Rejuvenation

From Academic Kids

Rejuvenation is the procedure of reversing the aging process, thus regaining youth. As people get older, their health worsens, strength and intelligence diminishes, beauty goes away. Historically, people in all societies have looked for a way to regain the qualities of youth.

Various myths tell the stories about the quest for rejuvenation. It was believed that magic or intervention of a supernatural power can bring back the youth and many mythical adventurers set out on a journey to do that, for themselves, their relatives or some authority that sent them.

In some religions people were to be rejuvenated after death prior to placing them in heaven.

The stories continued well into the 16th century. A famous Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León led the expedition around the Caribbean islands and into Florida to find the Fountain of Youth. Led by the rumours, the expedition continued the search and many perished. The Fountain was nowhere to be found as locals were unaware of its exact location.

Since the emergence of philosophy, sages and self-proclaimed wizards always made enormous efforts to find the secret of youth, both for themselves and for their noble patrons and sponsors. It was widely believed that some potions may restore the youth.

Another commonly cited approach was attempting to transfer the essence of youth from young people to old. Some examples of this approach were sleeping with virgins or children (sometimes literally sleeping, not necessarily having sex), drinking their blood.

In the 20th century it was found that by chance these methods had a grain of truth in them, although the old methods would never work, of course. Treatment with blood from placenta or stem cells or hormone replacement therapy also center around transferring the "essence of youth" to an older individual.

The quest for Rejuvenation reached its height with Alchemy. All around the Europe and also beyond alchemists were looking for the Philosopher's Stone, the mythical substance that, as it was believed, could not only turn lead into gold, but also prolong life and restore youth. Although the set goal was not achieved, Alchemy paved the way to the scientific method and so to the medical advances of today.

Besides Rejuvenation there is another approach to solving the underlying problem - slowing down the aging process. Using a variety of techniques, many of them probably not discovered yet, it is possible to slow down various mechanisms responsible for aging. Some approaches already known include repairing telomeres, disabling genes responsible for aging, caloric restriction, decreasing body temperature, increasing oxygen circulation, and decreasing damage to the nervous system.

Yet another option involves cosmetic changes to the individual to create the appearance of youth. Cosmetic surgery is a large industry offering treatments such as removal of wrinkles ("face lift"), removal of extra fat (liposuction) and reshaping or augmentation of various body parts (abdomen, breasts, face). There are also, as always in history, many fake rejuvenation products that do not work.

According to modern science, there are no natural laws preventing successful rejuvenation. There are numerous methods that have limited success in prolonging lifes of laboratory subjects and sometimes partially rejuvenating them. Some of these methods may be even applicable to humans, but it is not yet known for sure.

Future Developments

Most of the progress, however, lies in the future. It is expected by some scientists that sometime in the 21st century it will be possible to rejuvenate humans and extend their lifespan (and healthspan), even indefinitely.

It is hard to give an exact timeframe for these achievements, but according to some gerontologists, it will likely be possible to achieve rejuvenation in adult mice in the next 10-20 years (see Timeline of the future in forecasts).

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