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New Year, New You: Forever 37

New Year, New You: Forever 37

Insight by: Debbie Lin

As we transition from 2023 to 2024, the undeniable reality is that another year has slipped by, and every one of us has collectively grown a year older. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could just hit the brakes on aging?

This year, the concept of longevity has taken the spotlight. In a thought-provoking article by Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Senior, she highlighted how our subjective age, the age which we are in our heads often differs significantly from our actual age, especially among North Americans, Western Europeans, and Australians. Many folks over 40 tend to perceive themselves around 20 percent younger than their actual age. She noticed that some of us suspend their ages in time by freezing the subjective age no matter length of time that passes.

But what if we could slow down or even halt this aging process? Recent scientific strides suggest we’re getting closer to unlocking the secrets of aging. Entrepreneurs are diving into this field, and investors aren’t afraid of putting big money behind new research and innovations.

Bloomberg’s recent Longevity Issue shared insights into potentially slowing down aging. Dr. David Pepin’s groundbreaking research on the anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) hints at reversing aging in ovaries. His experiments with gene therapy using AMH showed incredible promise by preserving eggs, almost like they are in a neonatal stage. Although still at the stage of studies in mice, this breakthrough could extend women’s fertility and potentially alleviate menopause-related issues.

Tech giants like Sam Altman, known for his involvement in OpenAI, are focusing on challenging aging itself. Altman invested a staggering $180 million in Retro Biosciences, aiming to extend the “healthy human lifespan” by a decade. This bold move in biotech research reflects a growing push to redefine how long we can live healthily.

Further, AI and advanced technology are reshaping aging research. In research on how our bodies respond our internal clocks, there is potential to tweak our internal clock genes, addressing disruptions in our circadian rhythms. A groundbreaking 2014 study revealed that nearly half of a mouse’s genes operate on a 24-hour schedule, showing circadian rhythms’ significant impact on genetic activity and allude to the potential impact of circadian timing on how a drug is cleared and metabolized. In fact, in the human body, there are at least six clock genes that are integral to how we function. Cellular clocks are organized into organ level clocks (liver, immune, kidney, heart, muscle etc.) that sync to the brain. The timing of these different clocks, for example, the liver clock helps to adjust an individual’s metabolism after they’ve eaten a big holiday meal.

Startup companies like Circadian OS leverage this insight, using blood-based markers to detect disrupted sleep patterns. The hypothesis is that our circadian rhythms can markedly affect human health and disease. Through app-based tools and light therapy, they aim to restore healthy sleep rhythms. Another company, Arcascope, integrates circadian science in the Shift app, helping shift workers mitigate health risks linked to disrupted internal clocks.

With these all of advancements, AI and technology aren’t just helping us understand aging they are helping scientists to de-convolute how we can be healthier and live longer. As we anticipate the New Year, it’s more than a mere acknowledgment of time’s passage—it’s a hopeful gaze towards a future where achieving longevity and thus living well for a longer period of time isn’t a distant concept but an attainable reality.