Centenarians with the bodies of 50-year-olds will one day be a realistic possibility, say scientists.
Half of babies now born in the UK will reach 100, thanks to higher living standards, but our bodies are wearing out at the same rate.
To achieve “50 active years after 50”, experts at Leeds University are spending £50m over five years looking at innovative solutions.
They plan to provide pensioners with own-grown tissues and durable implants.
New hips, knees and heart valves are the starting points, but eventually they envisage most of the body parts that flounder with age could be upgraded.
The university’s Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering has already made a hip transplant that should last for life, rather than the 20 years maximum expected from current artificial hips.
The combination of a durable cobalt-chrome metal alloy socket and a ceramic ball or “head” means the joint should easily withstand the 100 million steps that a 50-year-old can be expected to take by their 100th birthday, says investigator Professor John Fisher.
Meanwhile, colleague Professor Eileen Ingham and her team have developed a unique way to allow the body to enhance itself.
The concept is to make transplantable tissues, and eventually organs, that the body can make its own, getting round the problem of rejection.