Aging Research: Defying Aging Naturally

Reverse Aging Research

Funding Aging Research

Is Washing Your Hands any More Natural than Defying Aging?

posted on October 13, 2009

About thirty years ago, I was hospitalized with a blood infection. In their infinite wisdom, the hospital staff gave me an intravenous injection of antibiotics which cleared up my infection¦ but it also damaged my hearing. My right ear is especially affected, and my doctor advised hearing aids don™t seem to help this type of damage very much.

I mention this because I often hear people object to age reversal pursuits as œnot being natural.

But these same people probably don™t think wearing hearing aids or getting cochlear implants is 'unnatural'. But they are the same things in principal. Virtually everything we do in modern society can be considered unnatural. Every time you use tools created by human intelligence to enhance your life or to prevent damage which would undermine your health, you are defying nature. Since we understand what causes tooth decay, we brush our teeth. And since we know certain bacteria can make us sick, we wash our hands with soap.

These seem like natural responses to your environment, don™t they? And they are if you use your head. So don™t you think it actually is natural to enhance your health and longevity with toothpaste, soap, antibiotics and pacemakers too? Isn™t that what our intellect is designed to do?

Reversing the aging process is way more complex, as are the tools we will need to develop to stop the damage aging heaps upon us, but the principle is the same. Reversing hearing loss and aging are simply extensions of basic medicine as we march into the 21st century.

Here™s an example of what science is doing to keep me from annoying you every time I ask you to repeat yourself.

An Israeli discovery on the function of tiny molecules called (miRNAs) in the inner ears of mice could lead to the cure of human deafness in adults caused by aging, disease, drugs and noise, or genetic disease in children.

The research carried out over three years by world-renowned geneticist Prof. Karen Avraham of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and Dr. Lilach Friedman and other post-doctoral researchers in her lab, gives hundreds of millions hope for a better life.

About one out of every two elderly people suffers from some degree of hearing disability, while one in 1,000 infants is born deaf due to mutant genes. Healthy babies are born with 15,000 sensory hair cells in each ear that allow them to hear. These hair cells are responsible for translating sounds to electrical pulses that the brain can interpret.

When these cells die off in a process called apoptosis, sometimes caused by stupid mistakes made by hospitals, it results in hearing disability. When the hair cells are all gone, profound deafness follows. Finding the mechanism in which apoptosis occurs might make it possible to prevent it.

The TAU team - working with cooperation from the Weizmann Institute of Science molecular genetics department and biologists at Indiana's Purdue University - has discovered for the first time that microRNAs are vital to the development and survival of hair cells in the inner ear and for normal hearing. This important discovery opens an entirely new window for possible treatments and a cure for all types of deafness, whether age-related, caused by trauma or genetic.

Today, it™s reversing hearing loss. Tomorrow, aging!


From ScienceDaily: "Premature aging of the immune system appears to play a role in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). CD4+ T cells, which grow and mature in the thymus before entering the bloodstream, are reduced in number in patients who have ALS as the thymus shrinks and malfunctions. The thymus gland, where immune cells called T lymphocytes mature before entering the bloodstream, normally reaches its peak in size and production in childhood. It then slowly shrinks, becoming virtually nonexistent in the elderly, but the lifespan of newly produced T cells ranges from three to 30 years. This study found that the thymus glands of mice and patients with the disease undergo accelerated degeneration. The findings are consistent with evidence collected over a decade [suggesting] that a well-functioning immune system plays a pivotal role in maintaining, protecting and repairing cells of the central nervous system. Studies conducted in animals have shown that boosting immune T-cell levels may reduce symptoms and slow progression of certain neurodegenerative diseases. If T-cell malfunction is confirmed to be a contributing factor to ALS, as we propose, therapeutic strategies may be aimed at overcoming this deficiency through rebuilding, restoring or transplanting the thymus."

A cancer therapy trial based on the work of Zheng Cui is presently underway in Florida: "About 75% of US population living today will not die of cancer. It is not uncommon that some people remain cancer-free into their 80s and 90s, even if they are regularly exposed to environmental carcinogens such as air pollutants, cigarette smoking, etc. A frequently asked but unanswered question is why these individuals do not get cancer. There has been a recent report of a colony of cancer-resistant mice developed from a single male mouse that unexpectedly survived challenges of lethal cancer cell injections. In these so-called spontaneous regression/complete resistant (SR/CR) mice, cancer cells are killed by rapid infiltration of leukocytes, mainly of innate immunity. This highly effective natural cancer immunity is inherited and mediated entirely by white blood cells. Moreover, this cancer resistance can be transferred to wild type mice through the transfer of various immune cell types including granulocytes. This observation raises the possibility that infusion of white blood cells, particularly cells of innate immunity, is a viable anticancer therapy in humans as well. This proposed trial will test whether white blood cell infusions from healthy unrelated donors can be used to treat cancer. The trial is designed to determine whether responses can be seen in cancer patients after infusion of HLA-mismatched white cells from healthy donors."

