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Month: January 2018

Scientists Identify Genes Implicated in the High Regenerative Capacity of Embryos and ESCs – Press Release by Biogerontology Research Foundation

Scientists Identify Genes Implicated in the High Regenerative Capacity of Embryos and ESCs – Press Release by Biogerontology Research Foundation

Biogerontology Research Foundation


CREDIT: AGEX THERAPEUTICS, INSILICO MEDICINE & THE BIOGERONTOLOGY RESEARCH FOUNDATION

Below is a press release by Biogerontology Research Foundation on the regenerative capacity of embryos and embryonic stem cells. This press release was originally published here.

~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, January 18, 2018

 

Friday, January 12, 2018, London, UK: Researchers at Insilico MedicineAgeX Therapeutics and the Biogerontology Research Foundation have published a landmark study titled “Use of deep neural network ensembles to identify embryonic-fetal transition markers: repression of COX7A1 in embryonic and cancer cells” in the journal Oncotarget.

In the study, researchers used deep-learning techniques to analyze gene expression data in embryonic stem cell (ESC) lines at varying stages of development in order to characterize the gene expression profile of cells right at the boundary of the embryonic-fetal transition, when embryos become fetuses and experience a remarkable reduction in their regenerative capacity. In essence, the study’s objective was to hone in on those genes responsible for the remarkable regenerative capacities of embryos and ESCs.

“This is another important step in the progress of Insilico Medicine and indicates that its suite of products is developing rapidly, with significant commercial revenues not far off,” said Jim Mellon, Trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation, Chairman of Juvenescence Limited and a key partner of Insilico Medicine.

Mimicking the gene expression profile of cells prior to the embryonic fetal transition in adult tissues and organs is the concept underlying one of the central and most ambitious therapeutic modalities being pursued by AgeX Therapeutics, namely induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR). Therapeutic elaboration of the insights derived from this study could pave the way for in-situ tissue regeneration, and its application to ageing and age-related disease.

“induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR) is one of the most promising therapeutic modalities for enabling in-situ tissue regeneration proposed to date, and one that is likely to bring substantial healthspan-extending effects if implemented. This landmark study paves the way toward that bright future. Interestingly, in its identification of COX7A1 as one of the genes implicated in the remarkable regenerative potential of embryos and ESCs, the study also extends the purview of these findings to novel potential cancer therapies as well,” said Franco Cortese, Deputy Director of the Biogerontology Research Foundation.

The authors also developed effective methods of deriving biologically-relevant information from these profiles, identifying the most interesting genes characterizing the regenerative capacity of ESCs, and performed additional experimental validation to support the findings of the study’s deep learning analysis. Interestingly, one of the genes implicated in the embryonic-fetal transition that the study identified, COX7A1, is dysregulated in a diverse array of cancer types, including breast, lung, kidney, bone and muscle. As such, the results of this study could be used create novel cancer therapies as well.

“AI is quickly becoming the main driver of progress in so many fields of science, technology and human endeavor that it is easy for one to lose count. From healthcare to finance to governance, AI is galvanizing rapid paradigm shifts all around us. Insilico Medicine is rapidly establishing themselves as the leader of AI for longevity, and the combination of their deep-learning expertise with the assets for expert experimental validation and interpretation possessed by AgeX Therapeutics is a partnership that has yielded significant synergistic results in using AI to yield novel insights into the biology of aging and charting the path toward next generation healthspan-extending therapies” said Dmitry Kaminskiy, Managing Trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation.

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Paper Reference: West M, Labat I, Sternberg H, Larocca D, Nasonkin I, Chapman K, Singh R, Makarev E, Aliper A, Kazennov A, Alekseenko A, Shuvalov N, Cheskidova E, Alekseev A, Artemov A, Putin E, Mamoshina P, Pryanichnikov P, Larocca J, Copeland K, Izumchenko E, Korzinkin M and Zhavoronkov A. Use of deep neural network ensembles to identify embryonic-fetal transition markers: repression of COX7A1 in embryonic and cancer cells, Oncotarget. 2017; in press, https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23748

About the Biogerontology Research Foundation:

The Biogerontology Research Foundation is a UK non-profit research foundation and public policy center seeking to fill a gap within the research community, whereby the current scientific understanding of the ageing process is not yet being sufficiently exploited to produce effective medical interventions. The BGRF funds and conducts research which, building on the body of knowledge about how ageing happens, aims to develop biotechnological interventions to remediate the molecular and cellular deficits which accumulate with age and which underlie the ill-health of old age. Addressing ageing damage at this most fundamental level will provide an important opportunity to produce the effective, lasting treatments for the diseases and disabilities of ageing, required to improve quality of life in the elderly. The BGRF seeks to use the entire scope of modern biotechnology to attack the changes that take place in the course of ageing, and to address not just the symptoms of age-related diseases but also the mechanisms of those diseases.

About Insilico Medicine, Inc.:

Insilico Medicine, Inc. is a bioinformatics company located at the Emerging Technology Centers in Baltimore with R&D resources in 6 countries. The company is widely recognized by the industry for applying next-generation artificial intelligence technology to drug discovery and aging research. For its pioneering work in the applications of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Reinforcement Learning (RL) and collaborations with the pharmaceutical companies, it was selected as one of the Top 100 AI companies 2018 by CB Insights and Top 5 AI companies for social impact 2017 by NVIDIA. The company pursues internal drug discovery programs in cancer, dermatological, metabolic and CNS diseases, sarcopenia, fibrosis and senescence. Company website: http://www.insilico.com

About AgeX Therapeutics:

AgeX Therapeutics, Inc., a subsidiary of BioTime, Inc. (NYSE American: BTX), is a biotechnology company applying technology relating to cellular immortality and regenerative biology to aging and age-related diseases. The company has three initial areas of product development: pluripotent stem-cell-derived brown adipocytes (AGEX-BAT1); vascular progenitors (AGEX-VASC1); and induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR). Initial planned indications for these products are Type 2 diabetes, cardiac ischemia, and tissue regeneration respectively. For more information, please visit http://www.agexinc.com or connect with the company on Twitter or Facebook.

Pluslectic – The Dialectic of Positive Feedback – Article by Pedro Villanueva

Pluslectic – The Dialectic of Positive Feedback – Article by Pedro Villanueva

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Pedro Villanueva


Editor’s Note: In this guest article, Pedro Villanueva outlines a new concept of pluslectic philosophy, which endeavors to be a method of thinking and forward-looking feedback (feedforward) which would characterize future advanced civilizations of enhanced humans. The U.S. Transhumanist Party publishes this article to motivate thought regarding how philosophical systems would need to evolve in order to recognize, characterize, and provide ethical guidance in a world of enhanced, augmented “plus-humans” – i.e., transhumans. This article was originally written in Spanish. The author’s translation from Spanish to English was edited further in a way that sought to preserve and reflect the author’s intent while restructuring various sentences to reflect the English rules of grammar. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, January 14, 2018

What is the pluslectic? The term stems from the Latin “plus”, signifying “more”, “added”, and “positive”.

A philosophical method that differs from the classical dialectic of Hegel and Marx, pluslectic philosophy values the input of the positive facts of growth throughout the world.

