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Why I Hope to Be Alive at 75 – Article by Steve Hill

Why I Hope to Be Alive at 75 – Article by Steve Hill

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Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, originally published on November 13, 2020, by our allies at the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF), Steve Hill explains why the attitude of Joe Biden’s new advisor on COVID-19 strategy, Ezekiel Emanuel, is supremely counterproductive. Emanuel infamously wrote in 2014 that he hopes to die at age 75. Given that COVID-19 is a disease whose toll is greatly amplified by biological aging, Emanuel’s statements render him uniquely ill-suited  to remedy the ravages of the ongoing pandemic. Moreover, his pessimism toward what life is like at age 75 is no longer justified, in light of emerging medical advances that could enable rejuvenation and biological youthfulness for those who are in late middle age today. Perhaps, if he sees these advances become a reality in the not-too-distant future, Emanuel might change his mind regarding the desirability of longer lifespans.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, November 17, 2020


2020 has been a strange year for a variety of reasons, but the societal changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has created are probably the strangest. However, it is perhaps even stranger that Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel has been appointed to advise Joe Biden on COVID strategy.

Emanuel is best known for writing a controversial article in the October 2014 edition of The Atlantic, headlined “Why I Hope to Die at 75”, in which he strongly rejects the desire to live beyond the age of 75 and expresses his opinion that continuing to live after such an age is meaningless.

Living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived.

Needless to say, I strongly disagree with this baffling point of view and am somewhat concerned that someone who thinks this way of his own life, and presumably the lives of others, may be appointed to a position of influence for a disease whose primary risk group is the elderly. This seems almost as foolhardy as spending a vacation weekend in a caravan with Hannibal Lecter.

Emanuel listed quite a few methods by which people extend their lives and stated that they were a “valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible,” but his response to them was, “I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive.”

Age is the #1 risk factor for COVID

The scientific evidence clearly shows that the primary risk factor for contracting and dying from COVID-19 is age, with people over the age of 75 at particularly high risk. This is due to the decline of the immune system, which becomes increasingly weak and dysfunctional with age in a process known as immunosenescence.

Globally, the strategy has been to try to shield these vulnerable people as best as possible due to their weakened immune systems and limit their exposure to the disease while vaccines are developed.

Needless to say, I find Biden’s nomination of him to address a disease that mostly affects seniors ironic in itself, given that he thinks the lives of most people beyond 75 are pointless and that they don’t live meaningful lives and would be better off embracing death rather than desperately trying to extend them. Therefore, I hope for the sake of the older people in our society that he has rethought his priorities.

Why I hope to be alive at 75

Predictably, there is already a storm raging on social media around his appointment, so there is no purpose to adding more fuel to that fire. Instead, I am going to talk about why the future of aging could be very different to the grim picture that Emanuel paints.

At age 63, he is getting closer to the age at which he thinks life is pointless, and I believe that a large reason why he is so pessimistic about life beyond 75, whether he realizes it or not, is based on the current state of medicine. This line of reasoning does not take into account how medicine, and in particular how we treat aging could change in the next decade or two.

Current medicine does a great job at keeping people alive for longer, but they often have to live with one or more chronic diseases. Given that, I am not surprised that Emanuel is not enamored with living a long life, especially as that could entail being disabled, bed-bound, or otherwise suffering a poor quality of life as the result of debilitating age-related diseases.

Thankfully, the world healthcare strategy is slowly starting to shift to one of prevention over cure, but right now, the typical approach is to play whack-a-mole with diseases. As one pops up, it is treated, then the next, and the next, and so on. This strategy works great for infectious diseases, but it is an exercise in futility and diminishing returns when applied to the chronic diseases of aging.

However, things could be different in the not so distant future, and being 75 could see the majority of people far more fit, healthy, and vibrant than ever before in human history thanks to advances in aging research. Therapies that directly target aging could potentially make people biologically younger (in particular their immune systems) and much more able to withstand COVID-19 and other diseases.

