Browsed by
Tag: LEAF

Katrin Brunier Art Gallery Opens, Featuring Transhumanist-Oriented Art in Support of Medical Research

Katrin Brunier Art Gallery Opens, Featuring Transhumanist-Oriented Art in Support of Medical Research

logo_bg


There is a new venue for transhumanist art, whose purchasers and collectors can simultaneously aid in supporting medical research. The Katrin Brunier gallery, an ethical investment-grade art gallery for the Neo-Renaissance Era, was launched on May 18, 2018, by U.S. Transhumanist Party member Dr. Laura-Katrin Brunier (Laura Katrin Weston). You can view some of the available artworks here and here.

Proceeds from sales will support Lifespan.io / Life Extension Advocacy Foundation and Turtlesoup Films conservation.

Statement from Katrin Brunier:

“At katrinbrunier we believe that Art should play its part in shaping a better world for future generations. Our clients share these ideals, which is why we wanted to create an ethical option for investors, collectors, clients and gallery owners alike. Proceeds from sales support conservation charities and fund medical research. All materials are ethically sourced or Fairtrade where possible.

Our artworks are all from notable up and coming players in abstraction, and focus on themes of human advancements in pioneering knowledge, trans-humanism, unconditionality, our place in the universe, sensory perception and the neo-renaissance.”

Dr. Laura Katrin Weston took part in the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Discussion Panel on Art and Transhumanism on November 18, 2017. To find out more about her ideas and work as an artist, watch her conversation with other artists and life-extension advocates here.

Boosting Bone Healing Using a Key Protein – Article by Steve Hill

Boosting Bone Healing Using a Key Protein – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill highlights research on selective bone regeneration using a protein called Jagged-1. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 7, 2018

Today, we would like to highlight a recent study in which researchers show a way to selectively accelerate bone regeneration. They have achieved this by delivering Jagged-1 to injuries instead of the bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) that have been traditionally used.

What is Jagged-1?

Jagged-1 is an osteoinductive protein that activates the Notch signaling pathway, which regulates bone healing at the site of injury. Osteoinduction is the process by which osteogenesis is induced.

Osteoinduction involves recruiting immature cells and stimulating them to change into preosteoblasts. In a bone healing situation, such as during a fracture, the majority of bone healing depends on osteoinduction.

The new technique avoids the issues of inappropriate or excessive bone growth because, unlike BMPs, it targets osteoinductive mechanisms that are more directly associated with the regenerative process.

Testing their hypothesis

The researchers led by Kurt Hankenson, D.V.M., Ph.D., a professor of orthopedic surgery at Michigan Medicine, hypothesized for some years that by binding Jagged-1 to a biomaterial structure and delivering it to the site of injury, it could improve healing of the bone.

The published study results confirm this to be the case [1]. Mice and rats that were given Jagged-1, applied using a wet collagen sponge, saw improvements to both femoral and skull injuries. In contrast, the rodents treated with BMPs benefited but also experienced problematic bone hypertrophy, which is also observed in humans using BMPs.

The findings of this study suggest that the use of Jagged-1 for location-specific bone injury could potentially be developed into a therapy to help people recover from fractures and broken bones.

Conclusion

The use of signal molecules rather than drugs to encourage tissue regeneration is likely to increase in popularity in the coming years as the process becomes increasingly refined. This study is yet another example of how researchers are exploring the use of signalling molecules produced naturally in the body as an alternative to drug approaches, which can often have unwanted side effects. It should prove interesting to see how this approach develops in the next few years.

Literature

[1] Youngstrom, D. W., Senos, R., Zondervan, R. L., Brodeur, J. D., Lints, A. R., Young, D. R., … & Loomes, K. M. (2017). Intraoperative delivery of the Notch ligand Jagged-1 regenerates appendicular and craniofacial bone defects. NPJ Regenerative medicine, 2(1), 32.

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.

Dentists May Soon Regenerate Teeth Using GSK3 Antagonists – Article by Steve Hill

Dentists May Soon Regenerate Teeth Using GSK3 Antagonists – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill explains a teeth-regeneration technique that works by activating the stem cells that reside in the dental pulp of teeth. The technique has the potential to translate to other tissues to help encourage regeneration. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 6, 2018

What if I told you that we could regenerate our teeth? Well, that may soon be a possibility thanks to new research showing that teeth can be encouraged to regrow. Rather than drilling holes into teeth and plugging them with artificial fillers, dentists in the near future may be able to rebuild your teeth with a new technique.

Stimulating stem cells

Professor Paul Sharpe, a scientist based at King’s College in London, and his team have found a way to do just this in mice. They published a study last year that described this new approach [1].

The researchers wanted to increase the natural ability of teeth to repair themselves by activating the stem cells that reside in the dental pulp of teeth. They knew that previous research showed that the wnt signaling pathway is a key pathway for stem cell activity in many parts of the body, and they wanted to see if it works the same way in teeth.

The researchers believed by that using drugs to stimulate the wnt pathway, they could increase stem cell activity in teeth and boost their regenerative potential significantly. Normally, this level of regeneration is only seen in animals like starfish and salamanders, but the researchers wanted to see if we can benefit from the same regenerative capacity.

To see if this would work, the team drilled holes into the molar teeth of mice to simulate dental cavities. Next, they exposed collagen sponges (the same protein found in the dentin in teeth) to a variety of drugs known to stimulate the wnt pathway. Then, they placed these sponges into the cavities and sealed them in for between 4 to 6 weeks.

After this time, the researchers saw that the teeth exposed to these sponges had created a lot more dentin than the control mice and mice given typical dental fillers. The researchers observed that this was essentially a full repair and, in most cases, the teeth of the mice were as good as new.