First think what happens with society and history. Our world over time since the beginning of civilization has been almost dystopian, as said Slavoj Zizek, […] “The real thing is a grain of sand that prevents us from a functioning unimpeded; a shock traumatic that disrupts the balance of the symbolic universe of the subject.” [1]

With the development of capitalism, develops also nihilism; it refers to a “belief” or faith that all values are meaningless or useless and that nothing can be really known or communicated, since humans can never know the truth and should leave social deception.

Nihilists believe in these 3 things:

1. There is not reasonable proof of the existence of a “supreme ruler” or a “creator”.

2. The “moral truth” is unknown.

3. The universal ethics is impossible.

Nietzsche says the following: “What matter to me others? Others are only human. Be superior to humanity by the force, by the temple, for contempt… ” [2]

In the 20th century and early 21st century, there has deepened the social disorientation and the existence of a society without sense, with the philosophy of the postmodernism of Lyotard. Lipovetsky examines a “postmodern” society marked, according to him, by a separation of the public sphere, and at the same time a loss of the sense of the large collective institutions (social and political) and “open” culture based on the regulation of human relations. Grace, hedonism, customization of the processes of socialization, permissive education, sexual liberation, focus on mood all characterize such a society.

This vision of society poses a neoindividualism of a narcissistic type and, moreover, what Lipovetsky called “the second individualist revolution”. The Post-Structuralists, with the deconstruction approach of Derrida, and Paul Virilio, with his thought of the aesthetics of disappearance where speed rules in the political, economic and cultural realms of human existence, are examples of this phenomenon.

I’ll explain the evolution of the concept of modern dialectic in the main figures of the philosophers Fitche, Hegel and Marx.

For Johann Gottlieb Fichte, I, the subject, is derived from all and the logical principles logical of identity and denial, to assert oneself begets opposition – “not me” – and both are subordinated to a principle of total unity. As the self comes into contradiction with himself and opposition to the “not me”, it eliminates this opposition by limiting both flows in an endless process, which is formulated in the dialectic triad: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. [3]

The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel applies the term “dialectic” to his philosophical system and its logic focused on the future, contradiction, and change, which replaces the principles of identity and non-contradiction, by the incessant transformation of things and the unity of opposites. Hegel thought that the evolution of the Idea occurs through a dialectical process, i.e., a concept confronts its opposite and as a result of this conflict, rises a third synthesis. The synthesis is more loaded with truth than the previous two opposites. The work of Hegel is based on an idealistic conception of a universal mind that, through evolution, aims to reach the highest limit of self-consciousness and freedom. [4]

The German philosopher Karl Marx applied the concept of dialectic to the social and economic processes. The so-called dialectical materialism of Marx is often considered as a revision of the Hegelian system. This proposed a solution to a widespread problem of economic ends through three concepts: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. The first was the source of the problem in this property of the  capital concentrated in the bourgeois class. The second, proletarian, class, the creator of the value with their work, was stripped of all means of production. These two, according to Marx, will give as a synthesis communism, the social ownership of the means of production. [5]

Let’s bring to the discussion general systems theory and its importance. The advance of technology exposes the complexity of general systems theory when compared to the modern dialectic.

The general systems theory was conceived by Ludwig von Bertalanffy in the 1940s, in order to form a practical model for conceptualizing the phenomena that the mechanistic reduction of the classical approach to science could not explain. In particular, general systems theory seems to provide a unifying theoretical framework for the natural sciences and the social sciences, needing in so doing to employ concepts such as “organization”, “whole”, “globalization”, and “dynamic interaction”; the linear is replaced by the circular. None of this was easily understandable by the analytical methods of the pure sciences. The individual lost importance in favor of the interdisciplinary approach. [6]

During the 1930s, Wiener worked with doctors and engineers and examined the parallels between human beings and electrical systems. As a result of such research, important concepts of feedback were developed, with the researchers studying more closely those systems that incorporated them.

These concepts of feedback, by which information was introduced to machines, led to the emergence of Cybernetics as the adaptation different from the mechanistic theory. The circularity and feedback processes are passed to the common elements of entire system, and Wiener called them “anti-entropic local phenomena”.

The behavior of a driver’s car on a road would be a clear example of negative feedback, since the driver would receive information from the limits of the road that could produce correcting deviations with the steering wheel. The thermostat would be another example of negative feedback, to which we referred above.

Any feedback would take into account the information on past actions, and with them would determine further actions to follow, creating a structure more complex than the linear or circular causality.

About Feedback

In this type of chain, each link is modified and changes its interaction, and this modification occurs in a circular process known as feedback loop (feedback loop).

We can find examples of the previously articulated concept. Thus, a spider that paralyzes a fly with its stinger is involved in a process of spending a fixed amount of power from “a” to “b”; a jellyfish stinging a human hand can participate in a feedback loop from “a” to “b” and “b” (hand stung) back to “a” (in the form of circle). In the first model the effect of “a” on “b” is not returned to the system (a + b); in the second, the message part of the affected “b” (production) and returned to the system (a + b) as feed-back (received power). The general systems theory holds that transactions are circular and create spirals of exchange that become progressively more complex.

Feedback can be positive or negative.

Positive feedback: Growth of differences – “snowball” – when left to operate, leads to the destruction of the system.

Negative feedback (e.g., a thermostat): Leads to an adaptive behavior or having a purpose, a purpose.

In both cases, there is an anointing of transfer by means of which the received energy is converted into the result, which, in turn, is reintroduced into the system as information about the result.

In the case of negative feedback, the system uses this information to activate its homeostatic mechanisms and to reduce the deviation of the production system and thus maintain a “steady state”.

In the case of positive feedback, the information is used to activate the mechanisms of growth (morphogenic mechanisms) that lead to a disruption of homeostasis and a movement toward change – i.e., the positive feedback serves to increase the deviation of the production.

Therefore, when a system uses negative feedback, the system is auto-corrects and returns to the initial state (i.e., does not change). When a system uses positive feedback, the system goes to another state (change).

Andréi Korotáyev (Андрей Витальевич Коротаев, born in 1961) is an anthropologist, economist, historian, and sociologist, with important contributions to the world system theory and mathematical models of social and economic macrodynamics.

Andrey Korotayev’s major contributions belong to four areas: mathematical models of the dynamics of social, economic, and historical phenomena (cliodynamics).

In the field of cliodynamics, Korotayev proposed one of the most convincing explanations for the doomsday argument of Heinz von Foerster.

In collaboration with his colleagues Artemi Malkov and Daria Khaltourina, Andrey Korotayev showed that, until the 1970s, the hyperbolic growth of the  world population was accompanied by a hyperbolic growth of the second degree of the world’s GDP, from which developed a series of mathematical models which both described this phenomenon as the theory of world system, the correlation between the hyperbolic growth of the world population and the hyperbolic of second degree of global GDP growth, observed until the early 1970s, corresponds to a  positive feedback. (Positive feedback is one of the mechanisms of  feedback by which outcomes or outputs of a system cause cumulative effects at the entrance, in contrast with the negative feedback, where the output causes subtractive effects at the entrance. Contrary to what you may believe, positive feedback is not always desirable, since the “positive” adjective refers to the mechanism, rather than the result.) The non-linear second-order relationship between demographic growth and technological development can be explained according to the following sequence:

•→Increased technological growth, growing the load capacity of the planet → population growth → more people → more potential inventors → acceleration of technological growth → acceleration of the increase of the carrying capacity of the planet → faster population growth → acceleration of the increase of potential inventors → faster technological growth → increasing the capacity of the Earth to support people… and so on. On the other hand, Korotayev’s research has shown that since 1970 the world system never develops hyperbolically; its development diverges more and more from the “regime of inflation” and currently is moving “away from singularity”, rather than “toward singularity.”

