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If Aubrey de Grey's predictions are right, the first person who will live to see their 150th birthday has already been born. And the first person to live for 1,000 years could be less than 20 years younger. A biomedical gerontologist and chief scientist of a foundation dedicated to longevity research, de Grey reckons that within his own lifetime doctors could have all the tools they need to "cure" aging -- banishing diseases that come with it and extending life indefinitely.
"I'd say we have a 50/50 chance of bringing aging under what I'd call a decisive level of medical control within the next 25 years or so," de Grey said in an interview before delivering a lecture at Britain's Royal Institution academy of science. "And what I mean by decisive is the same sort of medical control that we have over most infectious diseases today."
De Grey sees a time when people will go to their doctors for regular "maintenance," which by then will include gene therapies, stem cell therapies, immune stimulation and a range of other advanced medical techniques to keep them in good shape. De Grey lives near Cambridge University where he won his doctorate in 2000 and is chief scientific officer of the non-profit California-based SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Foundation, which he co-founded in 2009.
A person aged 55 today has a one in two chance of living to 90 and a one in four chance of living to 95, according to acturial consultancy Watson Wyatt. By 2010 the number of pensioners will, for the first time, exceed the number of children in the population, according to the Office for National Statistics, and by 2031 there will be 40,000 people aged 100 or over, compared to just 300 in 1951.