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The Human Condition Series – Debra Lott

The Human Condition Series – Debra Lott

Debra Lott


‘Trending 76×46 Oil on Canvas’

The anxiety of accidentally misplacing one’s phone, the fear that arrives of potentially missing important updates that could literally mean life or death is a reality all too real for many. It has become the norm of the 21st century to constantly check our phones and other devices for any signs of life; signs of connectivity to the world and others. We have become dependent to our devices, and humanity is slowly merging with and becoming inseparable from technology. The lines are almost totally blurred between man and machine but not only at a physical level, but now also delving deep within the emotional realm of the human psyche. That is exactly what Debra Lott beautifully illustrates in her oil painting series “The Human Condition“.
 
In her paintings, Debra depicts a colorful array of invasive wires, travelling between outlets and cybernetic implants, appearing almost constricting. According to the artist herself, the series visualizes the evolution of inter-relationship and inter-dependence between humanity and technology. “These figures symbolize the contemporary struggle to embrace, interact and stay current with 21st century technology; a love/hate relationship that empowers, improves quality of life, extends life and enslaves simultaneously.”
 
This love/hate relationship is what propels humanity to the impending future that looms near. It is a future where we must embrace the beautiful change that is to come as humanity’s capacity for knowledge increases and our manipulation of technology is nearly perfected. However, this future is overwhelming for some. Debra Lott offers a form of solace in the comfort that technology brings as she neutralizes the wires against backdrops of soothing pastel colors. Maybe one day machines will maximize the quality of life but will also know our every thought and emotion, maybe even hopes and desires. 
 

Transhuman 31×48 Oil on Canvas’

Debra Lott is a figurative oil painter and art educator. See the rest of her series and other work here.

~ Emanuel Iral, Director of Visual Art, U.S. Transhumanist Party, November 11, 2017

The Good Sides of Aging? – Article by Nicola Bagalà

The Good Sides of Aging? – Article by Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà


Editor’s Note: Nicola Bagalà in this guest article elaborates upon aging as a topic distinguished in terms of Chronological Aging and Biological Aging. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

~ Kenneth Alum, Director of Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, October 17, 2017

Sometimes, and especially in articles aimed at mitigating people’s fear of aging, it is said that aging doesn’t come just with downsides, such as frailty and diseases, but also with upsides — for example, wisdom and a long life experience.

It is often subtly implied that these two very different aspects are two sides of the same coin, that you can’t have one without the other, and perhaps even that the ill health of old age is a fair price to pay for the benefits that also come with it.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Setting the record straight

There are plenty of good reasons to be afraid of aging, because the diseases and disabilities it causes are very real and far from being observed only in exceptional cases. It would be foolish not to fear cancer, for example, because it is an extremely serious and often fatal condition; in the same way, and for the same reasons, it is foolish not to fear aging; perhaps, an even stronger fear is justified, because aging can and does give rise to many diseases, including cancer itself.

There’s nothing wrong with fearing aging, because it may help us steer clear from its inherent dangers, just like the fear of any other harmful thing keeps us away from it. This is true so long as by ‘aging’ we mean biological aging, which is not at all the same as chronological aging. It is very important to draw a line between the two so that we don’t end up accepting the downsides of the former, which are neither necessary nor sufficient to enjoy the benefits of the latter.

What’s the difference?

Chronological aging is a rather fancy term to indicate a very mundane thing, namely the passing of time. For as long as time will keep passing, everything will age chronologically. This is obviously a good thing because if time did not pass, the universe would stand still and nothing at all, including ourselves, would ever happen.

However, it is easy to see how chronological and biological aging are not the same thing by means of a simple observation: Although time runs essentially uniformly everywhere on Earth, different life forms have different health- and lifespans. If time passes at the same rate for me and for a cat, and yet I’m (biologically) old at age 80 while a cat is (biologically) old already at age 15, clearly there must be something else than just the passing of time that accounts for this discrepancy.

