Marios Kyriazis* Pages 149 - 154 ( 6 )
The question whether aging is a disease or not, has been asked by many professionals who are involved in the study of age-related degeneration. However, not only an agreement on this remains elusive, but also effective clinical treatments against human aging have not been forthcoming. In this Opinion paper I suggest that the complexity involved in aging is such that we need to remodel our thinking to involve a much more ‘systems-oriented’ approach. I explore four main principles which should be employed by those who are working on finding treatments against agerelated degeneration. First, I discuss the problems encountered in translating laboratory research into effective therapies for humans. Second, I propose that a ‘systems-thinking’ method needs to be more extensively employed, instead of relying exclusively on the current reductionist one. Third, it is submitted that we must learn from the history of life-extension research, and not blindly follow contemporary paradigms, which may lead us into yet more ‘dead ends’ with regards to therapies. Finally, I suggest that, we may need to employ certain universal notions and use these in order to gain insights into the mechanics of a possible therapy against age-related degeneration. Examples may be the principle of hormesis, those of degeneracy, exaptation, and others from cybernetic or systems science domains. By using this four-pronged approach we liberate our thinking from the shackles of existing common mistakes and fallacies, and we open the way for a fresh approach that may lead us towards entirely new paradigms for providing clinically effective therapies against agerelated degeneration.
Reductionism, systems thinking, translational research, age-related degeneration, life extension, hormesis.
National Gerontology Centre, Larnaca 6021