Healthy Life Extension
Progress, Hope and Human Longevity
Dear Future Centenarian,
Shortly after college, I had a rather crude roommate. He once said œWish in one hand and s”t in the other, and see which one gets full first.
So it is with aging. Since the beginning of history, and most likely before, aging humans wished passionately for youth. Wishing was about all they could do then.
Sure, a very limited number took proactive steps to regain lost youth. Some concocted various elixirs, barbarians made sacrifices to the gods, and Ponce de Leon searched for the mythical Fountain of Youth. But it was all wishful thinking.
In one way, little has changed. Today, a very limited number still take proactive steps. Maybe more now than then, but most of those are still misguided if radical life extension is their goal.
For example, a famous aging multi-billionaire publicly stated that he hopes to live to 125, mainly by eating only fruits and veggies and exercising daily.
He even invested $500 million in food and human cell research. I applaud his habits and motivation, but like most of us, he has about one chance in a thousand to hit 100¦ and next to zero chance to reach 125 without some major technological (not food) breakthroughs.
His lifestyle habits should improve his odds to make the century mark, but without the longevity genes, he™ll probably die comfortably while falling more than 25 years short of his goal.
In another important way though, things have changed. I know more of the leading life extension researchers than most, and the ones I hang out with tell me we are on the cusp of cracking the super longevity code. In other words, we have full rejuvenation in our crosshairs.
(If you haven™t yet seen this website, go there now: www.ManhattanBeachProject.com.)
But most of us won™t make it unless more of us wish less and act more.
Reason usually has excellent insights into aging related issues. I have included some of his pertinent thoughts on this week™s topic following the link to his full text below.
Forecasting is really hard, especially when it involves the future - or so they say.
One of Ray Kurzweil's more noteworthy achievements has been, I think, to help popularize the idea that technological progress can be predicted fairly well at the level of general capabilities (as opposed to specific implementations).
This is not a new idea, but despite - or because of - the sweeping, glittering changes transforming our society, at a pace that is only getting faster, it hasn't achieved any great adoption in the public eye, at least beyond some few narrow and often misquoted instances such as Moore's law for computing power.
If the outcome of technological progress only meant smaller widgets and brighter lights, then I probably wouldn't be as interested in it as I am. In the grand scheme of things, does it much matter that you can be modestly confident in predicting whether widgets will be half the size and a tenth of the cost in twenty years versus forty years?
There is one branch of technology which is now of great importance to everyone, however, and that is medicine. We stand on the verge of being able to extend human life by reversing the underlying biological damage that causes aging.
"On the verge" means that either you die just a little later than your parents, or you live for centuries or longer, depending on whether or not you live long enough to benefit from the first therapies capable of actual rejuvenation.
The uncertainty in timelines at present all lies in how long it will take for SENS-style rejuvenation research to gather a firm, mainstream, well-funded position: once that happens then progress is inevitable and tends to unfold.
Prior to that point there is much uncertainty, with things progressing in fits and starts - the standard tyranny of progress under minimal funding and participation.
Thus the present goal for advocates is to persuade enough people and funds to make progress inevitable from that point on. The sooner that happens, the higher the fraction of those presently alive who will live to see and benefit from human rejuvenation.
So: Hope or help. The latter is a better plan.
Latest Headlines from Fight Aging!
T-Regulatory Cells More Numerous in the Aged Immune System Friday, May 3, 2013
The immune system malfunctions with age, producing harmful chronic inflammation while failing to adequately respond to pathogens and failing to destroy potentially cancerous and senescent cells.
Characteristic changes in immune cell populations accompany these changes, and in past years researchers have shown that adjusting these populations by destroying some of the unwanted immune cells can reverse at least some immune system declines.
HMGA1 as a Potential Common Mechanism in Cancer Â Friday, May 3, 2013
Any mechanism that appears common to all cancers, or even just a wide range of cancers, is worth examination to see if it might serve as the basis for a therapy.
Here is an example of speculative research of this nature:
A Skeptical View of Mitochondrial DNA Damage and Aging Â Thursday, May 2, 2013
Not all researchers are presently convinced that enough evidence exists to place mitochondrial DNA damage front and center as an important cause of aging.
I would agree that the tools and measurements discussed below leave some room for argument over what they mean, but at this time the research community is very close to being able to repair mitochondrial DNA, not just talk about it. Thus I think that the best approach for the next few years is to actually go ahead and repair the damage in laboratory animals, and see what happens - that should settle the debate one way or another.
Protecting Cryonics Patients Â Thursday, May 2, 2013
A short article on the need to remember that cryopreserved people are not gone in the same way that the dead are gone, and their interests are served by the maintenance of some form of continued connection to society:
A Review of Adenylyl Cyclase Type 5 and Longevity in Mice Â Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Gene therapy to remove adenylyl cyclase type 5 (AC5) was shown to increase mouse longevity a few years back, and researchers have since been working to better understand the mechanisms involved.
Like many longevity mutations, this gene is involved in many crucial low-level cellular processes, and researchers are interested in producing drugs to mimic some of the effects of a full gene therapy:
On Extending Mouse Longevity Â Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Here is a popular science article on the many ways to extend life in laboratory mice, and the relevance of that research to human health and longevity:
Biologists have successfully extended the life spans of some mice by as much as 70%, leading many to believe that ongoing experimentation on our mammalian cousins will eventually lead to life-extending therapies in humans.
Growth Hormone and IGF-1 in Aging Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The longest lived mice are those that have been altered to remove growth hormone or growth hormone receptors.
In humans there is an analogous population of natural mutants, their condition known as Laron syndrome, who, like the mice, seem resistant to cancer and type 2 diabetes. They do not appear to live significantly longer than the rest of us, but that doesn't rule out modest extension of life - the data is lacking to say either way at this time.
IGF1R Levels in the Brain Correlate With Species Life Span Â Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The mechanisms of insulin signaling are one of the better studied metabolic determinants of longevity, though as for all such things it is a very complex system, not yet fully understood, and there a lot of debate and uncertainty in the resulting science.
New data continues to roll in, however, here looking at variations of levels of the receptor for insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1R) in various different rodent species:
Calorie Restriction and Calorie Restriction Mimetics Â Monday, April 29, 2013
Today I noticed this very readable open access paper that reviews calorie restriction research and ongoing efforts to produce drugs that can mimic some of the beneficial effects of calorie restriction on health and longevity.
It can be downloaded in PDF format from the journal website:
The Burrill and Buck Aging Meeting, May 20th 2013 Â Monday, April 29, 2013
Here is a pointer to the website for a forthcoming conference to be held at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in California.
It is one of the many signs indicating that large, conservative financial entities like Burrill & Company are becoming more interested in longevity science:
DISCLAIMER:Â News summaries are reported by third parties, and there is no guarantee of accuracy. This newsletter is not meant to substitute for your personal due diligence and is not to be taken as medical advice. For originating report, please see www.fightaging.org/
David A. Kekich
Maximum Life Foundation
"Where Biotech, Infotech and Nanotech
Â Â Â Â Meet to Reverse Aging by 2033"