Marshall Goldsmith (born March 20, 1949) is an American leadership coach and author of management-related literature. He pioneered the personalized use of the FeedForward as a leadership development tool. The FeedForward assessment tool was created by Marshall Goldsmith with the intention of providing to individuals, teams, and organizations suggestions that help them, in the future, to make a positive change in their behavior. There is a fundamental problem with all types and forms of feedback: focus on the past, on what has already happened, not on the infinite variety of opportunities that could happen in the future. As such, the feedback can be limited and static, rather than dynamic and expansive. The FeedForward of Marshall Goldsmith helps you to predict and to focus on a positive future, not on a frustrated past. In training athletes using ‘feedforward’ (future feedback), the basketball players are taught to see the ball going into the ring and imagine the perfect shot. To give you ideas on how you can be even more successful, the FeedForward evaluative tool from Marshall Goldsmith can increase your chances of success in the future.

Marshall Goldsmith Library:http://www.marshallgoldsmithlibrary.com/

The pluslectic method is converted input, based on the theory of the system and concepts such as positive feedback, the feedforward, and Korotayev front-loading. The dialectical process evolves through concepts, hypotheses, ideas, and where the initial step is always positive (feedforward), accompanied with growth within a system of positive feedback, where the outcome of a positive feedback is one greater amplification which makes a small signal into a major change in the status of the system. Amplification generally grows in exponential systems in a first-order or second-order hyperbolic way.So evolution creates breaks in a positive and fast way, leading to shifts from one system to another system. Such systems are open to differences and are not controlled by negative feedback (which characterizes closed systems), where is the entropy of the system common.

The pluslectic is a philosophical view of how to operate a model of thinking of high civilizations of aliens or humans in the future, which would tell you as plus-humans, if this condition occurs with huge advances in engineering biogenetics, to reduce all the emotions and negative thoughts, where even before any negative events occur, humans would be capable of pre-feeding positively, with a vision of feedforward.

The pluslectic is a concept that is defined as the paradigm for highly developed post-humans, as opposed to the concept of dialecic from the 19th century, and the ideas of the 20th century, still in the generation of the great tales of humankind. Post-modernism and late modernity during the early 21st century are in crisis of change, setting the stage for the birth of new concepts oriented toward the future.

Images by Pedro Villanueva: Image #1 is his symbol for the Pluslectric; Image #2 is his artistic visionary representation of the concept.

NOTES

[1]  The Sublime Object of Ideology (1989). Slavoj Zizek.

[2]  The Antichrist. Friedrich Nietzsche.

[3]. Basement of all the Doctrine of Science (1784). Johann Gottlieb Fitche.

[4] The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). G. W. Friedrich Hegel.

[5] Capital (1867). Karl Marx.

[6] General System Theory: Foundations,  Development, Applications (1968). George Braziller.

References

Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics. Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends. Moscú, Russia Publishers, 2006

Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth. Moscow: Russia Publishers, 2006;

Korotayev A. V. A Compact Macromodel of World System Evolution // Journal of 
World-Systems Research 11/1 (2005): 79–93.

Markov A., Korotayev A.Phanerozoic marine biodiversity follows a hyperbolic trend // Palaeoworld. Volume 16, Issue 4, December 2007, Pages 311-318;

Markov A., Korotayev A. Hyperbolic growth of marine and continental biodiversity through the Phanerozoic and community evolution // Journal of General Biology. Volume 69, 2008. N 3, pp. 175–194

Pedro Villanueva wasborn in Havana, 1974. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in San Alejandro. He writes in an approach to thought known as Pluslectic, which is in line with today’s world and the vision towards the future.

Pedro Villanueva underwent a study bootcamp with FounderSpace in San Francisco USA. He lives in the Chilean Patagonia, Punta Arenas. Building upon the ideas of Vinton Cerf, his research work aims at the creation of an interplanetary network called “InterPlanetNet”, which aims to extend the Internet into outer space. Pedro Villanueva works on the idea of the FaceSpace, a social network of space.

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U.S. Transhumanist Party General Discussion Thread for the First Quarter of 2018

U.S. Transhumanist Party General Discussion Thread for the First Quarter of 2018

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The purpose of this post is to facilitate member comments pertaining to transhumanism and the U.S. Transhumanist Party, which might not specifically fit the subjects of any other post or article on the U.S. Transhumanist Party website. This is the place for members to offer suggestions or converse about any areas of emerging technologies and their political, moral, societal, cultural, and esthetic implications. The general discussion thread is also an ideal location to suggest or propose platform planks that may be considered for future platform voting.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party will endeavor to open one of these general comment threads per quarter. This comment thread pertains to the months of January, February, and March 2018.

Type in your comments below. Please note that, to protect against spambots, the first comment by any individual will be moderated. After passing moderation, a civil commenter should be able to post comments without future moderation – although we cannot guarantee that the technical aspect of this functionality will work as intended 100% of the time.

Moon Ribas – Seismic Sense

Moon Ribas – Seismic Sense

Moon Ribas


 

It’s 2018, another year in this shared reality of ours. We’ve come a long way, perfecting our technological prowess as we continue our evolution into the post-human.

There are cyborgs out there. In fact, most of us are pretty much cyborgs at this point. However, it is indeed likely only some of us are truly beginning to tap into that potential.

Moon Ribas is known to the world as the Catalan avant-garde artist and a cyborg activist. Moon Ribas is one of those cyborgs, an example of the elegantly functional relationship between human and machine.

With an online seismic sensor directly implanted above her left elbow, she is able to perceive the vibrations of nearby earthquakes via data from a custom iPhone app that consolidates seismic activity from geological monitors around the world. Ribas then transposes this ‘seismic sense’ into bodily movement in her graceful performance known as Waiting for Earthquakes or into sound in her piece Seismic Percussion.

With the subdermal implant, Moon Ribas is able to further push the boundaries of perception and experience by means of personal augmentation. During the devastating 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015, Ribas was awoken by a wave of vibrations in the middle of the night. She recalls it as the most peculiar of sensations, also describing it as her second heartbeat as she is able to empathize with the people experiencing the quake. This has lead her to advocate for a better understanding of the natural phenomena so that us humans may be able to better adapt to our own planet’s movements.

Along with Neil Harbisson, another fellow cyborg, they have co-founded the international organization Cyborg Foundation in the pursuit to help all the rest of us become post-human and to protect our rights as post-humans.

It is the insatiable creative thirst of humans like Moon Ribas that slowly pushes us to the inevitable brilliant future that is to come. 

Moon Ribas is an artist and activist. More of her beautiful work can be found on her site.

