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Wealth, Power, and the Prospect of Reversing Aging – Article by Arin Vahanian

Wealth, Power, and the Prospect of Reversing Aging – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


I often ask myself, “Why do wealthy and/or influential people seem to support spending billions of dollars on weapons and exploring outer space, when, with their massive wealth and resources, they could help reduce human suffering and dramatically improve the quality of life for billions of people?”

And this question takes me back to a discussion I had last year with gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, during which he recounted to me a meeting he had with an ultra high-net-worth (UHNW) individual. The purpose of the meeting was to raise money for aging and life-extension research, and the UHNW individual refused to donate to SENS Research Foundation, or even to get involved, stating something to the effect of, “It won’t happen in my lifetime.”

That response perplexed me. Here we had a very successful and intelligent person, who, rather than help ensure his own children (as well as others’ children) could live a healthier and longer life, refused to do anything, for the simple reason that he did not believe we could make much progress on reversing aging in his lifetime.

While this is indeed a selfish way to look at things, it is by no means uncommon. In fact, I have been racking my brain recently, trying to figure out why the people who are best-equipped to do something about life extension and aging, do not do so (or do not do enough).

To be fair, there are a few wealthy and influential people who support research into aging and life extension, the most notable being entrepreneur Jim Mellon. However, they seem to be the exception rather than the norm.

Indeed, why do people like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk, who possess incredible resources and influence, choose to spend money and time on attempting to colonize hostile, uninhabitable planets hundreds of millions of kilometers away, especially considering that they and their loved ones (if they are lucky to live long enough) will die of aging-related causes such as heart disease, dementia, and cancer?

While I cannot speak for the aforementioned people, I believe there are several reasons why people in a position of power or wealth refuse to do much about supporting research on aging.

The first reason is that aging and death have been considered inevitable. Indeed, even though we have been able to put a human being on the Moon, we have been unable to prevent a single human being from aging. Enormously wealthy and successful people tend to be quite pragmatic, and so I imagine that they would not want to fund an endeavor or be a part of something they believed had no chance of success. However, we have evidence that we are making progress on this front, or at the very least, that reversing aging and implementing life-extension technologies are worthy endeavors.

In fact, in 2005, MIT Technology Review organized a panel of world-renowned experts (including molecular biologists) and offered a $20,000 prize to anyone who could disprove the SENS research program and demonstrate that reversing aging is not worthy of consideration. However, none of the contestants were able to do so. On the other hand, there is no evidence that human life is sustainable on any other planets in our solar system (while human life is perfectly sustainable on Earth), and by most professional estimates, it would take incredible technological advancements and financial resources to even enable people to temporarily stay on a planet such as Mars. We should also consider the fact that there have been no studies performed on the massive changes that would occur to the human body as a result of living on another planet.

Thus, it actually appears more realistic to work on reversing aging than it would be to work on colonizing other planets. But even if we are not able to completely reverse aging, what if we were able to slow aging? Wouldn’t it be desirable to have an additional five to 10 years of healthy life? Any progress we could make on life extension would be worth it, given that it would directly add healthy years to a person’s life. One thing is for certain – doing nothing ensures that very little will change, and that humans will more than likely continue living this average lifespan of 79 or so years (with very modest improvements over time), with much of it in the later years being in sickness and poor health.

Another reason for the refusal to fund aging and life extension research may be a rather pessimistic one. It is entirely possible that billionaires and governments are hedging their bets in the event that climate change or some other scenario causes wide-scale suffering (the likes of which have never been seen before) and a potential destruction of the planet, along with the rapid extinction of the human species. If that were the case, and Earth was about to be destroyed, it would make sense to pour resources into colonizing other planets. However, I think the likelihood of something like this occurring, at least in the near future, is extremely slim. Further, we have much evidence to support the fact that the planet could sustain a larger population and that technological improvements, as well as renewable energy, and seasteading, can prevent such an apocalyptic scenario from occurring. In fact, despite the challenges we are facing in terms of sustainability, we are making good progress, and it seems unreasonable to me to give all of this up, throw in the towel, and chase a pipe dream of living on another planet (when the one we have now is perfectly suited to human life). Also, given that we have the technology to save our planet from being engulfed in chaos and destruction, but do not currently have the technology to live on other planets, wouldn’t it make sense to save Earth first, rather than attempting to embark upon costly journeys to other planets, especially journeys that have little guarantee of success?