The next step towards clinical trials

Since then, the researchers have tested the technique on rats, which have considerably larger teeth than mice, making them the logical next step. The research team report that the therapy worked equally well on the rats as it did in the mice in the original study; however, the data is yet to be published.

The researchers are now screening their drug candidates to identify the most effective of the wnt-stimulating drugs. They are also adapting the technique to work with modern dental practices by injecting a gel containing the drug into a dental cavity and hardening it using a UV light to seal it in. This is similar to how dentists currently seal and repair teeth, so this technique would be easy to incorporate into dental practice.

Literature

It will be several years before this enters human clinical trials, but the results so far are promising, and the process may be quicker than normal because a number of the candidate drugs are already approved for human use. The arrival of this technique will revolutionize dentistry and is a great step forward for regenerative medicine in general.

Such techniques have the potential to translate to other tissues to help encourage regeneration, so it is also relevant to aging research. We look forward to more developments from this team in the future.

References

[1] Neves, V. C., Babb, R., Chandrasekaran, D., & Sharpe, P. T. (2017). Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule GSK3 antagonists. Scientific reports, 7, 39654.

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.

Exosome Therapy Repairs Stroke-Damaged Brain Tissue – Article by Steve Hill

Exosome Therapy Repairs Stroke-Damaged Brain Tissue – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill explains a new therapy that uses exosomes to repair damaged brain cells. The human trials are intended to begin in the year 2019. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 5, 2018

Today, we wanted to highlight more progress in a rapidly advancing area of medicine and talk about a new study that uses an exosomes-based approach for stroke treatment that repairs brain tissue.

A stem cell-based approach to treating stroke

Professor Steven Stice from the University of Georgia (UGA) and Nasrul Hoda of Augusta University led the team that developed AB126, a treatment that uses a type of extracellular vesicle known as an exosome [1]. Exosomes are small fluid-filled structures that are created by stem cells and, in the case of AB126, are produced by human neural stem cells.

Essentially, the researchers are isolating the beneficial signals given out by stem cells and using them rather than the stem cells as a therapy. This makes sense, as other cells react to these signals and change their behavior accordingly. We have talked about the therapeutic potential of extracellular vesicles, particularly exosomes, in a previous article.

An exosome can remain hidden in the bloodstream, carry multiple doses, and store and administer treatment, and its small size allows it to cross barriers that cells cannot. This is ideal for delivering therapies to the brain, as it crosses the blood-brain barrier and other checkpoints in the body.

After the administration of AB126,  the researchers used MRI scans to assess brain atrophy rates in an animal model of stroke. The scans showed around 35 percent decrease in the size of injury and a 50 percent reduction in brain tissue loss. These results were also replicated by Franklin West, associate professor of animal and dairy science at UGA, in a pig model of stroke.

Within days, the researchers observed improved mobility, better balance, and measurable behavioral benefits in treated animal models of stroke.

Based on the successful results of these preclinical tests, the next step is to take this therapy to human clinical trials by 2019 via ArunA Biomedical, a UGA startup company. The company plans to expand its scope beyond stroke, and preclinical studies in epilepsy, traumatic brain, and spinal cord injuries begin later this year.

Conclusion

This is another example of the recent interest in using extracellular vesicles, such as exosomes, as therapies rather than stem cells themselves. Multiple research groups are now developing these therapies to treat various age-related diseases, so we can almost certainly expect to hear more in the near future.

The use of extracellular vesicles also holds the promise of being more cost-effective from the point of view of storage, logistics, manufacture, and delivery. With the first clinical trials now in the cards for the near future, it will be interesting to see how this develops in the next few years.

References

[1] Webb, R. L., Kaiser, E. E., Scoville, S. L., Thompson, T. A., Fatima, S., Pandya, C., … & Baban, B. (2017). Human Neural Stem Cell Extracellular Vesicles Improve Tissue and Functional Recovery in the Murine Thromboembolic Stroke Model. Translational stroke research, 1-10.

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.

Gene Cocktail Helps Hearts to Regenerate – Article by Steve Hill

Gene Cocktail Helps Hearts to Regenerate – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Steve Hill explains a technique that enables significant human tissue regeneration, so that it becomes possible to repair damaged human hearts. This technique can also be potentially applied to other body organs.  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 4, 2018

The human heart is an organ whose cells rarely divide, making tissue repair and regeneration a huge problem following a heart attack. Many animals, such as zebrafish and salamanders, are different; they can regenerate damaged hearts easily.

As humans, we also once had the same regenerative capacity during our early development, but after we were born, we lost this ability. This is also true for many other organs, including the brain, spinal cord, and pancreas. The cells in these tissues divide very rarely if at all, and this is a big problem. But, what if we could get that regenerative ability back and repair damage to our hearts the way these amazing animals do?

Researchers have been trying for decades to find out how we can enjoy the same tissue regeneration, but they have met with limited success—until now.

Unlocking cell division in cardiomyocytes

A research team led by Dr. Deepak Srivastava, president of the Gladstone Institutes, has finally achieved this long sought-after goal in a study published in the journal Cell [1]. The researchers have developed an efficient and reliable way of making non-dividing adult cardiomyocytes divide so that they can repair damaged hearts.

They identified four genes that regulate cell division in adult cardiomyocytes. When all four of them are combined together, they cause the cardiomyocytes to re-enter the cell cycle and start dividing quickly. They also demonstrated that following heart failure, these combined genes improve cardiac function significantly.

The researchers tested the technique in animal models using cardiomyocytes derived from human stem cells. They stained newly divided cells with a special dye in order to track them; they found that between 15 to 20 percent of the cells divided and remained alive thanks to the four-gene combo. This is a vast improvement on previous studies, which have only managed around 1 percent cell division in adult cardiomyocytes.