~ Emanuel Iral, Director of Visual Art, U.S. Transhumanist Party, January 11, 2018 

Looking Back at 2017: A Year in Rejuvenation Biotechnology – Article by Nicola Bagalà

Looking Back at 2017: A Year in Rejuvenation Biotechnology – Article by Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà


 

Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Nicola Bagalà highlights various events of rejuvenation biotechnology in the year 2017.  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, January 11, 2018

Winter kick-off

This year has been pretty intense, with a lot going on both at LEAF and in the rest of the community. January saw the launch of the LEAF website, shortly followed by both the Lifeboat Foundation and Trust me – I’m a biologist partnering with us. Given that it’s been only a year, we’re amazed at how enthusiastic and supportive the community has been—and how fast it has grown, with nearly 30,000 Facebook followers late in December! We’re also very grateful to our friends at Fight Aging! for their encouragement, support, and appreciation for our work, including honoring us by featuring it on their website!

In February, the CellAge campaign launched in late 2016 concluded successfully, also thanks to the matching fund put together by Longecity. That’s also when LEAF President Keith Comito met Mikhail Batin to discuss the Russian initiative Open Longevity and when Series A funding was announced for LYSOCLEAR, a LysoSENS-based approach to treating macular degeneration.

An eventful spring

The Lifespan Heroes campaign was launched in the spring, and thus far, it has greatly helped us carry out our activities, especially in terms of web development—so thank you to all our generous donors!

In the spring, we also started our advocacy projects with global policymakers. During April 10-15, LEAF Board Director Elena Milova attended a training program conducted by the International Institute on Ageing (INIA) in Saint Petersburg, where she met and interviewed INIA director Dr. Marvin Formosa and former Head of the UN Programs on Ageing Dr. Alexandre Sidorenko.

Later in April, the SENS Research Foundation announced a collaboration on a cellular senescence project with the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

The month of May was busy with conferences and networking; at the International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit in Madrid, Elena Milova had the opportunity to interview life extension advocate Didier Coeurnelle, London Futurists Chair David Wood, Dr. Jose Luis Cordeiro, Senior Scientist at CONICET Dr. Rodolfo Goya (we hope to support his studies related to Yamanaka factors in 2018 via crowdfunding at Lifespan.io), and SRF’s Chief Science Officer Dr. Aubrey de Grey. Elena herself gave a talk about effective life extension advocacy methodologies; LEAF board member Paul Spiegel also gave a talk about the need for society to adapt to longer lives. In Paris, the International Cell Senescence Association (ICSA) held a conference discussing senescence triggers, physiological functions of senescence, and pathologies and therapies. We announced the event here.

Our Journal Club series was also launched at the end of May, for a total of eight Journal Club episodes this year, which you can watch here. The Journal Club is a monthly science show on which Dr. Oliver Medvedik hosts guests, and this show is supported by our patrons, the Lifespan Heroes. We broadcast this show live to our Facebook Page every month, where we invite the audience to ask questions and join in with the discussion.

Summer news

In the summer, LEAF and MMTP co-hosted a panel featuring Dr. Alexandra Stolzing, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, and Dr. Oliver Medvedik. This live broadcast included discussions about funding, research progress, and advocacy, providing some interesting insights into the field. They were joined by Alen Akhabaev, one of the project donors who supported the MMTP project on Lifespan.io, as well as Steve Hill and Elena Milova from the MMTP and LEAF.

The AgeMeter campaign was launched on Lifespan.io by Elliott Small in July, and in August, we celebrated the first birthday of our crowdfunding platform—you could say Lifespan.io’s birthday present was the MouseAge campaign launched shortly thereafter. The campaign was successful, and the MouseAge app is now ready and expected to be launched shortly. The use of AI is trending more and more in the field of aging research, so this app is certainly only one of many that will be employed in the future.

A great autumn

The autumn has been, without doubt, the busiest time of the year. The Undoing Aging conference was announced by the Forever Healthy Foundation in September, as was a series of small-scale human senolytic pilot studies by Betterhumans. Almost at the same time as the AgeMeter campaign reached 100% of its goal, Dr. Aubrey de Grey joined our SAB (Scientific Advisory Board), shortly followed by Dr. Robert Shmookler Reis. At this time, SRF and the Spiegel Lab launched a collaboration on developing monoclonal antibodies against glucosepane.

September also saw the Basel Life 2017 conference held in Basel, Switzerland, where Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov chaired the Artificial intelligence and block chain in healthcare and the Aging & drug discovery forums. Insilico Medicine’s Young.AI aging-rate tracking app was officially announced at this conference.

Juvenescence by Jim Mellon and Al Chalabi—a thorough, investor-focused introduction to the science of aging and the world of rejuvenation biotech—was published on September 25. LEAF has published two reviews of the book, which you can read here and here.

Open Longevity ICO, a Russian project focused on conducting clinical trials of geroprotective therapies and introducing diagnoses of aging into clinical practice, was launched in September. It is currently entering the second phase of pre-ICO, and we wish Anastasia Egorova’s team good luck.

In October (which is traditionally considered the Longevity Month) we launched the #IAmTheLifespan campaign, inviting all our supporters to make videos describing what brought them to join our cause, and you can watch some of them here. To help out MouseAge, and for Inktober 2017, our volunteer Laura Weston launched a fundraiser offering her beautiful artwork as a reward for donors.

The Pathways to Healthy Longevity 2017 conference was organized on October 15th by Dr. Ilia Stambler, a famous longevity activist, in Bar Ilan University (Israel), with Prof. Nir Barzilai and Prof. Haim Cohen as key speakers.

In late October and early November, the popular YouTube channel Kurzgesagt published End Aging? and Cure Aging?, which were both created with help from the Lifespan.io team. We saw overwhelming support from old and new members of the community, showing that healthy life extension is much more popular with the public than one might think.

As MouseAge reached and surpassed its goal, news started to spread that WHO was planning to leave healthy aging out of the general programme of work 2019-2023; thanks to the advocacy efforts of the community, though, WHO has received plenty of feedback on the issue and may hopefully reconsider.

During November 8-10th, the TransVision conference was held in Brussels. It was organised by Didier Coeurnelle, the head of HEALES, the Healthy Life Extension Society. Among its other objectives, the Technoprogressive declaration presented at the conference mentions the defeat of aging; it’s good to see that this objective is now considered to be of primary importance by a growing number of organisations.

During December, LEAF took part in Project4Awesome; many amazing videos were made to support us, and we’re really grateful to the community for that. It was a truly beautiful display of generosity, and not the only one; thanks to many fantastic donors, including the mysterious Pineapple Fund creator, the SENS Research Foundation has smashed its funding goals for the year. You can read more about the December highlights here.

Coming up in 2018

In 2018, we will be working towards creating more major media collaborations with awesome content creators to spread further awareness about the problem of aging and the upcoming advent of rejuvenation biotechnologies.

Our web development team will be, and in fact already is, working on improving the overall user experience of our followers and scaling our systems up to meet the needs of a larger user base; we experienced a significant growth in this sense after our collaboration videos with Kurzgesagt were published, and we’re most definitely looking forward to this happening again!

Our Journal Club will, of course, continue discussing and providing commentary on the latest aging research news in the company of special guests from the biogerontology world. More livestream events are in the cards too, so keep an eye on our Facebook page, and subscribe if you haven’t already!

As the community grows larger, so does the need to establish and develop regional presences; our next objective will be starting the Russian chapter of LEAF to engage with a wider audience. Aging is a global problem, so the more communities and audiences we can get involved in the fight against age-related diseases, the better.

