
In 2013 a seminal paper appeared in the journal Cell titled, The Hallmarks of Aging. This paper remains the most cited work in the field of longevity research. In this paper the authors described the nine hallmarks of aging. It provided a framework for understanding the aging process, and outlined the main areas to concentrate research to design solutions to prevent and reverse aging.
Artificial intelligence, analysis of big data, the ability to sequence the human genome (at low cost), nanotechnology, and advances in cloning, stem cell research, and gene therapy have allowed for rapid scientific progress. We are developing a fuller understanding of aging, and developing strategies in humans to slow, delay, and reverse aging.
There are now over 100 companies working on solutions to the longevity problem. Billions of dollars of investment capital have funded these companies. Venture Capital firms have lined up to support this research- they recognize the significant financial opportunities and societal benefits.
In 2019, eighty percent of health care dollars are spent on treatment of chronic and late stage disease, and only twenty percent of health care dollars are spent on prevention and personalized diagnostics. By 2026 it is likely that prevention and personalized diagnostics will amount to 50% of health care expenses.
This will create a paradigm shift in health care delivery (and patient expectations) away from managing chronic and end of life diseases to identifying specific patient risks, disease prevention, and tailored treatments for disease. It is called P3 medicine: precision, personalization, and prevention.
There will be a shift from talking about chronological age (how many times you have circled the sun) to physiological age (how old are your cellular processes, and what treatments can be designed to improve these cellular organ functions and your physiological age?) Much of care will be patient driven, not disease driven. Next quarter I will cover this radical change in medical care delivery.
Lopez-Otin C, Blasco MA, Partridge L, Serrano M, Kroemer G. The Hallmarks of Aging, Cell, 153:1194-1217, 2013.