Yet another reason may be that many people, including those in a position of power, have bought into the idea of an afterlife. However, if we are completely honest with ourselves, there is no evidence that an afterlife exists, whereas there is evidence that we are making progress with reversing aging, even if that progress is arriving at a pace that is slower than we would have liked. With that being said, I would never want to deny anyone the right to believe in whatever they want. The question is, however, whether it is beneficial to adopt a zero-sum attitude to this matter. The fact is, believing in an afterlife and contributing to aging and life-extension research are not mutually exclusive. One can have any religious beliefs one likes, and subscribe to the idea that there is an afterlife, while also contributing to the beauty of existence here on Earth.

Finally, working on a cause such as reversing aging appears to not be as exciting as the prospect of exploring Mars, which is why people would rather update their LinkedIn (or Tinder) profile with “Entrepreneur” or “Swashbuckling Adventurer” or “Arms Dealer”, even, rather than “Gerontologist”.  In all seriousness, though, I have always found the idea of exploring faraway lands, as well as other planets, to be exciting. But if human beings are excited about exploring the unknown, shouldn’t we also be interested in exploring a process as complex as aging, especially given that there is much we still do not know about it? Also, the implications of making advancements in this field are huge. This is because the un-sexy work that gerontologists are doing will lead to us living longer, healthier lives, and so this very important work should not be ignored. In fact, it is a massive waste of resources to try to colonize uninhabitable planets at the expense of ensuring good health and longevity, when all of humanity battles with disease and death. It would even be more noble to focus our efforts on eliminating poverty (something that the Chinese government, for instance, has dedicated its efforts to).

I do not wish to dissuade anyone from exploring outer space, but neither should we avoid doing what needs to be done on our planet. I only wish to ask whether spending billions on space exploration is the best use of resources at our disposal, considering that there is still much work to be done here on Earth.

As mentioned previously, it should not be a zero-sum game. In an ideal world, we could dedicate resources to both aging research and space exploration. However, when the budget for NASA is $21.5 billion and the budget for aging research at the National Institute on Aging is $40 million, one has to start asking questions. Actually, one could argue neither budget is large enough, especially given that the U.S. Department of Defense budget is $686 billion.

Why do we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on missiles and bombs to combat a highly-exaggerated threat, when there is the absolute certainty that billions of people will suffer and then die, many of them prematurely, due to aging-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and dementia?

What makes exploring outer space so much more important than ensuring that billions do not die prematurely from aging-related diseases? Will picking up and holding red dust on a hostile, uninhabitable planet be more fulfilling than holding one’s child or loved one in one’s arms?

What does it say about our society when we are content to allow friends and family members to perish in undignified ways, while we dream about stockpiling as many weapons as possible, reliving fictional fantasies inspired by comic books and movies, and ignoring challenges here on Earth?

These are questions we must ask ourselves, and, more importantly, must demand those in power to ask themselves. At the end of the day, if we as a society are comfortable with the tradeoffs and decide en masse that dealing weapons and exploring outer space are more important than working on curing disease, reversing aging, and ensuring that everyone on Earth lives a dignified life, then we can rest assured knowing that we gave this most important of topics much consideration.

However, given the facts, I do not think we have reached that point yet. We have, however, reached a point where there is promise that we are making progress in fighting aging, and it is irresponsible and reckless to ignore these gains while entertaining fantasies of living on other planets. It makes little sense to try to live in a dignified manner on a dangerous, inhospitable, isolated planet that is not suitable for human life, when we are having difficulty living in a dignified manner here on Planet Earth (a planet that is perfectly suited to human life). The solution is not to dream about moving to Mars while leaving the elderly and unhealthy here to die. The solution is also not to increase defense funding, when we already have more weapons than we know what to do with. The solution is to help our brothers and sisters here on Earth live longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives. And thus, this is a call to action for those of you who are in a position of power or wealth and who can dedicate resources to ensuring that your loved ones, and everyone else’s loved ones, can live better.

One thing I would like to ask UHNW individuals and politicians is, what will you do with the great wealth, status, and power you have accumulated? Will you play golf and remark that “it won’t happen in my lifetime”? Or will you actually do something to ensure that your children won’t be doomed to a short life, during which they will suffer from debilitating disease and eventually die?

Arin Vahanian is the Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party.