The team also made the technique simpler by identifying drugs that could replace two of the four genes involved in the combination. This still produced the same result as using all four genes and is significantly easier, logistically speaking.

Could be used in multiple tissues

As mentioned, the heart is not the only tissue that has cells that either do not divide or do so very slowly. The researchers believe that their technique could also potentially be applied to encourage other tissues and organs to regenerate. This is because the four genes are not unique to the heart and are found in other cells around the body.

If science can unlock the same regeneration in nerve cells, pancreatic cells, and retinal cells, this could be the basis of therapies for heart failure, brain damage, diabetes, blindness, and many other conditions. The good news is these four genes encourage cell division the same way in mice, rats, and human cells.

Conclusion

Manipulating non-dividing cells and returning them to the cell cycle to boost regeneration in organs and tissues holds great potential. Scientists have been working for decades to achieve this in the heart, and now it has been achieved. The next big step is to translate this approach to humans, and we wish them the very best in their future research.

Literature

[1] Mohamed, T. M., Ang, Y. S., Radzinsky, E., Zhou, P., Huang, Y., Elfenbein, A., … & Srivastava, D. (2017). Regulation of Cell Cycle to Stimulate Adult Cardiomyocyte Proliferation and Cardiac Regeneration.

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.

New FDA Regenerative Medicine Framework is Win-Win for Gene Therapies – Article by Keith Comito and Elena Milova

New FDA Regenerative Medicine Framework is Win-Win for Gene Therapies – Article by Keith Comito and Elena Milova

Elena Milova
Keith Comito


Editor’s Note: In this article, Keith Comito and Elena Milova positively discuss new a FDA regulatory framework on RMAT (regenerative medicine advanced therapies) and on how it benefits the healthy-life-extension community. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 3, 2018

Back in November 2017, the FDA announced a comprehensive policy framework for the development and oversight of regenerative medicine products, including novel cellular therapies. Both draft guidance documents had 90-day comment periods, and we at LEAF joined forces with the Niskanen Center to submit comments to the FDA to ensure that the voice of the community for healthy life extension was heard. These new regulations could have considerable implications for the therapies and technologies being developed as part of the biomedical gerontology field.

The first draft guidance addresses how the FDA intends to optimize its regulatory requirements for devices used in the recovery, isolation, and delivery of RMATs (regenerative medicine advanced therapies), including combination products.

The second document explains what expedited programs may be available to sponsors of regenerative medicine therapies and describes what therapies may be eligible for RMAT designation.

According to new FDA regulations, a drug is eligible for designation as an RMAT if:

  • The drug is a regenerative medicine therapy, which is defined as a cell therapy, therapeutic tissue engineering product, human cell and tissue product, or any combination product using such therapies or products, except for those regulated solely under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act and part 1271 of Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations;
  • The drug is intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition; and
  • Preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug has the potential to address unmet medical needs for such disease or condition

We hope that this joint project will support the improvement of US regulations that concern these innovative treatments and will make the overall regulatory landscape more friendly. Below, we cite the most important notes from our resulting paper.

Last week, the Niskanen Center joined with the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation in filing comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), offering our support for the agency’s new regenerative medicine advanced therapy (RMAT) designation draft guidance for industry.

Although there are opportunities for marginal improvements to the guidance, and FDA approval processes more generally, we are happy to see that the agency chose to include gene therapies in its interpretation of what qualifies as a regenerative medicine therapy.

Under section 3033 of the 21st Century Cures Act, the FDA was tasked with developing an accelerated approval process for regenerative advanced therapies. Such therapies would qualify for expedited review and approval so long as the drug (a) met the definition of a regenerative medicine therapy, (b) was “intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious condition,” and (c) “has the potential to address unmet medical needs” for a serious disease or condition. Unfortunately, the bill’s definition of a regenerative medicine advanced therapy was unclear on whether gene therapies, in particular, would qualify. Luckily, the FDA clarified this point. As the RMAT guidance document notes:

gene therapies, including genetically modified cells, that lead to a durable modification of cells or tissues may meet the definition of a regenerative medicine therapy. Additionally, a combination product (biologic-device, biologic-drug, or biologic-device-drug) can be eligible for RMAT designation when the biological product component provides the greatest contribution to the overall intended therapeutic effects of the combination product.

This is an excellent development and one that portends immense benefits for future gene therapy applications submitted for FDA approval. According to the guidance, the new RMAT designation, unlike other fast-track approval and review processes, “does not require evidence to indicate that the drug may offer a substantial improvement over available therapies.” Liberalizing the threshold standards of evidence for RMAT designation ensures that future gene therapies will encounter fewer unnecessary roadblocks in delivering more effective and innovative treatments for individuals suffering from debilitating diseases.

As we note in our concluding remarks:

Overall, we consider the RMAT guidance to be a stellar improvement over other expedited programs, especially in its qualifying criteria. However, greater clarity is needed in order to capture the benefits of more advanced cell therapies that can help contribute to the healthy aging and well-being of American citizens. As FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently noted: “The benefits of [gene therapy] science—and the products that become available—are likely to accelerate. How we define the modern framework for safely advancing these opportunities will determine whether we’re able to fully realize the benefits that these new technologies can offer.”

We agree wholeheartedly. Developing a regulatory framework that accommodates safety and innovation will be a key determinant of how quickly the benefits of regenerative medicine, gene therapy, and anti-aging research revolutionize the lives of Americans. This guidance is an important and promising step in the right direction. With the right modifications, it can help usher in a new age of healthcare improvement for individuals from all walks of life.

Read the full comments submitted to the FDA here.

