How long can humans live?

Highlights

  • If we eliminated ageing at the cellular level, humans could live for 1,000 years to potentially as long as 20,000 years, says a professor of molecular biogerontology.
  • One of the key factors that contribute to ageing is DNA damage. The bowhead whale has a gene called P53 that is involved in repairing DNA damage.
  • Magalhães’ theory of eliminating ageing at the cellular level means that we need to target certain genes that control the ageing process, cell death, DNA repair, and metabolism.

One of the most outspoken proponents of the idea that humans could live for thousands of years is João Pedro de Magalhães, a professor of molecular biogerontology at the University of Birmingham in England. Magalhães has studied the genomes of very long-lived animals, such as the bowhead whale (which can reach 200 years) and the naked mole rat (which can live for up to 30 years, which is an extraordinary lifespan for a rodent).

Based on his research, Magalhães believes that humans could be living for 20,000 years if we were able to eliminate ageing at the cellular level. He argues that the ageing process is caused by a number of factors, including damage to DNA, the accumulation of senescent cells, and the decline of the immune system. If we could find ways to prevent or repair these damages, then we could potentially extend human lifespan indefinitely.

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What is the current maximum human lifespan?

The current maximum human lifespan recorded to date is 122 years. This is the age that Jeanne Calment, a French woman and supercentenarian, reached when she died in 1997. Calment was the oldest verified human to have lived to 122 by the Guinness World Records and the Gerontology Research Group.

Who is called a supercentenarian?

A supercentenarian is a person who has reached the age of 110 years old. The word “supercentenarian” comes from the Latin words “super” (meaning “above”) and “centenarian” (meaning “one hundred years old”).

Can humans live that long? Yes.

Magalhães’ theory of eliminating ageing at the cellular level is based on the idea that ageing is programmed into our cells. This means that we need to target certain genes that control the ageing process, cell death, DNA repair, and metabolism.

But how is that possible?

In recent years, there have been some promising advances in the field of anti-ageing research. For example, scientists have identified a number of genes that are involved in the ageing process, and they are working to develop drugs that can target these genes. Though the technology is yet to be created.

Magalhães cites the research on rapamycin, a drug that has been shown to extend lifespan in mice, as evidence that it may be possible to achieve this goal.

Magalhães’ research is also based on the study of very long-lived animals, such as the bowhead whale (estimated to live for more than 200 years) and the naked mole rat (which can live 30 years, while similar rodents live less than that). These animals have evolved to be extremely resistant to ageing, and they can live for hundreds or even thousands of years.

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Magalhães believes that by studying these animals, we can learn how to extend the human lifespan in a similar way. Listen to an excerpt of his TEDx talks on how can we manipulate ageing.

Let us come to the burning question.

How long humans can actually live?

“We could live for a millennium, If we eliminated ageing at the cellular level, humans could live for 1,000 years to potentially as long as 20,000 years.” – Magalhães

However, one of the key factors that contribute to ageing is DNA damage. When DNA is damaged, it can lead to mutations, which can eventually cause cancer. But with bowhead whales, “they seem to have much better DNA repair,” said Magalhães.

The bowhead whale has a gene called P53 that is involved in repairing DNA damage. This gene is also found in humans, but it is not as active. If we could find ways to increase the activity of P53 in human cells, then we could potentially extend the human lifespan.

Magalhães also believes that there may be other genes that are involved in the long lifespan of the bowhead whale. He cites that if we could target these genes to slow down cell growth and cell metabolism in humans, then we could potentially extend the human lifespan.

So, all it takes is tweaking our genetic code?

Yes. Though the idea that humans could live for thousands of years by tweaking our genetic code is a fascinating one, however, it is important to note that this is still just a theoretical possibility. The future of human longevity is still uncertain, but the research of João Pedro de Magalhães and others suggests that the human race may someday live hundreds of years—and in some cases thousands of years.

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Categories: Trends
Source: HIS Education

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