As explained on LEAF’s What is Aging? page, aging consists of multiple processes (“hallmarks”) that gradually cause damage to organs and tissues and lead to age-related diseases. Rejuvenation biotechnology is advanced medical technology that directly addresses any of the various aging processes in order to restore tissue and organ function to a more youthful state, thereby ameliorating, delaying, or preventing age-related diseases. Let’s take a brief look at some of the promising near-future research that could bear fruit by the time Emanuel reaches 75 and perhaps change his mind.

Rejuvenating the immune system

The decline of the immune system is a key reason why the elderly are most susceptible to infectious diseases such as COVID, and there has been considerable interest in the rejuvenation of the immune system in recent years.

Dr. Greg Fahy from intervene immune has had some early success with thymus rejuvenation in a small human pilot study and demonstrated that it is possible to cause the thymus, which shrinks and loses its capacity to produce immune T cells during aging, to regrow and resume production of those cells. Dr. Fahy is now moving forward into a larger-scale study, and if the results continue to be positive, it is not hard to imagine that thymus regrowth could become a staple of helping the elderly stay healthy.

Another example of immune rejuvenation is currently being developed by Samumed, a biotechnology company that is developing drugs that target the Wnt pathway to restore it to youthful function. The Wnt pathway is a key pathway that regulates the function of our stem cells and ensures that they supply our tissues and organs with new cells to replace losses from injury, disease, and wear and tear.

If successful, this approach would allow the body to resume efficient repair of tissues, and it would replenish aged and failing tissues and organs with fresh, healthy cells supplied by the rejuvenated stem cells.

Therapeutic plasma exchange

Researchers Irina and Mike Conboy at UC Berkeley have been researching blood factors and their role in aging for over two decades. During that time, they have identified a number of factors present in aged blood that appear to regulate aging.

These factors are also present in younger people, but in typically far lower amounts, and tend to serve useful functions. However, during aging, the levels of these proteins become deregulated, and they often rise to detrimental levels and cause damage to the body, which typically involves preventing stem cells from working and tissue from regenerating.

Decades’ worth of research from the Conboy lab has shown that, in mice at least, it is possible to filter out these harmful pro-aging blood factors and bring them back down to a level similar to younger animals. When this happens, the result is rejuvenation of tissues and the reversal of some of the aspects of aging, making the mice more youthful.

This approach uses an already approved technique known as therapeutic plasma exchange to filter and calibrate these key factors and could be readily modified for human use. Should the results seen in animals translate to humans using this approach, it would have a profound effect on our health as we age and potentially delay, prevent, or even reverse some age-related diseases.

Conclusion

These are only some of the examples of why healthy life expectancy could rise significantly in the near future, and there are plenty of reasons to remain future positive. This is the future direction of medicine and healthcare that we support at Lifespan.io, a world where being 75 does not mean you are thrown on the scrap heap and where people like Emanuel will no longer feel that life has no meaning. I am confident that in such a world, being 75 would not be the burden he thinks it will be, and this is why I hope to be alive at 75.

Steve Hill serves on the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) Board of Directors and is the Editor-in-Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 500 articles on the topic, interviewed over 100 of the leading researchers in the field, hosted livestream events focused on aging, along with attending various medical industry conferences. His work has been featured in H+ Magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, Swiss Monthly, Keep Me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve has a background in project management and administration, which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project.

Proposal for Argentina to Declare a Mandate for Longer Life Spans and the Reasonable Treatment of Aging as an Ailment

Proposal for Argentina to Declare a Mandate for Longer Life Spans and the Reasonable Treatment of Aging as an Ailment

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A National Techno-Progressive Policy Proposal for Argentina to Declare a Mandate for Longer Life Spans and the Reasonable Treatment of Aging as an Ailment

Respectfully Submitted to the Ministry of Health of Argentina

The United States Transhumanist Party (USTP) has been associated with public health initiatives and emerging-technology policymaking since 2014; we have many State-level parties, associates, partner organizations, and foreign ambassadors around the world. At this time in history and out of a sense of duty to the future, we are compelled to submit this public-policy proposal designed to not only enhance the public health and prosperity of Argentina, but also to make it a model for techno-optimistic progress around the world.