Source: Niskanen Center

About Elena Milova

As a devoted advocate of rejuvenation technologies since 2013, Elena is providing the community with a systemic vision how aging is affecting our society. Her research interests include global and local policies on aging, demographic changes, public perception of the application of rejuvenation technologies to prevent age-related diseases and extend life, and related public concerns. Elena is a co-author of the book “Aging prevention for all” (in Russian, 2015) and the organizer of multiple educational events helping the general public adopt the idea of eventually bringing aging under medical control.

About Keith Comito

Keith Comito is President of LEAF / Lifespan.io and a long-time advocate of longevity research. He is also a computer programmer, mathematician, musician, lover of life and perhaps a man with too many hobbies. He earned a B.S. in Mathematics, B.S. in Computer science, and M.S. in Applied Mathematics at Hofstra University, where his work included analysis of the LMNA protein.

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.

Google’s Calico Labs Announces Discovery of a “Non-Aging Mammal” – Article by Brady Hartman

Google’s Calico Labs Announces Discovery of a “Non-Aging Mammal” – Article by Brady Hartman

Brady Hartman


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Brady Hartman explains a study that shows the naked mole-rats have an extremely low rate of aging.  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, February 19, 2018

Completely bald and with wrinkly skin, the naked mole rat is one of the ugliest creatures around but lives an exceptionally long life for a small mammal. It rarely develops the chronic diseases of aging, such as cancer, and lives 10 times longer than regular rats.

The First Non-Aging Mammal

In the first significant announcement from Calico Labs since it was formed in 2013, researchers Rochelle Buffenstein, Megan Smith, and J. Graham Ruby have announced that the naked mole rat is a “non-aging mammal.”

The researchers followed the naked mole rats – housed at the Buck Institute – over a three-decade-long study period. They found that these creatures show hardly any signs of aging, such as problems with their metabolism, heart, or bones. Females do not go through menopause and continue to reproduce into their 30s, which is an amazing feat for an animal that lives at least 30 years of age in captivity. Even the cells in their bodies have a remarkable resistance to oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Small rodents the size of the naked mole rat live for no more than six years.

Senior Principal Investigator Rochelle (Shelley) Buffenstein, Ph.D. spent the early part of her career at the Medical School of the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, where she studied the naked mole rat for ten years. Principal Investigator J. Graham Ruby, Ph.D. received his doctorate in biology from MIT and performs biometric, biostatistical, bioinformatic, and quantitative genetic analyses of diverse data to decipher the aging process in humans and model organisms. The researchers published their results on Jan 24th in the open access journal eLife [1].

How the Non-Aging Mammal Was Discovered

To judge the rate of aging, the Calico team used a mathematical model called the Gompertz-Makeham law of mortality. This statistically validated law states that the risk of death for every mammal increases exponentially with increasing age. The Calico researchers used this model to analyze an existing data set of more than 3000 naked mole rats over a 30-year timespan and found that the small mammals did not conform to the Gompertz-Makeham law. Unlike every other mammal, the mole rats do not face an increased hazard of death with each birthday; as the Calico authors said, “This absence of hazard increase with age, in defiance of Gompertz’s law, uniquely identifies the naked mole-rat as a non-aging mammal.”

Estimated probability of a US person dying at each age (2003.) Credit: Uscitizenjason CC BY SA 3.0

This is astonishing given that all other mammals, including humans, face an increased rate of death with each passing birthday. Consider this hazard chart for US citizens in 2003, in which the mortality rates increase exponentially with age after the age of 30.  In contrast, the equivalent chart for the naked mole rat is almost flat.

Caleb E. Finch and Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez, a pair of scientists from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, analyzed and commented on the study. Caleb E. Finch, Ph.D. is a molecular biologist in the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and Dornsife College. Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez is from the Department of Community Health Sciences and the California Center for Population Research.

Commenting on the remarkable results of the study in a companion piece [2], Finch and Beltrán-Sánchez said that the naked mole rat defied the Gompertz-Makeham law, remarking, “their risk of death does not increase as they get older” and “this is unprecedented for mammals.”

Finch and Beltrán-Sánchez said that previous studies of the non-aging mammal suggest that aging creeps in, nevertheless. Naked mole rats can accumulate oxidative damage in their cells and experience muscle wasting. There is also some evidence for small amounts of cancer. But, after reviewing the evidence, the USC authors said, “This would suggest that unlike any other mammal, the naked mole rats have an extremely low rate of aging.”

Finch and Beltrán-Sánchez said that the minimal age-related problems of the mole rat combined with its long lifespan allow it to achieve ‘negligible senescence,’ a phenomenon in which an animal reaches an advanced age without increased mortality or disability.

Other scientists believe that the longevity of naked mole rats is due to the limited oxygen of their subterranean habitat. Because of this environment, their metabolic rates are abnormally slow, and an abundance of repair mechanisms keeps their cells astonishingly youthful.

About Longevityfacts

LEAF has teamed up with its friends at LongevityFacts and will be publishing some of their articles as part of an agreed syndication deal. This article originally appeared here at LongevityFacts.

References

[1] J Graham Ruby, Megan Smith, Rochelle Buffenstein, Calico Life Sciences LLC. “Naked mole-rat mortality rates defy Gompertzian laws by not increasing with age.” eLife 2018;7:e31157 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.31157, Jan 24, 2018.

[2] Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez, Caleb Finch. “Life Expectancy: Age is just a number.” eLife 2018;7:e34427 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.34427 Jan 24, 2018.

 

About Brady Hartman

Brady is the editor of the longevity focused blog LongevityFacts.com and is an active advocate for rejuvenation biotechnology and geroscience.

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.

Is Aging Natural, a Disease That We Can Treat, or Both? – Article by Steve Hill

Is Aging Natural, a Disease That We Can Treat, or Both? – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill explains that aging can be described as both natural and pathological without contradiction. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, February 16, 2018

Aging is something that we all share, rich or poor; it is something that happens to us all, and we are taught from a young age that it is inevitable. However, some scientists believe that aging is amenable to medical intervention and that such interventions could be the solution to preventing or reversing age-related diseases.

