Healthy Body

These Are the Core Concepts of Longevity Medicine—AKA How We’re Going to Live Longer and Better

Photo: Getty Images/Hinterhaus Productions
You may think it’s a no-brainer that people want to live longer. But nearly half of Americans said that whether they’d like to live past 100 depends on whether they are in pain or able to do so independently when polled by Axios in 2018.

That’s why longevity, at least how it’s spoken about in the sphere of wellness, is not just about existing as long as you possibly can—it’s about preserving your quality of life throughout your old age. And longevity medicine is interested in accomplishing both of these tasks.

What is longevity medicine?

Longevity medicine is a fast-evolving subspecialty of preventative precision medicine—meaning it’s focused on customizing health plans for patients in order to stave off common-killers like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

What separates longevity medicine from traditional care, is that it is powered by cutting-edge research and recent advancements in artificial intelligence. This combo has allowed longevity experts to learn more about the science of aging over the last decade than was discovered in the entire span of human history that came before.

Another distinguishing characteristic is that longevity medicine considers aging a condition that can and should be treated, whereas in traditional healthcare spaces, aging has always been seen as an inevitability.

Though it has skyrocketed in hype and funding in recent years, longevity medicine is still in its infancy. In fact, physicians and scientists partnered to launch the first-ever longevity medicine course for physicians in March. The course was designed to make the core concepts of longevity available to the practicing medical community, so that, when this kind of care becomes available in a clinical setting, physicians will be able to offer it to their patients right away.

Even though the course is designed to be taught to medical professionals, we took a look at the learning materials and gleaned what the future holds for longevity medicine.

Here are some of the core concepts of longevity medicine

Artificial intelligence and deep learning

The last 10 years have seen huge advancements in machine learning, a part of artificial intelligence where a computer algorithm can synthesize complex datasets and improve automatically as it is exposed to more information. This has coincided with the rise of longevity medicine and has assisted researchers in learning more about cross-species aging patterns. Artificial intelligence has also prompted the development of deep learning aging clocks, a technology that is able to target and analyze biomarkers of aging.

Biomarkers of aging

Speaking of which, longevity experts are rapidly expanding their knowledge of these signifiers. A biomarker is something that is measurable and can indicate the state of your health. When you have your blood pressure taken or your cholesterol levels analyzed at your yearly physical, that is your doctor using biomarkers to learn more about your body.

The science of biomarkers for aging is central to longevity medicine but is still in the research-an- development stage. Grey hair and wrinkles are not the kind of biomarkers they’re looking for—they want to find something on the cellular level that gives an indication of how your body is aging and, more specifically, the rate at which your body is aging. Right now, there are multiple kinds of data that can be used to predict age, like gene expression, your microbiome, and certain kinds of imaging data.

Geroprotectors and senolytics

In order to understand geroprotectors, we have to talk about senescence. Senescence is what is happening inside the body when we age: Our cells stop dividing and become dysfunctional, prompting the decline of organ health and the familiar deterioration associated with growing older.

A geroprotector is a compound that can stop or reverse this process of cellular aging. Studies have suggested different nutrients like melatonin, carnosine, and metformin could operate as geroprotectors in animals, but more research is needed before this kind of treatment is available to human patients.

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