HTLS 2020: ‘Burden of looking after old people crippling,’ says Dr David Sinclair
David Sinclair, one of the best anti-ageing experts, said on the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit (HTLS) on Friday that as the population gets older, it is putting a lot of economic load on the global economy. He also said that the burden of looking after older people is very high. Dr Sinclair has been working in the field for more than two decades, and has worked on protective enzymes.
“It’s a very important time for the people to understand ageing. And the reason is that in 2018, for the first time ever in our species’ history, the number of older people - over the age of 65 - outnumbered the number of people who are less than 5 years old. And that trend will continue to go in that direction,” said Dr Sinclair.
“We are already seeing in many countries that the burden - both social and economic - of looking after older people who are no longer productive is an economic burden that is really crippling. Older the population gets, it’s harder for the younger generation to look after them,” he added.
Dr Sinclair said that he is working towards improving the quality of life when a person gets older. “It’s about extending youthfulness. So that we can live upto 90 or 100 and towards the very end can still be productive members of the society.”
The ageing expert said that in the US it is estimated that reducing one major disease by just 10 per cent can save $3 trillion.
Dr Sinclair further said that ageing is by far the largest cause of most of the major diseases on the planet.
“To live substantially longer, you have to address ageing-related issues. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is thinking about declaring ageing a disease,” he said.
“In young people, cells are beautifully controlled. If genes are a piano, they are played perfectly. But as we get older, it seems like the pianist is making mistakes and playing the wrong keys. It starts to sound like a terrible cacophony,” said Dr Sinclair.
He then explained the human biology and talked about whether it is possible to reverse ageing. Dr Sinclair talked about the experiment where the researchers were able to restore vision in old mice.
Dr Sinclair appeared on the cover of the Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. He is a professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Paul F Glenn Centre for the Biological Mechanisms of Ageing.