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抗老化:我们真的渴望长生不老吗?

更新时间:2017/10/20 12:50:54 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名

Anti ageing:Is it possible,and would we want it?
抗老化:我们真的渴望长生不老吗?

In the 1850s, the average life expectancy in the US at birth was only 40 years old. Now, the average American can expect to live until at least 78. Recent medical research has teased us with the promise of extending human life further. But, what are the implications of this new medicine and what consequences would it have upon society?

1850年代,美国人的平均预期寿命只有40岁,现在则达到78岁。最近的医学研究承诺可以进一步延长人类寿命,这无疑会勾起了我们极大的兴趣。但这种新型药物究竟意味着什么,它又会给社会带来哪些影响?

Films, such as Logan’s Run and Soylent Green, have painted grim visions of an overpopulated future, where drastic measures are taken to control these overcrowded worlds and their scarce resources. The need for strict population control is not pure fantasy – until recently, China had the One-Child Policy, due to their booming population in the 1970s.

《我不能死》(Logan's Run)和《超世纪谍杀案》(Soylent Green)这样的影片描述了一个严肃的场景:在人口过多的未来世界里,不得不采取极端措施来控制过度拥挤的世界及其稀缺的资源。严格的人口控制并不仅仅存在于幻想之中——直到最近,中国还在因为20世纪70年代的人口激增而实行计划生育政策。

One might think that a longer-living society would lead to an increase in population, but the reality is quite different. Population growth is more determined by birth rates than mortality rates. “In the very short term, falls in mortality do create population growth,” observes Jane Falkingham, professor and director of the Centre of Population Change at the University of Southampton. “In the longer period, it is fertility that is the engine rather than mortality.”

有人或许认为,人类的寿命延长必然导致人口增长,但实际情况并非如此。人口增长主要取决于出生率,而非死亡率。"在很短的时间内,死亡率的降低的确会促使人口增长。"南安普顿大学人口变化中心主任兼教授珍·弗尔金汉姆(Jane Falkingham)说,"但从长期来看,真正的动力来自出生率,而非死亡率。"

Recent clinical trials in mice have shown diabetic animals given the drug metformin, first introduced in 1957, are living longer than non-diabetics, who did not take the drug. And it’s been suggested that metformin could protect against basic ageing itself, and not just type 2 diabetes.

最近对老鼠进行的临床试验表明,患有糖尿病的动物服用1957年首次引入临床研究的二甲双胍后,寿命反而长于没有服用这种药物的正常动物。之前就有人认为,二甲双胍不仅能治疗II型糖尿病,还可以抵抗衰老。

However, there are some possible pharmaceutical treatments that may not only protect against ageing, but actually reverse the effects of ageing itself.

然而,可能还有一些药物治疗方法不仅具备抗衰老的功效,甚至可以扭转衰老本身产生的影响。

The almost vampiric practice of elderly people being given blood transfusions from young donors has been discovered to have some medical credibility. This fascination with blood’s potentially life-giving properties was first pursued by the German doctor Andreas Libavius in 1615, where he considered connecting the arteries of an older man to that of a young man.

研究人员发现,有一种类似于吸血鬼的方案的确有一些医学根据,这种方案会把年轻捐献者的鲜血输到老年人体内。这种方法对人血充满狂热,但它的确有可能具备维持生命的特性。1615年,德国医生安德里亚斯·利巴非乌斯(Andreas Libavius)率先提出这种方法,他当时考虑把老年人与年轻人的动脉血管相连。

Libavius was confident it would succeed, and results from experiments in 2005 showed the idea had promise. Old mice became healthier with young blood, whilst the young mice, who were infused with blood from elderly mice, did much worse. However, the risks associated with blood transfusions, such as lung injury and infections, should not be overlooked.

利巴非乌斯相信这种方法能够成功,而2005年的实验结果表明,他的想法的确有一定的前景。老年老鼠获得年轻老鼠的血液后的确变得更加健康,而年轻老鼠获得老年老鼠的血液后身体状况却大幅恶化。然而,输血仍然蕴含肺损伤和感染等风险,我们不应忽视这些因素。

Yet, there are treatments being developed that are not as controversial and are repeatedly being proven as effective in laboratory tests.

然而,目前正在开发的一些治疗方案并不存在这么大的争议,其实际效果也已经反复在实验室中得以验证。

Mice that have their senescent cells – those that can no longer divide to create new cells – removed  through the injection of Foxo4-DRI live longer. This compound essentially interferes with the normal process that would tell the cell to stop dividing. These mice are now 30 months old, which is approximately the equivalent of 100 human years, and remain active, proving the effect is not temporary. “If you target so-called bad senescent cells, which are unwanted as they have become old and irreparably damaged, then you can extend and, to a degree, even restore health,” explains Peter de Keizer of the Department of Molecular Genetics at Erasmus University Medical Centre. “By targeting these cells, ageing could not only be delayed, but also, to a degree at least, reversed.”

