Leaders in the biology and polices of aging research at the first LifeStar Institute Global Aging Science Summit conclude the time has come to launch an ambitious global effort to keep aging generations youthful, productive, and engaged to unprecedented ages.

In laboratories all over the world, using genome sciences, diets including calorie restriction, and techniques of cell science and regenerative medicine, scientists are now keeping living organisms alive and healthy for increasing lengths of time never before thought possible. The obvious question: When will medical science do the same for us?

An answer is urgently needed. Soon, for the first time in human history, the aged will outnumber the young and, although these elders are living longer and healthier than ever, the eventual loss of their contributions due to age-related disease and the costs of treatment set the stage for global economic catastrophe.

But what if the advances that keep worms, mice, and rats fit, healthy, and vigorous were translated into therapies for our aging citizens?

A panel of leaders in the science of aging, of diverse and even perhaps controversial opinion, was assembled in California by LifeStar Institute to examine this possibility and this gathering has produced a bold vision of hope and a plan to make it happen. Reviewing the evidence, these experts have concluded that the new science of aging can form the basis for a new kind of medicine. "This new medicine would not just alleviate the pains of individual age-related diseases," said LifeStar Institute CEO and corresponding author Barbara Logan, "but would do so by focusing on the underlying changes that drive aging bodies into age-related ill health−changes at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels." Aggressive global investment in aging research might be able to slow, or perhaps even reverse the degenerative changes of aging, thereby allowing medical science to preserve and extend healthy lifespans for future generations and even perhaps for today’s aging populations enough to lessen the impact that is coming. Unfortunately, such aggressive international investment is completely absent. As an example, the NIH is projected to allot only 10 million dollars of its 28 billion dollar budget to aging research despite the need and the promise of new science, and this pattern is repeated around the world.

“The Demographic and Biomedical Case for Late-Life Interventions in Aging,” just published in the July 14 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine summarizes the evidence for optimism. The scientific panel proposes that the United States and nations across the world create a global collaboration and launch an Apollo-like Project with the following goal: translate laboratory knowledge about the degenerative changes of aging into new kinds of medicines for humans that can prevent and repair those changes.

The panel urges governments and the biomedical industry to fund three key initiatives: (1) Use public health agencies to inform citizens on how they can improve their lifestyles. (2) Develop the first genuine anti-aging medicines that are able to boost the body’s ability to maintain health (3) Develop and apply regenerative methods that can remove, replace, repair, and neutralize the cellular and molecular damage that accumulate in aging bodies and restore youthful structure and function.

As an example of one of the many adjustments that will need to occur, regulatory agencies will have to develop procedures for evaluating and regulating novel interventions for older people. Presently it is rare even for elderly individuals to be included in clinical trials despite most medicines being consumed by the aged.

The expert panel concludes that we can extend healthy lifespans. With aggressive investments in biomedical research and bold policy changes, we can have a world where lives can be infused with better health and newfound vigor, in a timeframe that may just help avert utter disaster. “When one understands that the possibility exists to do something to lessen the impact of the ‘global aging asteroid’ headed our way, it is difficult to imagine a more important task.” says COO of LifeStar and co-author Kevin Perrott.

In Memoriam

This work is dedicated to the memory of our co-author and friend, Robert Butler, who passed just before this publication. Dr. Butler was a giant in his lifelong contributions who epitomized the value of healthy human longevity through tireless advocacy for aging research. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Butler was the first Director of the National Institute on Aging. We are privileged to have shared the creation of this publication with him and take comfort that it represents so much of what he worked for. He will be sorely missed.