Academics are currently debating whether aging is natural or a pathological disease that we can treat.

In fact, there is now pressure from many academics to classify aging itself as a disease; indeed, doing so could potentially improve funding for aging research and help to speed up progress in finding solutions to age-related diseases. [1] The debate continues, but does it really matter if aging is classified as a disease, or is it largely a matter of semantics?

Fighting a losing battle

Current medical practice sees us trying to treat age-related diseases in the same way we do other diseases; this is the “infectious disease model”, and when it comes to treating age-related diseases, it is a losing battle.

The current approach works like this: as soon as a disease appears, the doctor attacks the disease using everything in the medical armory, and the patient can then continue with life until the next disease happens; this process is repeated until failure. This is an excellent way to deal with infectious diseases, and it has helped to increase life expectancy greatly in the last century; however, there are signs are that this approach is starting to run out of steam. [2-4]

Unfortunately, this “whack-a-mole” approach is a poor choice when it comes to treating the chronic diseases of old age. This is because the damage that the aging processes cause still continues to take its toll; therefore, treating the symptoms will ultimately achieve very little and certainly not cure the disease.

So, given that the aging processes lead to the diseases of aging, it is understandable that scientists are starting to consider aging itself to be a disease. While we do not yet fully understand all the intricacies of aging, we already know a great deal about the individual processes.[5] Certainly, we now know enough about aging to begin developing and testing interventions that directly target the underlying processes in order to prevent or treat pathology.

Treating the underlying processes and repairing their damage, which leads to the familiar diseases of old age, is the basis for the medical approach known as rejuvenation biotechnology, a multidisciplinary field that aims to prevent and treat age-related diseases by targeting the aging processes directly.

Aging is the foundation of age-related diseases

Even if aging is not a disease itself, the individual processes do lead to pathology and age-related diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. So, knowing that these processes create the conditions for diseases to develop, it makes sense to target the processes themselves in order to potentially prevent or treat a slew of age-related diseases at once.

The changes that aging brings vary from one person to another, but the common processes of aging are at work in all of us, albeit with some small variances between individuals. For example, we all suffer wear and tear in our joints due to the loss of cartilage, and we all experience the loss of skin elasticity due to the degradation of elastin and the failure of connective tissues. We all encounter other age-related changes, such as the accumulation of non-dividing senescent cells that cause chronic inflammation and disrupt tissue repair, and we also suffer from the accumulation of metabolic waste products that collect in our bodies over time.

As these changes progress, they eventually lead to the familiar diseases of aging. For example, lipids are critical for the function of our metabolism and are essential as part of our diet; however, over time, these processed lipids begin to accumulate in the blood vessel walls. Macrophages arrive to clear the toxic fatty waste away, but they become immobilized and die. This causes inflammation, attracting more macrophages and continuing the cycle. Ultimately, this debris forms plaques that harden the blood vessels and cause them to narrow; this causes blood pressure to rise and can eventually result in a heart attack or stroke.

This demonstrates that the normal metabolic processes that keep us alive ultimately lead to disease. Importantly, in this case, the early age-related changes that set the scene for disease progression, such as high cholesterol, have no symptoms. Nevertheless, such changes are the precursors of deadly diseases and are considered suitable targets for treatment. The same can be said for the other, more subtle, changes and damages that the aging processes cause.

Age-related conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and many cancers, all follow this dynamic. Simply put, given the sufficient passage of time, the aging processes will cause us to suffer from multiple diseases. Therefore, we should consider these diseases to be the clinical manifestation of these age-related changes. In fact, medicine has been fighting against age-related changes for a long time, even if it was not obvious. For example, a doctor recommending that his patient should reduce his fat and carbohydrate intake to delay heart disease is already fighting those age-related changes. The diabetic who modifies her diet to better manage blood sugar levels is also doing the same thing.

Some people might contest this point of view, stating that the aging process is “natural” and therefore cannot be a disease. The argument that natural things are always good, the appeal to nature, is a logical fallacy. Such people may see natural and pathological as being mutually exclusive. Thus, what is natural must always be good, and what is pathological is bad, and so it cannot also be natural. This is, of course, false when you consider the meaning of each word. Natural simply means something that follows the normal, established course of events, and pathological means something that is harmful.

Conclusion

So, is aging natural or pathological? Well, by the dictionary definitions, aging can be described as both natural and pathological without contradiction.

Additionally, as it is currently classified, aging could be considered a syndrome, specifically a co-morbid syndrome. This really does describe aging perfectly; it is a group of symptoms that consistently occur together and a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms. Ultimately, aging is an umbrella term describing a range of pathological changes; it may struggle to be accepted as a disease, but it already qualifies as a syndrome.

However, the question of aging being a disease or not is essentially semantic in nature. What rejuvenation biotechnology seeks to achieve is nothing more than preventing age-related diseases by treating the early stages of pathology, which are considered a natural process. While these early age-related changes have not been given a disease name, they are instrumental in the development of diseases, and surely, when it comes to medical treatment, that is all that matters.

References

[1] Bulterijs, S., Hull, R. S., Björk, V. C., & Roy, A. G. (2015). It is time to classify biological aging as a disease. Frontiers in genetics, 6.

[2] Crimmins, E. M. (2015). Lifespan and healthspan: Past, present, and promise. The Gerontologist, 55(6), 901-911.

[3] Olshansky, S. J., Passaro, D. J., Hershow, R. C., Layden, J., Carnes, B. A., Brody, J., … & Ludwig, D. S. (2005). A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century. New England Journal of Medicine, 352(11), 1138-1145.

