The State of Anti-Aging Technology
Throughout human history, we have collectively tried to overcome the inevitability of our mortality. Some of the greatest thinkers from history, including Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes, have pondered the possibility of attaining immortality. Around the end of the nineteenth century, owing in large part to our improved scientific and medical understanding of the aging process, the focus of serious effort to slow or reverse aging switched to extending life rather than inducing an indefinite lifespan.
Despite our fascination with the concept of immortality, studies from around the world consistently show that people are in quite uncomfortable with the idea of being immortal. Consequently, it is anti-aging that has become the focus of scientific research. While we now understand the aging process on a cellular level and thus are able to develop new approaches that could, in principle, halt or reverse the aging process, ethical and technical hurdles have prevented human trials. Trials carried out on mice and other small mammals have proven that the techniques work.
What Is Aging?
We all understand the general process of aging, but few of us have a firm grasp of what occurs on a cellular level that gives rise to the effects of aging in an organism. There are two types of aging: cosmetic and systemic. Cosmetic aging is, as its name suggests, the visual effects of aging. These are the ones that most commercial anti-aging products are trying to fight. Systemic aging includes cosmetic aging but also includes corresponding changes to blood vessels, muscle, and bone that result from the same cellular processes as occur externally.
There are a number of products available that claim to be able to slow down the aging process and, in some cases, reverse the cosmetic effects of aging. There are several ways that different companies have approached this goal. Most, including DermaSet products, have opted to use a combination of various ingredients, usually natural ingredients supplemented by proprietary compounds.
Other approaches emphasize the role of diet and exercise and there are numerous competing claims made about the efficacy of different diets in slowing the aging process.
Cells in the body need to be replaced. The lifespan of a cell varies wildly depending on where it is and what its function is. Over time, our bodies become less efficient at replacing cells and the rate of cell death overtakes the rate of replenishment. Cells in our body also contain a substance called telomerase, which gradually depletes. As telomerase levels decrease, the chances of a cell becoming cancerous increase. This is one of the factors that place a physical limit on how long an individual can live. By inducing telomerase production, or simply supplementing levels in the body, scientists have been able to both halt and reverse aging at cellular level.
Anti-aging technologies are a booming industry. The technologies and knowledge that are being developed under the banner of this research are of great interest to both the medical and cosmetic industries.