It’s humanity’s oldest dream – immortality, a world where we never age, a world where death will be purely optional, and a handful of scientists believe that this really will be our future. For now biologists understand the mechanisms that make us age and make us die, and some of them think they know how to reverse both, stop nature in its tracks and make us immortal, like the gods.
But recently a series of startling discoveries has forced scientists to rethink their theories on ageing. They have already found some of the genes involved in delaying the ageing process in animals. Tinkering with them, geneticists have created races of super-organisms – fruit flies, for instance, that can live double their natural life-span and that die healthy and vigorous.
Other laboratories have bred mice that can spontaneously regenerate parts of their bodies, constantly repairing the damage that is part of the ageing process. Controversially, some scientists are confident that their results can be extended to future generations of humans.