[4] Reither, E. N., Olshansky, S. J., & Yang, Y. (2011). New forecasting methodology indicates more disease and earlier mortality ahead for today’s younger Americans. Health Affairs, 10-1377.

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

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.

Could Filtering Our Aged Blood Keep us Young? – Article by Steve Hill and Nicola Bagalà

Could Filtering Our Aged Blood Keep us Young? – Article by Steve Hill and Nicola Bagalà

Steve Hill

Nicola Bagalà


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Nicola Bagalà and Steve Hill present the interview they conducted with Dr. Irina Conboy of Berkeley University and Dr. Michael Conboy of Havard University on the topic of youthful blood.  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, February 17, 2018

Due to a recently published study on the effects of young plasma on aged mice, we got in touch with Dr. Irina Conboy of Berkeley University. Dr. Conboy is an Associate Professor at the Department of Bioengineering and an expert in stem cell niche engineering, tissue repair, stem cell aging and rejuvenation. Before we dive into the main topic, let’s familiarize ourselves a little with Dr. Conboy and her work.

Dr. Conboy got her Ph.D. at Stanford University, focusing on autoimmunity. She met her partner in science—and in life—Dr. Michael Conboy at Harvard and they got married before embarking on graduate studies; they celebrated their Silver Anniversary a few years ago. During her postdoctoral studies, she began focusing on muscle stem cells, trying to figure out what directs them to make new healthy tissue and what causes them to lose their ability to regenerate the tissues they reside in as we age [1].

Together with her husband Michael, she eventually discovered that old stem cells could be reactivated and made to behave like young ones if appropriately stimulated. The Conboys’ parabiosis experiments—which consisted in hooking up the circulatory systems of aged and young mice—showed that old age is not set in stone and can be reversed in a matter of weeks [2].

The follow-up work by the Conboys uncovered that age-accumulated proteins, such as TGF-β1, inhibited stem cells’ ability to repair tissues even in young mice, and when TGF-β1 signaling is normalized to its young levels, old mice (equivalent to 80-year old people) have youthful muscle regeneration and better neurogenesis in the hippocampus (the area of the brain that is responsible for memory and learning) [3].

While young blood did appear to be beneficial to old stem cells, their evidence suggested that the real culprit of the broad loss of tissue repair with age was the negative influence of age-accumulated inhibitory proteins in aged tissues and circulation, also called the stem cell niche [4].

This conclusion is certainly compatible with the view of aging as a damage accumulation process [5]. As Irina herself pointed out in this interview, in the parabiosis experiments, the old mice had access to the more efficient young organs: lungs, liver, kidneys and immune system of the younger mice, which likely accounted for many of the benefits observed in the elderly parabiosed mice. With respect to the rejuvenation of the brain, the old mice experienced environmental enrichment by being sutured to young, more active parabionts, and this is known to improve the formation of new brain cells, learning, and memory.

An aged niche blocks the action of old and young stem cells alike very quickly; therefore, as Dr. Conboy observed in an article in the Journal of Cell Biology, we can’t treat the diseases of aging by simply transplanting more stem cells, because they will just stop working. Their niche needs to be appropriately engineered as well. Fortunately, there are potential solutions to this problem; such as the use of artificial gel niches and defined pharmacology that are designed to protect transplanted or endogenous stem cells from the deleterious environment of the old body.

This research holds the potential to significantly postpone the onset of age-related diseases and possibly reverse them one day, including frailty, muscle wasting, cognitive decline, liver adiposity and metabolic failure, but Dr. Conboy remains cautious about the possibilities until more data is in. However, she does think that longer and healthier productive lives could improve people’s attitudes towards the environment and treating each other with compassion and respect—a view that we definitely share.

We managed to catch up with Irina and Michael Conboy and talk to them about their work.

For the sake of those new to the topic, what is it in young blood and aged blood that affects aging?

Irina: Numerous changes in the levels of proteins that together regulate cell and tissue metabolism throughout the body.

Mike: We wondered why almost every tissue and organ in the body age together and at a similar rate, and from the parabiosis and blood exchange work now think that young blood has several positive factors, and old blood accumulates several negative, “pro-aging” factors.

A lot of media attention and funding is currently being directed to youthful blood transfusions; how can we move beyond this to potentially more promising approaches, such as filtering and calibration of aged blood?

Irina: People need to understand not just the titles, abstracts and popular highlights of research papers, but the results and whether they support (or not) the promise of rejuvenation by young blood. In contrast to vampire stories, we have no strong experimental evidence that this is true, and there is a lot of evidence that infusing your body with someone else’s blood has severe side effects (even if it is cell-free).

Mike: Translational research!

Some evidence suggests dilution is the most likely reason that young blood has some beneficial effects; what are your thoughts on this recent study [6] in rats that shows improved hepatic function partially via the restoration of autophagy?

Irina: There are certainly “young” blood factors that are beneficial, not just a dilution of the old blood, and this benefit differs from organ to organ. We have published on improved liver regeneration, reduced fibrosis and adiposity by transfusion of old mice with young blood, but these are genetically matched animals, and in people, we do not have our own identical but much younger twins [7].

If dilution is also playing a role here, then can we expect similar or better results from calibrating aged blood?

Irina: Yes, and our work in progress supports the idea.

In your 2015 paper, you identified that TGF-β1 can be either pro-youthful or pro-aging in nature, depending on its level [8]. In the study, you periodically used an Alk-5 inhibitor to reduce TGF-β1 levels and promote regeneration in various tissues. In the study, you showed that TGF-β1 was important in myogenesis and neurogenesis; is there reason to believe that this mechanism might be ubiquitous in all tissues?

Irina: Yes, because TGF-β1 receptors are present in most cells and tissues.

