Healthy Life Extension
posted on June 19th, 2012
Dear Future Centenarian,
Is civilization a side-effect of the urge for mortality?
Some think pursuing longevity is a new phenomenon. It™s not. Here is an interesting view of the deep cultural roots of the urge to live longer from Fight Aging:
Stephen Cave's fascinating new book, Immortality, posits that civilization is a major side effect of humanity's attempts to live forever.
He argues that our sophisticated minds inexorably recognize that, like all other living things, we will one day die. Simultaneously, Cave asserts, 'The one thing that these minds cannot imagine is that very state of nonexistence; it is literally inconceivable.
Death therefore presents itself as both inevitable and impossible. This is what Reason calls the Mortality Paradox, and its resolution is what gives shape to the immortality narratives, and therefore to civilization.
Cave identifies four immortality narratives that drive civilizations over time which he calls; (1) Staying Alive, (2) Resurrection, (3) Soul, and (4) Legacy. He gracefully marches through his four immortality narratives, citing examples from history, psychology, and religion up to the modern day.
œAt its core, a civilization is a collection of life extension technologies: agriculture to ensure food in steady supply, clothing to stave off cold, architecture to provide shelter and safety, better weapons for hunting and defense, and medicine to combat injury and disease, he writes.
I think that it is useful to realize that much of our present culture - and that includes the culture of longevity science and its supporters - has very ancient roots indeed. Unbroken lines can be traced from the incentives and psychology of stone age shamans through to the magical thinking and oral fixations of today.
Little but technology separates us from our ancestors of five or ten thousand years past, and what to what use do we put that technology? We use it to make our greatest myths real: we are building the world that our ancestors chose to imagine, and which we too imagine, driven by our shared human condition and neural physiology.
Spend a little time with ancient myth, and you'll soon see there is little fundamental difference between the tales of thousands of years past and the folktales of a few hundred years ago. Our present popular entertainments merely continue the theme, a thousand more frills but the same underlying psychology at work.
We humans identify with a certain set of stories, and those stories are found repeated throughout our mythologies. In turn, mythology drives technology, as technology is, at heart, a way to satisfy human desires.
P.S. Last week, I discussed pain and other side-effects of aging. Check out www.laureemoretto.com and you can read or watch the video to understand how pain does not necessarily have to be a normal part of aging! The technique is called Structural Integration.
LATEST HEADLINES FROM FIGHT AGING!
XENOBIOTIC METABOLIZING ENZYMES AS BIOMARKER OF LONGEVITY Friday, June 15, 2012
The continued search for ways to more quickly determine differences in expected longevity between members of the same species finds a potential marker: "Xenobiotic metabolism has been proposed to play a role in modulating the rate of aging. Xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes (XME) are expressed at higher levels in calorically restricted mice (CR) and in GH/IGF-I-deficient long-lived mutant mice.
TESTING A CELL THERAPY TO REGENERATE THE CORNEA Thursday, June 14, 2012
Via EurekAlert!: "Regenerative medicine, or the use of specially grown tissues and cells to treat injuries and diseases, has been successful in treating disorders of a number of organs, including heart, pancreas, and cartilage. However, efforts to treat disorders of the corneal endothelium, a single cell layer on the inner surface of the cornea, with regenerative techniques have been less effective. Now¦
A SUCCESSFUL DECELLULARIZED VEIN TRANSPLANT Thursday, June 14, 2012
From the BBC: "A 10-year-old girl has had a major blood vessel in her body replaced with one grown with her own stem cells. A vein was taken from a dead man, stripped of its own cells and then bathed in stem cells from the girl, according to a study published in the Lancet. Surgeons said there was a "striking" improvement in her quality of life. This is the latest is a series¦
SENESCENT CELLS CREATE MORE SENESCENT CELLS Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The build up of senescent cells is one of the contributing causes of aging, and is partially due to the progressive failure of the immune system to destroy these cells as they crop up. Many of the changes that come with aging accelerate as they progress, and this piece provides one example as to why this is the case; for senescent cells, the more you have the faster they accumulate: "Cells may become senescent in an effort to protect the body such as when tumor suppressor genes shut down division to prevent cancer.
However, other sorts of damage may lead cells to stop dividing as well. A pivotal study last year showed elegantly using a trangenic approach that if senescent cells were regularly cleared from the body of mice, signs of aging in many tissues were dramatically reduced. The explanation for this result was¦
TELOMERES AND LATE FATHERHOOD Tuesday, June 12, 2012
A finding here ties into research suggesting that life can be lengthened through selective breeding at later ages - this, like the response to calorie restriction, is a form of metabolic variability that may have evolved to make a species better able to adapt to changing environmental circumstances: "Children and even grandchildren of older fathers may live longer¦
More Info http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2012/06/telomeres-and-late-fatherhood.php
WORKING ON BETTER WAYS TO GROW BONE Tuesday, June 12, 2012
An example of the sort of work presently taking place in the stem cell field: "scientists purified a subset of stem cells found in fat tissue and made from them bone that was formed faster and was of higher quality than bone grown using traditional methods, a finding that may one day eliminate the need for painful bone grafts that use material taken from the patient during invasive procedures. Traditionally¦
THE STATE OF GENE THERAPY Monday, June 11, 2012
From The Scientist: "After 20 years of high-profile failure, gene therapy is finally well on its way to clinical approval. The concept is simple: if a mutated gene is causing a problem, replace or supplement it with a new, accurate copy. In theory, such a strategy could not just treat, but cure countless human genetic diseases.
In practice, however, developing safe and effective gene therapies has not been easy. Even when identifying a disorder's genetic basis is fairly straightforward, finding the appropriate delivery vector to target the diseased tissues in the body, while avoiding unintended consequences, has challenged would-be gene therapists for more than 20 years. But¦
SHAPED NANOPARTICLES TARGET NARROWED BLOOD VESSELS Monday, June 11, 2012
A clever way to target an infused therapy to particular regions in the body by using their physical properties: "Treatment options [for atherosclerosis] are currently available to people who suffer from the disease but no drug can target solely the diseased areas, often leading to generalized side effects.
Intravenous injection of a vasodilator (a substance that dilates blood vessels), such as nitroglycerin, dilates both the diseased vessels and the rest of our arteries. Blood pressure can thus drop, which would limit the desired increased blood flow generated by vasodilatation of diseased vessels and needed for example during a heart attack. In order to increase the effectiveness...