The feasibility of reversing human aging within a matter of decades has traditionally been dismissed by all professional biogerontologists, on the grounds that not only is aging still poorly understood, but also many of those aspects that we do understand are not reversible by any current or foreseeable therapeutic regimen. This broad consensus has recently been challenged by the publication, by five respected experimentalists in diverse subfields of biogerontology together with three of the present authors, of an article (Ann NY Acad Sci 959, 452-462) whose conclusion was that all the key components of mammalian aging are indeed amenable to substantial reversal (not merely retardation) in mice, with technology that has a reasonable prospect of being developed within about a decade. Translation of that panel of interventions to humans who are already alive, within a few decades thereafter, was deemed potentially feasible (though it was not claimed to be likely). If the prospect of controlling human aging within the foreseeable future cannot be categorically rejected, then it becomes a matter of personal significance to most people presently alive. Consequently, we suggest that serious public debate on this subject is now warranted, and we survey here several of the biological, social and political issues relating to it.
Copyright 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.