t the University of Michigan's Paul F. Glenn Center for Aging Research, Richard A. Miller, MD, PhD, a professor of pathology and one of the nation's leading experts on the biological aging process, is trying to turn back the clock on the human body. Using mice, Miller and his team are testing the effects
of different drugs for their ability to delay aging, and they're accomplishing some remarkable results.
“We have three drugs right now that give a lifespan extension of 20 percent or more," Dr. Miller said. And the drugs don't just help mice live longer. They also delay the development of disease, meaning the mice aren't just older but they're healthier, too.
“If they worked in humans, then when people reached the age of 70, 80 or 90 they would resemble healthy people who are ten or 20 years younger," Dr. Miller said. “The drugs would be postponing illness and extending longevity by maintaining relatively youthful functions. If we could get it to work, that would be at least as good—in terms of years of healthy, active life—as a cure for cancer and cure for heart attacks put together."
It sounds like science fiction, but Dr. Miller is adamant that it really could happen. Unfortunately, though, he added, the resources for aging research just aren't there. And that's too bad, because the United States is quickly embarking on the age of longevity—where people are living longer, but not necessarily healthier, lives—and our current health system may not be equipped to handle it.