Following our in-depth inquiry on the future of ageing, we have deveoped an ethical framework to help guide the actions of everyone involved in conducting research relating to ageing.
The author was commissioned by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics to write this paper in order to inform the Council’s discussions about possible future work on this topic. The paper is intended to provide an overview of key clinical, ethical, social, legal and policy issues, but is not intended to offer any conclusions or recommendations regarding future policy and practice. Any views expressed in the paper are the author’s own and not those of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.
This paper provided background for our bioethics briefing note, The search for a treatment for ageing.
Dr Hans-Jörg Ehni, Deputy Director, Institute for Ethics and History of Medicine, University of Tübingen, Germany
For the first time, interventions to slow physical ageing are within reach. This background paper examines a possible increase in longevity and its potential ethical implications. The current situation is presented as follows:
The background paper describes the possible increase of longevity achieved by slowing biological ageing as a ‘second longevity revolution’. The ‘first longevity revolution’ refers to the increase of longevity since the middle of the 19thCentury. One of the results of these revolutions in longevity is the phenomenon of ‘population ageing’, and its associated implications. It is important that biogerontology and its application to medicine is analysed and evaluated in this broader context.