Interview of Dr. José Luis Cordeiro by Elena Milova

Interview of Dr. José Luis Cordeiro by Elena Milova

Elena Milova
José Luis Cordeiro


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this interview of Dr. José Luis Cordeiro by Elena Milova at LeafScience.Org, originally published on their site on April 19, 2019.  Dr. Cordeiro is working to foster transhumanist-friendly political policies in Spain, a goal supported by the U.S. Transhumanist Party as part of our policy objectives.

~ Brent Reitze, Director of Publication, United States Transhumanist Party, May 1st, 2019


At Undoing Aging 2019, jointly organized by SENS Research Foundation and Forever Healthy Foundation, there was a session focused on the ways to make healthy life extension and medical progress a greater part of the global agenda. Among the speakers there was Jose Cordeiro, the vice chair of Humanity Plus, director of The Millennium Project, fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, and board member of the Lifeboat Foundation.

Jose earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His thesis was focused on the modeling of the International Space Station. Jose has also studied International Economics and Comparative Politics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and received his MBA in France at INSEAD, where he focused on Finance and Globalization.

Last year, Jose decided to begin his political activities in order to foster the development of rejuvenation biotechnologies in Spain and to work on the integration of Latin American immigrants into Spain’s aging society and thus maintain the country’s productivity. He kindly agreed to give me an interview to discuss more about his ambitious initiative.

Hello, Jose, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. You are currently beginning your campaign to win several seats in the European parliament. This is a very unusual situation, because it’s still rare that transhumanist ideas like significant life extension are part of a political agenda. Before we dig into your political program, I would really want to know more about you as a person and what kind of experiences led you to becoming a transhumanist in the first place. Please tell us a few things about your childhood; what life events or books helped you to develop the vision that you have right now?

My family is from Spain. During the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, this country became very poor, and that pushed my family to consider moving to Venezuela. At the time, Venezuela was a prosperous country, so we had moved, and I grew up there. When I was a little child, there was no color TV; it was black and white back then. I remember that the first transmission in color was the moon landing of the Apollo mission. I was so fascinated by the idea that man had gone to the moon and also by the color picture, even though the moon was mostly gray. That sparked my interest in science fiction. My mother gave me books by Jules Verne. To me, he was an idol; I loved his writing. Then, there were other writers, like Isaac Asimov and Sir Arthur C. Clarke, who helped me develop my imagination.

When I was older, I even went to meet Sir Arthur C. Clarke in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It turned out that he had a scuba diving center in Indonesia. You see, he believed that going into outer space and going into the ocean were the ultimate experiences and that they both showed how weak our bodies were. To me, it was one more piece of proof that we really need technology to survive in outer space or in the oceans. I had an opportunity to invite him to talk at the transhumanist conference that I had organized. That was really beautiful.

Speaking of the other books, I also read Robert Heinlein’s books on Mars, and all of this combined really made me go into engineering. I decided to go to MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and I majored in engineering in order to be able to participate in all these fascinating projects of mankind in space. I have been very lucky to have four Nobel laureates among my teachers, and I’ve been always following future trends. Since that time, I read the books of the Club of Rome and the World Future Society. There were many magazines about science, such as Popular Mechanics, Computer World, and others. Then, I learned about Extropians and the World Transhumanist Association when it was being created, and I learned a lot from this community, too.

I lived three years in Japan and four years in California. Then, I met Ray Kurzweil at MIT, as he was one of its board members. He’s a fantastic person, and I read all his books, the Age of intelligent machines was the first one, and then in 1998-99, he published the Age of Spiritual Machines, where he makes all his forecasts of the future.

It seems to me that there is still a huge gap between technology, which involves developing all sorts of machines and engineering, and life sciences, rejuvenation research, and life extension. What were your ideas or some events in your life that actually made you look into this direction as well?

Because of my science fiction reading and my training at MIT, I have been very much a technologist, futurist, and transhumanist. Like Ray Kurzweil, I believe that we will transcend the biological condition and move into a post-biological condition. Arthur C. Clarke said that we are carbon-based bipeds and that we should actually evolve and transcend.

I was not particularly interested in longevity and rejuvenation technologies until 1999-2000, when a friend of mine died. Also, sadly, my father died in 2013, and that really affected my life and my views. I was living in California back when the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela had happened. My father died of something that no one dies of today, which is a lack of access to dialysis. The crisis was so bad that there were no medical services, no food, no clean water, no electricity, no gasoline in the country with the largest oil reserves on the planet. My family had to witness how a bad government can destroy a country and put a whole nation into misery. I consider myself lucky that I managed to take my mother from Venezuela back to Spain, and I am so happy that she is alive. Then I decided to stay in Spain and work internationally.

