THE DREAM OF ELIXIR VITAE
João Pedro de Magalhães, Ph.D.
Human aging is a universal process of loss of viability and
increase in vulnerability. Although so far the underlying
mechanisms of aging remain largely a mystery, it is reason-
able to expect that we will eventually understand the human
aging process. Possibly during this century, we will know
what changes occur in a human being from ages 30 to 70 to
increase the chance of dying by roughly 32-fold. Yet even if
researchers detail those changes, even if researchers identify
the causal molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for
human aging, this will not necessarily lead to a cure for aging.
HIV was identified as the cause of AIDS over 20 years ago
and we still cannot cure AIDS.  So to delay aging, not to
mention to stop or reverse the human aging process, will be a
monumental task. It is true that we still do not know in detail
what changes occur as human beings age, but it is equally true
that the most important question in studying aging is not why
we age but how can we fix it.