Healthy Life Extension
An Open Initiative for Longevity Biotechnologies
posted on January 31st, 2012
Dear Future Centenarian,
- More than a dozen ways to extend life in mice have been demonstrated in laboratories
- Yet the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forbids commercial therapies for aging
- Thus the best biotechnologies for human longevity languish, undeveloped…
- But this is a shrinking world, linked by the internet and medical tourism
- Advanced, safe clinical development takes place in many countries
We can work around the FDA
Open Cures is a volunteer initiative, open to everyone willing to help, that aims to speed the advent of biotechnologies that can slow down or repair aspects of the biological damage of aging and thus extend healthy human life. Their primary long-term goal is to bring together (a) promising but undeveloped biotechnologies of longevity and (b) the developers who can bring them to the clinic. Open Cures volunteers contribute to achieving this end in the following ways:
- Publishing, explaining, and publicizing demonstrated longevity biotechnologies.
- Building relationships with the open biotech, medical tourism, and overseas development communities.
- Spurring the clinical development of longevity medicine where no such development would otherwise have occurred.
But why are these efforts necessary? The laboratories of the world are crowded with examples of worms, flies, and mice that live significantly longer, healthier lives through the application of modern biotechnology. Aging has been slowed, and some narrow, specific biological aspects of aging even reversed. Yet it is illegal in the United States for anyone to try to develop these technologies into therapies to slow or reverse aging in humans.
A century of growing government in the US has led to a straitjacket of regulation surrounding the development of new biotechnology and therapies for clinical use. The situation is especially dire when it comes to research into methods of extending healthy life span, as the bureaucrats of the US Food and Drug Administration do not recognize aging as a disease. They will therefore not approve any therapy to treat aging for commercial use – and so there is next to no funding available for the development of such therapies. No investor is willing to pony up for the privilege of running right into a regulatory brick wall, and no established road map or initiative exists that provides a realistic hope of changing the FDA stance on aging.
Yet work in the laboratory forges ahead. There are, as of 2011, perhaps 20 openly published methods demonstrated to extend life in mice by 10% to 50%, with most clustering in the 10% to 30% range. None of these are being developed for commercial use to slow aging. Further, the biochemical damage that causes aging is fairly well understood, certainly well enough for development programs aimed at repairing it to be underway such as the work of the SENS Foundation. Yet even when the SENS Foundation achieves success in their research, there will be no legal avenue available in the US by which the resulting rejuvenation biotechnologies that reverse aging in mice can be brought to the clinic for human use.
Political lobbying, while being the first reaction for many people, is not the answer. The FDA is a fundamentally broken organization, whose employees and appointees are incentivized to minimize the production of new therapies. They suffer no meaningful penalty from suppressing new discoveries, but are censured and castigated when any medicine is shown to be less than 100% safe-and of course no therapy, technology, or human endeavor is 100% safe. So their safe, job-guarding posture is to slow down the introduction of new technology as much as possible, and this is exactly what has happened over the past few decades. Each year the costs imposed on development by the FDA increase, and the number of newly approved therapies decreases.
There are any number of well-supported organizations, research associations, and wealthy interest groups whose members are presently engaged in trying to make the FDA process faster and better: they are all failing, and have been failing for years. Lobbying a broken system is not the answer, as it only legitimizes it – rather we must work around that system entirely, and thereby make it irrelevant.
To find out more about Open Cures, go to www.opencures.org.
And while you™re at it, please consider making a donation.
These are the early days yet, and we have little time to lose. We are all getting older, and promising technologies to address aging already exist, but are as yet undeveloped.
LATEST HEADLINES FROM FIGHT AGING!
FALLING HEART DISEASE RATES Friday, January 27, 2012 http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2012/01/falling-heart-disease-rates.php
From the Independent: “It is one of medicine’s mysteries: what has caused Britain’s plummeting rate of heart disease over the last decade? Deaths from heart attacks have halved since 2002 and no one is quite sure why. Similar changes have occurred in countries around the world but the death rate in England, especially, has fallen further and faster than almost anywhere. The researchers looked at 840,000 men and women in England who had suffered a total of 861,000 heart attacks between 2002 and 2010. Overall, the death rates fell by 50 per cent in men and 53 per cent in women.
For the last 70 years we have been in the grip of a heart disease epidemic that began in the 1940s, rose to a peak in the 1970s and then began to fall. All Western countries were affected and all followed broadly the same pattern. Researchers conclude that just under half the decline in heart attack death rates in England over the last decade is due to better hospital treatment; the rest is due to changes in lifestyle and the widespread use of pills to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.” One might theorize that – at the high level – increased heart disease across the last seven decades is a consequence of the fat and sedentary lifestyles that tend to accompany increases in wealth across the board, while reductions are largely due to improvements in medical technology.