通过注射Foxo4-DRI来清除老鼠体内的衰老细胞——这些细胞不再通过分裂产生新细胞——便可延长它们的寿命。这种化合物的原理在于,它可以干扰一项让细胞停止分裂的正常流程。这些老鼠现在已经30个月了,大约相当于人类寿命的100岁,但依然很活跃,说明这种效果并不是暂时的。"如果你能瞄准所谓的衰老坏细胞,也就是那些已经因为衰老而遭到了无可挽回的破坏,并因此被我们嫌弃的细胞,那就可以延年益寿。"伊拉斯慕斯大学医学中心分子遗传系的彼得·德·凯撒(Peter de Keizer)解释道,"瞄准这些细胞后,不仅能够延缓衰老,甚至可以逆转衰老——至少可以从一定程度上实现。"

Meanwhile, Calico, a subdivision of Google’s parent company Alphabet, intends to harness advanced technologies in order to understand the biology that controls lifespan and to use that knowledge to devise interventions that will enable people to lead longer and healthier lives.

与此同时,谷歌母公司Alphabet旗下的Calico部门计划充分利用先进的科技来理解控制寿命的生理机制,并借助这些知识设计各种干预措施,从而让人类活得更长、更健康。

So what are the implications if these techniques succeed in radically extending life? One possible issue around people living longer is that it would add to the effects of over-population, an increasing concern in the 21st Century.

如果这些技术真的能大幅延长寿命,究竟会带来哪些影响?当人类寿命延长后,其中一个可能出现的问题是加重人口过多所产生的影响,这已经在21世纪越发引人关注。

In 2015, the number of children born to mothers in England and Wales was, on average, approximately 1.8 children. As society has become more educated and health has improved, the biological imperative for families to have lots of children to compensate for those who did not survive has become redundant. Further, the average age of women giving birth has increased to 30.3 years and there is a growing number of women who have no wish to have children. “Many countries have gone down to, or near to, replacement levels,” observes Sarah Harper, professor of gerontology at the University of Oxford and director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

2015年,英格兰和威尔士的母亲平均每人生育1.8个孩子。人类原本会生很多孩子,以防其中有人夭折。但随着社会教育程度越来越高,健康水平逐步提升,这种生理必然性已经显得有些多余。另外,女性的平均生育年龄也已经上升到30.3岁,而且有越来越多的女性不愿生育。"很多国家都降低到生育更替水平,或者已经接近这一水平。"牛津大学老年学教授、英国皇家学会理事萨拉·哈珀(Sarah Harper)说。

There is also the ethical conundrum that, unless age regression treatment is made available to all, there is a danger of a two-tier society being established, based upon who has access to the treatment. We already live in a world of massive social inequalities. “A child born in the slums of Nairobi has quite different life chances to a child born in Kensington [in London],” says Falkingham.

此外还要面临道德问题:除非返老还童的治疗方案对所有人开放,否则就有可能根据谁曾经接受过这样的治疗而形成两极分化的社会。当今世界的不平等现状已经十分严重。"内罗毕贫民窟里出生的孩子与(伦敦)肯辛顿出生的孩子的生存几率差别很大。"弗尔金汉姆说。

Should age-extension treatment be equally distributed, then it would also face us with the consequences of a growing elderly population.

倘若人人都能享受延长寿命的治疗方案,我们也会因此面临人口老龄化带来的后果。

The oldest living person ever recorded was Jeanne Calment from France, who lived for 122 years (1875 to 1997). Since health care has continually improved since that time, it is surprising that this record has not yet been surpassed. However, it seems we are genetically predisposed to die once we reach to certain age. “There was a paper that came out in 2016 that argued we might not be able to live longer than 120 years,” says de Keizer.

全世界有记录的活得最长的人是来自法国的珍妮·卡尔蒙特(Jeanne Calment),她去世时122岁(1875年到1997年)。由于此后的医疗条件持续改善,所以这项纪录至今仍然未被打破着实令人意外。但从遗传角度来看,我们一旦到达特定年龄似乎就很难继续存活。"2016年的一篇论文认为,我们或许无法活过120岁。"德·凯撒说。

Others think differently. Aubrey De Grey, professor at the SENS Foundation, believes the human lifespan could soon extend dramatically to 1,000. However, as Falkingham observes, “Not very many people agree with him.”

其他人则持有不同想法。SENS基金会教授奥布里·德·格雷(Aubrey De Grey)相信,人类的寿命很快就会大幅延长到1,000岁。然而,弗尔金汉姆却发现,"没有多少人赞同他的观点。"

Many elderly people struggle with conditions like cancer, heart disease, dementia and others. Much of the current medical research is not about living longer, but rather living healthier for longer, and delaying infirmity. “It is far better to put all our resources into having everyone have long and healthy life spans,” says Harper.