As such the USTP humbly submits this proposal to the Minister of Health of Argentina to work together to assure the prevention of future pandemics and jointly tackle broader health concerns with life extension as its goal. It is our intention with this proposal to encourage the Minister of Health of Argentina to declare a mandate for longer life spans and the reasonable treatment of aging as an ailment.

Purpose: This declaration promises to generate accolades from the global community for the Minister of Health particularly and Argentina generally as forward-thinking and serious leaders in the future of human welfare and scientific development. It will ensure that Argentina will be recognized as the world’s first techno-optimistic, progressive constitutional democracy. 

Benefit to the Argentine Government from accepting this proposal: The USTP holds that this bold declaration will further enhance Argentina’s status in the Western Hemisphere. Aside from the importance to humanity that this declaration provides in the name of Science, it will act to promote tourism and investment, and to encourage more civic undertakings from an increased interest in Argentine affairs.  

The USTP will be approaching the governments of San Marino and Liechtenstein to persuade them to make similar declarations in the wake of this worldwide pandemic. However, we are reaching out to the home country of Salvador Mazza to champion this cause to inspire other nations to follow your lead and provide citizens with a new level of public health services and longer lives. 

We look forward to your response and the potential of working with Minister Ginés González García and his capable team.

Signed, 

Gennady Stolyarov II, FSA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

J. Ben Zion, Vice-Chairman and 2020 U.S. Presidential Candidate, United States Transhumanist Party

Charlie Kam, Director of Longevity Outreach and 2020 U.S. Vice-Presidential Candidate, United States Transhumanist Party

Tom Ross, Director of Media Production, United States Transhumanist Party

Pavel Ilin, Secretary, United States Transhumanist Party

Daniel C. Elton, Ph.D., Director of Scholarship, United States Transhumanist Party

David Shumaker, Director of Applied Innovation, United States Transhumanist Party

Arin Vahanian, Director of Marketing, United States Transhumanist Party

B.J. Murphy, Director of Social Media, United States Transhumanist Party

Dinorah Delfin, Director of Admissions and Public Relations, United States Transhumanist Party

John J. Kerecz, Campaign Director, United States Transhumanist Party

Brent Logan Reitze, Director of Publication, United States Transhumanist Party

Dr. Christian Meniw, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Argentina

Henry Hoyos, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Bolivia

Keoma Ferreira Antonio, MSc, Ph.D. Student, Philosopher, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Brazil

Bill Andrews, Ph.D., President and CEO, Sierra Sciences, Biotechnology Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

José Luis Cordeiro, MBA, Ph.D., Technology Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Spain

Alexey Kadet, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Latvia

Ojochogwu Abdul, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Nigeria

Peter Wang, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in China

Paul A. Spiegel, J.D., Legal Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Micah Redding, Advisor on Religion to the United States Transhumanist Party

Elizabeth Parrish, CEO, BioViva, and Advocacy Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Newton Lee, Chairman, California Transhumanist Party, and Education and Media Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Rich Lee, Biohacking Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Daniel Yeluashvili, Climate Advisor to the Ben Zion 2020 Presidential Campaign

Michael Murray, Director of Environmental Science, California Transhumanist Party

Dr. Efi Roboti, Obstetrician-Gynecologist Surgeon and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Romina Florencia Cabrera, UNLP-UBA-UM-USAL,  Abogada,  Investigadora-Docente-Asesora-Consultora, Argentina, Chile e Iberoamérica

Raiany Romanni, Harvard Medical School, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Natasha Vita-More, Ph.D., Executive Director, Humanity+

