Double Edged Longevity Sword, Aging Research

Longevity Research

Funding Aging Research

Technology is a Double-Edged Longevity Sword

posted on May 19, 2009

Last Saturday I had a speaking engagement in Newport Beach, Calif. Before going on stage, I had a discussion about obesity and health in general. I had many similar conversations, mostly prompted by my frustration with two diverging trends.

On one hand, the health consciousness and probability of seeing extreme life extension capabilities in our lifetimes continue to get more widely spread and accepted. That in turn leads more people down healthy lifestyle paths and attracts more support for research.

At the same time, the masses get fatter and unhealthier every year. Two thirds of Americans are overweight, one third obese, and the average woman's waistline ballooned by almost two inches in the past ten years. Just when staying healthy can ultimately pay off in huge longevity dividends, millions are unintentionally committing lifestyle suicide.

Here are some excerpts from an essay by Reason at Fighting that illustrates my point.


"The combination of the present stage in our technological development and our evolved urges has brought us to a temporary comfort trap."

"As a species we are presently succeeding ourselves into a harmful pit. We've succeeded in the goals of our ancestors (eat, feel good, evade pain, become wealthy) to the point at which we're breaking the evolved metabolic processes intended to deal with a short and brutish life of privation. We became fat and now surround ourselves with more food than we need, in other words - not a condition that our bodies respond well to, and so we suffer for it. The collection of symptoms suffered as a consequence of being fat, not exercising enough, and eating a lot is termed 'metabolic syndrome.'  It's a step along the way to more serious failures of your organs and bodily systems, such as diabetes, that result from the damage being done by fat through the years."

"Unfortunately, while we've succeeded enough to get into this hole, we've not yet succeeded enough to be able to dig our way out through medical science. Until that happens, indulgence will continue to have adverse consequences on your health and your longevity - lost years, lost money, sickness, and pain."

As Reason points out, just as technology will deliver the ability to transform us from old to young, other technologies' byproducts that make life so easy for us today might keep us from living long enough to benefit from radical life extension capabilities.

Our children will be born into a world where technology will keep them youthful, healthy and strong regardless of what they do. Meanwhile, we don't enjoy that luxury. If you want open-ended youth, it won't be handed to you. You'll need to work at it. I made it easy for you by writing Life Extension Express and even give it to you for free at

But people don't usually value what they get for free. I spent a year writing it and give it away, because I want as many people as possible to be able to shortcut their way to its life-saving information. Even though many tell me they get tremendous value from it, I'm finding that of those who actually do download it, many don't read it.

So I'm going to sell it as well. I was hoping the free version would take off like a rocket with minimal promotion, because I don't have enough spare time to market it successfully. Sigh! Maybe Kindle and other electronic readers will boost distribution. The hard copy should be available soon on Amazon. Anybody want to help market it?

By the way, in last week's issue titled Resisting the Aging Process Could Make You Age Faster... and How to Keep That from Happening, I left the "e" off this link:


Alzheimer's Looks as Avoidable as Diabetes (May 15 2009)

As this ScienceDaily release notes, Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes share many of the same risk factors. Pack on the fat and stop exercising and you too can suffer metabolic syndrome that later blossoms into these and other degenerative conditions. "Modern societies face the increasing burden of age-related diseases, in particular Alzheimer's disease (AD) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). There is some evidence that the causes underlying both diseases are linked. Do AD and T2D represent the endpoint of aged, exhausted, and dysfunctional cells having reached their maximal life expectancy or are AD and T2D the consequences of living in superabundance including excessive food supply, work demands, psychosocial stress, and an excessive sedentary life style? The mechanisms relating [excess fat tissue] and T2D to AD may include hyperinsulinemia, advanced products of glycosylation, cerebrovascula r disease, and products of adipose tissue metabolism. The implication of these associations is that a large proportion of the world population may be at increased risk of AD given the trends for increasing prevalence of overweight, obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and T2D. However these associations may also present a unique opportunity for prevention and treatment of AD."