Also, TGF-β1 is only one of a number of factors that need to be carefully balanced in order to create a pro-youthful signalling environment. How many factors do you believe we will need to calibrate?

Irina: There will be a certain benefit from calibrating just TGF-beta 1, but also additional benefits from more than one or just TGF-beta.

How do you propose to balance this cocktail of factors in aged blood to promote a youthful tissue environment?

Irina: We are working on the NextGen blood apheresis devices to accomplish this.

So, you are adapting the plasmapheresis process to effectively “scrub” aged blood clean and then return it to the patient. This would remove the need to transfuse blood from young people, as your own blood could be filtered and returned to you, and no immune reaction either, right?

Irina: Accurate.

This plasmapheresis technique is already approved by the FDA, we believe, so this should help you to develop your project faster, right?

Irina: Exactly.

Do you think a small molecule approach is a viable and, more importantly, a logistically practical approach to calibrate all these factors compared to filtering aged blood?

Irina: Yes, it is a very feasible alternative to the NextGen apheresis that we are working and publishing on.

It is thought that altered signaling is caused by other aging hallmarks higher up in the chain of events; even if we can “scrub” aged blood clean, is it likely to have a long-lasting effect, or would the factors reach pro-aging levels fairly quickly again if nothing is done about the other hallmarks antagonizing them?

Irina: That needs to be established experimentally, but due to the many feedback loops at the levels of proteins, genes and epigenetics, the acquired youthful state might persist.

Ultimately, could a wearable or an implanted device that constantly filters the blood be the solution to these quickly accumulating factors?

Irina: Maybe, but the first step of a day at a NextGen apheresis clinic once every few months might be more realistic.

Filtering seems to be a far more practical solution, so how are you progressing on the road to clinical trials?

Irina: We are collaborating with Dr. Dobri Kiprov, who is a practicing blood apheresis physician with 35 years of experience, and he is interested in repositioning this treatment for alleviating age-related illnesses.

Senolytics and removing senescent cells and the resulting inflammation they cause during the aging process has become a hot topic in the last year or so. What are your thoughts on senolytics as a potential co-therapy with a blood filtering approach?

Irina: Might be good, but we should be careful, as p16 is a normal, good gene that is needed for many productive activities by many cells.

What do you think it will take for the government to fully support the push to develop rejuvenation biotechnology?

Irina: Clear understanding of the current progress and separating the real science from snake oil is very important for guiding funding toward realistic clinical translation and away from the myth and hype.

The field is making amazing progress, but, sadly, it is plagued by snake oil. As much as an “anti-aging free market” encourages innovation, it also encourages hucksters. How can a member of the public tell the difference between credible science and snake oil?

Irina: I was thinking for some time about starting a popularized journal club webpage where ordinary people can see what we typically critically point out in the lab setting about published papers and clinical trials.

How can our readers learn more about your work and support your research?

Irina: The new Conboy lab website is coming up; meanwhile, contact me and Dr. Mike at iconboy@berkeley.edu and conboymj@berkeley.edu

Conclusion

We would like to thank Irina and Michael for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing the readers with a fascinating insight into their work.

Literature

[1] Conboy, I. M., Conboy, M. J., Smythe, G. M., & Rando, T. A. (2003). Notch-mediated restoration of regenerative potential to aged muscle. Science, 302(5650), 1575-1577.

[2] Conboy, I. M., Conboy, M. J., Wagers, A. J., Girma, E. R., Weissman, I. L., & Rando, T. A. (2005). Rejuvenation of aged progenitor cells by exposure to a young systemic environment. Nature, 433(7027), 760-764.

[3] Yousef, H., Conboy, M. J., Morgenthaler, A., Schlesinger, C., Bugaj, L., Paliwal, P., … & Schaffer, D. (2015). Systemic attenuation of the TGF-β pathway by a single drug simultaneously rejuvenates hippocampal neurogenesis and myogenesis in the same old mammal. Oncotarget, 6(14), 11959.

[4] Rebo, J., Mehdipour, M., Gathwala, R., Causey, K., Liu, Y., Conboy, M. J., & Conboy, I. M. (2016). A single heterochronic blood exchange reveals rapid inhibition of multiple tissues by old blood. Nature communications, 7.

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

[6] Liu, A., Guo, E., Yang, J., Yang, Y., Liu, S., Jiang, X., … & Gewirtz, D. A. (2017). Young plasma reverses age‐dependent alterations in hepatic function through the restoration of autophagy. Aging cell.

[7] Rebo, J., Mehdipour, M., Gathwala, R., Causey, K., Liu, Y., Conboy, M. J., & Conboy, I. M. (2016). A single heterochronic blood exchange reveals rapid inhibition of multiple tissues by old blood. Nature communications, 7.

[8] Yousef, H., Conboy, M. J., Morgenthaler, A., Schlesinger, C., Bugaj, L., Paliwal, P., … & Schaffer, D. (2015). Systemic attenuation of the TGF-β pathway by a single drug simultaneously rejuvenates hippocampal neurogenesis and myogenesis in the same old mammal. Oncotarget, 6(14), 11959.

 

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 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.

The Abolition of Aging – A Book Review – Article by Nicola Bagalà

The Abolition of Aging – A Book Review – Article by Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Nicola Bagalà provides a book review of the book The Abolition of Aging by David Wood, a book which explains in great detail the benefits that would derive from a successful implementation of the “rejuveneering project”.  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, February 13, 2018

As you might recall, in my review of Ending Aging, I said that the book could have benefited from a more in-depth discussion of the benefits of rejuvenation as well as the concerns and objections often raised against it. Anyone else sharing the same feeling will find what they’re looking for in The Abolition of Aging, by Chair of London Futurists David Wood.

