Will the first immortal be born in 2008?


London: Some scientists believe that therapies to extend lifespans will be available to those born in 2008.

One such scientist is the UK’s Aubrey de Grey, a Cambridge researcher and expert in anti-ageing therapies, who believes that there is a 50% chance that rejuvenation therapies — that can delay ageing — would be developed by 2040.

This would mean that those born in 2008, who would be in their early 30s by then, would be able to use the latest therapies to defy ageing.

Eventually there would come a time, says de Grey, when ageing would become a dispensable act and finally, it would be possible to eliminate ageing from the human system altogether.

Although researchers are working to make that day a reality, immortality, as and when it happens, won’t be an overnight process. Instead, it will be a step-by-step process. For instance, initially there will be treatments that repair molecular and cellular damage so that we can continue to live another decade or two, following which we get the treatment again to remove the new damage, and so on. With new advances, these treatments will become more effective and lifespans will continually get elongated. However, immortality would not necessarily denote invulnerability.

Disease, accidents and natural disasters would all take their toll. Also, a future where death is indefinitely delayed would bring its own set of problems, like over-population, for instance. In spite of all this, the promise of beating death is one that is greatly alluring, and one that is propelling anti-ageing researchers towards their goal.

If scientists are able to manage a breakthrough, even a few decades from now, it would clearly mean that children of the future would be born with a definite advantage — of being in a position to delay death as long as they want to. And be almost immortal.