This ‘something else’ is metabolism—the intricate set of chemical reactions the bodies of living creatures perform on a daily basis for the very purpose of staying alive. As we have discussed in other articles, what we call biological aging is really just a process of damage accumulation; this damage, which eventually leads to pathologies, is caused by metabolism itself, and therefore a faster metabolism means faster aging. Different species have different metabolic rates; as a rule of thumb, the smaller the species, the faster its metabolism and thus its aging, leading to shorter health- and lifespan. This is, in a nutshell, why a cat ages faster than I do.

As a confirmation of this fact, one may observe that species in a regimen of caloric restriction tend to live longer (sometimes much longer) than their normal lifespan, and the insurgence of age-related diseases is delayed accordingly: A lower caloric intake causes metabolism to slow down; consequently, the aging process follows suit.

Interestingly, some lucky species, the so-called negligibly senescent organisms, don’t show any signs of biological aging at all with the passing of time.

At this point, you don’t have to be clairvoyant to see that biological aging implies chronological aging, but not vice-versa. No chronological aging means no time passing, and no time passing means nothing takes place, metabolism included. However, since different creatures age differently (or not at all) despite time passing at the same rate for all of them, chronological aging doesn’t imply biological aging. Quite simply, they’re not the same thing.

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s

Having cleared the difference between chronological and biological aging, we must now correctly attribute the aforementioned pros and cons of old age to each of them.

From the very definition of biological aging above, it’s clear that it is the culprit responsible for the cons—the diseases of old age.

Speaking of the pros, all possible benefits of old age—life experience, wisdom, sense of accomplishment—certainly do not come from the damage that metabolism has wrecked throughout your body over the years. Clearly, they depend on the events of your life, and thus they’re not at all granted to happen, no matter how long you live. If you spent your life in isolation doing nothing, avoiding new experiences, and not learning anything new, your wisdom as an eighty-year-old would hardly compare to that of a well-traveled, seasoned scientist or philosopher of the same age, for example. Ultimately, the benefits traditionally attributed to old age obviously depend on the passing of time (i.e., chronological aging), and most of all on the use you made of your time. Just because you’re old, you’re not automatically wise, accomplished, or well-learned.

What’s more, the debilitation that comes with biological aging makes it harder for you to relish and expand the wisdom and experience you’ve accrued over the years. So, not only does biological aging bring no benefits; it is a hindrance as well.

In conclusion, the pros and cons of old age are due to different causes, and, as such, they aren’t interdependent. The diseases of old age are not a currency you can use to buy yourself the wisdom of the aged, and thanks to the emergence of rejuvenation biotechnologies, you might relatively soon be able to enjoy the pros of old age without having to pay any undue and unfair tolls.

 

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.

Jim Mellon Announces Launch of New Book – Juvenescence: Investing in the Age of Longevity – Press Release by Biogerontology Research Foundation

Jim Mellon Announces Launch of New Book – Juvenescence: Investing in the Age of Longevity – Press Release by Biogerontology Research Foundation

Biogerontology Research Foundation


London, UK: Biogerontology Research Foundation Trustee Jim Mellon announces the publication of his newest book, Juvenescence: Investing in the Age of Longevity.

The book is a comprehensive summary of the emerging longevity industry, including profiles of longevity companies, investment opportunities, and aims to chart the major ideas of the geroscience’s thought-leaders and the vast implications this will have on economies and societies.

Often referred to as the British Warren Buffett, Billionaire Jim Mellon is well known for identifying major emerging trends before they become mainstream. Mellon made his wealth by investing in emerging markets throughout the 1990s. After many years of research and investing in the life science sector, Jim announced his vision for the emergence of the nascent longevity industry at Master Investor, one of the UK’s leading investor show in March of 2017, which was attended by over five thousand investors and entrepreneurs.

“The Biogerontology Research Foundation is proud to support what we feel will come to be seen as a landmark publication in the modern history of biogerontology. Jim has put an enormous amount of thought and effort into this new book, and has interviewed many of the field’s leading scientists in his research. The field of geroscience and the emerging longevity industry are both sure to prosper from very well-respected business personalities like Jim Mellon championing the longevity industry and projecting that it will become the world’s largest industry. Further, governments and policy makers should note the pressing need for a paradigm shift in medicine and healthcare away from ‘sick care’ toward comprehensive and disease-preventative healthspan extension. We are proud to have Jim as a Trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation and look forward to helping him lend mainstream credibility to the field and actionability to the dawning longevity industry” said Franco Cortese, Deputy Director & Trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation.

