IT is likely the first person who will live to be 1,000 years old is already alive today.
This is according to a growing regiment of researchers who believe a biological revolution enabling humans to experience everlasting youthfulness is just around the corner.
At the epicentre of the research is Aubrey de Grey — a Cambridge gerontologist and co-founder or the California-based Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Research Foundation.
“The first thing I want to do is get rid of the use of this word immortality, because it’s enormously damaging, it is not just wrong, it is damaging,” he told Motherboard.
“It means zero risk of death from any cause — whereas I just work on one particular cause of death, namely ageing.”
Mr de Grey said his research aims to undo the damage done by the wear and tear of life, as opposed to stopping the ageing process altogether.
“If we ask the question: ‘Has the person been born who will be able to escape the ill health of old age indefinitely?’ Then I would say the chances of that are very high,” he said.
“Probably about 80 per cent.”
To achieve longevity, de Grey is developing a therapy to kill cells that have lost the ability to divide, allowing healthy cells to multiply and replenish the tissue.
“The therapies that we are working on at the moment are not going to be perfect,” he said.
“These therapies are going to be good enough to take middle age people, say people aged 60, and rejuvenate them thoroughly enough so they won’t be biologically 60 again until they are chronologically 90.
“That means we have essentially bought 30 years of time to figure out how to re-rejuvenate them when they are chronologically 90 so they won’t be biologically 60 for a third time until they are 120 or 150.
“I believe that 30 years is going to be very easily enough time to do that.”
Mr de Grey explained his technique for achieving eternal youthfulness is far more likely to be developed before the theories explored by other gerontologist that focus on preventing the metabolism from causing damage to the body.
“We will be able to keep one step ahead of the problem and keep rejuvenating the same people as long as we like,” he said
“The big breakthrough in terms of publicity will be when we can take middle aged mice in the laboratory and rejuvenate them.
“Once we can do it for mice, people are going to know that it’s only a matter of time before we can do it for human beings.
“So that’s where I want to get to and I think we have a fair chance of getting there in six to eight years from now.”