I am traveling around the globe, as I am giving lectures at major universities in many countries. As you know, I teach in two universities in Moscow: in the MIPT and in the Higher School of Economics. I also teach in universities in Japan and in Korea, focusing on several main topics that are important for shaping the global agenda in a reasonable way. In the Higher School of Economics, I talk about technologies, because economists need to know about emerging technologies, while the MIPT is just the opposite; I talk more about the future of economics, the world moving from scarcity to abundance, and how technology can help with that. I talk about energy, about the necessity to switch from fossil fuels to renewables. Actually, I coined the word ‘energularity’: it’s an unlimited amount of energy that we can use for our needs. I talk about longevity, rejuvenation, regenerative medicine, the possibility to control aging and remain healthy for as long as we want. I am teaching the young generation of leaders how to build the future of global prosperity, and I decided to bring my knowledge and my vision to the political arena, too.

Could you please tell our readers about the pillars of your political program? What are the specific goals that you are going to focus on?

Two main things that I plan to focus on are the healthy longevity of the Spanish population and the integration of immigrants from Latin America. Let me explain why I consider these two topics extremely important and how they are intertwined.

Spain, as you know, is one of the countries with the highest life expectancy in the world. Our people live very long. However, this also means that our population is aging; there is a large and fast-growing share of people who are 65 years old and older, which is now over 20%, and these people have age-related chronic diseases. The medicine of the 20th century cannot restore health, and there are many age-related diseases that remain incurable, causing enormous amount of human suffering. However, it was recently proven in animal studies that by directly targeting the processes of aging, the root causes of aging, we could learn how to cure these diseases, reverse aging, and ensure better health and productivity in later life. If we support scientific research on the mechanisms of aging, we can develop cures for people very soon; in the next 10 years, there will already be several therapies of a new type that will be able to slow down and even partially reverse aging.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision, Volume II: Demographic Profiles

So, healthy longevity for the Spanish population is my primary focal point. I have three very clear targets. The first is the creation of the European Institute on Aging to work on the problem of aging and on the latest rejuvenation biotechnologies and to put together all the knowledge in different areas and different countries to give our aging society innovative treatments as soon as possible.

The second target is the development of more flexible regulations. I actually like to say that Americans invent things, the Chinese or the Japanese improve things, and the Europeans regulate. Sadly, there is overregulation all over Europe. Let me give you an example. In Japan, if you have already done phase two of human clinical trials, which means that you have already proven that the treatment is safe and it works, even if the experimental group in phase two is not large, a patient can get those treatments, especially if the patient is in critical condition, or, even worse, terminal condition. People in Japan have a chance to use the innovation and a chance to overcome the disease. You can do that in Japan but not in Europe, despite the fact that the pace of population aging in Japan and in Europe is the same; we have many old people around.

The third target is an increase in the science and technology budget of the European Union. For the next framework program, which is called Horizon Europe, beginning in 2021, the budget is expected to increase to 100 billion euros, but I think it should be increased even more, to 120 billion. The projects sponsored by Horizon Europe should be more also focused on regenerative biotechnologies in order to cope with the massive population aging and population decline.

So, you would like to contribute to the creation of a coordination center on aging research, appropriate funding for this research, and on regulatory improvement in order to ensure that the emerging rejuvenation biotechnologies can be available as soon as possible?

That is right, and I have done a great deal preparing the ground for these improvements. As you know, as a proponent of healthy life extension, I have organized many scientific conferences in Spain, and I have invited international luminaries from the field of aging research, such as Dr. Aubrey de Grey, who was the first to recognize the mechanisms of aging as new therapeutic targets.

I have always tried to spread the word about the work of our brilliant Spanish scientists, and I have also written several books on this topic to educate the public on this matter and to allow more people to benefit from the development of rejuvenation technologies; the last one of my 13 books is currently a bestseller in Spain called La Muerte De La Muerte (The Death of Death).

Yes, I have seen it – are you planning to have it translated into other languages?

Yes, it is coming out now in Portuguese, then in Korean, and then in other languages. I hope that there will also be English and Russian translations soon enough.

