Coming soon, pills that will let you live to 100
Medicines to help people live healthy lives to 100 and beyond may be available in as little as two years, an expert said today.
The drugs have come out of research into age-related ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's.
To satisfy the requirements of drug regulators and the market they are billed as remedies for specific illnesses.
But, they also tackle multiple causes of unhealthy ageing, according to Professor Nir Barzilai, one of the world's leading age scientists.
Prof Barzilai's own work has identified genetic variants that mark out people who live to a "ripe old age".
The new drugs build on these discoveries, which involve biological pathways affecting metabolism, cell-death, inflammation and cholesterol.
"Pharmaceutical companies are developing these drugs now," said Prof Barzilai, who joined other experts at the Royal Society in London today for a discussion meeting on the science of ageing.
"They will probably be available for testing from 2012."
People blessed with anti-ageing genes tend not to get seriously ill but die suddenly at the end of their lives, Prof Barzilai pointed out.
"I'm seeing 100-year-olds who are in great shape," he said. "They're driving and painting, and they say life is beautiful.
"We have the ability as a species to get to 100 if we prevent some of these age-related diseases."
And he added: "The cost of treating 100-year-olds in their last two years of life is a third of what it costs to treat somebody aged 70 to 80. At the end of their life they die, basically, all of a sudden."
Prof Barzilai described his "vision" as a once-daily pill which staves off the effects of old age, and which will be taken when a person reaches their 40s or 50s.