Group of seniors doing the conga along the water's edge.
Group of seniors doing the conga along the water's edge. SolStock

Thinking about growing younger?

MOMCHILOVSTI, telemeres, epigentics, RADD, lutathione - these words might sound rather out of the ordinary, but as the conversation around longevity grows longer and louder, these words are gathering familiarity.

Dreams of drinking from the fountain of youth have long been part of the human race. Today, longevity studies rank highly in the world of scientific research topics. This article is just a tiny taste of what's happening in current research and perhaps, what is just around the corner

In 2013, Google announced the creation of Calico, short for the Californian Life Company. It is focused on longevity research and therapeutics and its mission is to reverse engineer the biology that controls lifespan. In 2015, American Liz Parrish experimented with gene therapy to find what she has called a cure for ageing. The gene therapy she injected into her body had only been tested on mice, two years later she believes certain areas of her body (*Telemeres) have been made more youthful.

"We have the opportunity through the booming field of genetics to pioneer the future,” Liz Parrish told an ageing festival in California conducted by RADD (Revolution against death and dying).” Stagnating and being risk averse is the worst thing we can do, because we know how we are going to die and we consign every generation to that death.”

An extract from The RADD website explains their vision:

"We're at a unique turning point in terms of the plausibility of radical life extension. It's not a new idea. Taoists were interested thousands of years ago. 19th Century Russian philosophers talked about physical immortality. Books written in the 1950s and 60s predicted it would happen. But only now is the science starting to look solid. So this is a critical time for people to come together to learn what is happening now and to understand how they can make a difference both in their own lives and in the culture. It's not enough to just talk about possibilities. We need to take all possible actions, including improving diet, exercise, and adopting a positive-and-practical attitude. And we need to influence public opinion to drive more research investment in radical life extension. Action now can be the difference between living and dying. The idea that lifespans are not fixed is being taken seriously by serious people. But we need to bring together the diverse groups involved in radical life extension to have greater impact on public policy.”

In the late 1990s, American scientist Craig Venter, PhD, discovered and subsequently became the first human to have his complete DNA sequenced. For his latest project, he has raised $300 million to form a new company, Human Longevity, which aims to take the DNA information he helped unlock and find the means to use it to increase longevity. Behind this program is the Health Nucleus program - a $25,000 physical examination - the health data from this test is combined with the person's DNA sequencing and together this data provides a comprehensive picture of the body capable of identifying present/future health problems.

Foretold is forewarned and with this knowledge, there is the possibility of outwitting sickness and death. It is hoped to be available in more than 300 centres around the world within the next five years.

Australians are also recognised for their contribution to longevity studies. This month Australian, Professor David Sinclair has been announced as an industry category winner of the 2017 Advance Global Australian Awards. David Sinclair, PhD, is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and founding director of the Paul F. Glenn Centre for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging at Harvard. He is also a conjoint professor at the University of New South Wales, and honorary professor at the University of Sydney. He was the first non-US citizen to be awarded a prestigious Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship, allowing him to leave to work in the US Australia in 2005 to work with Lenny Guarente at M.I.T. where he discovered a cause of aging in yeast. The work led the team to discover genes called the "Sirtuins” that enhance performance and the fitness of organisms and slow their pace of ageing.

Dr Sinclair's research is focused primarily on understanding genes that fight disease and aging, with a focus on treating the major causes of death and disability. These include diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

He studies cellular energy production, learning and memory, neurodegeneration as well. He has won awards for his work understanding why we age, for showing that the Sirtuins can be activated by agents such as resveratrol (from red wine) and for understanding how diet and exercise can be mimicked by a drug. More recently his work has branched out to understand why stem cells stay young, how to engineer the human genome, bioinformatics, how to reverse ageing, and how to enhance human fitness.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) life expectancy hit a new high in 2015. "Babies born today have the highest estimated life expectancy ever recorded in Australia," said Beidar Cho, ABS Director of Demography said. "Male life expectancy at birth reached 80.4 years in 2015, increasing from 80.3 in 2014. Female life expectancy also increased to 84.5 years in 2015 from 84.4 in the previous year. "In 2013-2015, the male and female combined life expectancy at birth estimate for Australia was 82.4 years. This was 11.9 years higher than the world average of 70.5 years in 2010-2015," Ms Choo said. (

Age info:

Telemeres: At the ends of the chromosomes are stretches of DNA called telomeres, which protect our genetic data, make it possible for cells to divide, and hold some secrets to how we age and get cancer.

Epigenetics, essentially, affects how genes are read by cells, and subsequently how they produce proteins.

Glutathione is a very simple molecule that is produced naturally all the time in your body. It is a combination of three simple building blocks of protein or amino acids - cysteine, glycine and glutamine.

Momchilovsti: Located in Bulgaria the area is famous as 'the village of longevity' because of the high number of centenarians living there. It has also given its name to a kind of drinking yoghurt that is all the rage for Chinese consumers and spawned an industry worth nearly a billion dollars a year.

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