However, this is only one part of my program. The other one is based on the other pressing issues of Spain. You have heard the motto of my campaign, #SomosMIEL – MIEL stands for ‘Movimiento Independiente EuroLatino’ (the Independent EuroLatino Movement).  Because of the crisis in Latin America, and especially Venezuela, Spain has become a home for many immigrants; around 10% of the Spanish population are immigrants. Think about it. The native Spanish population is aging, our population is declining, and our workforce is shrinking. The immigrants are people with a similar cultural and religious background, who speak Spanish perfectly, and who have a good education and could contribute to the development of the country much better if we removed certain barriers and restrictions.

First, I think we need to eliminate the Schengen visa for people in Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia, at least in the case of family reunification. Next, I would focus on extending the approved period of being an independent worker from one to five years. The third target is to contribute to the homologation of titles and degrees in education. When all these immigrants come, even though we speak the same language, their degrees are not accepted. There is already a good precedent of solving this problem in Europe with the Bologna Declaration, the agreement that allows homologation of all titles in Europe. However, now we have to take this to the international level and certainly with Latin America.

There is one more question that I plan to work on: the recognition of Spanish as one of the official languages of the European Union. Spanish is the second most frequently spoken language in the world after Chinese. It is not even recognized in the European Union, which has only three official working languages: English, French, and German.

As we are moving towards a world that is more and more strongly connected, I think it makes perfect sense to facilitate communication and exchange of valuable knowledge and experience between the major regions, such as Spain, the European Union, Latin America, and the United States. There are 50 million Spanish speakers in the United States.

So, technically, what you’re trying to achieve with your program is to remove the barriers that prevent Spanish-speaking society from acting as a whole. One example is the integration of immigrants from Latin America, and the other one is the improvement of cross-border communication by making Spanish an official language of the European Union. I find that fascinating. Because, as we all know, there are these global challenges that we’re dealing with, like climate change, pollution, lack of renewable energy, and population aging, and they require global cooperation. The barriers become increasingly unwelcome, I would say, because these problems just cannot be solved at the level of one country. I find it a very valuable social experiment.

Yeah, that’s a beautiful way to put it. However, we have a long way to go. We live in a world of abundance that is full of opportunities brought to us by technological progress, and it is quite disappointing that we still have poverty, we still have suffering from aging, and we still find ourselves witnessing humanitarian crises like the one in Venezuela that killed my father. Five million Venezuelans have been forced to leave the country, five million. This is not a small number, and we still don’t know how to deal with it in a way that these people can have the decent lives that they deserve. We need to learn how to not leave anyone behind. We have to become more compassionate. This could happen to any country, like it happened to Germany during Hitler’s government. We have to collaborate to make sure that we will not make the same mistakes ever again. We live at the borderline between a fantastic positive future and a horrible, terrible past, and we have to move forward, positively contribute to it, and create a better society, a better world for everybody.

What insights would you like to share with our readers?

Life is so beautiful; it is a fantastic gift. I think everybody should enjoy life, should have a chance to improve and extend life and to do more things. I speak five languages, and I’d want to speak ten if I had the time. I have been to 137 countries, and I would like to go to two hundred more. I would like to write and read more books, watch many movies, and listen to so much more music, and there is no time. Time is so valuable. Ask yourself, who could you become if you had another century of healthy life? Therefore, we need more lifetime so that we can enjoy more, develop and reinvent ourselves to become better people, and make this world a better place. Going into politics for me is my reinvention. I think that I have enough experience to take all these fascinating academic findings and ideas professionally into politics and to make a difference. That is my mission: to bring healthy longevity and profound social integration to Spain. Wish me luck.

Dr. Aubrey de Grey Accelerates His Estimates – Article by Steve Hill

Dr. Aubrey de Grey Accelerates His Estimates – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill highlights a recent webinar where Dr. Aubrey de Grey, the Biogerontology Advisor of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party, revised his projections for the arrival of rejuvenation treatments in a more optimistic direction. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party, April 16, 2019


On January 28, 2019, we held a webinar with the SENS Research Foundation as part of a new ongoing series of research webinars. During the webinar, we asked Dr. Aubrey de Grey how close we might be to achieving robust mouse rejuvenation (RMR) and robust human rejuvenation, and his answer was somewhat surprising.

RMR is defined as reproducibly trebling the remaining lifespan of naturally long-lived (~3 years average lifespan) mice with therapies begun when they are already two years old.