ON GROWTH HORMONE AND “SMALLER IS BETTER” Friday, January 27, 2012 http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2012/01/on-growth-hormone-and-smaller-is-better.php
Here is an open access PDF format mini-review on what is known of growth hormone and aging – that less of it is generally better: “A recent report of virtually complete protection from diabetes and cancer in a population of people with hereditary dwarfism revived interest in elucidating the relationships between growth, adult body size, age-related disease and longevity.
In many species, smaller individuals outlive those that are larger and a similar relationship was shown in studies of various human populations. Adult body size is strongly dependent on the actions of growth hormone (GH) and the absence of GH or GH receptor in mice leads to a remarkable extension of longevity. Many mechanisms that may account for, or contribute to, this association have been identified. It is suggested that modest modifications of the diet at different ages may extend human health span and lifespan by reducing levels of hormones that stimulate growth.”
CREATING SMOOTH MUSCLE CELLS FROM SKIN CELLS Thursday, January 26, 2012 http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2012/01/creating-smooth-muscle-cells-from-skin-cells.php
Here is another example of work on creating patient-specific cells to order, one of the necessary building block technologies needed for an industry that constructs organs and other larger masses of tissue in the body: Researchers have “discovered a method of generating different types of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) – the cells which make up the walls of blood vessels – using cells from patients’ skin. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world. These deaths are mainly caused by the hardening and subsequent blockage of blood vessels due to the accumulation of fatty materials, a condition called atherosclerosis.
As not all patients are suitable for conventional stenting or bypass treatment, an option in the future may be to grow new blood vessels to bypass their own blocked vessels. The [team] worked with embryonic stem cells and reprogrammed skin cells, collectively known as human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), which have the potential to form any cell type in the body. They discovered a method of creating all the major vascular smooth muscle cells in high purity using hPSCs which can also be easily scaled up for production of clinical-grade SMCs. This is the first time that such a system has been developed and will open the door for comparative studies on different subtypes of SMCs to be carried out, which are otherwise extremely difficult to obtain from patients.”
EARLY TRIALS OF EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS TO TREAT DEGENERATIVE BLINDNESS Wednesday, January 25, 2012 http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2012/01/early-trials-of-embryonic-stem-cells-to-treat-degenerative-blindness.php
From the New York Times: “A treatment for eye diseases that is derived from human embryonic stem cells might have improved the vision of two patients. The report, published online in the medical journal The Lancet, is the first to describe the effect on patients of a therapy involving human embryonic stem cells. The results [come] from the second clinical trial involving the stem cells, using a therapy developed by Advanced Cell Technology to treat macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Both patients, who were legally blind, said in interviews that they had gains in eyesight that were meaningful for them. One said she could see colors better and was able to thread a needle and sew on a button for the first time in years. The other said she was able to navigate a shopping mall by herself.
Researchers at Advanced Cell Technology turned embryonic stem cells into retinal pigment epithelial cells. Deterioration of these retinal cells can lead to damage to the macula, the central part of the retina, and to loss of the straight-ahead vision necessary to recognize faces, watch television or read. Some 50,000 of the cells were implanted last July under the retinas in one eye of each woman in operations that took about 30 minutes. … Before the treatment, the woman with Stargardt’s was able to see the motion of a hand being waved in front of her but could not read any letters on an eye chart. Twelve weeks after the treatment, she was able to read five of the biggest letters on the eye chart with the treated eye, corresponding to 20/800 vision, according to the paper.”
BETTER CHOICES LEAD TO GREATER LONGEVITY Tuesday, January 24, 2012 http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2012/01/better-choices-lead-to-greater-longevity.php
The ape inside is troubled when it learns that someone else has more than you do – which is something that you should strive to ignore if you like living in a peaceful society. The lesson to take away from this article and research is that the generally better choices made by the wealthy when it comes to health are equally available to near everyone – the effects of diet and exercise outweigh most other factors in the wealthier nations, assuming that you didn’t suffer rare bad luck in your genetic legacy. “Wealthy people possess more than just spending power. They also have more time to live than poor people do, a new study has found.
The wealthiest people in the United Kingdom live longer than the poor, according to a new study from the U.K.-based Longevity Science Advisory Panel. Male higher managers and professionals in the U.K. have a life expectancy of 83.8 years, and female higher managers and professionals can expect to live 86.7 years, in contrast to workers with routine tasks who die about three years earlier. The study found that the longevity gap has widened between the rich and poor over time. While male lower management and higher management had virtually the same life expectancy in the early 1980s, now their longevity gap has widened to almost a year, according to the study. Similarly, while male workers with routine tasks died two years earlier than male higher managers in the early 1980s, now male workers with routine tasks die 3.5 years earlier than male higher managers on average, according to the study. The study said that poorer people die earlier because they tended to lead less healthy lifestyles. The study pointed to less access to health services, alcohol consumption, smoking, and obesity as leading to lower life expectancy.”