LEAF will naturally take part in as many events in the healthy longevity world as possible to keep our readers in the loop. A big must is definitely the March 15-17 Undoing Aging conference in Berlin, Germany, as is the April 22-26 Interventions to Extend Healthspan and Lifespan conference in Kazan, Russia. There will certainly be much exciting news to share, so stay tuned!

The Eurosymposium on Healthy Ageing—a scientific conference organized by the European aging research advocacy group HEALES—will be held in Brussels on November 8-10. It is likely that at least a few of the LEAF team will be at the event, and it is sure to be an interesting one.

Finally, of course, more exciting crowdfunding projects are in the works!

About Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà has been an enthusiastic supporter and advocate of rejuvenation science since 2011. Although his preferred approach to treating age related diseases is Aubrey de Grey’s suggested SENS platform, he is very interested in any other potential approach as well. In 2015, he launched the blog Rejuvenaction to advocate for rejuvenation and to answer common concerns that generally come with the prospect of vastly extended healthy lifespans. Originally a mathematician graduated from Helsinki University, his scientific interests range from cosmology to AI, from drawing and writing to music, and he always complains he doesn’t have enough time to dedicate to all of them which is one of the reasons he’s into life extension. He’s also a computer programmer and web developer. All the years spent learning about the science of rejuvenation have sparked his interest in biology, in which he’s planning to get a university degree.

About LIFE EXTENSION ADVOCACY FOUNDATION (LEAF)

In 2014, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting increased healthy human lifespan through fiscally sponsoring longevity research projects and raising awareness regarding the societal benefits of life extension. In 2015 they launched Lifespan.io, the first nonprofit crowdfunding platform focused on the biomedical research of aging.

They believe that this will enable the general public to influence the pace of research directly. To date they have successfully supported four research projects aimed at investigating different processes of aging and developing therapies to treat age-related diseases.

The LEAF team organizes educational events, takes part in different public and scientific conferences, and actively engages with the public on social media in order to help disseminate this crucial information. They initiate public dialogue aimed at regulatory improvement in the fields related to rejuvenation biotechnology.

New Clinical Study May Be the World’s First Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease – Press Release from Libella Gene Therapeutics

New Clinical Study May Be the World’s First Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease – Press Release from Libella Gene Therapeutics

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Libella Gene Therapeutics


ORLANDO, Fla.Jan. 10, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Libella Gene Therapeutics LLC will conduct an OUS (outside the United States) clinical trial in Cartagena, Colombia, using gene therapy to reverse age-related diseases, starting with Alzheimer’s. Unlike traditional drugs, which tend to be taken for months or years at a time, gene therapy interventions are intended to be one-off treatments that tackle a disease at its source, repairing faulty DNA and allowing the body to fix itself.

Every day 228 Americans die from Alzheimer’s disease, and there is currently no known treatment or cure. Gene therapy offers the ability to permanently correct a disease at its most basic level, the genome, and could offer cures for many conditions that are currently considered incurable. According to Dr. Bill Andrews, the scientist leading the study, “Human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) is an enzyme whose expression plays a role in cellular aging and is normally repressed in cells, resulting in progressive shortening of telomeres. Telomerase gene therapy in adult and old mice delays aging and increases longevity without increasing cancer.”

By inducing telomerase, Dr. Andrews and Libella Gene Therapeutics hope to lengthen telomeres in the body’s cells. The clinical trial will treat a limited number of patients using the gene therapy treatment, which has been demonstrated as safe, with minimal adverse reactions in over 186 clinical trials.

Dr. Andrews has been featured in Popular Science, on the “Today” show and in numerous documentaries on the topic of life extension. As one of the principal discoverers of both the RNA and protein components of human telomerase, Dr. Andrews was awarded second place as “National Inventor of the Year” in 1997. He earned a Ph.D. in molecular and population genetics at the University of Georgia in 1981. He has served in multiple senior science and technology roles at leading bioscience corporations. Dr. Andrews is a named inventor on over 50 U.S.-issued patents on telomerase and is the author of numerous scientific research studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

On why the company decided to conduct its clinical research project outside the United States, Libella Gene Therapeutics president Dr. Jeff Mathis said, “Traditional clinical trials in the U.S. can take years and millions — or even billions — of dollars. The research and techniques that have been proven to work are ready now. We believe we have the scientist, the technology, the physicians, and the lab partners that are necessary to get this trial done faster in Colombia.”

The clinical trial is prepping to begin in the first quarter of 2018 and will be conducted at MediHelp Services Clinic in beautiful and tourist-friendly Cartagena, Colombia. The state-of-the-art facility has hosted international public figures including athletes, celebrities and politicians. Dr. Javier Hernandez, MediHelp’s medical director, will oversee the trial.

Colombia’s clinical research regulation is friendly to gene therapy trials, with one of the fastest approval times in Latin America for this kind of research. The trial’s clinical study design; regulatory, operation and logistical support; project management; statistical analysis; and study monitoring services will be provided by LATAM Market Access Inc., a Florida-based clinical research company.

About Libella Gene Therapeutics LLC 
With a mission to reverse aging and cure all age-related diseasesstarting with Alzheimer’sLibella Gene Therapeutics has exclusively licensed the AAV Reverse (hTERT) transcriptase enzyme technology from Sierra Sciences and Dr. Bill Andrews. More information at www.libellagenetherapeutics.com.

About LATAM Market Access Inc.
Dedicated to helping innovative life science companies gather cost-effective clinical data at leading research institutions, the company provides clinical study design; regulatory, operational and logistics support; project management; statistical analysis; and study monitoring services. More information at www.latammarketaccess.com.

 

For the Last Time: Rejuvenation is Not Immortality – Article by Nicola Bagalà

For the Last Time: Rejuvenation is Not Immortality – Article by Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Nicola Bagalà explains to us the terms “rejuvenation”  and “immortality” and how they should not be construed to mean one and the same.  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, January 10, 2018

When doing science, it is crucially important to have clear, unambiguous definitions. These definitions must be firmly established to avoid confusion and misunderstandings and possibly to prevent people from going around telling everyone that you’re working on something that you’re actually not.

The I-word

It’s not uncommon, especially for outsiders of a given field, to use an inappropriate word to indicate a more complex concept than the word itself conveys—maybe because they think that the two are close enough or possibly because they just don’t see the difference.

For this reason, it’s likely that each field has its own unspeakably profane word; in the field of rejuvenation, that word is the dreaded I-word: immortality.

Before I explain why it is a dreaded word, it’s important to define what the heck it even means. Now, of course definitions are entirely arbitrary, and the same word could mean a different thing to a different person; but if we go with the most intuitive, commonly accepted meaning of “immortality” when nothing else is specified, then we can safely say it describes the quality of someone who cannot die. In other words, it refers to an immortal being could not be killed or die in any way, even if it wanted to. Just like people today who would like to live for an indefinitely long time (like me) are forced to eventually die by aging and are thus stuck without a choice (at least until we figure rejuvenation out), a hypothetical immortal being would be in a similar situation, with no choice to terminate its life because its immortality would force it to live forever. This brief article explains the issue very nicely and concisely.

Now, the way I approach life, immortality wouldn’t be all that bad, because I am skeptical that I’d ever have a reason to want to die. Still, I appreciate that I might be wrong, so if I could choose and wanted to play it really safe, I’d opt for an “immortality switch”; as long as it is on, you’re immortal; if and when you get tired of life, you flip it off and you become mortal again, free to get rid of your own life however you see fit.