Dr. de Grey now suggests that there is a 50/50 chance of achieving robust mouse rejuvenation within 3 years from now; recent interviews and conversation reveal that he’d adjusted this figure down from 5-6 years. He has also moved his estimation of this to arrive from around 20 years to 18 years for humans.

So, what is the basis for this advance in schedule? Dr. de Grey is more optimistic about how soon we might see these technologies arrive, as the level of crosstalk between damages appears to be higher than he originally anticipated a decade ago. This means that robust mouse and human rejuvenation may be easier than he previously believed.

We also asked Dr. de Grey which of the seven damages of aging was the most challenging to address. Originally, he thought solving cancer through OncoSENS methods was the biggest challenge in ending age-related diseases. However, intriguingly, he speaks about his enthusiasm for immunotherapy and how it may potentially solve the cancer issue and negate the need for Whole-body Interdiction of Lengthening of Telomeres (WILT), which was always considered a last-resort approach to shutting down cancer.

There are two main components of the WILT approach. The first is to delete telomerase-producing genes from as many cells as possible, as human cancers lengthen telomeres through one of two available pathways, and the second is to avoid the harmful consequences of our cells no longer having telomerase by periodically transplanting fresh stem cells, which have also had their telomerase-associated genes knocked out, to replace losses.

This approach has always been considered extreme, and Dr. de Grey has always acknowledged that this was the case. However, over a decade ago when Dr. de Grey and Michael Rae originally proposed this in the book Ending Aging, immunotherapy was simply not on the radar. Now, there are alternatives to WILT that show true potential and less need for radical solutions, and it is reassuring to see that Dr. de Grey is so enthusiastic about them.

He now suggests that MitoSENS is probably the most challenging to tackle of the seven types of damage in the SENS model of aging. This is no surprise given that DNA and mtDNA damage are highly complex issues to fix.

On that note, we asked Dr. Amutha Boominathan from the MitoSENS team which mitochondrial gene was their next target after they had successfully created nuclear copies of the ATP-6 and ATP-8 genes.

MitoSENS will be launching a new fundraising campaign on Lifespan.io later this year with the aim of raising funds to progress to more of the mitochondrial genes. This time, the aim will be to move the approach to an animal model and demonstrate how it could be used to correct mitochondrial defects.

Finally, if you are interested in getting involved directly with these webinars and joining the live audience, check out the Lifespan Heroes page.

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.

“Shattered” – Art by Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier

“Shattered” – Art by Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier

Laura Katrin Weston


Commentary by Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party: “Shattered” is a print by Dr. Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier, the original exemplar which I received in November 2017 due to my donation to the successful MouseAge crowdfunding campaign by Lifespan.io. Along with the three other artworks that I acquired from Dr. Weston – “Teeming”, “Graceful”, and “Squeak” – this print is featured as part of my Longevity Wall.

This work depicts how the forces of ruin can lead once-ornate and beautiful things to become eroded and deteriorated. This process, unfortunately, afflicts human organisms and minds as well, causing much of value to be lost or at least faded with time. Even with age, there remain in everything and everyone traces of the former splendor that can yet potentially be reclaimed – if humanity reconsiders its priorities and decisively commits to the war on ruin, including the quest to overcome aging and death.

Artist’s Description: “Time ravages even the greatest of minds, shattering them into a chaotic cloud of misfired potential. Once simple tasks become impossible, we become unable to live without aid, to live for ourselves any longer.

“I don’t know about you… But I don’t want that future. We have the power to change that. All we need is more support.”

You can find more work by Dr. Laura Katrin Weston at the Katrin Brunier Gallery, an Ethical Investment-Grade Art Gallery for the Neo-Renaissance Era (see its Instagram page). Proceeds from art sales at the Katrin Brunier Gallery will go to support causes such as medical research and conservation.

“Graceful” – Art by Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier

“Graceful” – Art by Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier

Laura Katrin Weston



Commentary by Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party: “Graceful” is a watercolor painting by Dr. Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier, the original exemplar which I received in November 2017 due to my donation to the successful MouseAge crowdfunding campaign by Lifespan.io. 

This vibrant watercolor image of a hawthorn tree in bloom illustrates that beauty and longevity are indeed compatible. Hawthorn trees can live for up to 700 years – another demonstration that there are no insurmountable obstacles to this kind of graceful longevity. Science and technology must, however, advance, to enable us to maintain vitality for centuries to come.

