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February 2018

Will we live to be 200 years old?

You might have heard people say that 50 is the new 40. What are the odds that 200 will become the new 100 in the course of this century?

Could rosemary hold the key to a much longer and healthier life? Researchers of the Sapienza University of Rome have discovered that the herb forms a part of the diet of almost all inhabitants of Acciaroli. More than one in ten of the people living in this small village near the south point of Italy is over 100 years old. Acciaroli is not the only place where the number of centenarians is steadily increasing. Currently there are about 90.000 Europeans over the age of 100, up from less than 60.000 in 20061.

Personal medicines

‘We increasingly understand which factors contribute to aging’, says Marie-Laure Schaufelberger, Product Specialist for the Pictet-Biotech fund. ‘This is due to the enormous progress made in mapping our DNA. It took 15 years and $3 billion to decipher the first human DNA. Today DNA-related research costs have come down to about $1.000 and the research itself can be completed within a couple of days2. This gives biotech companies the opportunity to develop bespoke, unique medicines on the basis of human being’s unique gene structure. It also opens the door to a much more sophisticated approach in addressing diseases, including currently fatal ones.’

Fending off the effects of aging

In addition to preventing premature death, better understanding of genetics also plays a decisive role in fending off the effects of aging. Several studies suggest that when it comes to slowing down the effects of old age, the possibilities are much bigger than one might think. For example, the health and life span of mice can be improved by up to 40% if they are treated with the common diabetic drug metformin3. Additional research suggests that the same drug can already extend human life by three years4. These are promising first steps indicating that aging is not beyond our control.

Sign of the times

The progress made in the field of genetics is a sign of the eras, according to Schaufelberger: ‘The twentieth century was in many aspects a physical century. Great progress was made in the field of infrastructure and logistics. We even managed to put a man on the moon. Now, we have entered the biological century. The insights we are currently gaining are only the beginning. Just consider what we can learn from the genetic composition of the bowhead whale. Off the coast of Greenland, specimens were found that are estimated to be 211 years old. The expectation that men will reach the same age requires little imagination.’


This is one of a series of articles investigating the themes driving our healthy living thematic funds – four actively managed global equity funds.
Focusing on the structural forces shaping our world, our investment managers seek to deliver a compelling risk-adjusted return over the long run.

Discover more on our range of healthy living strategies.