Unfortunately, an immortality switch is just as improbable as immortality itself. Think about it: to be immortal, your chance of ever dying of any cause at all should be exactly zero. There’d be no gun, no disease, no poison, no amount of air taken out of your lungs, no stellar explosion capable of terminating your existence. The inner workings—biological or not—keeping you alive should be indestructible, able to withstand forces of any magnitude and keep going under any possible circumstance (including running out of energy). Even without dragging the fabled heat death of the universe into the mix, it’s difficult to imagine how any of this could ever be possible—let alone a switch turning this unlikely ability on and off.

What’s the difference?

I’m not going to go as far as to say that the above is completely impossible; I was trained to make such bold claims only when I can prove them, so I’ll just say that, to the best of my knowledge, this sort of immortality appears to be exceedingly unlikely.

Now, whether immortality is possible or not is an intriguing question, but it is decidedly off-topic in the field of rejuvenation, because rejuvenation is not immortality. If a universal antiviral drug able to wipe the floor with every conceivable virus existed, you wouldn’t call it an immortality drug, because right after leaving the doctor’s office where you got your miracle shot, a grand piano might happen to crush you after a 50-story free fall, and the antiviral drug wouldn’t be especially effective against that particular cause of death. Similarly, rejuvenation would save you from death by age-related diseases, but not by falling grand pianos, sadly.

Yet, both people and the media keep talking about “curing death” and “immortality pills” when the actual topic is rejuvenation biotechnology; this is a cause of particular annoyance to Dr. Aubrey de Grey, whose pioneering work is constantly called an “immortality quest” and similar things. Since immortality reasonably seems a pipe dream and is laden with all sorts of ethical issues and concerns, whether justified or not, this results in a gross misrepresentation of the entire field and a lot of unwarranted bashing of completely legitimate medical research whose only fault is that it aims to prevent the diseases of aging rather than just coping with them.

The same story is true of negligible senescence. If a successful rejuvenation platform were implemented, people would still age biologically, but we would have therapies capable of undoing such aging. Through periodic reapplication of these therapies, the hallmarks of aging would always be kept well below the pathology threshold. In other words, we would still senesce (that is, age), but our level of senescence would stay negligible—that’s where the term comes from. Yet, many people keep calling negligible senescence immortality just like they do rejuvenation biotechnology, whether deliberately or by genuine mistake, thereby providing an excellent strawman for needy critics to beat. This is why the I-word is dreaded in this field, by the way.

Negligible senescence is the expected result of truly comprehensive rejuvenation biotechnologies, and yes, if we got there, our healthspan would be vastly increased, and consequently, so would our lifespan; if you were in perfect health for longer than, say, 100 years, it is a disarmingly trivial consequence that you would live for longer than 100 years. However, whether a negligibly senescent person then lives on forever or not, or ten thousand years from now, someone beats the odds and comes up with a fancy immortality switch, is an entirely different matter that is beyond the scope of the field of rejuvenation biotechnology. Speaking of which, let me reiterate once more what its actual scope is: to eradicate age-related diseases. All the rest, whether consequential effects or downright made-up rubbish, is just unnecessary embroidery.

About Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà has been an enthusiastic supporter and advocate of rejuvenation science since 2011. Although his preferred approach to treating age related diseases is Aubrey de Grey’s suggested SENS platform, he is very interested in any other potential approach as well. In 2015, he launched the blog Rejuvenaction to advocate for rejuvenation and to answer common concerns that generally come with the prospect of vastly extended healthy lifespans. Originally a mathematician graduated from Helsinki University, his scientific interests range from cosmology to AI, from drawing and writing to music, and he always complains he doesn’t have enough time to dedicate to all of them which is one of the reasons he’s into life extension. He’s also a computer programmer and web developer. All the years spent learning about the science of rejuvenation have sparked his interest in biology, in which he’s planning to get a university degree.

About LIFE EXTENSION ADVOCACY FOUNDATION (LEAF)

In 2014, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting increased healthy human lifespan through fiscally sponsoring longevity research projects and raising awareness regarding the societal benefits of life extension. In 2015 they launched Lifespan.io, the first nonprofit crowdfunding platform focused on the biomedical research of aging.

They believe that this will enable the general public to influence the pace of research directly. To date they have successfully supported four research projects aimed at investigating different processes of aging and developing therapies to treat age-related diseases.

The LEAF team organizes educational events, takes part in different public and scientific conferences, and actively engages with the public on social media in order to help disseminate this crucial information. They initiate public dialogue aimed at regulatory improvement in the fields related to rejuvenation biotechnology.

A Review of Immunosenescence – Article by Steve Hill

A Review of Immunosenescence – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Steve Hill discusses some of the reasons for the decline of the immune system.  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, January 9, 2018

Immunosenescence is the age-related decline of the immune system. The reason why our immune systems start to fail and weaken as we age is not fully understood, and, indeed, there are a variety of hypotheses as to why this happens.

Inflammaging

Inflammation certainly plays a role in this process, and it is well documented that inflammation has a considerable effect on immune cells such as macrophages, causing them to become dysfunctional and stop cleaning house. This is in line with the proposed concept of “inflammaging”, which describes an ever-increasing chronic background of inflammation from sources such as senescent cells, cell debris, and changes in the gut microbiota. This inflammaging then drives immune system dysfunction, which then creates more inflammation, continuing a downward spiral.

We recently learned that inflammation can cause problems with weight control by causing nerve-associated macrophages to stop signaling fat cells to release their stored energy[1]. We also know that macrophage dysfunction occurs in other tissues due to inflammation, and so it seems clear that inflammation plays at least a partial role in immune system decline.

Cellular Senescence

Some research suggests that the immune system declines due to its cells becoming senescent, just as other cell populations do. Over time, our cells reach their maximum number of divisions, or they are damaged and enter senescence and destroy themselves via apoptosis, a kind of programmed self-destruct sequence.

However, sometimes these cells resist apoptosis and cling on to life, but in doing so, they prevent fresh cells replacing them while generating inflammatory signals that cause nearby cells to become dysfunctional, too. It is proposed that the immune system experiences the same senescence as our other cells, leading to immune system failure.

Stem-cell depletion

Another player in immune system decline is stem-cell depletion; for example, the thymus begins to shrink from an early age and eventually stops producing new T cells to help defend us from invading pathogens. The production of T cells is facilitated by thymic stem cells, which are gradually depleted over our lifetime, and eventually, we have so few T cells that we cannot fight off diseases such as flu and pneumonia, which often kill the elderly. Some attempts are currently being made to rejuvenate the thymus and have enjoyed some success.

A review of immunosenescence

It is likely the case that immunosenescence is a combination of all of these proposed things and more, and each plays a role in the resulting decline of our immune systems as we age. When it comes to establishing the exact chain of events that leads to immunosenescence, it will take reversing each of those causes to see what happens.

Today, we wanted to bring your attention to an open-access paper that reviews the current knowledge of immunosenescence and provides a good introduction to the topic[2].