Written in an elegant, clear style, The Abolition of Aging brilliantly accomplishes the difficult task of guiding the reader through all the turns and twists of the topic, explaining in great detail the benefits that would derive from a successful implementation of the “rejuveneering project”—as Wood calls it—presenting all the typical objections and related counterarguments, and—in the words of 3G Doctor Director David Doherty—providing innumerable “stunning references and observations”.

Just like there’s no time to waste if we want to defeat aging in time for currently living people to benefit, Wood wastes no time with lengthy preambles; the very first line of the foreword comes directly to the point, bluntly stating what readers unfamiliar with the topic may find shocking: the possibility of eliminating biological aging is now within striking distance.

Possibly preventing the reader’s reaction, the author immediately gives a preliminary discussion of the traditional responses to his claim: “it’s not possible” and “it’s not desirable”, which Wood ascribes—correctly, in my opinion—in no small part to a great desire to avoid an unpleasant discussion that would force us to reconsider many assumptions on the inevitable finitude of human existence, with which most of us have already made our peace.

To succeed in his task of getting us to snap out of a multi-millenary Stockholm syndrome that pushes humanity to praise the tyranny of old age, Wood resorts to every weapon in his arsenal, making a very convincing case that rejuvenation is very much desirable as well as possible.

Skeptics who assume that the technology necessary to rejuvenate people is centuries away will be surprised to learn about how advanced the field actually is and how much faster it is likely to grow than conventional wisdom would have it. The word of senior scientists who claim that the reversal of aging is nothing but a pipe dream, as Wood warns us, should be taken with a grain of salt: The Abolition of Aging provides plenty of examples of luminaries and eminent experts of the past summarily dismissing scientific theories and technologies that today are well-established and taken for granted by everyone. (Among many such examples, one I really cannot abstain from mentioning is the hilariously wrong 1903 prediction by the New York Times that human flight, if at all possible, would take one to ten million years to come true. Less than 70 years later, not only was human flight commonplace, but human beings had landed on the Moon.)

Nonetheless, Wood’s optimism should not be mistaken for complacency. He makes no mystery that the success of the rejuveneering project is a mere possibility, however likely, and not at all a certainty. Many are the unknowns—scientific, political, societal, financial, and more—that could well thwart our efforts in this direction if we’re not careful. Wood offers advice on how to deal with these issues standing in the way of an aging-free world as well as those that might lurk beyond. After all, the functioning of society as we know it hinges on the existence of aging; our lives, our policies, and our customs are built around it. Eliminating aging would require a serious rethinking of much of society’s inner workings, and this operation is not free of risks, as Wood rightfully concedes. Great changes for the better often come with potential downsides, but we should not let this deter us; rather, we should appreciate how the fruits to be reaped are well worth the potential risks involved and act now to prevent or mitigate any unwanted consequences. A world without aging would need to be managed in a different way, but that is not a problem.

A particular obstacle on the way to a world without aging is represented by adverse psychology, to which Wood dedicates an entire chapter. Ever since we had the ability to reflect upon ourselves and the human condition, as the author explains, we’ve had to face our own mortality and fear of death. Fear of death is a very useful adaptation to increase the chance that an individual will live long enough to reproduce, but in the case of a highly self-aware species like us, it’s a double-edged sword. Our deep desire to express ourselves, to learn, create, grow, to live, inevitably clashes against the knowledge of our apparently inescapable demise.

If left unresolved, this inner conflict could strike terror so paralyzing that living our lives would be impossible. With no hope of defeating an apparently all-powerful enemy such as death, the young human race had to devise other ways out of this conundrum—psychological expedients to sugar the pill or even make it appear better than the alternative; for some, having children, creating art, changing the world through their work and so on may all offer the comforting thought of their legacy, and thus part of themselves, carrying on at least to some extent; believers have faith that their immortal souls will continue existing even after their bodies will have perished; others assume a world without death would, for one reason or another, be so unbearable that oblivion would be preferable.

These mental devices have existed for so long that they’ve shaped our society and our morals; accepting death has become a sign of wisdom while trying to avoid or delay it when “the right time” has come is seen as a sign of immaturity and selfishness. These views are so entrenched in most people that any attempt to question their validity is likely to trigger aggressive defensive reactions or, sometimes, contempt and ridicule. For these reasons, life extension is not an easy idea to sell. In his detailed discussion, though, Wood provides valuable advice to ease the advocates’ task, listing the dos and don’ts of how to present the subject.

Rejuvenation is not all the book deals with. Wood’s futurist soul fully reveals itself in his vision of the futures of humanity, faith, and death, which are discussed in the chapter “Towards Humanity+” as well as in the possibilities outlined in chapter 12, “Radical alternatives”, such as cryonics, head transplants, and mind uploading. While these ideas are often plagued by abundant hype and unjustified premature enthusiasm, I find that Wood simply presented relevant facts as they are, with an appropriate dose of healthy skepticism where needed but without any undue disbelief. Cryonics in particular, which is usually unjustly regarded as a scam to part rich fools from their money, is presented as a valid backup plan for those who don’t expect to live long enough to see the dawn of rejuvenation; just like cryonics companies themselves, Wood makes no mystery that it is uncertain if bringing back to life cryopreserved patients will ever be possible, despite encouraging successes with transplantation of cryopreserved animal organs. Then again, I would add that if the chances of coming back to life from cryopreservation are uncertain, there’s no chance whatsoever of coming back after being buried or cremated.

Summing up, I believe that The Abolition of Aging is a must-read for experienced advocates and newcomers alike. People who haven’t made up their minds about supporting rejuvenation will be fully equipped to make an informed decision after reading this book, or, at the very least, will be able to research the topic further; advocates will have plenty of references and useful information for their advocacy efforts. Together with Ending Aging, this book answers pretty much all the whats, whens, hows, and whys to the best of our current understanding.

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.