In this concluding lecture of the series,
I shall try to draw us together many of the strands of research
and thinking that have been discussed by my colleagues in previous lectures.
And I shall try to give you my own impression of what this means for the prospects
for intervention in human aging in
the foreseeable future and postponement of the ill health,
that of course is currently associated with old age.
I'm going to start right at the top.
I'm going to ask the question which not enough people in society really ask,
and at least not with the determination to come up with an answer that's useful.
The question is simply,
why have we been so much less successful in
developing medicines to alleviate and address the ill health
of old age than we have with respect to
the diseases that used to be so prevalent early in life,
in particular most infectious diseases?
Of course, we know that a couple of hundred years ago,
at least one third of babies would die before the age of one,
and of course there was huge amount of mortality in childbirth and throughout early life.
This has been virtually eliminated in the industrialized world,
and it is becoming rapidly rarer even in the developing world as a result of
really pretty elementary medical interventions as
compared to the kinds that are being developed these days.
And yet, even the kinds of medical interventions that are being developed
these days are only having very limited success against the ill health of old age.
We really must ask ourselves seriously why that is.
And I believe that that is the starting point for
any discussion of how this might be better.