Conclusion

Developing the therapies that target the aging processes directly is likely the most expedient path to understanding immunosenescence, as these therapies will give us the tools with which to discover what drives the process. Approaches such as thymic rejuvenation or creating a replacement thymus, replacing lost stem-cell populations such as hematopoietic stem cells that create all immune cells, removing overspecialized immune cells, and removing senescent cells are all valid approaches towards discovering how immunosenescence works.

Our knowledge is growing rapidly by the passing month, and more and more is being understood about the aging processes and how we might directly target them to prevent or reverse age-related diseases. It is almost certain that medicine is going to change dramatically in the next decade or two as our understanding grows.

Literature

[1] Camell, C. D., Sander, J., Spadaro, O., Lee, A., Nguyen, K. Y., Wing, A., … & Rodeheffer, M. S. (2017). Inflammasome-driven catecholamine catabolism in macrophages blunts lipolysis during ageing. Nature, 550(7674), 119-123.

[2] Ventura, M. T., Casciaro, M., Gangemi, S., & Buquicchio, R. (2017). Immunosenescence in aging: between immune cells depletion and cytokines up-regulation. Clinical and Molecular Allergy, 15(1), 21.

About Steve Hill

As a scientific writer and a devoted advocate of healthy longevity technologies, Steve has provided the community with multiple educational articles, interviews, and podcasts, helping the general public to better understand aging and the means to modify its dynamics. His materials can be found at H+ Magazine, Longevity Reporter, Psychology Today, and Singularity Weblog. He is a co-author of the book Aging Prevention for All – a guide for the general public exploring evidence-based means to extend healthy life (in press).

About LIFE EXTENSION ADVOCACY FOUNDATION (LEAF)

In 2014, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting increased healthy human lifespan through fiscally sponsoring longevity research projects and raising awareness regarding the societal benefits of life extension. In 2015 they launched Lifespan.io, the first nonprofit crowdfunding platform focused on the biomedical research of aging.

They believe that this will enable the general public to influence the pace of research directly. To date they have successfully supported four research projects aimed at investigating different processes of aging and developing therapies to treat age-related diseases.

The LEAF team organizes educational events, takes part in different public and scientific conferences, and actively engages with the public on social media in order to help disseminate this crucial information. They initiate public dialogue aimed at regulatory improvement in the fields related to rejuvenation biotechnology.

How Humans Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Death – Article by Jaeson Booker

How Humans Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Death – Article by Jaeson Booker

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Jaeson Booker


Okay, for this, we have to go back. Way, way back. Before we made history, before we made civilization, before we humans did a lot of things. We may not have even been fully human at the time this happened. But at some point, we became self-aware. This process probably took some time, I doubt it was an “AH-HA!” moment that suddenly changed everything. But we then had the ability to comprehend ourselves: to view ourselves as an independent entity, separate from others, and could reflect on this. And, amid all of this self-revelation, with so many new existential possibilities, we got mauled by a second revelation: we saw other people dying. They got old, they got sick, they stopped moving, and then other animals and bugs started eating them (or, perhaps, we were the ones doing the eating; see “Cannibalism Normal for Early Humans?” by John Roach, National Geographic News, April 10, 2003). And we acknowledged that they were like us, that we one day would meet the same fate.

Well… that sucks. All of this possibility, all of these questions, a whole world to explore, and it turns out we’ll cease to exist before we get to experience even a small fraction of it. Damn. Well… what can be done of it? This question, as soon as humans figured out more advanced communication, was probably many times on their minds. From here, there seem to be three routes.

The first and most depressing, yet also the most pragmatic at the time: accept it and enjoy the time you have. “S**t happens. There ain’t nothin’ you can do about it.” This prospect was probably hard for many to face, causing them to try not to think about it instead (a habit many people still have today). But at the same time, it was probably the only realistic-seeming prospect for some time. Death happens. What can be done of it? No use feeling bad about something that can’t be controlled. Are you going to throw a fit every time it rains?

The second, and easiest to adopt: telling yourself it’s not true. Acknowledging you and everyone you love won’t exist one day is a tough pill to swallow, a pill many don’t want to take. But if nothing can be done about it, the only way around the pill is either ignoring death or believing differently. Over time, believing differently got easier and easier. It probably wasn’t done intentionally, but any idea we might not die when we shed our mortal coil probably spread faster than smallpox. Flowers came back every spring, after ‘dying’: where did you go? Trees went stark and bare, but came back to full health in the spring. How do we know this doesn’t happen to humans? Perhaps we were in our winter, and one day, human spring would come, and all the dead humans would sprout back up like daisies.

Over time, the resurrection pill probably went from easy-to-swallow to a-bit-more-difficult-to-swallow. Generations passed, with the stories being told, but human spring never came. We understood that seeds were the reason plants came back, and that it wasn’t an actual resurrection after all. And if you chopped-down a tree, it didn’t turn green next year. This is all speculation, of course, but at some point humans invented a concept that fixed this: the soul pill.

Ah, the soul, man’s best friend. Suddenly the body had nothing to do with all of those things people really cared about. All of those things humans tied so closely with their identity: emotions, reason, consciousness itself, all of these things the soul had covered for us. You could get pierced by a sword, fall off a cliff, be burned in a forest fire, but none of these perils could kill a soul. Whatever happened, no matter how bad things got, you were, ultimately, okay – because your soul would live on. To quote the Iron Giant: “Souls don’t die”.  Ah, death, thou shalt die at last.

But after a while, things started to change. We were starting to learn a lot, and a bunch of the earlier myths were turning-out to be false. Lightning wasn’t the wrath of any deity, the sky didn’t lead to any spirit world, humans weren’t created by anything but instead evolved, and a whole lot of the things we associated with “the soul” could be explained by a thing called a brain. Worse still, when this brain was changed, so did our personality. (See the Wikipedia entry on Phineas Gage.) This was depressing for many who saw the signs. And that soul pill, once so easy to swallow, was becoming harder and harder to get all the way down.

Which brings us to where you walked in. Many of us are still having issues with that soul pill, but many still don’t want to swallow that “we’re all gonna cease to exist” pill. For those who rejected the soul pill, many instantly grabbed a glass of water and hurriedly swallowed the other pill. They were proud of swallowing that tough pill, and annoyed with those struggling with the soul pill for not being brave-enough to do what they did. They found new ways to discover meaning, despite knowing they would die. Death was natural. Population had to be kept under control. They could live on through other means: their children, their legacy, the people they helped. The last thing these tough-pill-swallowers wanted to do was regurgitate something that had been so hard to get down in the first place. Which is why both types of pill-takers really hate the third pill.

The third pill: actually doing something about it. This solution had started around the time of the other two, but after a brief flare-up of popularity, had quickly died down due to failing to produce any results. Magic, the philosopher’s stone (the dream of the alchemists), blood sacrifices, breathing the air of virgins, and cannibalization of the young: these were all very embarrassing failures of this pill. After these blunders, no one really wanted anything to do with it anymore. And this is how things stayed for a long time. But even though the mentality toward this solution has stayed relatively the same for a long time, it’s potential was slowly changing. We were starting to understand how the body worked, and improve people’s health. We learned we were made up of these tiny things called cells, and that those cells were manufactured using even smaller things called DNA and RNA. And with all of this new-found knowledge, many were starting to wonder if discarding the third pill might have been a bit premature.

