Healthy Life Extension
Speed Aging Research with Crowdsourcing
Dear Future Centenarian,
For those of us œon the bubble, we explore every advantage we can get to avoid being in the last generation to die from aging.
My friends are probably growing tired of my incessant chants about raising more research funds. And many are sick of hearing lifestyle change advice. But I don™t want them to miss the boat, and I want to get you on it too. So I™ll keep being my annoying self until we get there.
Besides raising more money for the researchers, who else can accelerate research? How about the crowd?
Billions are now connected by the Internet. And a significant subset have an interest in aging. A larger population share wellness passions and pursuits. So is there a way to enlist thousands of them to contribute to the research? œYes.
A team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found that œhuman computing power harnessed from ordinary people worldwide could accelerate the rate of all health care research.
In fact, they suggest crowdsourcing, a research method which lets investigators engage thousands of people to provide data or data analysis. This crowdsourcing could actually improve the quality of research “ and even reduce costs.
These researchers previously used crowdsourcing in a study to locate and catalog locations of more than 1,400Â lifesaving automated external defibrillators in public places in Philadelphia. They plan on replicating the study in other major cities.
They have also used crowdsourcing to perform literature searches for medical and health research articles using two free websites, Yahoo! Answers and Quora. They collected and analyzed 21 health-related studies.Â These studies engaged more than 136,000 people, from tracking H1N1 influenza outbreaks in near real time to classifying different types of colon polyps.
Studies showed that the crowd couldÂ solve novel complex protein structure problems or identify malaria infected red blood cells as accurately as a medical professional.
The researchers found that the studies centered around four main categories of tasks: data processing, problem solving, surveillance/monitoring and surveying.
When research requires human processing that computers can™t do by themselves, such as visually sorting pictures or other data, they say there™s potential to involve the crowd.
Crowdsourcing can also utilize problem solving skills ordinary citizens may have (such as solving three-dimensional puzzles), or employing the crowd to act as human sensors “ reporting data such as cataloging cases of influenza-like symptoms.
See the full Penn article at: http://www.kurzweilai.net/crowdsourcing-speeds-medical-research?utm_source=KurzweilAI+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=0a512cddaa-UA-946742-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6de721fb33-0a512cddaa-281900305
There™s simply no reason a concerted effort could not be undertaken by employing the crowd to help unravel aging™s complexities and to help discover solutions.
A related strategy is open source research whereby large numbers of technical and science oriented people contribute small tasks, often in live online collaboration. These are then assembled into large projects.
As the crowd continues to grow and become more sophisticated, and as hardware and software keep evolving, the rate of research can only accelerate. Hopefully, my optimistic projections will be met¦ and even eclipsed.
LATEST HEADLINES FROM FIGHT AGING!
GENOMICS X PRIZE CANCELLED - Monday, August 26, 2013
The genomics X Prize had only a slight connection to aging research: the goal was to sequence the genomes of 100 centenarians at a small cost, and add that knowledge to the present state of understanding regarding the genetics of human longevity.
That result would have been a side-effect of spurring work in low-cost sequencing. But sequencing is advancing rapidly regardless, there was no great public interest in the prize, and greater understanding of the genetics underlying natural variations in longevity is not the path to greatly extending human life. The research community will meaningfully extend healthy life spans through rejuvenation, by repairing the already known root causes of aging, not by altering human genes to slow down aging.
So all in all, I think that this prize was a poor choice at the outset: the goal not radical enough, and focused on an area of research and development that was already in a state of rapid progress, and with too much funding available for a research prize to be effective.
TRANSPLANT OF BONE MARROW CELLS FROM YOUNG MICE MODESTLY EXTENDS LIFE IN OLD MICE - Monday, August 26, 2013
In past years researchers have shown that introducing young cells and cell signaling into old individuals via transplant or parabiosis improves some measures of health and reduces some measures of aging.
Research here generally focuses on stem cells and the mechanisms by which stem cell activity declines with age: there appears to be a strong signaling component to this decline, presumably a part of the evolved response to accumulating damage in tissues, a way to minimize cancer risk from damaged cells at the cost of failing tissue maintenance and faster aging. So stem cells remain capable of tissue maintenance, but increasingly refrain.
