We all dream of living to a ripe old age, but according to medics it could soon be a reality for many of us.
Medicines that can help people live to 100 and beyond may be available to the public in as little as two years, experts revealed today.
According to Professor Nir Barzilai, one of the world's leading age scientists, the drugs in question will be marketed as remedies for specific illnesses, but will in fact fight a number of age-related ailments.
Prof Barzilai's research, carried out at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, recognised genetic variants that identify people who live to a very old age.
The case of Jean Calment, a French woman who died at the age of 122 years without any trace of dementia, diabetes or cancer.
People blessed with anti-aging genes tend not to get seriously ill but die suddenly at the end of their lives, Prof Barzilai explains.
New medicines are now being built on these discoveries, which involve biological pathways affecting metabolism, cell-death, inflammation and cholesterol.
‘I have this bias that makes me believe we have the ability as a species to get to 100 if we prevent some of these age-related diseases,' continues Prof Barzilai.
'Pharmaceutical companies are developing these drugs now. They will probably be available for testing in 2012.'