Maria Entraigues Abramson, Global Outreach Coordinator, SENS Research Foundation

David Kekich, President and CEO, Maximum Life Foundation

Ben Goertzel, Chief Scientist and Chairman, Novamente, LLC, Chairman, OpenCog Foundation, Chair, Humanity+

Sergio Martínez de Lahidalga Tarrero, President, Alianza Futurista

Alex M. Vikoulov, Founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief, Ecstadelic Media Group

Michael Hope, Biogerontologist

Matthew Schenk, Geroscientist and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

John Marlowe, Advocate for Rare Disease Research, Regenerative Medicine, and Rejuvenation Biotechnology

Elena Rusyn, Founder, AmpliCell Medical, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Joe Bardin, Essayist, Playwright, Communication Strategist, RAADfest Communications Director, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Dr. Ilia Stambler, Chairman, Israeli Longevity Alliance

Brent NallyEntrepreneur, Interviewer, Longevity and Health Enthusiast, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Didier Coeurnelle, Co-Chair of Heales.org (Healthy Life Extension Society), Vice-Chair of the Association Française Transhumaniste Technoprog, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Kelvin Ogba DafiaghorCEO, Ogba Educational Clinic

Osinakachi Akuma Kalu, Founder, Transdisciplinary Agora for Future Discussions, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Negash Alamin, Head of CAMIDRCS Nature Media and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Orji Ama Chinedu, Attorney in Lagos, Nigeria

Victor Bjoerk, Heales.org (Healthy Life Extension Society) and Gerontology Research Group

Martin O’Dea, Partner, Longevity Accelerator, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Kevin Perrott, Entrepreneur and Co-Founder, Methuselah Foundation and SENS Research Foundation

Yifei Sun, President and CEO, International Institute for Innovation and Development

Brandon Michael King, Co-Founder and Organizer, Longevity Party United States, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Eric Schulke, Activist with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Maitreya One, Transhumanist Hip-Hop Artist and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jennifer Huse, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Tom Hite, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Kimberly Forsythe, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

James Kohagen, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Daud Sheikh, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Amanda Stoel, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Montie Adkins, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Mike DiVerde, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Chet Fontenot, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Christopher Browning, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Nick Dunn, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Art Ramon, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Renato Galindo Caceres, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Marcus Dreitzler, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Alexander Taylor Clayton, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jason Geringer, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Dawn Gilroy, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Adam Perrotta, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

AtmaJodha Singh, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Andrew Eckley, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Allen Crowley, USA LTC (Retired), Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Erin Reeve, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

William G. Echevarria Fernandez, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Brent Ellman, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Thomas James O’Carroll, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Luis J. Arroyo, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Simon Stiel, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Alexandria Black, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Michał Szymacha, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Corbin Stefan, Dosimetrist, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Anthony Bruce, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Rima Martin, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jiri Jelinek, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Quinn Cummins-Lune, Member, United States Transhumanist Party, Member, The Futurist Foundation

Mike Cockrill, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Zach Richardson, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Chris McAulay, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Justin Fontenot, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Valerie Handlers, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jessica Gifford, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Joshua Gifford, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Zipporah Naomi Pecot, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Hugh Ching, BS, MS, ScD

C. JoyBell C., Science Writer

Michael Beight

John Greenwood

Azure Michalak

Ryan Moisik

Kari Alatalo

Billy McCarthy

Fabian Pudlo

Walter H. Crompton

Adam Moser

Steven Mejia

Jeffrey Mercer

Marius Fusariu

Patricia A. Ray

Brett Mvrk

Kris McHale

Audrey Joyce

Mario Thibert

NOTE TO READERS: If you would like to digitally sign this proposal, please indicate this in the comments, or send an e-mail to USTP Chairman Stolyarov here. Please note that, if this is your first instance commenting on this website, your comment will go through moderation, but we will approve it in the near future and add your signature to the list above.