Aging Backwards

Healthy Life Extension

Funding Aging Research

Aging Backwards

posted on August 30, 2011

Dear Future Centenarian,

I have ants in my kitchen.

I have a very good œanti-aging poster girl friend who has lots of tips and wisdom to share with those who have an interest in life extension, and particularly those who are interested in a great appearance.

She has offered to contribute to this week™s newsletter (in other words, do my work for me J). So here it is. Her name is Jackie Silver, and she™s a sweetheart.

Is Staying Young All in the Mind?
by Jackie Silver, founder and president, Aging Backwards, LLC.

Staying young has been on the minds of many people”particularly women”for eons (hence the invention of plastic surgery in 1827 by Dr. John Peter Mettauer). But the concept has spread to even 20-somethings these days.

Every week, the Hollywood tabloids splash photos of young starlets who have gotten plumped up, injected, peeled, lasered and more. That's why I love what David Kekich and his wonderful colleagues worldwide are doing with anti-aging and stem cell research that will replace all of those "desperate measures." In the very near future, this group of amazing researchers will literally discover the fountain of youth, and I hope to be right there with them to take advantage of all the wonderful revelations.

David and I laugh and joke that what I do with Aging Backwards is sometimes more on the "fluffy" side, covering beauty as well as anti-aging. But at a party recently, the conversation turned more serious when I divulged a few of my very "un-fluffy" secrets. I could almost see David's ears perk up. That's when he asked me to share them with you.

These tips I'm about to reveal are not going to have you running around looking for the latest product or potion or lotion. These are what I call my "mind tricks."

Last year, Prahlad Jani, an 82-year-old Indian yogi, made headlines with claims that for the past 70 years he has had nothing”not one calorie”to eat and not one drop of liquid to drink. To test his claims, Indian military doctors put him under round-the-clock observation during a two-week hospital stay. And during that time he didn't ingest any food or water. He remained perfectly healthy, the researchers said.

The "experiment" was roundly denounced by Dr. Michael Van Rooyen, an emergency physician at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, an associate professor at the medical school, and the director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. Van Rooyen says it's simply impossible, and Jani most surely had taken in liquid.

Still, there have been documented cases of people accomplishing amazing feats using only the power of the mind. One of my favorite books is The Mindbody Prescription by John Sarno, MD. Some of my friends refer to it as my bible. Without going into too much detail, this little book freed me from a lifetime of back and neck pain using only my mind. That got me thinking¦

"If I can use my mind to chase away pain, why can't I use it to stay young as well?" So, that's exactly what I set out to do. Every night just before going to sleep, I recline in my bed in the dark and visualize my pituitary gland releasing human growth hormone.

I once read that as we age, it's not that we produce less growth hormone, it just has a harder time "escaping" from that pea-size structure at the base of the brain. Whether that's true or not, aging does deplete growth hormone in the body. I decided to give mine a little help. I visualize the hormone cascading out of my brain and into my body, spreading throughout, helping to maintain my tissues and organs.

Next, I visualize all the cells in my body repairing themselves. Ok, so I don't visualize ALL 60 - 90 trillion cells individually, but you get the idea. Then, I visualize the ends of my telomeres knitting up tightly, reverting back to the perfect telomeres of my youth.

If people can use their minds to bend spoons, I'm pretty sure my cells, tissues and telomeres are a lot more "pliable." Don't believe in spoon-bending? Best-selling author Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park and more) wrote about his personal experience bending spoons in his book, Travels. "I looked down. My spoon had begun to bend. I hadn't even realized. The metal was completely pliable, like soft plastic. It wasn't particularly hot, either, just slightly warm. ... I had bent a spoon, and I knew it wasn't a trick. I looked around the room and saw little children, eight or nine years old, bending large metal bars. They weren't trying to trick anybody.
” Michael Crichton, Travels, 1988, pages 319“320

Crichton later made this comment about spoon-bending on his Web site: "I don't know why spoon-bending occurs. I have no explanation. I can't describe it any better than I did in the book. But I have no doubt that it occurs." (

That™s the same way I feel about my visualization. I have no idea how or why it works. As Crichton says, œI have no explanation. But I have no doubt it occurs.

For more information about Jackie Silver and Aging Backwards, visit her Web site:

Long Life,
David Kekich

P.S. With all due respect to Michael Crichton, I™ll leave spoon bending to illusionists. And please don™t email me trying to convince me that anyone can live on air alone (or sun gazing). However, as Jackie points out, the power of the mind is enormous, and I™m very impressed with Dr. Sarno™s work.

P.P.S. I have attached a photo of Jackie at age 25 and at age 52. Can you see a 27 year difference? I can™t either.


