The Supercentenarian Research Foundation has been set up in Pittsburgh by a team of scientists to study the people aged more than 110 years. The aim is to unearth the secrets of their long life and to develop tactics to conquer the aging effects and have an improved quality of life for these people.
"The longer we wait, the more they're going to die and we will lose that information," said Dr. Stephen Coles, the foundation's treasurer and a researcher who has studied the elderly as part of the Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group.
Around 300 people across the globe are 110 years old or older, however, the ages of only some were confirmed through public documents. According to the foundation, worldwide, there were 76 people who were 110 or older, of which, 66 were women and 10 were men.
"When someone reaches the age of 110, there is a 50 percent chance that they will not reach the age of 111, " said Dr. Doros Platika, the foundation's chairman and CEO. Platika is stepping down later this year from his job as head of the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, a public-private partnership that supports the growth of regional life sciences companies, to devote his time to raising money to fund the Supercentenarian Research Foundation.
Coles said, "Demographers have shown that the number of people reaching 100 years old is growing exponentially, while few people live to be older than 110. Researchers are turning to science to try to explain why that is. "
Jeanne Louise Calment, was the oldest person whose age was authenticated. She lived for 122 years and 164 days. Born on Feb. 21, 1875, and died at a nursing home in Arles in southern France on Aug. 4, 1997.
Stanley R. Primmer, the foundation's president, said, "There have only been seven autopsies of supercentenarians that we know. The foundation is in the process of gathering tissues from the very elderly so they can look for clues to longevity. "
"We want to know why it is they're able to live longer than the rest of us, and what is the limit to our life span," Primmer said.
Many experts on aging got together at an anti-aging conference in Las Vegas in 2004 and decided to study the "supercentenarians". The team was registered as a non-profit corporation in May, and its first meeting was held in Boston in June.
The foundation was then established in Pittsburgh.
Platika said, "Having the group here is appropriate since Allegheny County has a large number of elderly residents.
He said, "The foundation used about $200,000 in private donations to get started and is hoping to raise several millions more over the next few years for research. "
According to him, just living for a long period is not important.
"Having a high quality of life and having a healthy and independent life is the point," he said.