Futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil is known for his belief in the idea of near-immortality through science-powered life extension. But despite the naysayers who sometimes dismiss Kurzweil's statements as far-fetched, a new development in gene therapy could ultimately prove him to be right, after all.
Researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) have proven that it is possible to extend the life of a mouse by up to 24 percent through telomerase gene therapy. In previous studies, such life span extension attempts meant altering genes in the embryonic stage, a process that required regular drug treatments to keep the mice healthy. This new telomerase gene therapy was applied to adult mice and required only one treatment, a dynamic that could one day make such treatments viable for human applications.
In addition to extending the lives of the mice, the gene therapy delayed age-related ailments such as insulin resistance and osteoporosis, and even improved neuromuscular coordination. The researchers don't believe that their research will immediately lead to anti-aging therapies for humans, but could instead lead to short-term developments in the treatment of patients with short telomere-related ailments such as human pulmonary fibrosis.
Nevertheless, it's hard to ignore that this new research indicates that Kurzweil's successful track record of futurist predictions could once again be on the mark, and virtual immortality may indeed be achievable some time in the not-too-distant future.