Extending Human Lifespan | Summary and Q&A

December 23, 2018
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Extending Human Lifespan


Aging directly impacts chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and targeting aging itself can extend the average lifespan up to 113 years with an additional 30 years of healthy life.

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Key Insights

  • 🎯 Targeting aging itself has the potential to have a higher impact in addressing chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, compared to targeting individual diseases separately.
  • 🛟 The average lifespan of humans can reach up to 113 years by directly addressing aging, providing an additional 30 years of healthy life.
  • 🤕 Lifespan and healthspan are currently not aligned, with people experiencing chronic age-related diseases before reaching the typical lifespan of 81 years.
  • 😘 Funding for aging research is relatively low compared to its importance and potential impact on improving late-life health.
  • 🛀 Genetic modifications and drugs have shown promise in extending lifespan and improving healthspan in animal models.
  • 🎯 Senescence, the state of damaged cells, can be targeted to boost lifespan and healthspan.
  • 🩸 Factors in blood circulation have a significant impact on aging, with studies showing that exposure to young blood can rejuvenate various bodily functions.


so I work on extending human lifespans because I believe this is the most powerful way to address chronic disease in the United States today the two major leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer now these are fundamentally very different diseases different symptoms different progressions but they share the same underlying driving risk ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How does targeting aging directly impact chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer?

By addressing the underlying process of aging itself, interventions have the potential to extend lifespan and delay the onset of age-related diseases such as heart disease and cancer, resulting in longer periods of healthy living.

Q: Why is targeting aging relatively underfunded despite its potential impact?

Aging research is still considered a young field, and until recently, the idea of directly addressing aging was seen as too complex to have a significant impact. As a result, funding for research on the basic mechanisms of aging is limited, hindering progress in this area.

Q: What are some interventions that have shown promising results in extending lifespan?

Genetic modifications in invertebrates like worms have demonstrated significant lifespan extensions. Additionally, drugs like rapamycin have been shown to increase lifespan and improve healthspan in mice, with some promising initial results in human trials as well.

Q: How has the study of blood factors impacted aging research?

Research has shown that factors circulating in the blood can impact aging. Studies involving young and old mice have revealed that exposure to young blood can rejuvenate and improve various bodily functions, highlighting the potential of blood factors in aging research.


In this video, the speaker discusses the importance of extending human lifespans as a way to address chronic diseases. They explain how addressing aging itself, rather than individual diseases, could have a higher impact on overall health. The speaker explores various interventions that have been shown to extend lifespan and improve health span in animal models, such as genetic modifications, drugs, and factors found in blood. They also highlight the underfunding of aging research and the potential for future discoveries in human longevity. The talk concludes with the speaker expressing their excitement about the transformative potential of aging science in improving late-life health.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why is extending human lifespans considered the most powerful way to address chronic disease?

Extending human lifespans is considered a powerful approach because chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, share the same underlying risk factor - aging. By targeting aging itself, we can potentially address multiple diseases simultaneously and significantly impact overall health.

Q: How much longer could the average lifespan be extended if we address aging directly?

Scientists estimate that if we were to cure all cancer, the average lifespan of women in the United States would only increase by four years, from 81 to 85. Similarly, curing all heart disease would only increase the average lifespan to 86. However, targeting aging directly could potentially increase the average lifespan to 113, an additional 30 years.

Q: What is the difference between lifespan and health span?

Lifespan refers to how long a person lives, while health span refers to how long they remain healthy. Currently, there is a significant disparity between lifespan and health span. For example, the average woman in the United States lives to be 81, but the average health span is only 62, as chronic age-related diseases start appearing at that age. Interventions targeting aging have shown to not only extend lifespan but also significantly improve health span.

Q: Why is aging research underfunded despite its importance?

