Financing Aging Research

Aging Research

Funding Aging Research

Funding Extreme Life Extension Research

posted on August 25, 2008

For you serious readers, some say Dr. Leonid Gavrilov™s book, Biology of Life Span: A Quantitative Approach, has the potential to change the future of this country for the better, if its ideas reach members of Congress and other representatives of the U.S. government. Get more information at

Now we™re going to wrap up our previous discussion about how we™re going to fund extreme life extension research.
How about all the private money? Where is it all going? Unfortunately, many popular investments may be ruining your health and shortening your life instead of extending it. And you may be unknowingly contributing to it. If you are invested in mutual funds, retirement funds, hedge funds, the chances are, you are invested in what I sometimes call œpro-death industries. They include fast foods, processed foods, alcoholic and soft drinks and tobacco.
These industries make money¦ lots of it. That™s why savvy money managers invest in them. But they kill in two insidious ways. First, the products can shorten your life. Second, they divert sorely needed funds needed to develop life extending products, technologies and services.
Doesn™t it make sense to commit a portion of your wealth to technologies that cure diseases, promote wellness and extend healthy life?
Sure, we can wait until large funding sources finally catch up. Meanwhile though, over 100,000 lives get snuffed out every single day from aging. A five year delay equates to 185 MILLION more lost lives. Scientists tell us they can start making an impact with only a few million more dollars per year, so we simply can™t wait for nature to run its course. A delay could cost you or a loved one your life.
So I urge you to do three things:

  1. Incorporate the 7 simple steps outlined in Life Extension Express into your life and gain 5-20 years... or more from the health steps you practice now. You will create a brighter tomorrow for yourself when you take some simple steps today.
  2. Invest in some of these technologies or donate to Maximum Life Foundation, Methuselah Foundation, InnerSpace Foundation or Immortality Institute to support them.
  3. Keep abreast of advances and breakthroughs that could push you over the longevity finish line.

As I see it, extreme life extension in our lifetimes will ultimately depend on several factors: (a) how much funding we can raise; (b) how soon we can raise the money; (c) how well you take care of yourself in the interim and (d) your ability to dodge accidents, warfare, terrorism, natural disasters or epidemics. Don™t wait until it™s too late “ and then wish you would have spent a little time, money and effort for prevention.

More Compelling Reasons to Exercise (August 22 2008)
Here is another study to add to the huge stack of research telling us that exercise is good for healthy longevity: "We determined whether reduced insulin sensitivity, mitochondrial dysfunction and other age-related dysfunctions are inevitable consequences of aging or secondary to physical inactivity. Insulin-induced glucose disposal and suppression of endogenous glucose production were higher in the trained young and older people but no age-effect was noted. Age-related decline in mitochondrial oxidative capacity was absent in endurance-trained individuals. Although endurance trained individuals exhibited higher expression of mitochondrial proteins, mtDNA, and mitochondrial transcription factors there were persisting effects of age. SIRT3 expression was lower with age in sedentary but equally elevated in endurance trained individuals. ... The results demonstrate that reduced insulin sensitivity is likely related to changes in [level of body fat] and physical inactivity rather than an inevitable consequence of aging. The results also show that regular endurance exercise partly normalizes age-related mitochondrial dysfunction, although there are persisting effects of age at the level of mtDNA abundance, nuclear transcription factors, and mitochondrial protein expression. Furthermore, exercise may promote longevity through pathways common to effects of caloric restriction."

Ouroboros on Biomarkers and Telomere Length (August 22 2008)
From Ouroboros: "How old are you? At present, the best experimental approach to that question is to inspect your driver's license; we are very good at measuring chronological age, but far worse at measuring physiological age. Until we have such a tool, questions like 'how rapidly is this individual aging?' and 'is this treatment having a positive effect on the rate of aging?' will be meaningless. So, the race is on to find useful biomarkers of aging. Telomere length is a tantalizing biomarker for the aging process: it's positively correlated with life expectancy and negatively correlated with stress and disease. If telomere shortening is a biomarker of aging, then the measurable consequences of telomere shortening should also function as biomarkers, i.e., aging bodies should contain high levels of factors secreted by cells with dysfunctional or critically short telomeres. According to a recent paper by Jiang et al., this is indeed the case. The proteins identified here accumulate with age - [and] they accumulate faster in subjects who are both aged and suffering from age-related disease; in other words, in people whom we might intuitively assign to the 'more rapidly aging' category."