What Can Be Achieved With Artificial Tissue? (May 15 2009)

Scientists are presently working towards artificial cells, and here we have an example of work on an artificial extracellular matrix. Building an appropriately complex and supporting scaffold - a matrix - for tissue engineered organs is a challenge presently facing researchers. So what could be done with the ability to turn out extracellular matrix to order? "The tissue in our bodies has a combination of traits that are very hard to recreate in synthetic materials: It is both soft and very tough. A team [has] now developed a novel, highly porous, sponge-like material whose mechanical properties closely resemble those of biological soft tissues. It consists of a robust network of DNA strands and carbon nanotubes. Different protein morphologies in the extracellular matrix produce tissue with a wide range of stiffness. Implants and scaffolding for tissue growth require porous, soft materials - which are usuall y very fragile. Because many biological tissues are regularly subjected to intense mechanical loads, it is also important that the implant material have comparable elasticity in order to avoid inflammation. At the same time, the material must be very strong and resilient, or it may give out. The new concept uses DNA strands as a matrix; the strands completely 'wrap' the scaffold-forming carbon nanotubes. This results in materials that are as elastic as the softest natural tissues while simultaneously deriving great strength from the robust DNA links."

A Science for Life Extension Foundation Meeting (May 13 2009)

Researcher Leonid Gavrilov recently visited Russia to talk to the folk behind the Science against Aging initiative. Here, he translates a meeting report: "Aging -- not a destiny! This was the title of a charitable meeting of the Foundation 'Science for Life Extension', which took place in a comfortable informal environment of the Tsurtsum Cafe at the Winery place ( Moscow, Russia). It is this environment, which provided an opportunity for guests to absorb the vast amount of knowledge about human aging, and about the opportunities offered, and to be offered by science to combat it. The purpose of the meeting - to allow guests (which were people of many different professions - politicians, businessmen, designers, representatives of the various foundations) to learn as much about aging as possible, and to learn that aging could be defeated in the foreseeable future. Knowledge leads to action, and therefore the second goal of the Foundation 'Science for Life Extension' was to get as many supporters and partners as possible. The chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, Michael Batin shared with guests his plans, and the most important of them - the development of an integrated interdisciplinary program 'Science against aging'."

The Immune System and Gender Differences in Longevity (May 13 2009)

There are plenty of candidate mechanisms for the well-known longevity gap between men and women. Here is another - the potency of your immune system: "Women have a more powerful immune system than men. In fact, the production of estrogen by females could have a beneficial effect on the innate inflammatory response against bacterial pathogens. More specifically, estrogen naturally produced in women seems to block the production of an enzyme called Caspase-12, which itself blocks the inflammatory process. The positive effect of natural estrogen on our resistence to infection is also exhibited with synthetic hormones such as 17-beta-estradiol. This finding might therefore open the door to new therapeutic applications that reinforce the immune system." A more robust immune system can go a long way to boosting life expectancy. In addition to dealing with pathogens, the immune system is also responsible for eliminating damaging senescent cells and cancer cells, for example.

Scaffolds and Cartilage Regeneration (May 12 2009)

From the Technology Review: "Our joints are one of the first body parts to suffer the inevitable ravages of aging: cartilage may be torn in overzealous basketball games or slowly worn away over years of use.

Scientists are now experimenting with a combination of stem cells and novel scaffold materials designed to mimic real tissue, in hopes of permanently vanquishing the pain that accompanies this damage and perhaps preventing the onset of arthritis. In animal models, these transplants appear to spur regeneration of cartilage that better resembles native tissue. In a recent pilot experiment in pigs, researchers sutured the cell-laden scaffolds over damaged cartilage in the animals' knees. Six months later, new tissue had formed, with a smooth surface and mechanical properties similar to those of native cartilage. The tissue also expressed molecular markers characteristic of normal cartilage. He aims to begin human tests in the next two years. First, his team must do additional studies in large animals, such as goats or sheep, over a longer period of time, to make sure that the treatment is safe and effective."

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