Aging research is dramatically underfunded relative to its importance. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, only allocates about 1% of its $37 billion annual budget to research on the basic mechanisms of aging. Similarly, Medicare spending on aging research is also limited. One reason for this underfunding is that aging science is a relatively young field, and it has only been in recent years that significant progress has been made in understanding and addressing aging.

Q: What was a significant breakthrough in aging research that brought more attention to the field?

In 1993, Cynthia Kenyon published a groundbreaking paper demonstrating that deleting a single gene in a worm called C. elegans could double its lifespan. This discovery challenged the belief that aging is too complex to be influenced by simple interventions. It brought prominence to the field of aging research and led to the identification of hundreds of ways to genetically modify invertebrates and influence lifespan.

Q: How has the research on longevity pathways in mice contributed to aging science?

In the early 2000s, researchers began mapping out the various longevity pathways in mice. These pathways represent different ways to extend lifespan in mammals. The discovery of these pathways in mice provided significant insights into the basic mechanisms of aging and opened up possibilities for translating these findings into humans. In fact, a company called Restore Bio has already taken one of these longevity pathways targeting drugs, rapamycin, into human clinical trials.

Q: What is the significance of senescence in aging research?

Senescence refers to the state of cells becoming damaged or dysfunctional, leading to a loss of their ability to replicate and the secretion of toxic factors harmful to neighboring cells. The hypothesis in the aging field was that deleting these senescent cells could improve an animal's overall aging process. This hypothesis was tested in mice, and the results showed that deleting senescent cells could increase lifespan by as much as 30% and improve health span. Unity Biotechnology is now conducting a clinical study targeting senescence for osteoarthritis.

Q: How has the impact of blood on aging been studied?

Researchers have discovered that factors circulating in the blood can have a dramatic impact on aging. To study this further, experiments were conducted by surgically attaching old and young mice together, allowing for the sharing of a bloodstream. The old mice exposed to young blood showed improvements in various aspects of aging, such as skeletal muscle rejuvenation, olfaction, and neurogenesis. This finding inspired the work at BioAge, where they are trying to identify and drug the specific factors in blood that positively impact aging.

Q: How does BioAge approach the study of blood and aging?

BioAge takes a genomics and AI approach to analyze blood samples from people who live short lives and those who live very long lives. By deeply interrogating these blood samples, they aim to identify and measure all the components present, such as metabolomics and genomics. Through this analysis, they can prioritize aging targets and discover factors that are associated with longevity. For example, they have discovered a protein that circulates in the blood and has been found to be correlated with longer lifespans, less frailty, and protection from disease. They are now working on developing drugs based on these findings.

Q: What other areas of aging research hold promise for future discoveries?

The genetics of exceptional human longevity is an area of research that focuses on studying families with individuals who live exceptionally long lives. By studying the genetics of these individuals, researchers hope to identify factors that contribute to longevity and develop practical interventions to modulate lifespan. Additionally, mining electronic health records and repurposing drugs have shown promise in discovering therapies that can positively impact aging. A well-known example is the repurposing of the diabetes drug metformin, which has shown protective effects against cancer and potential anti-aging properties.


Research on extending human lifespans by targeting aging itself shows great promise in addressing chronic diseases more effectively than tackling individual diseases one by one. Interventions such as genetic modifications, drugs, and factors found in blood have been successfully applied in animal models to extend lifespan and improve health span. Despite the significant potential of aging science, it remains underfunded. However, recent advancements and the translation of aging discoveries into human trials suggest that we are entering a new era of aging research that has the potential to transform medicine and improve late-life health. The aim is to add 10 to 20 years of healthy lifespan through current interventions, with the understanding that there is no biological limit to how long humans can live. Exciting areas of study include genetics, blood factors, and repurposing existing drugs to further understand and modulate human longevity.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death, and they share aging as a common risk factor.

  • Targeting aging directly, rather than individual diseases, has the potential to significantly increase lifespan and healthspan.

  • Interventions such as genetic modifications, drugs, and blood factors have shown promising results in extending the lifespan and improving health in animal models.

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