Moderation: G. Fuellen, Rostock; M. Gogol, Heidelberg; A. Simm, Halle (Saale)
For most scientists, the systematic reversal of ageing processes is in the realm of science fiction. Then again, recent experiments with senolytics and heterochronous parabiosis appear promising. This session is not designed as pro-and-contra, and it is not inviting speakers with optimistic and pessimistic viewpoints. Instead, scientists with a-priori neutral positions on this topic were invited to assess the state of the art, and potentially, to give their perspective of future trends.
We discuss whether past progress in aging research may generally be seen as incremental or disruptive. We then review more recent progress towards reversing aging processes, specifically based on heterochronic parabiosis and on targeting senescent cells. We briefly describe some results of meta-research on the question of how to judge the solidity, and specifically the reproducibility of research, and the tradeoff between standardization and generalizability. We briefly touch the issues arising in translating research to the clinics and to the "real world". We conclude with an attempt to judge the solidity and translatability of research on undoing aging and health deterioration.
Experiments involving the removal of senescent cells have recently shown impressive results regarding healthspan and lifespan extension in mice, which are apparently based on a true rejuvenation process. Nevertheless, proposals to slowdown or even reverse the ageing process are regularly met with strong skepticism by laymen as well as scientists. Why is this so? It seems that anti-ageing research has a serious credibility problem and this presentation will propose and discuss several possible reasons. Similarly, especially in laymen, anti-ageing research also seems to provoke strong emotional reactions and ethical concerns. The talk will highlight the most popular of these concerns and provide possible answers. Obviously, such a discussion cannot be free of personnal bias, but the aim is to provide "food for thought" for the following panel discussion.