Artist’s Description: There is a cold, hard truth in humanity that we don’t often like to admit. There is no shame in wanting to remain beautiful, graceful, and vibrant for as long as we can. Yet these feelings are often belittled as being selfish or vain.

There is nothing wrong with being healthy for as long as possible. Perhaps we have grown so used to the frailties and sickness that come with time that we might not know how to react without it.


You can find more work by Dr. Laura Katrin Weston at the Katrin Brunier Gallery, an Ethical Investment-Grade Art Gallery for the Neo-Renaissance Era (see its Instagram page). Proceeds from art sales at the Katrin Brunier Gallery will go to support causes such as medical research and conservation.

“Squeak” – Art by Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier

“Squeak” – Art by Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier

Laura Katrin Weston




Commentary by Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party: “Squeak” is a print by Dr. Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier, the original exemplar of which I received in November 2017 due to my donation to the successful MouseAge crowdfunding campaign by Lifespan.io.

It is fitting for a project on mouse longevity to involve at least one image of mice – creatures whom life has unfortunately dealt a bad hand, due to their short lifespans (only 3 years for even long-lived mice in the absence of medical intervention), difficulty in getting along with humans, and unnecessary attrition due to disposal practices after lab experiments. “Squeak” invites the viewer to appreciate mice a bit more; if we can extend their lives significantly, we stand a decent chance of achieving dramatic extension of our own lifespans.  Perhaps we can also give some of the mice a break by using photographic markers of aging in experiments, as the MouseAge project seeks to do.

Here, the mice are depicted scurrying along a narrow circular path. The golden circle, with rays emanating outward represents perhaps the great hope that these creatures unknowingly provide to us. One may wonder, as I have done over many months of reflecting on this work, whether these are mutant, two-tailed mice, or whether they each just have their ordinary curly tails, and the track along which they move might simply be painted in the same colors and textures as their tails. (Well, in actuality it is indeed painted that way!) Mutant or not, these mice are rather extraordinary in having become emblems of a species that has added much to our understanding. Unlike most of their brethren to date, these mice have earned their extreme longevity through Laura Katrin Weston’s brush.

You can find more work by Dr. Laura Katrin Weston at the Katrin Brunier Gallery, an Ethical Investment-Grade Art Gallery for the Neo-Renaissance Era (see its Instagram page). Proceeds from art sales at the Katrin Brunier Gallery will go to support causes such as medical research and conservation.

“Teeming” – Art by Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier

“Teeming” – Art by Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier

Laura Katrin Weston



Commentary by Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party:
“Teeming” is a print by Dr. Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier, the original exemplar which I received in November 2017 due to my donation to the successful MouseAge crowdfunding campaign by Lifespan.io.

Although some may consider the plants depicted in this print to be weeds, Laura Katrin Weston has painted their flowers beautifully. Such plants proliferate in a teeming, but ultimately ephemeral manner – yet this print presents a view that can be enjoyed indefinitely, in effect taming the weeds and presenting their best imagined attributes for our appreciation.

You can find more work by Dr. Laura Katrin Weston at the Katrin Brunier Gallery, an Ethical Investment-Grade Art Gallery for the Neo-Renaissance Era (see its Instagram page). Proceeds from art sales at the Katrin Brunier Gallery will go to support causes such as medical research and conservation.

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

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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.

Hallmarks of Aging: Epigenetic Alterations – Article by Steve Hill

Hallmarks of Aging: Epigenetic Alterations – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill discusses one of the hallmarks of aging – in this case, Epigenetic Alterations. It is part of a paper published in 2013. It divides aging into a number of distinct categories (“hallmarks”) of damage to explain how the aging process works and how it causes age-related diseases [1]. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                        ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, October 18, 2017

What are epigenetic alterations?

The DNA in every one of our cells is identical, with only small variations, so why do our various organs and tissues look so different, and how do cells know what to become?

DNA is modified by the addition of epigenetic information that changes the pattern of gene expression in a cell, suppressing or enhancing the expression of certain genes in a cell as the situation demands. This is how a cell in the liver knows that it needs to develop into a liver cell; the epigenetic instructions make sure that it is given the right orders to become the correct cell type.

At a basic level, these epigenetic instructions make sure that the genes needed to develop into a liver cell are turned on, while the instructions specific to other types of cells are turned off. Imagine if a heart cell was given the wrong instructions and became a bone cell!

