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Aging Longevity Research

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New Study Shows Says You Can Power Your Way to Longevity

posted on June 30, 2009

I hope you don™t get tired of me reminding you that adding just a year or two to your life could be the difference between being part of the last generation to suffer and die from aging “ or being part of the first generation to enjoy youthful extreme lifespans.

And my suggestions should add way more than a few healthy years to your life. So please excuse the mantra. I think about it every day, but only remind you every month or so.

Remember me telling you about how good strength training is for your heart and your brain? It cuts your chances of dying from the number one killer way back. Now a new study shows you another unexpected benefit. Strength training dramatically reduces your chance of getting the most feared disease of all¦ cancer!

Although this particular study was done on men, it™s for the ladies too.

Here™s what the report said:

Men with stronger muscles from regular weight training are up to 40 percent less likely to die from cancer, according to new research.

The findings suggest that muscular strength is as important as staying slim and eating healthy when it comes to protecting your body against deadly tumors.

A team of experts tracked the lifestyles of over 8,500 men for more than two decades. Each volunteer had regular medical check ups that included tests of their muscular strength. The men who regularly worked out with weights and had the highest muscle strength were between 30 percent and 40 percent less likely to lose their life to a deadly tumor.

Even among volunteers who were overweight, regular weight training seemed to have a protective effect, although the researchers stressed that keeping a healthy weight was still crucial for avoiding premature death.

But they added, "In the light of these results, it is equally important to maintain healthy muscular strength levels.

Researchers said it™s possible to reduce cancer mortality rates in men by promoting resistance training involving the major muscle groups at least two days a week.


>> The Telegraph May 26, 2009

>> Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 18, 1468, May 1, 2009

See that? I™ll bet every single cancer victim would wish he or she could go back in time and spend a little effort in the gym or at home once they knew these facts. Ditto for heart disease victims, at least the ones who survived their first heart attack.

You don™t need to be another Arnold. Just do sensible regular strength training. Then enjoy the other benefits of looking, thinking and feeling better all your long life.


Towards Engineering and Adjusting the Immune System (June 26 2009)
This ScienceDaily release gives some insight into how we might manipulate and repair our aging immune systems in the near future: "During their development in the thymus gland, a kind of 'T-cell school', every T-cell is fitted out with its own personal receptor. The diversity of these receptors allows the immune system to respond to nearly all pathogens. Since T-cell receptors are all randomly constructed, there is also a constant production of T-cells in the thymus that may recognize and attack the body's own structures. Most of these dangerous autoreactive T-cells, though, are sorted out in a screening process before they leave the thymus. But not all autoreactive T-cells are driven to cell death. Some of them are 'reeducated' into so-called regulatory T-cells. While these still possess a T-cell receptor that targets the body's own structures, they have been reprogrammed during their development in the thymus so that they can no longer cause any damage. In fact, it is [quite the opposite]. They even keep other nearby errant T -cells under control. This is why the mechanisms for the creation of regulatory T-cells are of enormous practical interest. Deciphering these processes could lead to new therapeutic approaches for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatic arthritis and type-1 diabetes, which are triggered by autoreactive T-cells."

Near 100% Efficiency in Targeting Cells (June 26 2009)
Being able to target very specific cell populations by their distinctive surface chemistry is fundamental to the next generation of medical technologies: "It is now possible to engineer tiny containers the size of a virus to deliver drugs and other materials with almost 100 percent efficiency to targeted cells in the bloodstream. We can introduce just about any drug or genetic material that can be encapsulated, and it is delivered to any circulating cells that are specifically targeted. The technique involves filling the tiny lipid containers, or nanoscale capsules, with a molecular cargo and coating the capsules with adhesive proteins called selectins that specifically bind to target cells. A shunt coated with the capsules is then inserted between a vein and an artery. Much as burrs attach to clothing in a field, the selectin-coated capsules adhere to targeted cells in the bloodstream. [For example], metastasizing cancer cells circulating in the blood stream can stick to selectin-coated devices containing a second protein that programs cancer cells to self-destruct."

PAPPA, Mouse Longevity, and the Thymus (June 25 2009)
Researchers here investigate the effects of a mouse longevity gene, and see that it promotes a better functioning thymus and immune system in old age: "Pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPPA) is a metalloproteinase that controls the tissue availability of insulin-like growth factor (IGF). Deletion of PAPPA in mice leads to lifespan extension. Whereas wild-type mice exhibit classic age-dependent thymic atrophy, 18-month-old PAPPA(-/-) mice maintain [a thymus] densely populated by [thymocytes] that are capable of differentiating into single-positive CD4 and CD8 T cells. PAPPA(-/-) mice have an overall larger pool of naive T cells. Old PAPPA(-/-) mice have significantly lower prevalence of [T cell forms] known to inhibit T cell activation with normal aging. These data suggest [a relationship between IGF and the immune system in healthy longevity]. Controlling the availability of IGF in the thymus by targeted manipulation of PAPPA could be a way to [maintain the immune system during] aging." Reversing the decline of the aging immune system is an important step in prolonging healthy life; the more potential strategies on the table, the better off we are.

