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Lillian Wilson

Ending Aging by Aubrey de Grey

'Ending Aging' presents a groundbreaking exploration of the possibilities and strategies for combating and reversing the ageing process.

Ending Ageing

The majority of scientists studying ageing biology believe that we will eventually be able to significantly slow down the ageing process, allowing us to live longer and more youthful lives. Dr. Aubrey de Grey is particularly optimistic about this possibility. Dr. de Grey envisions a biomedical technology that can not only slow down ageing-related decline but also reverse it periodically, keeping us biologically young for an extended and indefinite period of time.

In this review, we will take a closer look at Dr. de Grey’s perspective of ageing which he presents in his book ‘Ending Aging.’

About the authors

Aubrey de Grey, Ph.D., is a prominent figure in the field of gerontology and a leading advocate for the development of interventions to reverse the ageing process.

Aubrey de Grey (r)

He is a chairman and chief science officer of the Methuselah Foundation, an organisation dedicated to advancing rejuvenation biotechnology. One of De Grey’s notable contributions is the formulation of a comprehensive plan called SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence). This plan aims to indefinitely postpone age-related physical and mental decline by addressing the underlying causes of ageing.

Michael Rae is Dr. de Grey’s research assistant. He has authored numerous scientific articles and commentaries published in respected peer-reviewed journals. Rae has a strong affiliation with the Calorie Restriction Society, where he has been a member for an extended period and previously served on the board. He has made significant contributions to society’s ‘How-to Guide’ and is a core scientific investigator involved in the Cohort Study. This study aims to investigate the feasibility of calorie restriction in humans and explore the potential anti-ageing effects observed in laboratory organisms.

What is the book about?

In ‘Ending Aging,’ Aubrey de Gray aims to shift the public perception of ageing from an inevitable part of life to a treatable disease. De Gray outlines seven primary causes of ageing and delves into the complexities of addressing them. His proposed approach lies between traditional gerontology (treating ageing-related diseases after their onset) and geriatrics (preventing diseases before they occur). Instead, he advocates for intervening just before accumulated damage transforms into a disease, aiming to cure the damage at that critical point.

The author highlights that the root cause of ageing is the gradual accumulation of damage within cells over time. The mitochondria, responsible for converting food into energy, are particularly susceptible to damage due to the constant supply of oxygen. Although cells have mechanisms to repair this damage, they eventually become overwhelmed, leading to ageing-related diseases.

Among the seven causes of ageing, the book touches on issues like glycation, lipofuscin, and AGE cross-links, all contributing to damage accumulation within and outside cells. The author compares the body to a car that can be continuously repaired over time, proposing that middle-aged individuals would be suitable candidates for these repair therapies.

De Gray discusses various potential methodologies for these repair therapies, including stem cells, gene therapies, drugs, and the significance of mouse rejuvenation experiments. He also emphasises the importance of maintaining good health through exercise and diet to live long enough to benefit from these therapies.

Table of contents

  • Preface
More…
  • Part One
  • 1. The Eureka Moment
  • 2. Wake Up – Aging Kills!
  • 3. Demystifying Aging
  • 4. Engineering Rejuvenation
  • Part Two
  • 5. Meltdown of the Cellular Power Plants
  • 6. Getting Off the Grid
  • 7. Upgrading the Biological Incinerators
  • 8. Cutting Free of the Cellular Spider Webs
  • 9. Breaking the Shackles of AGE
  • 10. Putting the Zombies to Rest
  • 11. New Cells for Old
  • 12. Nuclear Mutations and the Total Defeat of Cancer
  • Part Three
  • 13. Getting from Here to There: The War on Aging
  • 14. Bootstrapping Our Way to an Ageless Future
  • 15. War Bonds for the Campaign Against Aging
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Index

Key takeaways from ‘Ending Aging’

1A cure for ageing lies in repair

While traditional medicine often focuses on symptom management through medication, it fails to tackle the underlying problems. Preventive measures are also limited when it comes to ageing due to the complex nature of the process.

Instead, the book proposes a different approach: repairing the accumulated damage caused by ageing. By starting the treatment of ageing at a certain point in life, such as 40 years old, and addressing the damage up to that point, one can potentially reset the biological age to a younger state. Continuously repairing and maintaining the body’s condition can then extend lifespan significantly.

Using this approach, a person who would have had a life expectancy of 80 years could potentially live up to 120 or even 160 years.