From the Technology Review: "I was observing an intimate demonstration of how stem-cell technologies may one day combine with personal genomics and personal medicine. I was the first journalist to undergo experiments designed to see if the four-year-old process that creates induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can yield insight into the functioning and fate of a healthy individual's heart cells. Similar tests could be run on lab-grown brain and liver cells, or eventually on any of the more than 200 cell types found in humans.

This is the next step in personalized medicine: being able to test drugs and other factors on different cell types. The cardiomyocytes derived from iPS cells are a huge improvement over the cadaver cells sometimes used to test potential drug compounds. Unlike the cadaver cells, IPS-­generated cells beat realistically and can be supplied in large quantities on demand. What's more, iPS-generated cells can have the same genetic makeup as the patients they came from, which is a huge advantage in tailoring drugs and treatments to individuals. Virtually everything about iPS cells is overhyped. But for the purpose of testing drug candidates, I think the possibilities are considerable, and we and lots of other people are pursuing this. There are lots of problems. Are iPS cells really normal? How do you get enough pure differentiated cells? But the potential is definitely there."

Good news from the dental research community: scientists "have developed a revolutionary new way to treat the first signs of tooth decay. Their solution is to arm dentists with a peptide-based fluid that is literally painted onto the tooth's surface. The peptide technology is based on knowledge of how the tooth forms in the first place and stimulates regeneration of the tooth defect. This may sound too good to be true, but we are essentially helping acid-damaged teeth to regenerate themselves. It is a totally natural non-surgical repair process and is entirely pain-free too.

It contains a peptide known as P 11-4 that -- under certain conditions - will assemble together into fibres. In practice, this means that when applied to the tooth, the fluid seeps into the micro-pores caused by acid attack and then spontaneously forms a gel. This gel then provides a 'scaffold' or framework that attracts calcium and regenerates the tooth's mineral from within, providing a natural and pain-free repair. The technique was recently taken out of the laboratory and tested on a small group of adults whose dentist had spotted the initial signs of tooth decay. The results from this small trial have shown that P 11-4 can indeed reverse the damage and regenerate the tooth tissue. If these results can be repeated on a larger patient group, then I have no doubt whatsoever that in two to three years time this technique will be available for dentists to use in their daily practice."

So far research on cellular reprogramming has largely focused on manipulation of cells outside the body. Here a researcher suggests that the future of medicine will involve achieving much the same thing inside the body: "To date, somatic cell reprogramming has been achieved in vitro. It would be of great importance to explore whether the anti-aging agents, e.g. rapamycin, could function to enhance stem cell function, protect stem cell pluripotency and even promote reprogramming in vivo. It is also very interesting to verify whether some or all adult organs/tissues do possess some significant regenerative capacity due to the suspected in vivo reprogramming.

Furthermore, it has been reported that agents which effectively function for a common human disease by enhancing self-renewal could lose efficacy in older individuals due to the age-associated decline of replication. Thus understanding and realization of in vivo cell reprogramming is not only a fundamental theoretical question but also a very promising strategy for anti-aging and regenerative medicine. Reprogramming of somatic cells has been enthusiastically hoped to become an arsenal to against aging as it would leads to personalized stem-cell-based rejuvenation therapies. What we learn from research of stem cell and reprogramming could help us to develop two potential anti-aging approaches in adult and older: i) to protect, ameliorate or reverse the age-associated loss function of stem cell in vivo and ii) to replace the lost stem cells by reprogrammed pluripotent cells."

STRESS, DNA DAMAGE, AND P53 Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Researchers here outline one possible mechanism for the known association between chronic stress and biomarkers of health: "While the human mind and body are built to respond to stress - the well-known "fight or flight" response, which lasts only a few minutes and raises heart rate and blood glucose levels - the response itself can cause significant damage if maintained over long periods of time. When stress becomes chronic, this natural response can lead to a number of disease-related symptoms, including peptic ulcers and cardiovascular disorders. To make matters worse, evidence indicates that chronic stress eventually leads to DNA damage, which in turn can result in various neuropsychiatric conditions, miscarriages, cancer, and even aging itself.

The newly uncovered mechanism involves β-arrestin-1 proteins, β2-adrenoreceptors (β2ARs), and the catecholamines, the classic fight-or-flight hormones released during times of stress - adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine. Arrestin proteins are involved in modifying the cell's response to neurotransmitters, hormones, and sensory signals; adrenoceptors respond to the catecholamines noradrenaline and adrenaline. Under stress, the hormone adrenaline stimulates β2ARs expressed throughout the body, including sex cells and embryos. Through a series of complex chemical reactions, the activated receptors recruit β-arrestin-1, creating a signaling pathway that leads to catecholamine-induced degradation of the tumor suppressor protein p53, sometimes described as "the guardian of the genome." The new findings also suggest that this degradation of p53 leads to chromosome rearrangement and a build-up of DNA damage both in normal and sex cells." p53 is very important in a range of core cellular processes - anything touching on it usually turns out to be influential.