Early Benefits of Progress towards Bioengineered Organs (June 25 2009)
For a field to move efficiently towards its end goal, there has to be some money-making application for early results and partial advances. Here's a look at early applications of work towards artificial bioengineered organs: "Our artificial organ systems are aimed at offering an alternative to animal experiments. Particularly as humans and animals have different metabolisms. 30 per cent of all side effects come to light in clinical trials. The special feature, in our liver model for example, is a functioning system of blood vessels. This creates a natural environment for cells. We don't build artificial blood vessels for this, but use existing ones - from a piece of pig's intestine. All of the pig cells are removed, but the blood vessels are preserved. Human cells are then seeded onto this structure - hepatocytes, which, as in the body, are responsible for transforming and breaking down drugs, and endothelial cells, which act as a barrier between blood and tissue cells. The researchers established that the cells work in a similar way to those in the body. They detoxify, break down drugs and build up proteins. These are important pre-conditions for drug tests or transplants, as the effect of a substance can change when transformed or broken down - many drugs are only metabolized into their therapeutic active form in the liver, while others can develop poisonous substances."

The Breadth of Possible Ways to Manipulate Cells (June 24 2009)
Much of medicine might be thought of, crudely, as the quest to control our cells - to influence their actions and alter their mechanisms to obtain beneficial results. Use of chemicals is the predominant methodology, but it's not the only path forward, as is illustrated here: "Many patients spontaneously recover some function in the weeks and months after suffering a stroke, as their brains reorganize to compensate for the damaged area. Scientists are searching for ways to both boost and focus this innate plasticity, thus improving neural repair. Electrical activity is one option under study: electrical current applied to the brain can modulate brain-cell activity - a crucial component of neural remodeling. A week after the start of the experiment, patients given the real treatment performed much better on a number of motor tests [than] those who received the fake treatment, improving by about 12 to 15 percent versus about 3 to 5 percent." This is analogous to early drug development: discovery by experiment, crude usage and small benefits. But we could envisage a line of science that made much more precise use of electromagnetic stimulation in concert with the new tools and knowledge of biotechnology. Would it be practical and competitive with other forms of medicine? Maybe, maybe not. But a great breadth of methodologies in research is the best sign that progress lies ahead.

Exercise: Beneficial Even in Flies (June 24 2009)
The weight of evidence indicates exercise to be beneficial to healthy longevity. This would be expected in most species for much the same evolutionary reasons that calorie restriction extends longevity in almost all species. But how do you test that? "Declining mobility is a major concern, as well as a major source of health care costs, among the elderly population. Lack of mobility is a primary cause of entry into managed care facilities, and a contributing factor to the frequency of damaging falls. Exercise-based therapies have shown great promise in sustaining mobility in elderly patients, as well as in rodent models. Here, we describe the first exercise-training paradigm in an invertebrate genetic model system. Flies are exercised by a mechanized platform, known as the Power Tower. When young flies are subjected to a carefully controlled, ramped paradigm of exercise-training, they display significant reduction in age-related decline in mobility and cardiac performance. Fly lines with improved mitochondrial efficiency display some of the phenotypes observed in wild-type exercised flies. The development of an exercise-training model in Drosophila melanogaster opens the way to direct testing of single-gene based genetic therapies for improved mobility in age

The Very Near Term of Stem Cell Applications (June 23 2009)
While very interesting advances are taking place in stem cell laboratories, the immediate applications of stem cells to therapy largely involve transplants. So newly discovered sources of stem cells for transplant are likely to be employed for some years to come. Here, ScienceDaily notes the researchers have found "a new avenue for harvesting stem cells from a woman's placenta, or more specifically the discarded placentas of healthy newborns. The study also finds there are far more stem cells in placentas than in umbilical cord blood, and they can be safely extracted for transplantation. Furthermore, it is highly likely that placental stem cells, like umbilical cord blood and bone marrow stem cells, can be used to cure chronic blood-related disorders such as sickle cell disease, thalassemia, and leukemia. ... The greater supply of stem cells in placentas will likely increase the chance that an HLA (human leukocyte antigen) matched unit of stem cells engrafts, making stem cell transplants available to more people. The more stem cells, the bigger the chance of success."

Debating the Oxidative Stress Model of Aging (June 22 2009)

You'll find plenty of healthy debate in the aging research community: "Currently, the Oxidative Stress (or Free Radical) Theory of Aging is the most popular explanation of how aging occurs at the molecular level. While data from studies in invertebrates and rodents show a correlation between increased lifespan and resistance to oxidative stress (and in some cases reduced oxidative damage to macromolecules), direct evidence showing that alterations in oxidative damage/stress play a role in aging are limited. Over the past eight years, our laboratory has conducted an exhaustive study on the effect of under- or overexpressing a large number and wide variety of genes coding for antioxidant enzymes. In this review, we present the survival data from these studies together. Because only one (the deletion of the Sod1 gene) of the 18 genetic manipulations we studied had an effect on lifespan, our data calls into serious question the hypothesis that alterations in oxidative damage/stress play a role in the longevity of mice." Or that the antioxidant processes examined aren't particularly important to longevity. The best counterpoint to the paper's thesis I know of is the demonstrated use of mitochondrially targeted antioxidants to extend life span in mice.

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