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Scientists Challenged to Find the Elixir of Life

Nursultan Nazarbayev calls on new research institute to unlock the secret of immortality

By Tom Parfitt / Source: The Guardian

Cleopatra may have bathed in asses' milk to preserve her youth but Nursultan Nazarbayev, the autocratic president of Kazakhstan, wants nothing less than an elixir of life to keep him going.

Not satisfied with 19 years in charge of the gas-rich central Asian state, Nazarbayev urged scientists today to unlock the secret to immortality.

The 70-year-old leader stressed in a speech that a new scientific research institute in the capital Astana should study "rejuvenation of the organism," as well as "the human genome, production of human tissue and creation of gene-based medicines".

In an aside to students, Nazarbayev added: "As for the medicine of the future, people of my age are really hoping all of this will happen as soon as possible."

Two months ago an ethnic Korean delegate at Kazakhstan's people's assembly proposed that Nazarbayev should stay in power until 2020. The president answered: "Maybe, then, you'll offer me an elixir of youth and energy – maybe you have such potions in Korea … I'm willing to go on until 2020, just find me an elixir."

Today was the third time in just over a year that Nazarbayev has urged scientists to find a way to stave off death.

"Anti-ageing medicine, natural rejuvenation, immortality," he mused to a government science committee in September last year. "That's what people are studying these days." He added: "Those who do are the most successful states in the world – those who don't will get left on the sidelines."

In case anyone had missed the point, Nazarbayev repeated the challenge a month later.

"One important subject is anti-ageing, or the study of prolongation of life," he told an audience at the Kazakh national university in Almaty. "However difficult such investigations are, these questions must be resolved sooner or later. Why shouldn't our scientists take on this task? Would it not inspire our Kazakh youth who are now living through the great moments of passion?"

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