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The Secrets to Living Forever

Dig into the science of longevity with WIRED as they take us from stem cell ‘junk yards’ to secretive life-extension clinics.

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100 years ago, the average person’s life expectancy in the U.S. hovered around the high-50s. Today, not only are people living longer, they’re staying healthier—which begs the question: Will human immortality ever be in reach? It’s a frequent topic of conversation for WIRED’s science team, and the impetus for our recent series on the science of aging and longevity.

Here, we’re sharing a handful of those stories, alongside some of the gems from our archives on everything from reanimating cells after death to the quest to make a digital copy of your brain. Or if you’re wondering about a pill that could extend the life of your dog, well, you’re in luck. We’ve got that too. Because what’s the point of eternal life if you have to constantly bid farewell to beloved pets?

Are there too many stories here? Maybe. But we’re really excited about the mysteries of longevity—and you’ve got plenty of time, haven’t you?


The Quest for Longevity Is Already Over

Matt Reynolds

People who live well beyond 100 inevitably get asked: What’s the secret? Is it kindness? Abstaining from alcohol? Avoiding men? We’ve long scoured the lives of the super-long-lived for clues about how to live longer. But statistics show this might be a fool’s errand. Crunching the numbers reveals we’re potentially already at the limit of human lifespan.

Inside the Secretive Life-Extension Clinic

Frank Swain

Rob Reddick: In 2015, US company BioViva became the first to inject a person—its CEO nonetheless—with a gene therapy to reverse the effects of aging. It claims the experiment was a success, but researchers aren’t so sure. Now BioViva is promoting its therapies to others looking to turn back the clock. Safety isn’t guaranteed—and neither, crucially, is efficacy. One thing is though: Prices start at $75,000. No refunds.

The Long, Strange Life of the World’s Oldest Naked Mole Rat

Max G. Levy

KP: Meet the world’s oldest naked mole rat, the most long-lived member of a wrinkly underground rodent species known for being … well, long-lived. Despite their ugly mugs, naked mole rats have got great bones. And cardiovascular systems. And they hardly ever get cancer. This is the story of what we can learn from the world’s most resilient creature.

The Secrets of Aging Are Hidden in Your Ovaries

Emily Mullin

Kara Platoni: The key to aging may lie in one of the body’s least understood organs: the ovary. This tissue ages faster than any other, and when the ovaries stop working at menopause, the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia rises. Now researchers are investigating whether forestalling menopause can push back the symptoms of aging itself.

The Modern World Is Aging Your Brain

Max G. Levy

KP: Everyone’s brain shrinks with age, an atrophy which accompanies cognitive decline. A new study shows that shrinking happens faster among people in the industrialized world—offering intriguing clues about what keeps the brain healthy as it ages.

The Quest to Make a Digital Replica of Your Brain

Grace Browne

KP: What if you could have a “digital twin” of your brain, a computer model that could be used to predict how well treatments for conditions like Alzheimer’s or epilepsy would work for your (real) brain? And what happens to that twin when you die?

The Case of the Incredibly Long-Lived Mouse Cells

Max G. Levy

KP: The immune system’s T cells are a protective army that fights off cancers and viral invaders—but that battle comes at a cost to the cells, which eventually get exhausted and die. In this novel experiment in mice, researchers were able to keep these cells in peak fighting shape indefinitely, offering a glimpse into future treatments for cancer, autoimmune disorders, and perhaps clues to healthy aging.

Your Speech May Reveal Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Amit Katwala

RR: Millions of people worldwide suffer from dementia, but it’s still underdiagnosed and often detected too late. Identify it earlier, and it could be treated better. Startup Accexible has just the method for doing this—by looking for tell-tale signs of cognitive decline that can be heard in people’s voices.

Stem Cell ‘Junk Yards’ Reveal a New Clue About Aging

Max G. Levy

KP: This is a close-up look at what happens inside aging stem cells in the blood, showing that their ability to take out cellular “garbage”—misfolded proteins— diminishes over time. Developing new drugs that keep this crucial machinery running could help fight age-related diseases.

Kara Platoni and Rob Reddick

WIRED Science covers health, biotech, climate, the environment, space and robotics. Kara Platoni is the Senior Editor, Science, and Rob Reddick is the Science Editor. You can find the latest stories from us on the WIRED website.