Four Steps Toward The Control Of Aging: Following The Example Of Infectious Disease

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The biotechnological task of controlling human aging will evidently be complex, given the failure of all simple strategies for accomplishing this task to date. In view of this complexity, a multi-step approach will be necessary. One precedent for a multi-step biotechnological success is the burgeoning control of human infectious diseases from 1840 to 2000. Here we break down progress toward the control of infectious disease into four key steps, each of which have analogs for the control of aging. (1) Agreement about the fundamental nature of the medical problem. (2) Public health measures to mitigate some of the factors that exacerbate the medical problem. (3) Early biotechnological interventions that ward off the more tractable disease etiologies. (4) Deep understanding of the underlying biology of the diseases involved, leading in turn to comprehensive control of the medical problems that they pose. Achievement of all four of these steps has allowed most people who live in Western countries to live largely free of imminent death due to infectious disease. Accomplishing the equivalent feat for aging over this century should lead to a similar outcome for aging-associated disease. Neither infection nor aging will ever be entirely abolished, but they can both be rendered minor causes of death and disability.


This article was originally published in Biogerontology in 2014. The link above is to the authoritative publisher’s version, as noted by the Economic Science Institute, and may reside behind a paywall.

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