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Are you ready to live to 113?

In a version of the old ad, “They laughed when I sat down to play”, I’ve long been putting up with eye rolls and humouring looks in response to my frequent declaration that I intend to live a healthy vigorous life until 120.

But I’m going to have the last laugh, because according to one of the world’s leading researchers into ageing, I’m only seven years out.

David Sinclair, PhD, AO, is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and has won 35+ awards for his research and breakthroughs – many of which have come from his lab at Harvard that attracts some of the most brilliant scientists in the field. As a taste, the lab was not only the first to come up with the idea that the root cause of ageing could be loss of epigenetic information, but also with a viral vector method to potentially reprogram cells and reverse ageing.

The lab was the first to show that levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), cofactor of the “longevity gene” SIRT1, decline with age.

They have researched resveratrol and other potential NAD-boosters, identified new genes that control mitochondrial function – so that they can find factors that boost mitochondrial function into old age. They have looked at delaying menopause and reversing female infertility by focusing on ovarian stem cells and are also seeing whether they can turn back neurogenerative diseases.

In short, the Sinclair lab at Harvard is where a lot of the anti-ageing action is.

This is its mission statement:

“The Sinclair lab is driven by the belief that humanity can do better and that everyone has the right to the best medical care and maximum lifespan, no matter their gender, social status, or age. Work by our lab and others has shown that the pace of ageing is not inexorable or predetermined, but rather can be slowed and even reversed by a variety of approaches. These include activating the body’s defences against ageing, deleting senescent cells, and reprogramming cells in vivo. In doing so, we can protect the body against and treat both rare and common diseases including mitochondrial diseases, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer”.

As you’ll see from our feature on pages 18 and 19 to mark the launch of Sinclair’s new book Lifespan – Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To, he and his colleagues subscribe to the radical idea that ageing is not inevitable. “Ageing is a disease – and that disease is treatable”, he says.

One of the major weapons is to boost NAD – and NAD+ – and from our world view this gets exciting, because this can be done with exercise, diet and supplements including natural ingredients such as resveratrol and quercetin. It’s also exciting because, as we report on page 8, government is intensely interested in this area. Prof Richard Faragher, the University of Brighton’s Professor of Biogerontology has just told a House of Lords investigating committee that anti-ageing could be Britain’s “next major industry”.

As integrative practitioners we have all the tools needed to dominate this field.

Philosophically, our credo of treating root causes, not just symptoms, fits right in. That said, we may need a slight upgrade: one of Sinclair’s ideas is that if we focus on providing treatments for ONE disease – ageing – every other negative health condition may just evaporate.

Meanwhile…120? Sinclair says that if we accept average life expectancy is now 85 (that’s lifespan, not necessarily HEALTHspan), then using conservative estimates of how many years we could add to that using only what we know NOW – never mind what’s coming out of his lab and others in the next ten years – we can add 33 years. That takes us to 113. So 120 is not so unreasonable, now, is it?

Simon Martin

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