UAE  - It is more important to focus on quality of life not how long we live amid rapid scientific advances that have improved human longevity and could one day create Earth’s first generation of immortals.

This is according to senior healthcare and medical experts who shed light on the societal impact of human longevity on a panel titled ‘Do You Really Want to Live Forever?’ at the Dubai Future Forum.

Dr Jose Cordeiro, Vice Chair, Humanity Plus, painted an optimistic view on longevity, affirming: “If you are not looking at longevity, you are not looking at the future. Cancer discovered how we stopped aging – we can also discover how we become immortal.

"Those who make it to 2030 will gain one year every year they survive, that’s the belief. We will have the rejuvenation technology by 2045. We are living in most incredible time in human history – between the last mortal generation and the first immortal generation.”

People will continue to choose to live in the UAE due to the world-class healthcare systems and the quality of life it offers, and it is the country’s commitment to extend the best of research and latest scientific knowledge into the healthcare sector to preserve the health of the community, said Dr Hanan Al Suwaidi, Chief Business Officer, Dubai Academic Health Corporation.

Others who spoke on the panel included Dr James Kirkland, Noaber Foundation and Professor of Aging Research, Mayo Clinic; and Dr Alex Zhavoronko - Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Insilico Medicine. The session was moderated by Bronwyn Williams from Metanomic.

“In the UAE, we are privileged to work with other industries such as our space program to support aging on Earth. We have conducted research with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center on bone density loss and insulin resistance in space to understand mobility on analog missions and in the International Space Stations,” said Dr Al Suwaidi, who was the flight surgeon tasked with monitoring the health of Hazza Al Mansouri, UAE’s first astronaut to the ISS in 2019.

Dr Zhavoronko said while “aging is the most complex therapeutic area, we should expect failures, and we shouldn’t expect miracles. The key is to use artificial intelligence and robotics to transform the pharmaceutical industry and discover drugs to help us live longer.”

Dr Kirkland added: “Aging begins before conception, and it is feasible to target some of the fundamental processes that are linked to aging. We are doing clinical research on senolytic drugs that destroy senescent cells that not only improved the physical capabilities of aged mice but also extended their lifespans. Clinical trials are under way in humans, targeting osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s, frailty to cancer survivors, and bone marrow survivors. It is imperative that we move quickly… but cautiously.”

In another debate titled ‘Will Future Regulations be Private Sector Driven?’, panelists discussed whether corporations could eventually become self-regulating.

HE Ahmad Al Bedwawi, Assistant Secretary General of Government Policies in the General Secretariat of the Cabinet, said: “I think the private sector is playing a more important role in guiding future policy. Governments are giving them even more space and flexibility to test new technologies or benefit from exciting experiments. Defining a clear vision of what we want to achieve is vital and I cannot imagine a better place than the UAE to do so.”

He was joined on the panel by Dr. Blaž Golob, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, GoForesight Institute and Heliot Europe Country Manager; Dr Clem Bezold, Co-Founder, Public Sector Foresight Network; Lin Kayser, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Hyperganic Group. The panel was moderated by Jacob Ellis, from Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.

The Dubai Future Forum runs from 11-12 October at Dubai’s Museum of the Future. It is the world’s largest global gathering of futurists, hosting more than 400 international participants including technology experts, scientists, innovators, researchers, legislators, policymakers and specialists in various high-skilled fields. 

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