Aging, the New Frontier
posted on July 28, 2008
We are finally moving from an era where nothing could be done to defeat aging into an era where advancing technology will give us the tools to overcome it. All the old attitudes are no longer relevant.
We’re so used to people dying from age related causes that we accept it as a normal part of life. And we become desensitized to this death. But let’s look at it from a different angle and see if you think about it differently.
Robert Freitas, a brilliant scientist and perhaps the world’s utmost authority on Nanomedicine, offers some interesting ways to view aging. He points out the following:
- 100,000 lives are lost every single day from aging related causes. They’re scattered all over the world, so we hardly notice. But what if 400 jetliners fell out of the sky in a single day? We would be astonished, outraged and sickened. Yet effectively, that’s equivalent to 400 jetliner crashes.
- If 400 planes crashed every day, wouldn’t the world marshal all its powers to insure aircraft safety, especially if we had no choice but to fly?
- What if we could avoid… or at least postpone most aging related deaths?
- Then why isn’t treating aging a #1 priority?
After all, if you or a loved one had a major medical condition such as cancer, heart disease or suffered a stroke, wouldn’t you ask for the very best medical care?
If we had a treatment that could reverse Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis or diabetes… who in their right mind would turn it down?
Now it is aging, the new frontier. Since it kills everyone who survives or dodges diseases, might not aging be considered a disease as well? MaxLife looks at it as a curable disease, in fact the mother of most diseases. And we’re determined to do something about it.
LATEST HEALTHY LIFE EXTENSION HEADLINES
The Dreaded Reactive Oxygen Species (July 25 2008) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-07/uorm-ruk072108.php
It's good to see more research groups looking into targeting antioxidants to the mitochondria. From EurekAlert!: "Researchers have taken a first snapshot of how a class of highly reactive molecules inflicts cellular damage as part of aging, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and Alzheimer's disease to name a few. Researchers have discovered a tool that can monitor related damage and determine the degree to which antioxidant drugs effectively combat disease. Our study provides a better glimpse of why a cell under assault by disease makes 10 times as many reactive oxygen species [ROS] as the same cell when healthy. We have discovered a chemical tool for investigating how diseases cause damage, mitochondrion by mitochondrion. Efforts to develop antioxidant drugs (e.g. vitamin E) to treat diseases of increased oxidative stress have met with limited success to date because they tried to eliminate ROS, rather than maintain the right amount, Sheu said. He established the Mitochondrial Research & Innovation Group (MRIG) [in] 2002 with the goal of designing therapies to deliver precise amounts of antioxidants to the mitochondria of diseased cells only. MRIG teams are, for example, screening through compounds to confirm that oxidative stress can be reversed by mitochondria-specific drugs."
On Hormesis and Longevity (July 24 2008) http://pmid.us/18648625
A nice overview of hormesis: "Aging is characterized by a stochastic accumulation of molecular damage, progressive failure of maintenance and repair, and consequent onset of age-related diseases. Applying hormesis in aging research and therapy is based on the principle of stimulation of maintenance and repair pathways by repeated exposure to mild stress. In a series of experimental studies we have shown that repetitive mild heat stress has anti-aging hormetic effects on growth and various other cellular and biochemical characteristics of human skin fibroblasts undergoing aging in vitro. These effects include the maintenance of stress protein profiles, reduction in the accumulation of oxidatively and glycoxidatively damaged proteins, stimulation of the proteasomal activities for the degradation of abnormal proteins, improved cellular resistance to ethanol, hydrogenperoxide and ultraviolet-B rays, and enhanced levels of various antioxidant enzymes. Anti-aging hormetic effects of mild heat shock appear to be facilitated by reducing protein damage and protein aggregation by activating internal antioxidant, repair and degradation processes."
Yeast and Aging Research (July 22 2008) http://ouroboros.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/biogerontology-rising-recent-progress-in-yeast-aging-research/
Ouroboros looks at the humble yeast in context: "Our understanding of aging in animals owes a great debt to a large body of careful work in a single-celled organism, the brewer's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Indeed, as I've argued before, yeast is one of the two organisms with the strongest credible claim to have started modern biogerontology. An unusually large crop of yeast aging papers have appeared over the last few months, and I thought it would be appropriate to spend a few paragraphs describing them - in honor of this humble organism that rises our bread, ferments our beer, and has done so much to open our eyes to the fundamental mechanisms of aging. Yeast mutants in worm longevity genes are significantly more likely to be long-lived than randomly chosen mutants - suggesting [that] genes that modulate aging have been conserved not only in sequence, but also in function, over a billion years of evolution. Given this functional conservation, it is reasonable to use yeast to help answer questions about aging in general, so long as these questions as cell-biological in scope."
New York Times on Sirtris (July 22 2008) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/health/research/22long.html?pagewanted=all
The New York Times looks at Sirtris Pharmaceuticals: "The hope is that activating sirtuins in people would, like a calorically restricted diet in mice, avert degenerative diseases of aging like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's. There is no Food and Drug Administration category for longevity drugs, so if the company is to submit a drug for approval, it needs to be for a specific disease. Nonetheless, longevity is what has motivated the researchers and what makes the drugs potentially so appealing. Dr. Christoph Westphal, the chief executive of Sirtris, said of the potential of the drugs, 'I think that if we are right, this could extend life span by 5 or 10 percent.' He added that his goal was to develop drugs against specific diseases, with the extension of life being 'almost a side effect of our medicine.'" There you have the most serious problem facing longevity science today: that its direct application is not permitted by the FDA. Until this changes no serious investment will be made in the US to bring longevity science to the clinic. This is a tragedy of so great a scale as to beggar belief.
Thoughts on Mortality and Its Evasion (July 21 2008) http://tacit.livejournal.com/250032.html
An interesting LiveJournal post: "A person immune to the ravages of old age would still not be immune to death; accident, violence, and other misadventure is perfectly capable of ending even a 25-year-old's life. It simply means that person no longer has a cap on the maximum time he can live, if he so chooses. And that's really what it's all about. Choice. If you go into the doctor's office, and he tells you that you have a bacterial infection, which will slowly grow progressively worse until it kills you painfully, then offers you an antibiotic pill that will completely eradicate the infection, I bet you'll take it. Even if you don't fancy the thought of living forever. There's an important point in that.
Even folks who don't much want to live forever still probably don't want to die today. Or tomorrow. Someday, perhaps, if that 'someday' is held in the abstract; some future time when things no longer seem interesting. But not today. And that's the point. A solution for aging puts the power to choose in your hands. Old age forces your hand; you don't get the choice to see your grandkids graduate from school, or to celebrate your fiftieth anniversary. The choice is made for you. And I don't see how that benefits anyone."
Growing Blood Vessels (July 21 2008) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7514317.stm
Researchers continue to work at the blood vessel problem in tissue engineering. From the BBC: "Scientists have used human cells to grow new blood vessels in a mouse for the first time. The ability to develop swiftly a new network of tiny blood vessels - known as capillaries - would be a prize for scientists. There are dozens of potential applications in medicine, particularly in the treatment of conditions which involve damage to a tissue's blood supply, such as that to the heart muscle following a heart attack. However, the complex structure of these vessels has slowed progress. What's really significant about our study is that we are using human cells that can be obtained from blood or bone marrow rather than removing and using fully developed blood vessels. It could certainly assist in the connection of other engineered organs to the body's blood supply. Although this approach is not yet suitable for clinical use, it is interesting that they have demonstrated you have all the elements you need to create a functional network of capillaries from a small amount of blood."
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