2Mutations in mitochondria are a major factor in ageing

Free radicals, unstable atoms with unpaired electrons, are highly reactive and can cause damage to molecules within the body.

The mutations caused by free radicals in mitochondrial DNA contribute to accelerated ageing. To address this issue, the book suggests allotopic expression as a solution. Allotopic expression involves safeguarding a healthy backup copy of mitochondrial DNA in the nucleus of each cell. By doing so, the DNA is protected from exposure to free radicals, potentially preventing age-related damage.

3The first step to winning the war against ageing is to change our mindset

The key takeaway from this book is the urgent need to shift our mindset and approach to anti-ageing treatments. While many promising interventions are still in the experimental stages, waiting for extensive funding and drug trials to be approved comes at a high cost. Aubrey de Grey argues that the time wasted in this process actually leads to more lives lost than the risks associated with experimental treatments.

The book highlights that for every person who may pass away due to an experimental drug, there are ten others who lose their lives because they had to wait too long for approved treatments.

The key message is that embracing some level of risk and accepting that not every treatment will succeed is crucial for advancing anti-ageing research. By overcoming the fear of failure and acknowledging that there may be casualties along the way, we can avoid unnecessary delays and propel the development of life-extending therapies, ultimately bringing us closer to a future without the limitations of ageing.

Overall rating & strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews

The book has gotten 4.07 ⭐️ on GoodReads.

Strengths

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of various forms of ageing and strategies to address them, making it a valuable primer in biology for readers without a strong background in the subject.

  • Despite being published in 2007, the book still imparts significant knowledge, especially in the realm of biology, and helps readers catch up with current issues and developments in the field.

  • The writing style is engaging and informative, with delightful analogies that aid in understanding complex biology concepts.

Weaknesses

  • The book is highly theoretical and delves into advanced biology, making it difficult for laypersons to understand, particularly in the second part where deep dives into scientific concepts are presented.

Best quotes from ‘Ending Aging’

“I have been aware for many years that most people do not think about aging in the same way that they think about cancer, or diabetes, or heart disease. They are strongly in favor of the absolute elimination of such diseases as soon as possible, but the idea of eliminating aging – maintaining truly youthful physical and mental function indefinitely – evokes an avalanche of fears and reservations. Yet, in the sense that matters most, aging is just like smoking: It’s really bad for you.”
“Science is about the testing and refinement of hypotheses and theories. In principle, the most important quality of a scientist should be their ability to accept, with an open mind, evidence that challenges theories that they had believed for many years. But scientists are human, and moreover they know that the scientists that produced the new evidence are also human. In particular, they know that when a result is reported that contradicts established conventional thinking, the new evidence is often found later on to have been the result of experimental error.”
“Every day of your life, the same processes that are involved in the browning of meats and other glazed or fried foods are insidiously at work in your body. In your arteries. In your kidneys. In your heart, your eyes, your skin, your nerves. At this very moment, in all your tissues, the sugar that provides your body with so much of its energy is also performing some unwanted chemical experiments, caramelizing your body through exactly the same processes that caramelize onions or peanut brittle. Slowly but steadily, unwanted bonding by sugars and fats handcuffs your proteins, inactivates your enzymes, triggers unhealthy chemical signals in your cells, and damages your DNA. Aging you.”

Final takeaway

‘Ending Aging’ by Aubrey de Grey offers a compelling perspective on slowing down and reversing the ageing process. The book provides valuable insights into the science of ageing and rejuvenation. It inspires readers to reconsider their perception of ageing and advocates for advancements in biomedical technologies.

This thought-provoking book is recommended for scientists, researchers, and individuals interested in the possibilities of longer and healthier lifespans.

Where to buy

You may purchase ‘Ending Aging’ on Amazon at the best price. It is available in paperback, hardcover, audio and Kindle versions, so you may choose an option that appeals to you the most.


Healthypedia FAQ

The book delves into advanced biology concepts, making it challenging for laypersons to understand. However, readers with a keen interest in the subject can still gain valuable insights, especially in the areas of ageing and rejuvenation.

While the book is from 2007, it still imparts significant knowledge on biology and ageing, considering that very little progress has been made in the field. It offers a comprehensive understanding of the subject, but readers should supplement their knowledge with recent scientific advancements in the field.

Scientists, researchers, and individuals passionate about anti-ageing research and the potential for longer, healthier lifespans would find 'Ending Aging' to be a valuable read. It provides insights into the science behind ageing and rejuvenation and challenges traditional perceptions of ageing.

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