Research on geriatric monkeys offers the possibility of a pharmaceutical solution to one of the problems of ageing in humans – the fact that it gets harder to keep up with new information. Scientists found that old macaques had less of a chemical called GABA in their cerebral cortex, which meant that the nerves lost their ability to tell signals apart – especially visual information.
Audie Leventhal of the University of Utah is excited because it might be possible to produce drugs that help older humans to keep up with the pace of life. This is obviously good news for the Prime Minister, who turns 50 next week with, as he says, "a lot more to do". But we cannot help wondering whether the issue is being approached from the wrong end. Should not Glaxo SmithKline, Novartis and the rest concentrate their efforts on devising a drug that would slow the world down instead?