I’m not a big fan of anti-aging this, that and the other.

The face, body and brain that I have now are testament to a life lived to date, and no magic potion or lotion can change that.

Or can it?

I recently heard immunologist, Luke O’Neill, on the radio speaking on a new scientific breakthrough which could reverse the aging process. He said: “If you are 40, a gene therapy reverts you back to being 20; your muscles, your eyes, your skin [etc].”

If you’re all jumping up and down at the thought of this, perhaps you’ll be jumping up higher and for longer if this science becomes available for humans. Initially, this all sounds very appealing. We live in an ageist society, so the idea we could halve our age as we get older sounds very attractive. Let’s consider how this could work. Luke called it a ‘fairy tale’ and suggests this could be a gift for your 50th birthday.

I look sensational in my 26-year-old body, with clear skin and not a grey hair to be dyed

Our fairy tale opens at my 50th birthday party. Beside me are my handsome husband (55), son (22) and daughters (19 and 16). The room is full of family and friends - most of them also in their 50s - with a smattering of younger friends of my children. I have a job I enjoy, which includes a great pension scheme, and enjoy weekly games of golf and hill walking.

Drum roll, and in comes the cake (on fire with way too many candles) and the announcement that my family have paid for the gene therapy that will halve my body’s age. There are cheers for my very generous family and we agree to meet in a year to celebrate the new, younger me.

A year later, we gather for what is effectively my 26th birthday. I look sensational in my 26-year-old body, with clear skin and not a grey hair to be dyed. My now ex-husband is here and has met my 25-year-old partner, who was in college with my son. My son sits with his father – glowering at me occasionally – embarrassed by me and the nights I would go to pick him up on campus and stay the night partying with his friends.

My daughters are here and during the year have enjoyed shopping with me as I buy for them as well as myself in trendy boutiques. They have made jokes about me not looking at their boyfriends, but come on - I’m not looking at anyone younger than 20!

I look around the room at all the older people and feel disconnected from them. I’ve given up golf and hillwalking and now enjoy sea kayaking, mountain climbing and other adventure sports. The knees are great, by the way, as is my heart and liver, and even my eyesight has reverted to its pre-glasses 20-20 vision.

Work has really been the only fly in the ointment in the whole process. I was content to continue in my role, but HR have an issue with me line managing 24-year-olds that I now socialize (while on triple their salary). There is quite a row brewing over my pension. Do I draw it down at 65 years of age - as per the policy - retire with a 40-year-old body and enjoy payouts for, possibly, another 50 years? That wasn’t a calculation anyone had made when determining the contributions!

Was that a fairy tale? I know this is totally hypothetical and the science involved in the gene therapy could have many benefits for those sick or with age related illness, but with every scientific breakthrough there are ethical issues. I wonder if we are ready to tackle them – or will the lure of eternal youth be too strong to resist at any cost?

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