Posted on Sep 02, 2018, 5 p.m.
Aging is the number one killer around the globe. Lobbyists have been making good progress towards classifying aging as a disease, recently The World Health Organization has implemented the extension code XT9T Ageing-related in the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases; their work impact has been so successful the news appeared published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet.
ICD coding of ageing related means caused by pathological processes that persistently leads to loss of organism’s adaptation and progress among older ages; which is an important step in the anti-aging fields as these codes are a prerequisite for registration of new drugs and therapies; this marks recognition of aging being a pathological process represent a step forward to overcoming regulatory barriers in developing therapies directly targeting aging processes themselves.
W.H.O has reported that by 2050 a projected 2 billion people will be aged 60+, that is roughly 22% of the world population. In 2015 it was 12% approximately 900 million, extended lifespans globally is driving that number up and it is expected that by 2020 there will be more people aged 60+ than under 5 years old. The oncoming Silver Tsunami is a genuine concern as society most likely will be unable to cope with rising numbers of elderly and the age related risk factors that come along with it. The only solution to this issue is development of therapies targeted to address the ageing process to keep the ageing population active, happy, healthy and contributing to society rather than becoming burdens on families and healthcare systems.
Inclusion the the new coding of ACD-11 cannot be regarded as W.H.O officially accepting ageing as a disease, rather showing recognition of ageing as primary risk factor for age related diseases which includes Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, amyloidosis, cancer, diabetes, and atherosclerosis among others. ICD is not just a taxonomy, it influences how drugs are prescribed in most nations, addition of extension code to denoted ageing may have an impact for age related ill health treatments brought to market.
Ageing as a disease has had considerable debate, it is proposed that it is a co-morbid syndrome and that aging fits the medical definition of a syndrome in every way as defined by the British Medical Association with syndrome being a set of medical signs and symptoms that correlate with each other and often with a particular disease or disorder; this description does describe ageing: a group of symptoms and hallmarks that occur consistently together and is a condition which is characterized by a set of associated symptoms. Ageing can be seen as a blanket term describing a range of pathological changes which already qualifies as a syndrome, getting accepted as a disease may be a challenge. One thing is certain regardless of semantics ageing leads to pathology and disease of old age which is a problem that needs to be addressed that lobbyists will continue to push forward to get W.H.O to officially recognize ageing as a pathological process with identifiable and quantifiable clinical indications that can be intervened upon.
Ageing as a disease breaks traditional views seeing it as normal and has become a challenge to work against it with some resisting calling it a disease for semantic reasons, as a united definition of disease is lacking such debate may go on for a long time. Ageing needs to be classified as a disease to officially enable development of drugs and clinical practice guidelines for prevention and treatment of age related health damage.
Human organisms can be complex and fragile with the science not yet explaining comprehensively just how the totality of the body works. Clinical trials are the only properly organized scientific experiments specifically designed to test best guesses, promoting untested cures can result in suffering; with the difference being global medical knowledge accumulation helping to prevent adverse effects and cure diseases. Reporting and publishing failed trials are also important as it helps to stop wasting resources. Clinical trials are a costly process, more expensive in some areas such as the USA and cheaper in others such as Russia; life extensionists around the globe should promote the idea of new clinical trials on anti-aging cures.
Some age related syndromes and conditions have specific underlying mechanisms, these pathologies have special codes, meaning new treatments addressing specific mechanisms of ageing can be developed. Development of an effective T-cell regeneration method could result in a measurable decrease in mortality, which in this case with such life saving therapies medical insurance organizations would have to include into their programs, making development of anti-aging technologies more lucrative for biomedical investors as is the case now with pneumococcal vaccines.
Papers are being prepared for publication by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation, International Longevity Alliance, Biogerontology Research Foundation, the Council for Public Health and the Problems of Demography, and others to explain views to collaborating with continued lobbying to advocate for classification of ageing as a disease. Better description of specific ageing related conditions may help the process. Development of effective anti-ageing therapies for clinical practice requires consultations with medical communities including gerontologists, regulators, pharmaceutical, biomedical, and insurance companies. Any individuals with biomedical and medical backgrounds could take part in writing research and analytical papers that may help with information management, longevity activists may help by promoting the cause and campaigns; strong support from within the longevity community would be instrumental.
Inclusion of the new code may make it easier to develop therapies to directly target ageing, progress will continue regardless. It is hoped that this positive change will encourage the pharmaceutical industry to put its weight behind research focused on targeting ageing processes, after all longer lives could mean more money spent to their profit margin alone.
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The, L. D. E. (2018). Opening the door to treating ageing as a disease. The lancet. Diabetes & endocrinology, 6(8), 587.
The British Medical Association (BMA) (2002). Illustrated Medical Dictionary. A Dorling Kindersley Boo. p. 536