x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Fountain of youth

Is this really the breakthrough that could lead to dramatically longer life? That might be nice – but what happens to the retirement age?

Scientists have made a breakthrough in the search for the fabled "elixir of life". Researchers from the US have published a paper in the May edition of the journal Nature, describing how making adjustments to the hypothalamus in the brains of mice can significantly extend or shorten their lives.

Blocking a chemical called NF-kB made the mice live longer, while increasing it cut their lives short. Those mice whose lives were extended didn't suffer the loss of muscle and bone associated with ageing, nor did they lose their ability to learn. This suggests potential treatments for Alzheimer's and other age-related diseases.

Of course, everybody says they'd like to live forever, but few have thought it through. For one thing - assuming birth rates remain the same, or even increase - the world would become extremely crowded, and the challenges of feeding and housing all those people would become overwhelming.

And if you're going to live to 150, you're probably going to have to work until you're at least 130, just to pay for your retirement. For us, that's just a little too much news to cover.