很多老人身患癌症、心脏病、痴呆等疾病。当下的很多医学研究都不是为了延长寿命,而是让人们获得更健康,延缓生病的时间。"调动所有资源来让所有人获得又长又健康的寿命要比那好得多。"哈珀说。

Rejuvenation treatments may address the physical aspects of ageing, however they do not address the mental and neurological elements, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. That being said, the number of reported cases of dementia is reducing. “One theory is that just as we keep our bodies active our bodies tend to decline slower, so there is an argument that as we keep our mental activities higher maybe we ward off dementia,” says Harper.

返老还童的治疗方案或许可以解决老龄化产生的身体问题,但却无法解决精神和神经系统问题,例如阿尔兹海默症和痴呆症。尽管如此,痴呆症的病例数量还是在降低。"有一种理论认为,如果我们持续让身体保持活跃,身体机能衰老的速度就会放慢,所以有人认为,如果我们能够保持活跃的思维,或许也能预防痴呆症。"哈珀说。

Another aspect to us living longer and healthier lives is that our chronological age becomes increasingly meaningless when defining our lives. There are now 40-year-old women who are giving birth for the first time, as well as other 40-year-old women who are becoming grandmothers. Despite their shared age, their lives have little in common.

如果我们能够活得更长、更健康,那么在定义我们的生活时,实际年龄也会变得越来越没有意义。现在有的女性到40岁才第一次生育,还有的女性到了40岁已经当上祖母。尽管她们的年龄相同,但她们的生活却几乎没有相同之处。

In spite of us living longer, our 20s and 30s remain demographically dense, in that we are still having children and starting careers during those decades. “Although we are extending life expectancy, we are not changing our biological time,” says Falkingham. “The period in which women give birth is still in our 20s and 30s.”

即使我们寿命延长,二、三十岁仍是人口稠密区间,我们仍会在这段时间生孩子、找工作。"即使寿命延长,我们仍然不会改变自己的生物时间。"弗尔金汉姆说,"女人生孩子的时间仍然是二、三十岁。"

Age regression treatments are also expensive. Even if Foxo4-DRI treatment was cleared for use in humans, it costs approximately a few thousand euros for 10mg. And blood transfusions? Well, this supply is very limited. Only 4% of the UK population are blood donors, which is just 1% over what medical and research industries need. Of these 4%, not all will be happy donating blood for age regression.

返老还童治疗方案的价格也很贵。即使Foxo4-DRI治疗已经可以在人类身上应用,但10毫克的费用大约就需要1,000欧元。输血呢?血源非常有限。只有4%的英国人献过血,仅占医疗和研究需求的1%。在这4%中,并非所有人都愿意为返老还童献血。

This scarcity of supply also raises the macabre possibility of a black market where young people are forced or coerced into providing their blood, as well as the dangers of unlicensed dealers selling fake plasma, or that which is unfit for infusion. If this seems overly dramatic, then all we need to consider is how the health industry has become a profitable sector for organised crime. Europol stated, in their recent Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment: “The distribution of counterfeit pharmaceutical products online is particularly dangerous.” One recent operation resulted in the seizure of potentially dangerous medicines worth £45m ($58.5m).

供给稀缺还可能催生可怕的黑市,导致年轻人被迫提供自己的血液,而未获许可的交易商还有可能出售虚假血浆或不适合注射的血浆。如果你觉得这种说法有些危言耸听,那何不思考一下,医疗行业何以成为有组织犯罪的一个利润丰厚的领域。欧洲刑警组织最近在他们的《有组织严重犯罪威胁评估报告》(Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment)中写道:"网上流通的假冒医药产品非常危险。"最近的一项行动查获了价值4,500万英镑(5,850万美元)的潜在危险药品。

We would need incredible advances in our understanding of human science to fully prevent human ageing, and to even predictably delay it seems a tall order. Further, the ethical, cultural and sociological issues of eradicating ageing would need to be robustly discussed.

我们需要大幅加深对人类科学的理解才能全面避免衰老,但就算要研究出延缓衰老的可行手段似乎都是难以完成的任务。另外,还要对消除衰老所引发的道德、文化和社会学问题展开激烈讨论。

“Part of being human is that we have a finite life and that we pace our lives,” concludes Harper. “It is far better to put all our resources into having everyone living long and healthy lifespans, rather than having a few people to live into the far future.”

"有限的生命和独特的生活节奏都是人之所以为人的一部分。"哈珀说,"调动所有资源让所有人获得又长又健康的寿命,远远好过让一部分人活到遥远的将来。"

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