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Humans are living longer lives. At the turn of the century, men and women expected to live to 48 and 51 years respectively. That life expectancy is now 74 and 80 years and could be significantly longer with anti-aging advancements currently being researched.
At the same time, 30 new highly infectious diseases have been discovered in the last 20 years. These diseases account for 30% of the deaths worldwide and include HIV/AIDS, Ebola and the Avian Flu. HIV/AIDS, the most critical threat, has killed 22 million and infected 42 million. In 2003 roughly 5 million people became infected worldwide. AIDS according to a United Nations study is increasingly becoming global as it spreads rapidly to Eastern Europe and Asia.
Cancer kills over 500,000 people and 1.5 million are diagnosed annually in the United States. According to the World Cancer Report, there could be a 50% increase to 15 million new cases in the year 2020 primarily attributed to an aging population worldwide.
Recent nanotechnology research is making tremendous progress in the medical field. Some of the nanotechnology applications in the arena will be inexpensive and rapid diagnostics, new methods of drug delivery, and faster development of new drugs. Some longer term and even more powerful nanotechnology solutions will repair DNA and cellular damage and customize drug therapy.
In the Expert Opinion essays below, longer-term applications of advanced nanotechnology to health and longevity are explored.
Expert Opinion – Foresight Institute Editorial Board Member
The Postponement of Aging
Developing Biomedical Tools to Repair Molecular and Cellular Damage
Aubrey de Grey
University of Cambridge
Recent news pertaining to Foresight Nanotechnology Challenge #3 — Improving Health and Longevity: