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01/12/2010

Combative, provocative and engaging debate, asking whether we should welcome treatments to reverse the ageing process. Chaired by Michael Buerk.

It's reported this week that scientists in America, have for the first time, managed to reverse the effects of ageing in animals. The experiment was carried out on mice at Harvard. Before the treatment their skin and other organs were equivalent to those of an 80 year old human. After the injection of a drug that switches on a key enzyme, the mice grew so many new cells that they'd almost completely rejuvenated. The results raise some difficult questions.

No one would argue that we should work on drugs that alleviate the problems of old age, but should we actively try to extend life itself? In the UK by 2031, more than a fifth of the population will be over 65 and the fastest growing population will be those aged 85 and over. It's not just a question of the cost, but how we value the old in society. Despite plans for legislation, allegations of ageism are common place. Are we stuck with an out of date attitude to the old that has too often resulted in them being shuffled off in to age reservations as soon as they hit three score years and ten? Has our culture, which so values youthfulness come to terms with the improvements to the physical and mental capabilities of the elderly? Or are the old themselves partly to blame? Desperately clinging on to their youth with pills, potions and plastic surgery. Is the search for eternal youth hubris, or a natural part of the human condition? If we assist in extending life, will that inevitably mean assistance ending? When it comes to age, when is enough enough?

The Moral Maze chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Kenan Malik, Matthew Taylor and Claire Fox.

45 minutes

Last on

Sat 4 Dec 2010 22:15

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