With medicine advancing as it is, could someone ever live forever?

In one of my favorite TV shows, Parks and Recreation, a main character, devoted to fitness, delivers the line, “Scientists say the first person to live to 150 has already been born. I believe I am that person.”


Although delivered as a joke, I was inspired to do some research into a more difficult question for my blog. Is this lifespan possible with medical advancements and if not, how long could we live for?

One scientist think it’s possible that medicine could lead to immortality. Aubrey de Grey  biomedical gerontologist with the SENS Research Foundation, which is just a fancy term for someone who studies the aging process and how it could be slowed or even stopped. The theory is pretty out there in regards to conventional science, but de Grey is convinced that through advanced medicine we will be able to undo cellular damage that our body naturally experiences. De Grey believes that now that infectious diseases are largely under control, we can focus on the largest cause of death: aging. The idea is that we learn more about medicine, specifically stem cell therapies, the easier it will be for us to pinpoint the cause of our cell death and stop it. The natural progression of medicine and knowledge about the human body has lead to a longer lifespan, so who is to say that this cell regeneration isn’t possible?

In an interview with Life Sciences, de Grey details more thoroughly his theory. There are 7 causes of death, according to de Grey, which is a bit more detailed that just “aging” or “cell death”. These causes include: DNA mutations, mitochondrial mutations, proteins which cannot be digested accumulating in cells, harmful proteins accumulating outside of our cells, cell loss, lack of cell division, and too many cross links occurring between cells. de Grey is currently about to start testing his theory out on mice, as he feels that if he is capable of this then he will be more seriously regarded. With the proper funding, de Grey asserts that we could see this newfound immortality in 25 years, so hold onto your lives, folks!

Joon Yun is a little less optimistic, but still believes our lifespans can be increased – and soon. Yun is not a scientist. Instead, he is a hedge fund manager sponsoring anti-aging research. He is just one of the many players in this game, but according to The Guardian, the results are slowly becoming promising. An example given is the diabetes drug metformin, which has been shown to display some age-defying effects in patients. A Google search revealed to me that these effects were the increased oxidation of cells, which increased their lifespan. Another drug, used to treat some cancers and aid patients post-organ transplant, increased the lifespan of the mice it was tested on by 25%. Now, while mice certainly aren’t humans, this drug was shown to bolster the immunity of elderly people to the flu.

The results are promising. As time progresses and we learn more about how our bodies work, our lifespans are increasing due to new medicine. de Grey’s theory may not be true and the ability to live forever may not ever come to fruition, but the idea that people could start living up to 125 or 150 years old seems to not be so far off.

5 thoughts on “With medicine advancing as it is, could someone ever live forever?

  1. dhc5097

    This is a very interesting and insightful blog post. The idea of living forever scares me because I would watch my closest friends and family members die. Now if everyone could live forever that would be a different story, but still my answer would be no because it would cause a whole range of problems such as population control. With all of the resources we have, I do believe what Joon Yun said and that we can increase our life span. Many people die due to sickness and diseases. With that being said, cures for certain diseases and sicknesses will eventually come out overtime increasing the average persons life-span. I came across two articles, one that talks about 12 deadly diseases already cured in the 20th century and the other talks about 6 diseases that could be cured in the near future.


  2. Michael Gerard Shevlin

    This is a very cool topic that a lot of people like the think about. Most people would think that everyone wants to live forever, but that’s far from the truth. According to a poll on The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/science/poll/2013/aug/20/would-you-want-to-live-forever-poll
    only 42% of people would choose to live forever as opposed to 58% that would not. Often times we see people get older and older, at eventually, they are ready to pass on. For many people, including me, the idea of living forever is scary. I’d prefer a life with a reasonable time limit and hopefully I can achieve all of my goals before my time is up.

  3. Daniel J Lehecka

    Honestly, I wouldn’t want to live forever even if given the choice. I view dying as a part of living, and you would have to go through seeing everyone you’re closest with die. I know that in some cultures, dying is considered to be a necessary step of life and isn’t thought of as sad. Holidays like Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico celebrate the life of the person and what they were known for instead of mourning the loss of them. You can find more information on that here ( http://www.pbs.org/foodancestors/cult.html ) . Death there isn’t a taboo subject like it is here, they embrace that it will come to them eventually and decide to revel in the life that they have before it’s gone. I find that accepting the inevitability will make it easier to swallow when it does happen.

  4. Shannon Hughes

    Your approach to reach immortality through the anti-aging process is very interesting and reminded me of an article (http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/26/meet-the-company-offering-a-chance-at-immortality-for-200000.html) I read that you may find interesting. These scientists are freezing the bodies of dead people for $200,000 dollars. They hope to revive these dead people later in the future when they reach the technology and science to do so.

  5. Dana Corinne Pirrotta

    First off, I love that a TV show quote inspired you to do a blog! To me, that is really quirky and now it has me thinking about all the blogs I could potentially write about just off of things I’ve heard from shows I like.

    If anything, this blog posts scares me. I wish you went into the ethics of this idea because I feel like trying to increase our lifespans to perhaps even immortality definitely crosses some moral guidelines. Now, we are just testing on mice, but what if these trials work? Would we start testing on larger animals, and eventually humans? Personally, I do not think that humans should ever live forever, even if we can make this reach scientifically possible. I find the dates given, “in about 25 years” to be extremely frightening, but ultimately unrealistic. Hopefully, finding immortality will be an unreachable goal, and our race won’t have to fight over the ethics of such matters. This article,
    Why we DON’T want to live forever is particularly interesting to me because personally, I don’t want to live forever. It is unnatural.
    Anyways, this was definitely a cool read, and something I had not really thought about before. Thanks!

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