Longer life, unintended consequences
While I am grateful for many medical advances, from the polio vaccine to immune-altering drugs such as rituximab, and am inspired by the increasing ability of scientists to understand and manipulate biological pathways, something felt profoundly disturbing about the article “A new frontier for biotechs: slowing the aging process” by Robert Weisman (Page A1, Dec. 2). I found myself reading and rereading the quotation by David Sinclair, biologist and cofounder of Life Biosciences: “We want our children to live in a different world than we do, where people don’t get cancer and heart disease in their 60s and 70s.”
I know that as a scientist Sinclair appreciates that aging and dying are highly evolutionarily conserved processes experienced by all organisms, and thus must be of great importance. Perhaps these natural processes are intimately linked to allowing new generations to mate and subtly influence the gene pool. Perhaps this natural ebb and flow is a key factor enabling evolution. Is it possible that a world where adults live and flourish into their 90s and 100s might have profound unintended consequences for our planet, our resources, and our vigor as a species?
This is a surefire way to place more burdens on society
I am appalled that vast sums of money are being spent to slow aging. We live on an overpopulated planet. Climate change will cause profound impacts on global food and water supplies.
Meanwhile, what happens to a 100-year-old who runs out of money?
How selfish to place these burdens on society. The money developing these drugs could be better spent addressing the biggest challenge we have ever faced: the massive effects of global warming.