How epigenetic alterations accumulate

The aging process can cause alterations to our epigenome, which can lead to alterations in gene expression that can potentially change and ultimately compromise cell function. As an example, epigenetic alterations of the immune system can harm activation and suppress immune cells, thus causing our immune system to fail and leaving us vulnerable to pathogens.

Inflammation is implicated in epigenetic alterations, and studies show that caloric restriction slows the rate of these epigenetic changes [2]. Metabolism and epigenetic alterations are closely linked with inflammation, facilitating a feedback loop leading to ever-worsening epigenetic alterations. Alterations to gene expression patterns are an important driver of the aging process. These alterations involve changes to DNA methylation patterns, histone modification, transcriptional alterations (variance in gene expression) and remodeling of chromatin (a DNA support structure that assists or impedes its transcription).

In the cell, gene expression is activated by hypomethylation (a loss of methylation) or silenced by hypermethylation (an increase of methylation) at a gene location. The aging process causes changes that reduce or increase methylation at different gene locations throughout the body. For example, some tumour suppressor genes become hypermethylated during aging, meaning that they cease functioning, which increases the risk of cancer [3]. Post-translational modifications of histones regulate gene expression by organizing the genome into active euchromatin regions, where DNA is accessible for transcription, or inactive heterochromatin regions, where DNA is compacted and less accessible for transcription. The aging process causes changes to these regions, which changes gene expression.

The aging process also causes an increase in transcriptional noise, which is the primary cause of variance in the gene expression happening between cells [4]. Researchers compared young and old tissues from several species and identified age-related transcriptional changes in the genes encoding key components of inflammatory, mitochondrial, and lysosomal degradation pathways [5].

 Finally, chromatin remodeling alters chromatin from a condensed state to a transcriptionally accessible state, allowing transcription factors and other DNA binding proteins to access DNA and control gene expression.

Conclusion

If we can find ways to reset age-related epigenetic alterations, we can potentially improve cell function, thus improving tissue and organ health.

One potential approach is the use of reprogramming factors, which reset cells to a developmental state, thus reverting epigenetic changes. We have been doing this for over a decade to create induced pluripotent stem cells, and recent work has seen a therapy based on that technique applied to living animals to reset their epigenetic alterations [6]. This reversed a number of age-related changes, and work is now proceeding with the goal of translating this to humans.

Epigenetic alterations might be considered like a program in a computer, but in this case, it is the cell, not a computer, being given instructions. Ultimately, damage causes changes that contribute to the cell moving from an efficient “program” of youth to a dysfunctional one of old age. If we can reset that program, we can potentially address this hallmark of aging, and a number of researchers are working on that right now.

 

Literature

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

[2] Maegawa, S., Lu, Y., Tahara, T., Lee, J. T., Madzo, J., Liang, S., … & Issa, J. P. J. (2017). Caloric restriction delays age-related methylation drift. Nature Communications, 8.
[3] Maegawa, S., Hinkal, G., Kim, H. S., Shen, L., Zhang, L., Zhang, J., … & Issa, J. P. J. (2010). Widespread and tissue specific age-related DNA methylation changes in mice. Genome research, 20(3), 332-340.

[4] Bahar, R., Hartmann, C. H., Rodriguez, K. A., Denny, A. D., Busuttil, R. A., Dollé, M. E., … & Vijg, J. (2006). Increased cell-to-cell variation in gene expression in ageing mouse heart. Nature, 441(7096), 1011-1014.

[5] De Magalhães, J. P., Curado, J., & Church, G. M. (2009). Meta-analysis of age-related gene expression profiles identifies common signatures of aging. Bioinformatics, 25(7), 875-881.

[6] Ocampo, A., Reddy, P., Martinez-Redondo, P., Platero-Luengo, A., Hatanaka, F., Hishida, T., … & Araoka, T. (2016). In Vivo Amelioration of Age-Associated Hallmarks by Partial Reprogramming. Cell, 167(7), 1719-1733.

 

About Steve Hill

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

About LIFE EXTENSION ADVOCACY FOUNDATION (LEAF)

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

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

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

I am the Lifespan – Video by Gennady Stolyarov II

I am the Lifespan – Video by Gennady Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party, discusses why longevity research is crucial, and how our generation stands on the threshold of finally dealing a decisive blow to the age-old enemies of aging and death, which have destroyed great human minds since the emergence of our species.

This video is part of the #IAmTheLifespan campaign, coordinated by Lifespan.io and the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) for Longevity Month, October 2017. Read more about this campaign here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form here.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Apply here.