ENDING AGING: THE REJUVENATION BREAKTHROUGHS THAT COULD REVERSE HUMAN AGING IN OUR LIFETIME, by Aubrey de Grey with Michael Rae, St. Martin's Press, 389 pages, $26.95

Dr. Aubrey de Grey is a formidable rejuvenation scientist whose intent is to stop all forms of cellular and molecular damage in "mammalian aging" and reverse the age-related damage that has occurred. He is chairman of the Methuselah Foundation, which supports his research in "the war on aging."

His co-author for "Ending Aging," Michael Rae, is de Grey's research assistant and the author of several scientific articles. He has spent considerable time observing anti-aging effects in laboratory organisms.

Together, de Grey and Rae develop rejuvenation biotechnologies that propose "an engineering approach" to combat aging. This means they focus on the actual damage that aging causes rather than on "the metabolic processes that cause the damages to occur."

De Grey has seven categories he calls "the Seven Deadlies" — cell loss or atrophy, junk outside the cells, crosslinks outside the cells, death-resistant cells, mitochondrial mutations, junk inside the cells, and nuclear mutations such as cancer.

That means little to the uninitiated reader. But don't give up.

Central to de Grey's theory is his often-used analogy to automobiles. Essentially, most of us buy cars, and some cars last longer than others. Volvos usually last longer than Chevy Cavaliers. But most cars will go on if we fix the damage as it happens: "A car can be kept going more or less indefinitely with sufficient maintenance. ... We simply repair worn-out parts when they begin to fail."

This principle can be applied to human cells, tissues and organs, according to the author.

Rae and de Grey attempt to treat these issues in a way that "any educated layman who's willing to put in the time to read it carefully" can understand. In the main, that appears to be true.

For those of us who don't have more than a decade or two or three left, this book gives little hope. His best guess is that his research will bring results by the time the average person's children or grandchildren are grown. But when that happens, he estimates that people will then be able to live for a millennium — or, as he puts it, "for an endless summer of literally perpetual youth."

According to de Grey, we should all "eat more fruits and vegetables, get essential fatty acids, exercise and maintain a healthy weight." But more important, "lobby for more funding for rejuvenation research, and for the crucial lifting of restrictions on federal funding to embryonic stem cell research in the United States, by writing letters to your political representatives, demanding change."

One more thing he suggests: "Donate to the Methuselah Foundation."


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