Be it resolved: Ageing is a reversible disease


Manage episode 291779063 series 2576732
By 147634 and Munk Foundation / Antica Productions / iHeartRadio. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Oxygen therapy to lengthen our telomeres and prolong the life of our chromosomes. Boosting the functioning of our mitochondria with NAD. Stem cell rejuvenation. These are just some of the exciting therapies that scientists are exploring in their quest to prevent the decline and suffering we experience as we age. But some scientists argue that these are just partial fixes and that the answer to the eternal quest for the fountain of youth lies in pinpointing the upstream driver of these hallmarks of ageing. They claim that thanks to breakthroughs in the science of genetics they have finally discovered the control system that generates the strength and health we associate with youth. It’s the “epigenome”, which is the packaging that coils around our DNA and switches on and off the genes that shape the identity of our cells. They say that as we age this packaging unravels, which deregulates the DNA and cell information they have been safeguarding. Fix the packaging and we can completely reset our DNA and cells and regenerate our bodies so they are once again like brand new. Skeptics say that we need to look no farther than evolution to recognize that while ageing can be slowed down it can’t be abolished. Despite the formidable powers of natural selection, a species that doesn’t age and die has not emerged. This is because ageing is marked not just by cells that are slowing down but also by cells that are rapidly multiplying and becoming cancerous. It is impossible to fix one without the other benefiting, a form of intercell competition where human beings and our hopes of eradicating old age are the losers.

Arguing for the motion is David Sinclair, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and one of TIME Magazine’s “Top 50 people in health care”. He is the author of over 200 scientific papers as well as the New York Times bestseller Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To.

Arguing against the motion is Joanna Masel, Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. She is a mathematical modeller who has published over 50 papers in a variety of scientific fields and is the author of Bypass Wall Street: A Biologist's Guide to the Rat Race.

Sources: ZNews, Fox News, WKTV Newschannel2, Science Time

The host of the Munk Debates is Rudyard Griffiths - @rudyardg.

Tweet your comments about this episode to @munkdebate or comment on our Facebook page

To sign up for a weekly email reminder for this podcast, send an email to

To support civil and substantive debate on the big questions of the day, consider becoming a Munk Member at

Members receive access to our 10+ year library of great debates in HD video, a free Munk Debates book, newsletter and ticketing privileges at our live events.

This podcast is a project of the Munk Debates, a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to fostering civil and substantive public dialogue -

The Munk Debates podcast is produced by Antica, Canada’s largest private audio production company -

Executive Producer: Stuart Coxe, CEO Antica Productions

Senior Producer: Christina Campbell

Editor: Kieran Lynch

Producer: Nicole Edwards

Associate Producer: Abhi Raheja

126 episodes