Up until very recently, the response has not been very nice to advocates of the Do-Something-About-It pill. And even today, there are many who call such advocates insane, immoral, greedy, and anything else you that’s meant to sound bad or misguided. The advocates of the soul-pill and the tough-pill could finally agree that this other pill had to go. Religions declared such aspirations evil and against God’s will. Scientists worked hard to separate themselves from these advocates as much as possible, not wanting to be lumped in with what sounded to many like some sort of icky cult.

So, the swallowers of the first two pills march forward, parading ideas of death and aging being natural, that seeking anything else is wrong and selfish, and we should just accept our situation. It is these two pills that have enabled people to justify a holocaust that is occurring every day – a holocaust that will one day claim us all, unless the third pill is ever swallowed and digested properly by humanity. Aging has killed more than all wars, famines, and plagues combined, yet most march onward, without making any attempts to halt it. Governments invest in fighting cancer, heart disease, and countless other ailments—ignoring the underlying cause of most of these problems, which is aging itself. Every year, there are drives for charities to fight different cancers, entire months and hues devoted to some (See “Pink porta-potty fundraiser aimed at flushing breast cancer“, CBC News, October 2, 2017), yet none toward combating aging. People stake trillions of dollars toward remedies to make them look younger, but almost none to aiding the effort of actually making them younger. They plan out their wills, their life insurance, and their funerals, but ignore opportunities to preserve themselves (for instance, cryopreservation, as offered by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation or the Cryonics Institute) for a chance to keep living, even if it is more affordable than they think.

But, despite the opposition, this solution has been making progress. We have seen progress in stem cells (“Anti-aging stem cell treatment proves successful in early human trials” by Rich Haridy, New Atlas, October 23, 2017 ), biotechnology (“A Silicon Valley scientist and entrepreneur who invented a drug to explode double chins is now working on a cure for aging” by Nikhil Swaminathan, Quartz, January 6, 2017), and machine learning used to better understand the aging process and how to treat it (“Artificial Intelligence uncovers anti-aging plant extracts” – Press Release by Insilico Medicine, October 31, 2017). The third pill is getting more and more enticing. Many older people, having swallowed one of the first two pills decades ago, have no desire to change their existential outlook now. But many younger ones, those who have not yet chosen a pill, and finding the other two inadequate, are starting to wonder if the third pill is for them. Time will tell which pill will ultimately win out, if any, but for now, for the first time ever in human history, the Do-Something-About-It Pill has an actual chance to shine and show what it is truly capable of.

Jaeson Booker is a software development engineer who has worked as a journalist. He earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Political Science from Salisbury University, a Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) degree in Molecular Biology from the Texas A&M Univerisity in Corpus Christi, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Wilmington University.

The Link Between Cellular Senescence and Cellular Reprogramming – Article by Steve Hill

The Link Between Cellular Senescence and Cellular Reprogramming – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Steve Hill discusses the link between Cellular Senescence and Cellular Reprogramming.  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

            ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, January 8, 2018

The reprogramming of cells is a well-established technique in medicine and has been for over a decade now. It allows the en masse creation of patient-matched cells and is the basis for multiple current therapies.

Cellular Senescence and Cellular Reprogramming share mechanisms

Induced pluripotent stem cells (also known as iPS cells or iPSCs) can be created directly from adult cells. The iPSC technology was pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka, who demonstrated in 2006 that the introduction of four specific genes encoding transcription factors could convert adult cells into pluripotent stem cells[1]. These factors are Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc (OSKM), or as many call them, the Yamanaka factors.

Today, we have a new paper that discusses how induced pluripotency and cellular senescence, two of several possible cellular states, share similarities[2]. It is likely no surprise that the two states are closely related and that some of the mechanisms for one process are shared by the other. It appears that certain key signaling molecules are important in determining both cell fate and senescence.

Controlling cell behavior in living animals

As our understanding of guiding cell fate grows rapidly by the passing year, it has huge implications for therapies that seek to control cellular activities and encourage certain types of cells to be created. Research is now starting to move beyond the petri dish and to where cells are being programmed in situ in living animals.

In 2013, the Hallmarks of Aging proposed that epigenetic changes are a primary reason we age, but, at the time, the evidence in living animals was lacking[3]. All this changed in late 2015 when researchers induced pluripotency in living animals using the OSKM reprogramming factors, in much the same way as iPSC technology creates on-demand cell types outside the body. In this case, they only very briefly induced OSKM so that the aging markers in cells were reset but not long enough to cause the cells to revert to a developmental state.

The results of this first attempt to reprogram cells in living animals resulted in the cells of the mice becoming functionally younger in many ways and increased their healthy lifespan[4]. These results lend yet more support for the hypothesis that epigenetic alterations are one of the reasons we age and that reversing those changes is a path to maintaining health and tissue function as we age. A number of research teams are now exploring cellular reprogramming in living animals with a view to translating this to humans. We discussed the findings of this paper during our monthly Journal Club here.

Conclusion

This paper may be of interest to those wishing to delve deeper into the world of cell fate and understand the connection between cellular senescence and induced pluripotency. This builds on the knowledge we already have, and it is not difficult to imagine a time in the near future when we will have a very high level of control over our cells via reprogramming techniques.

If the hypothesis of epigenetic alterations being one of the causes of aging turns out to be correct, then that would be a real game changer. We are likely not too far off from determining if this is the case or not, and we may have the answer in the next few years, given the current pace of progress.

Literature

[1] Takahashi, K., & Yamanaka, S. (2006). Induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic and adult fibroblast cultures by defined factors. cell, 126(4), 663-676.

[2] Mosteiro, L., Pantoja, C., Martino, A., & Serrano, M. (2017). Senescence promotes in vivo reprogramming through p16INK4a and IL‐6. Aging cell.

[3] López-Otín, C., Blasco, M. A., Partridge, L., Serrano, M., & Kroemer, G. (2013). The hallmarks of aging. Cell, 153(6), 1194-1217.

[4] Ocampo, A., Reddy, P., Martinez-Redondo, P., Platero-Luengo, A., Hatanaka, F., Hishida, T., … & Araoka, T. (2016). In vivo amelioration of age-associated hallmarks by partial reprogramming. Cell, 167(7), 1719-1733.

About Steve Hill

As a scientific writer and a devoted advocate of healthy longevity technologies, Steve has provided the community with multiple educational articles, interviews, and podcasts, helping the general public to better understand aging and the means to modify its dynamics. His materials can be found at H+ Magazine, Longevity Reporter, Psychology Today, and Singularity Weblog. He is a co-author of the book Aging Prevention for All – a guide for the general public exploring evidence-based means to extend healthy life (in press).

About LIFE EXTENSION ADVOCACY FOUNDATION (LEAF)

In 2014, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting increased healthy human lifespan through fiscally sponsoring longevity research projects and raising awareness regarding the societal benefits of life extension. In 2015 they launched Lifespan.io, the first nonprofit crowdfunding platform focused on the biomedical research of aging.

They believe that this will enable the general public to influence the pace of research directly. To date they have successfully supported four research projects aimed at investigating different processes of aging and developing therapies to treat age-related diseases.

The LEAF team organizes educational events, takes part in different public and scientific conferences, and actively engages with the public on social media in order to help disseminate this crucial information. They initiate public dialogue aimed at regulatory improvement in the fields related to rejuvenation biotechnology.