A look at present human studies of the health benefits of calorie restriction at the New York Times: "As Americans become fatter and fatter - a study published in July revealed that obesity rates increased in 23 states last year and declined in none - a select group of men and women under the watchful care of medical professionals have spent the past few years becoming thinner and thinner. There are 132 of them, located in and around Boston, St. Louis and Baton Rouge, La. All are enrolled in a large clinical trial that is financed by the National Institutes of Health and known as Calerie, which stands for Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy. The Calerie project [is] that it is not meant to study weight loss or if one type of diet is better than another. Instead, Calerie is investigating how (and if) a spartan diet affects the aging process and its associated diseases. To the Calerie researchers, these are quite distinct. The aging process, which researchers sometimes call 'primary' or 'intrinsic' aging, refers to the damage that ordinarily accumulates in our cells as we grow older, a natural condition that seems to have limited the maximal lifespan of humans to 120 years. Diseases that accompany the aging process - often called 'secondary aging' - are those afflictions increasingly prevalent in the elderly, like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

A look at the state of the art in cancer therapies under development from h+ Magazine: "Nanomedicine, an offshoot of nanotechnology, refers to h+ highly specific medical intervention at the molecular scale for curing disease or repairing damaged tissues, such as bone, muscle, nerve, or brain cells. Nanoparticles - anywhere from 100 to 2500 nanometers in size - are at the same scale as the biological molecules and structures inside living cells. Titanium dioxide is not the only nanoparticle that shows promise in cancer therapy. Gold nanospheres - nearly perfectly spherical nanoparticles that range in size from 30 to 50 nanometers - are being used to search out and 'cook' cancer cells. The cancer-destroying nanospheres show promise as a minimally invasive future treatment for malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. The hollow gold nanospheres are equipped with a special peptide that draws the nanospheres directly to melanoma cells, while avoiding healthy skin cells. After collecting inside the cancer, the nanospheres heat up when exposed to near-infrared light, which penetrates deeply through the surface of the skin."

From Depressed Metabolism: "The biggest obstacle to the acceptance of cryonics is medical myopia; the idea that someone who has been pronounced dead by contemporary medical criteria will still be considered dead by future criteria. Advocates of human cryopreservation strongly argue against this. There are few things more discomforting than the idea that medical professionals of the future will look back in horror and wonder why we gave up on people who still possessed the neuroanatomical basis of their identities and memories. But there is another kind of myopia in the public discussion of cryonics that warrants consideration. It is taken for granted by some critics of contemporary cryonics that cryonics has always been framed as a form of medicine. Nothing could be further from the truth. The history of cryonics is replete with debates between advocates of the medical model and those who believe that timely transport of the patient to a cryonics facility for low temperature storage should be adequate for future resuscitation by advanced nanotechnology. It is only because cryonics advocates with medical and research backgrounds such as Mike Darwin and Jerry Leaf vigorously argued for adopting conventional medical techniques and protocols that today's cryonics organizations can even be criticized for falling short of these criteria."

The Singularity Hub here looks at the Mprize for longevity research: "If living forever isn't enough motivation to get scientists to study longevity, maybe $3.8 million will work instead. That's the current size of the Mprize, a special fund put forth by the Methuselah Foundation that seeks to encourage research into extending healthy human life. The prize is awarded to those scientists who can increase the lifespan of lab mice in the hopes that work performed on that species can be readily applied to humans. Can we live longer? Do we even want to? When will the average human life expectancy start to increase by more than a year each year? The Methuselah Foundation's answers are yes, yes, and much sooner than you might think. Offering a cash prize to help motivate research has a long and successful history. Mariners were finally able to determine their longitude at sea thanks to the aptly named Longitude Prize offered by the British government. Lindbergh's transatlantic flight was in direct response to the Orteig prize. The modern day Xprize is inspiring new achievements in genomics, space flight, lunar exploration, and transportation efficiency. With the Mprize, the Methuselah Foundation may very well bring about a surge in the interest in increasing human lifespans within the next generation."


A somewhat meandering article from the Boston Globe looks at the state of regenerative medicine: "Cut an arm off a starfish, and an exact duplicate emerges. The salamander, upon losing a tail, sprouts another. The conventional thinking has been that we, along with all other mammals, lost the ability to regrow entire organs and limbs. Yet there are exceptions. Deer show off new antlers every year. Even children retain vestiges of regenerative capacity: Up to an age of between 7 and 11, if a child loses the top third of a finger, that tip will reemerge. How can we, [like] starfish and salamanders, harness the power of regeneration? Each and every cell has an electric flow across its membrane. Researchers have known for some time that the site of a wound produces an electrical field. But only recently have research instruments allowed this flow to be investigated at the molecular level. Electrical signals tell cells what to repair and how to re-create what was lost. Levin deciphered one of those cues, a protein in a tadpole that creates a flow of protons, which produces an electric field at the site of a lost tail, starting a voltage flow.  If you block that flow, the tail won't grow back. Levin took a tadpole that matured past the ability to regenerate a lost tail. He removed the tail, then manipulated proteins to turn on the switch. [This] triggers tail regeneration and stops the tail growth when it's complete. The tadpoles end up with perfectly sized tails like their siblings. Levin is now working with tissue engineer David Kaplan to develop [a] bioreactor, which could encourage the same regeneration in mammals, starting with rats.

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