Metabolic syndrome is, for the vast majority of us, an avoidable lifestyle condition. If you exercise and avoid gaining excess body fat then in all likelihood you won't suffer from the condition. Here's another reason to make that effort: "Metabolic syndrome comprises a group of medical disorders that increase people's risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and premature death when they occur together. A patient is diagnosed with the syndrome when he or she exhibits three or more of the following characteristics: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat in the waist/abdomen, low good cholesterol, and higher levels of fatty acids (the building blocks of fat).

People with metabolic abnormalities are at increased risk of developing kidney disease. [researchers] searched the medical literature and combined data from 11 studies examining the relationship between metabolic syndrome and kidney disease.
Altogether, they included 30,416 individuals from various ethnic groups. People with metabolic syndrome have a 55% increased risk of developing kidney problems, especially lower kidney function, indicative of kidney disease. Individual components of metabolic syndrome are linked with the development of kidney disease. Kidney disease risk increases as the number of metabolic syndrome components increases. Preventing and managing metabolic syndrome - through eating a healthy diet, exercising, losing excess body weight, and lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels - may help prevent kidney disease."

Researchers are engaged in a body-wide hunt for stem cells that are easy to work with and easy to obtain - low cost sources will make a big difference to the ultimate cost of therapies: "As we age, our stem cells are less pliant and less able to transform into the stem cells that science needs to find breakthrough treatments for disease. An exception to this can be found in the stem cells of oral mucosa, the membrane that lines the inside of our mouths. A wound that might take weeks to heal and leave a life-long scar on the skin will be healed in a matter of days inside the mouth, regardless of the patient's age.

Prof. Pitaru set out to determine if oral mucosa could be a source for young, fetal-like stem cells with this unique healing ability. Even when obtained from an older patient, he says, these stem cells still have properties of young or primitive stem cells - which have a high capacity to be transformed into different tissues. Prof. Pitaru and his fellow researchers have already succeeded in coaxing oral mucosa stem cells into becoming other significant cells, including bone, cartilage, muscle, and even neurons. Prof. Pitaru and his fellow researchers are currently in pre-clinical trials, implanting these stem cells into various tissues within small rodents. Their projects include researching the impact of the innovative cells as a treatment for chronic heart failure; neurodegenerative diseases; inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as Crohn's disease; and diabetes."

A proportion of the aging research community think aging to be at least partially a programmed phenomenon, rather than an accumulation of damage, and thus something to be primarily manipulated by changing the operation of our metabolism. Here is an argument for that viewpoint from researcher Michael Rose: "I should be clear that my present view is also not one generally held, at least not yet, even by most evolutionary biologists who work on aging.  Like them, I spent more than thirty years thinking that William Hamilton's declining forces of natural selection, which he published in 1966, showed that evolution by natural selection would allow cumulative processes of physiological deterioration to proceed unchecked, provided they killed off their victims at sufficiently late ages. 

By 1994, I was thinking that perhaps evolutionary biologists had misconceived the problem of the evolution of aging.  Perhaps it was NOT natural selection just letting go, but something that specifically tracked Hamilton's forces of natural selection. This led me to convince Larry Mueller to do some explicit simulations of evolution, simulations in which we looked at what happened at very late ages, long after Hamilton's forces of natural selection bottom out and stabilize.  What the simulations generated were late-life plateaus in mortality.  We then checked how changes in Hamilton's forces would change the age at which mortality plateaus occur, based on explicit simulations. These simulations showed that changing the last age of reproduction in a biological population, the parameter that Hugh Hefner is working on as I write, would tune the age at which mortality rates would plateau."

Via ScienceDaily: researchers "have found a simple way to grow muscle tissue with real muscle structure in the laboratory. They found that the muscle cells automatically align themselves if they are subjected to tension in one direction - this is essential for the ability of the muscle cells to exert a force. The endothelial (blood vessel) cells in the culture also automatically grouped themselves to form new blood vessels.

This finding is a step forward towards the engineering of thicker muscle tissue. Another important aspect of the finding is that it was not necessary to add any biochemical growth factors to initiate the process. These substances are normally required for processes of this kind, but their action is difficult to control. Measurements by the researchers showed that the muscle cells produced the required growth factor themselves, as a result of the tension to which they were subjected. The aim of the research is ultimately to allow the treatment of people who have lost muscle tissue, for example through accidents or surgery to remove tumors."

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