In 2012, Jim published his best-seller Cracking the Code, which summarized his vision for the future of the life science sector. In 2017, he announced his intention to focus much of his time and assets on the emerging longevity industry and make substantial investments into this area.

Jim and long-time co-author Al Chalabi toured many academic institutions, biopharmaceutical companies, and Silicon Valley tech companies to learn about the latest research and to understand the rapidly advancing field of longevity. Juvenescence highlights the technologies they deem the most likely to generate substantial longevity dividends and create sustainable and profitable industries. They travelled through the US and Europe, interviewing geroscience’s leading scientists and thought-leaders and provide an objective survey of their findings well as a detailed vision for the industry’s future and the most appropriate investment opportunities within the dawning longevity industry.

 

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Earlier this year Jim Mellon announced the formation of Juvenescence Limited, a company investing in the longevity biotechnology. Since then the company announced investments in several high-profile longevity companies including Insilico Medicine, Inc, a Baltimore-based leader in artificial intelligence for drug discovery, biomarker development, and aging research.

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.

Induced Cell Turnover: A Proposed Modality for In Situ Tissue Regeneration and Repair – Press Release by Biogerontology Research Foundation

Induced Cell Turnover: A Proposed Modality for In Situ Tissue Regeneration and Repair – Press Release by Biogerontology Research Foundation

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Biogerontology Research Foundation


Scientists at the Biogerontology Research FoundationFeinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and Swammerdam Institute of Life Sciences at the University of Amsterdam have published a paper on a proposed method of in situ tissue regeneration called Induced Cell Turnover (ICT) in the journal Human Gene Therapy. The proposed therapeutic modality would aim to coordinate the targeted ablation of endogenous cells with the administration of minimally-differentiated, hPSC-derived cells in a gradual and multi-phasic manner so as to extrinsically mediate the turnover and replacement of whole tissues and organs with stem-cell derived cells.

“One of the major hurdles limiting traditional cell therapies is low levels of engraftment and retention, which is caused in part by cells only being able to engraft at locations of existing cell loss, and by the fact that many of those vacancies have already become occupied by ECM and fibroblasts (i.e. scar tissue) by the time the cells are administered, long after the actual occurrence of cell loss. The crux underlying ICT is to coordinate endogenous cell ablation (i.e. induced apoptosis) with replacement cell administration so as to manually vacate niches for new cells to engraft, coordinating these two events in space and time so as to minimize the ability for sites of cell loss to become occupied by ECM and fibroblasts. This would be done in a gradual and multi-phasic manner so as to avoid acute tissue failure resulting from the transient absence of too many cells at any one time. While the notion of endogenous cell clearance prior to replacement cell administration has become routine for bone marrow transplants, it isn’t really on the horizon of researchers and clinicians working with solid tissues, and this is something we’d like to change,” said Franco Cortese, Deputy Director and Trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation, and lead author on the paper.

Cell-type and tissue-specific rates of induced turnover could be achieved using cell-type specific pro-apoptotic small molecule cocktails, peptide mimetics, and/or tissue-tropic AAV-delivered suicide genes driven by cell-type specific promoters. Because these sites of ablation would still be “fresh” when replacement cells are administered, the presumption is that the patterns of ablation will make administered cells more likely to engraft where they should, in freshly vacated niches where the signals promoting cell migration and engraftment are still active. By varying the dose of cell-type targeted ablative agents, cell type and tissue-specific rates of induced turnover could be achieved, allowing for the rate and spatial distribution of turnover to be tuned to the size of the tissue in order to avoid ablating too many cells at once and inadvertently inducing acute tissue failure.

