OPINION

Searching for the elusive key to eternal life

 Immortality believers see ageing as a curable illness and many wealthy people are funding research to find remedies for living longer. Picture: Shutterstock.
Immortality believers see ageing as a curable illness and many wealthy people are funding research to find remedies for living longer. Picture: Shutterstock.

I say: who wants to live forever? You say ...

Who dares to love forever, ooh, when love must die ... My favourite Queen song, after Under Pressure.

Wrong answer. It's Jeff Bezos. The Amazon boss has invested heavily in research to reverse the ageing process.

Or Google cofounder Larry Page, who funds a "longevity lab".

Or Larry Ellison, Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg and multiple Silicon Valley billionaires throwing coin at life-extending studies.

Unless "achieve immortality" is on your to-do list, you're no tech tycoon.

Not a newsflash.

The rich and powerful have attempted to dodge death since time began.

And as none of them are still around, we know how that always ends.

True, but we might at least be able to extend our longevity.

No time to die, hey? Very right-now, very Bond. What's the buzz?

A new French study has revealed we stop ageing after we reach 105 years old.

Of course we do. It's called dying.

Not for everyone. The researchers studied 10,000 people aged over 105 and concluded our risk of death becomes fixed after that age.

These "supercentenarians" have effectively stopped the clock.

I'd be more excited if we stopped it half a century earlier, when my pores were still tight.

That's the goal. Immortality believers see ageing as a curable illness.

And the search for remedies is leading down a maze of rabbit holes: parabiosis, the creepily vampiric theory of youthful blood's rejuvenating effects; switching on genes to create new stem cells, and the secrets of long-lived animals.

For example, did you know that clams don't age?

You could eat a clam predating your great, great grandmother.

Suddenly the idea of chowder seems obscene. Is that why they say "happy as a clam?"

Aha! There's the existential question: would immortality actually be fun?

Maybe only if you're Jeff Bezos, with enough money for a few millennia. It's all about quality of life, right?

That's where the supercentenarians come in.

These golden oldies enjoy astonishingly rude health.

Jeanne Calment, who lived to 122, took up fencing at 85, was still cycling at 100 and finally quit smoking at a sprightly 117.

Scientists believe there's something extra-resilient about the supercentenarian immune system that might hold the key to an enhanced "healthspan" as well as lifespan.

Coming soon on Amazon Prime, no doubt.

  • Amy Cooper is a journalist who embraces wellness, but has also used kale to garnish a cocktail.

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This story Reaching into deep pockets to find the key to eternal life first appeared on The Canberra Times.