Reverse Aging Research

Reverse Aging Research

Funding Aging Research

The Cost of Immortality

posted on August 11, 2008

We talked a lot about how and why aging can be reversed in our lifetimes, and what you can do to boost your odds to benefit. Let™s now talk a little about how much a project like this might cost.
First, some knowledgeable people think it will never be done in our lifetimes. Nearly every great advance was met with skepticism and derision. But science continues to prevail. It will be the same with aging research.
For those who do believe it is possible, projected timelines extend from something less than MaxLife™s 21 year plan to as much as a hundred years. And some project that the cost will be well over $1 trillion. How about you? What are your opinions? Can it be done? How long will it take? How much will it cost?
We have spent years pondering those questions and running calculation after calculation. After consulting with scientists from all the disciplines we explored, after reviewing business plans and budgets and research plans and budgets, after factoring in the Law of Accelerating Returns and its Deflationary Factor, and after a bunch of educated guesswork boosted by optimism and tempered by the harsh reality of knowing projects usually cost more and take longer than we anticipate, here are our conclusions:

  1. This is not a trillion dollar plus project. In fact, it™s not even a $100 billion project, even though that would be one of the most incredible bargains of all time. We spend that much on health care in this country EVERY 16 DAYS! We came to the astonishing conclusion that we could accomplish enough to reverse aging in humans for the ridiculously low sum of $1.7 billion plus $900 million more for SENS. Total $2.6 billion.
  2. We can do this over a 21 year span, starting from the time the first part of the funding is in place.
  3. This assumes no reinvested profits will be generated from any of the companies and technologies which would receive funding. If some of these were moderately successful, profits could be reinvested, which would reduce the overall cash outlay.

If we™re right, 10,000 health conscious individuals, just like you, could fund MaxLife™s project for $900/month each.
If it costs so little, and even if it does cost over a trillion dollars, wouldn™t this be something governments or big business would fund?
Unfortunately, no!
I™ll continue this topic next week.

Aging, Inflammation, and Cancer (August 08 2008)
Less chronic inflammation, less cancer: "Cancer is generally recognized as an age-related disease. In fact, incidence and mortality rates of most human cancers increase consistently with age up to 90 years, but they plateau and decline thereafter. A low-grade systemic inflammation characterizes aging, and this pro-inflammatory status underlies biological mechanisms responsible for age-related inflammatory diseases. On the other hand, clinical and epidemiological studies show a strong association between chronic infection, inflammation and cancer and indicate that even in tumors not directly linked to pathogens, the microenvironment is characterized by the presence of a smouldering inflammation, fuelled primarily by stromal leukocytes. Centenarians are characterized by a higher frequency of genetic markers associated with better control of inflammation. The reduced capacity of centenarians to mount inflammatory responses appears to exert a protective effect towards the development of those age-related pathologies having a strong inflammatory pathogenetic component, including cancer. All in all, centenarians seem to carry a genetic background with a peculiar resistance to cancer which is also an anti-inflammatory profile."

The Other Application of Stem Cell Science (August 07 2008)
EurekAlert! reminds us of the second main application for stem cell science: researchers "have produced a robust new collection of disease-specific stem cell lines, all of which were developed using the new induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS) technique. The cell lines the researchers produced carry the genes or genetic components for 10 different diseases, including Parkinson's Disease, Type I diabetes, Huntington's Disease, Down Syndrome, a form of combined immunodeficiency ('Bubble Boy's Disease'), Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, Gaucher's Disease, and two forms of Muscular Dystrophy, among others. the suite of iPS cell lines [marks] an important achievement and a very significant advance for patients suffering from degenerative diseases. These disease-specific iPS cells are invaluable tools that will allow researchers to watch the development diseases in petri dishes, outside of the patients. And we have good reason to believe that this will make it possible to find new treatments, and eventually drugs, to slow or even stop the course of a number of diseases." Advances that reduce the cost of research and increase efficiency will speed further progress. This is an excellent example of the type.

