How can I mentally stop aging

Forever young: how to trick aging

The search for rejuvenating substances is difficult because there are only a few clues that can be used to determine biological age, says Björn Schumacher. He is head of the Institute for Genome Stability in Aging and Disease at the University of Cologne. "Aging is not a disease," says the biologist: unlike chronic diseases such as rheumatism or high blood pressure, it hardly leaves any traces in the body that are the same for all people who are considered old. A chronologically old person can, for example, be biologically young: Even at the age of 80, no illness will limit his or her everyday life. Conversely, a young person suffering from diabetes and cardiac arrhythmias is considered biologically old.

Doctors call multimorbid people who suffer from several chronic diseases at the same time and whose biological age is increased as a result. But multimorbidity can mean something completely different for every biologically old person. Clinical evidence that indicates the threat of frailty and susceptibility to multimorbidity is therefore scarce.

A moderately resilient result

According to Christoph Englert, the results of Fahy's experiment in this context are exciting, but also problematic. He heads the research group Molecular Genetics of Aging at the Leibniz Institute for Aging Research in Jena. According to him, the thymus has not yet been the focus of rejuvenation research, so Fahy's study could provide a promising approach for future experiments. "My enthusiasm is limited," he says nonetheless.

Because so far the study has not been published in a scientific publication and therefore did not have to withstand an independent review process. In addition, the number of study participants was very small and the sample was also very uniform: the test subjects were all fit and sporty before the experiment. A control group, which received an ineffective preparation for comparison, was missing.

In addition, the substances used are not harmless, says Englert - especially the growth hormone. In this experiment it would have regenerated the thymus. But an agent that makes tissue grow can also cause damaged cells to multiply uncontrollably and ultimately cause cancer. A much larger number of subjects is necessary to really rule out the harmful effects of Fahy's treatment. "That is how long the rejuvenation effect remains an anecdotal observation," says Englert.

When developing his experiment, however, Fahy was guided by a promising observation made in recent years: he administered the drug metformin to his test subjects. Doctors have long observed that the drug, often prescribed for type 2 diabetes, appears to have a rejuvenating effect on the body. A group led by the Israeli researcher Nir Barzilai is currently testing the effect in people who do not have type 2 diabetes.