“Cell therapies are limited by low levels of engraftment, and in principle their ability to improve clinical outcomes is limited by the fact that they can only engraft at locations of existing cell loss. Conversely, therapeutic tissue and organ engineering requires surgery, is more likely to introduce biochemical and mechanical abnormalities to tissue ultrastructure through the decellularization process, and is fundamentally incapable of replacing distributed tissues and structures with a high degree of interconnectivity to other tissues in the body. The aim of ICT is to form a bridge between these two main pillars of regenerative medicine, extending the efficacy of cell therapies beyond a patch for existing cell loss and accomplishing the aim of tissue and organ engineering (i.e. the replacement and regeneration of whole tissues and organs) while potentially remaining free of some of their present limitations,” said Giovanni Santostasi, co-author on the paper and a researcher at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University.

While future iterations of the therapy could use patient-derived cells, such as ESCs derived via somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) or iPSCs derived from nuclear reprogramming, shorter-term applications would likely use existing stem cell lines immunologically matched to the patient via HLA matching. The authors contend that the cloning of adult organisms with normal lifespans from adult somatic cells testifies to the fact that adult cells can be rejuvenated and used to produce a sufficient quantity of daughter cells to replace the sum of cells constituting adult organisms, and that serial cloning experiments (in which this process is done iteratively, using an adult cell of each subsequent generation to derive the next) attests to this fact even more strongly.

“ICT could theoretically enable the controlled turnover and rejuvenation of aged tissues. The technique is particularly applicable to tissues that are not amenable to growth ex vivo and implantation (as with solid organs) – such as the vascular, lymphatic, and nervous systems. The method relies upon targeted ablation of old, damaged and/or senescent cells, coupled with a titrated replacement with patient-derived semi-differentiated stem and progenitor cells. By gradually replacing the old cells with new cells, entire tissues can be replaced in situ. The body naturally turns over tissues, but not all tissues and perhaps not optimally. I am reminded of the quote attributed to Heraclitus: ‘No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man,'” said Sebastian Aguiar, a coauthor on the paper and researcher at the Swammerdam Institute of Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam.

“Reversing aging in humans will require a multi-step approach at multiple levels of the organismal organization. In situ targeted ablation of the senescent cells and regeneration will be an important component of comprehensive anti-aging therapies,” said Alex Zhavoronkov, Chief Science Officer of the Biogerontology Research Foundation.

The researchers originally proposed ICT in 2016 in the context of biomedical gerontology as a possible means of preventing and/or negating age-related phenotypic deviation for the purposes of healthspan extension, and in this new paper they refine the methodological underpinnings of the approach, take a closer look at potential complications and strategies for their deterrence, and analyze ICT in the context of regenerative medicine as an intervention for a broader range of conditions based on disease or dysfunction at the cellular and intercellular level, with potential utilities absent from traditional cell therapies and tissue/organ engineering, the two main pillars of regenerative medicine. The intervention is still very much conceptual, and any potential utilities over other therapeutic modalities within regenerative medicine would need to be verified via preclinical studies, but their hope is to stimulate further research at this interface between geroscience and regenerative medicine.

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The paper is available here.

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.

LEAF Panel: How to Promote Longevity? ft. Drs. Aubrey de Grey, Alexandra Stolzing, Oliver Medvedik

LEAF Panel: How to Promote Longevity? ft. Drs. Aubrey de Grey, Alexandra Stolzing, Oliver Medvedik

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Keith Comito
Oliver Medvedik
Steve Hill
Elena Milova
Aubrey de Grey
Alexandra Stolzing
Alen Akhabaev


The U.S. Transhumanist Party is pleased to feature this extensive discussion, hosted by our allies at LEAF – the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation.

Description by LEAF: Dr. Alexandra Stolzing, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Dr. Oliver Medvedik and a number of other guests discuss longevity, advocacy and rejuvenation biotechnology in an exclusive panel hosted by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF). This panel, moderated by LEAF president Keith Comito, talks about the latest progress in rejuvenation biotechnology and about how to engage, educate and excite the public regarding cutting-edge medicine.

Panel: Dr. Alexandra Stolzing, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Dr. Oliver Medvedik , Elena Milova, Keith Comito, Steve Hill and Alen Akhabaev.

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