Another View of Gender Differences in Longevity (August 06 2008),8599,1827162,00.html
Via Time: "Another more complicated possibility [for women's longevity] is that women have two X chromosomes, while men have one. (Men have an X and a Y.) When cells go through aging and damage, they have a choice in terms of genes - either on one X chromosome or the other. Consider it this way: you have a population of cells, all aging together. In some cells, the genes on one X chromosome are active; in other cells, by chance, the same set of genes, with different variations, are active on the other X chromosome. Don't forget, we all have the same genes - the reason we differ is because we express different variations of those genes, like different colors of a car. Now, if one set of variations provides a survival advantage for the cells versus another, then the cells with the advantage will persist while the other ones will die off, leaving behind more cells with the genes on the more advantageous X chromosome. So, in women, cells can perhaps be protected by a slightly better variation of a gene on the second X chromosome. Men don't have this luxury and don't get this choice."

NOTE: And all this time I thought it was because of the stress women heap on us.

Transhumanism and Engineering Longevity (August 06 2008)
From the Hartford Advocate: "Transhumanism is the idea that it's OK to transcend the limitations of the body and brain. Technologies, both large and small, could radically change the human experience. The mind reels with possibilities. Could we become cyborgs, with circuitry and metallic components seamlessly integrated into our bodies? Will there be nano-machines with artificial intelligence coursing through our bodies, fixing medical problems? Will we be able to dump our consciousness into computers or other machines? The possibilities are endless but, at least for now, human lives are not. Slowing body degeneration is a modest goal, and doesn't go far enough for some national anti-aging researchers. Aubrey de Grey, an energetic Englishman with a ZZ Top-length beard, is the chief researcher and evangelist for an anti-aging movement that views aging as a disease that can be cured, and cured soon. I think we have a 50 percent chance of getting there in around 25 years, so long as the early proof-of-concept work in mice is well-enough funded for the next 10 years or so."

Stem Cell Treatments in China (August 05 2008)
InformationWeek looks at one of the organizations that's putting stem cell research into clinical practice in China. The absence of stifling regulation means that this work proceeds much more rapidly, but rigorous data tends to come later in the process. The benefits of patient choice and researcher freedom should be obvious, however. "The company, Beike Biotechnology, uses nonembryonic stem cells to treat a variety of ailments including heart disease and neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, and optic nerve hypoplasia, a primary cause of blindness in children. Beike's technology, which hasn't been subjected to double-blind clinical trials of the sort required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, uses a combination of umbilical cord cells and stem cells derived from the patient being treated." The article notes that the company is working towards the near future use of induced pluripotent stem cells in therapy - a pace of development that is impossible in the present US regulatory system.

More Fuel for the DNA Damage Debate (August 04 2008)
Does the level of random damage to your nuclear DNA - genomic instability - have anything to do with general manifestations of aging? We know the correlation with cancer, but beyond that it's up for debate. This open access paper provides a new line of evidence: "Increasing genomic instability is associated with aging in eukaryotes, but the connection between genomic instability and natural variation in life span is unknown.
We have quantified chronological life span and [genomic instability] in [yeast]. We show that genomic instability increases [during] chronological aging. The age-dependent increase of genomic instability generally lags behind the drop of viability and this delay accounts for ~50% of the observed natural variation of replicative life span in these yeast isolates. We conclude that the abilities of yeast strains to tolerate genomic instability co-vary with their replicative life spans. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first quantitative evidence that demonstrates a link between genomic instability and natural variation in life span."

Epigenetics in Aging (August 04 2008)
An interesting open access paper via PubMed Central: "Strictly speaking, 'epigenetics' refers to chromatin and DNA modifications that are heritable through cell division, but do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence. Chromatin structure is not fixed. Instead, chromatin is dynamic and is subject to extensive developmental and age-associated remodeling. In some cases, this remodeling appears to counter the aging and age-associated diseases, such as cancer, and extend organismal lifespan.  However, stochastic non-deterministic changes in chromatin structure might, over time, also contribute to the break down of nuclear, cell and tissue function, and consequently aging and age-associated diseases. It is apparent that chromatin structure does change with aging, in organisms as diverse as yeast and mammals. However, with the exception of Sir2 in yeast, the extent to which this impacts the aging process has not yet been defined. The effects of chromatin on aging are likely to be complex and bidirectional. To test and define the impact of specific epigenetic determinants on aging will be a challenging task."

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