Weight Gain Cast as a Result of Neural Damage (August 21 2008)
Hopefully you don't need more reasons to eat a sensible diet by now, but here's another. EurekAlert! passes on a theory to account for what happens to those of us who load up the carbohydrates over the years: "key appetite control cells in the human brain degenerate over time, causing increased hunger and potentially weight-gain as we grow older. Appetite-suppressing cells are attacked by free radicals after eating and [the] degeneration is more significant following meals rich in carbohydrates and sugars. People in the age group of 25 to 50 are most at risk. The neurons that tell people in the crucial age range not to over-eat are being killed-off. When the stomach is empty, it triggers the ghrelin hormone that notifies the brain that we are hungry. When we are full, a set of neurons known as POMCs kick in.. However, free radicals created naturally in the body attack the POMC neurons. This process causes the neurons to degenerate over time, affecting our judgement as to when our hunger is satisfied .The free radicals also try to attack the hunger neurons, but these are protected by the uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2)." So eat more over the years and suffer neural damage that makes it harder not to eat more. We all have free will, but why make it harder for yourself?

Menstrual Blood as Source of Adult Stem Cells (August 20 2008)
Like heart damage, peripheral artery disease is open to comparatively simple stem cell therapies based on cell transplants. All that is needed is a low-cost source of suitable stem cells. From ScienceDaily: "Cells obtained from menstrual blood, termed 'endometrial regenerative cells' (ERCs) are capable of restoring blood flow in an animal model of advanced peripheral artery disease. A new study demonstrates that when circulation-blocked mice were treated with ERC injections, circulation and functionality were restored. [Researchers have] already performed clinical trials with adult stem cells for patients with peripheral artery disease. The advantage of ERCs is that they can be used in an 'off the shelf' manner, meaning they can be delivered to the point of care, do not require matching, and are easily injectable without the need for complex equipment." The ease with which a therapy can be implemented makes a great deal of difference to the speed with which it moves from laboratory to clinic.

Building Blood from Stem Cells (August 20 2008)
The Times has more on growing blood from stem cells: "Vials of human blood have been grown from embryonic stem cells for the first time during research that promises to provide an almost limitless supply suitable for transfusion into any patient. The achievement by scientists in the United States could lead to trials of the blood within two years, and ultimately to an alternative to donations that would transform medicine. If such blood was made from stem cells of the O negative blood type, which is compatible with every blood group but is often in short supply, it could be given safely to anybody who needs a transfusion. One of the biggest safety hurdles that must be cleared before stem-cell therapies enter clinical trials is the risk of uncontrolled cell growth causing cancer. Red blood cells, however, do not have nuclei that carry the genetic material that goes wrong in cancer, and thus should not present this danger. While a few red blood cells have been created from embryonic stem cells before, the ACT team is the first to mass-produce them on the scale required for medical use. They also showed that the red cells were capable of carrying oxygen, and that they responded to biological cues in similar fashion to the real thing."

A Profile of Robert Lanza (August 19 2008)
Discover Magazine looks at one of the noteworthies of the stem cell research community: "The value of therapeutic cloning has long been clear to Lanza, who did his early work with South African heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard. Starting from those early days, Lanza understood that the barrier to tissue transfer was rejection by the recipient. From an entire organ to a dose of embryonic stem cells, if the tissue's DNA came from anyone else, the transplant would be rejected without the aid of harsh immunosuppressive drugs. 'The treatment could be worse than the problem,' Lanza found. But embryonic clones, the source of an endless supply of stem cells imprinted with one's personal DNA, could alter the equation in favor of the patient and augur a paradigm shift in medicine on par with the changes brought about by antibiotics and vaccines. With the ability to become all of the blood cells - including your immune cells, red blood cells, all of your blood system, as well as vasculature, [hemangioblasts] have been biology's holy grail. What we discovered is that we can create literally millions or billions of these from human embryonic stem cells. We can use transient, intermediate cells like hemangioblasts as a toolbox to fix the adult so you don't have to have limbs amputated, so you may not have to go blind, to prevent heart attacks."

More DNA Damage Research, In Mice This Time (August 18 2008)
What does nuclear DNA damage have to do with aging? The correlation is clearly there - older animals have more random nuclear DNA damage - but the mechanism by which increased damage might lead to some portion of degenerative aging is up for debate. A recent paper shows that the correlation extends to calorie restriction and some genetic manipulations that extend life: "Genetic instability has been implicated as a causal factor in cancer and aging. Caloric restriction (CR) and suppression of the somatotroph axis significantly increase life span in the mouse and reduce multiple symptoms of aging, including cancer. To test if in vivo spontaneous mutation frequency is reduced by such mechanisms, we crossed long-lived Ames dwarf mice with a C57BL/6J line [to] measure mutant frequencies. Four cohorts were studied: (1) ad lib wild-type; (2) CR wild-type; (3) ad lib dwarf; and (4) CR dwarf. Results indicate that two major pro-longevity interventions in the mouse are associated with a reduced mutation frequency. This could be responsible, at least in part, for the enhanced longevity associated with Ames dwarfism and CR."

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