Here researchers are transplanting a significant fraction of bone marrow rather than using the easier approach of blood transfusions to investigate these effects. They find a modest increase in remaining life expectancy for the old mice receiving bone marrow from young donors, but it is worth noting that this was a small group of animals, and a procedure with a high failure rate at this point - this is an early exploratory proof of concept, preliminary to a more rigorous study:
LOOKING FOR SARCOPENIA THERAPIES IN FISH - Tuesday, August 27, 2013
A number of lines of research aim to find the basis for human therapies in lower animals that happen to have more favorable outcomes in aging as a result of their genetics and metabolism. Here is one example:
HIJACKING CELLULAR COMMUNICATIONS TO IMPROVE REGENERATION - Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Researchers here spur greater regeneration following injury by broadcasting on one of the channels used for communication between cells. This is a form of cellular manipulation that will become more subtle and powerful in the years ahead as researchers gain a greater understanding of these channels and the messages they carry:
ENGINEERING LIFE - Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Much of the future technology required for rejuvenation of the old involves repairing or cleaning out small-scale protein structures and components in and around cells. Given this, it is worth keeping an eye on the field of synthetic biology, wherein researchers strive to understand, alter, and recreate the low-level machinery of the cell.
AN ADVANCE IN UNDERSTANDING THE MECHANISMS OF PARKINSON'S - Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Researchers have been making good progress in recent years on understanding the mechanisms underlying Parkinson's disease. The condition progresses due to the destruction of a vital set of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain.
Like many late-onset conditions, it appears that the root causes of this cell death are an exaggerated form of the harm that falls upon all of us with advancing age. Where Parkinson's has genetic influences, those influences appear to reduce the ability of these cells to maintain themselves against the accumulated damage of aging, hence leading to a faster degeneration and an earlier appearance of the condition.
So it is quite possible that one of the outcomes of Parkinson's research will be the understanding necessary to boost the ability of central nervous system cells to maintain themselves in everyone, not just those who are failing more rapidly due to a poor roll of the dice in the genetic lottery.
GROWING SMALL AMOUNTS OF BRAIN TISSUE - Thursday, August 29, 2013
Researchers are managing to grow larger masses of tissue from stem cells of late, with more of the structure of the full organ they came from. See, for example, recent work on liver tissue engineering.
This is a small step on the way towards full organ regrowth, and will probably be of greatest immediate benefit to further research, testing of therapies, and the like, as three-dimensional engineered tissues of this sort behave much more like the real thing. The brain is of course an organ just like all the others, grown from a genetic blueprint from a selection of cells - so we should expect to see the same progress here as we see for hearts and livers.
It is even conceivable that less vital portions of the brain could be replaced or renewed by transplant or regrowth in the future, as not every part of the brain is essential to either storage of the data of the mind or maintenance of life.
CHILDREN OF LONG-LIVED PARENTS HAVE BETTER IMMUNE SYSTEMS - Thursday, August 29, 2013
The immune system declines greatly with aging, and poor immune response is an important component of age-related frailty: old people become vulnerable to infections that the young can shrug off with ease. So we might expect to see that long-lived people have better immune systems, and that whatever underlying mechanisms cause that difference are to some degree inherited.
A COLLAGEN PATCH TO SPUR HEART TISSUE REPAIR - Friday, August 30, 2013
Building patches for damaged hearts is a popular implementation in tissue engineering at the moment: it's an achievable stepping stone on the way to more complex goals, such as the creation of entire organs starting from only a patient's stem cells, something that still lies in the future.
Progress towards a long-term goal in any field requires useful intermediary products, as they help pull in the greater support and funding needed for the next phase of research and development.
STATIN USE CORRELATES WITH HIGHER TELOMERASE ACTIVITY - Friday, August 30, 2013
There has been interest in extending increasing telomerase expression as a means to slow aging for some years. The available tools other than gene therapy are sparse on the ground, however.
Telomerase extends telomere length, the caps of repeating DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes that shorten with each cell division. Telomerase may have other roles that more directly impact aging, however, such as an influence on mitochondrial function.
Shorter telomeres in at least some tissues correlate with stress and ill health and aging, but this is a very dynamic system - average telomere length can change in either direction on a short time scale. It is far from clear that progressively shorter telomere length is a cause of aging rather than just a reflection of other changes and damage, and the same goes for natural variations in levels of telomerase in the body.
While increasing expression of telomerase is shown to extend life in mice, that may or may not have anything to do with telomere length, and mouse telomerase biology is quite different from that of humans.
So all this said, it was only a matter of time before researchers evaluated all the existing approved drugs for treatment of age-related conditions to see if any of them altered telomerase activity. There are regulatory incentives to beware of here, however, in that it is much cheaper for research institutions to try to find marginal new uses of already approved drugs than to work on new and radically better medical technologies that would then have to go through the exceedingly and unnecessarily expensive approval process. So don't expect anything of great practical use to result from this.
Read More https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2013/08/statin-use-correlates-with-higher-telomerase-activity.php
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