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2019 New Year’s Message – A Call for Medical Progress and Preservation of the Good – Article by Victor Bjoerk

2019 New Year’s Message – A Call for Medical Progress and Preservation of the Good – Article by Victor Bjoerk

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Victor Bjoerk


I celebrated the end of 2018 like normally with neuroscientist Anders Sandberg and several other “transhumanists” or “technoprogressive people” in Stockholm!

Why am I in that place to start with? Well, I’m quite frustrated with the human condition in the first place; I’ve always questioned everything from social norms and different kinds of problems in the world, and there’s still so much misery around that we need to unite and fix. (I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true!)

As people reading this know, the vast majority of human misery worldwide today occurs due to our bodies damaging themselves with the passage of time, the biological process we call aging. This occurs because evolution has no goals and our ancestors died at the age of 30-40 prehistorically, and therefore there was no pressure for evolution to create humans that could repair themselves molecularly to live thousands of years. The closest we get among Eukaryotes/Vertebrates are Greenland sharks, which can live to 500+ years; that is easy to understand since they have no predators and just have to open their mouths to get their daily food. On the opposite side we have as a prominent example the mouse, with a very poor molecular repair system and subsequent 2.5-year lifespan, easy to understand when you realize how dangerous life is in the wild if having a mouse body.

Thanks to our technology, we have created the “paradise Greenland shark scenario” for humans during the past century essentially, creating very comfortable existences where nearly everyone survives.

So if you’re 25 years old, life is really great nowadays in Western countries (unless you like to complain about everything!); the existential risks are so low in the absence of aging that you would live many thousands of years just by being a young person living in Sweden.

So I’ve worked a lot in nursing homes both before and during my studies in molecular biology, and what those people have to endure would be strictly illegal in most countries if we knew how to change it. Imagine if, for example, Saudi Arabia allowed its citizens to age while the Western world had abolished it; wouldn’t Amnesty International intervene?

But what can be done with the human body? Well, I assume quite a lot! We are seeing so many people who can’t stand the medical monopoly and the 17-year bench-to-bedside status quo, which isn’t an abstract academic complaint but which impact their daily lives, so they start self-experimenting with, for example, senolytic medicines to kill their senescent cells, making themselves “younger” in certain aspects, which is pretty cool!

However I’m not someone who constantly calls for change and “progress”; I mean, if something is nice, then why not keep it? As far as I’m concerned, for example, the beautiful architecture from the past can continue to stand for thousands more years. These buildings fulfill their purpose and look nice; I’m quite conservative on those points – but please accelerate the medical research, and it is crucial to spot the techniques that actually do work and to not waste resources on hype!

2018 has brought me many good things, those which one can call “achievements” and those which are not visible. The Eurosymposium on Healthy Aging in Brussels became a success! (And there will be some events during 2019 that I am also announcing for everyone who enjoyed it!)

I’ve been learning a lot about CRISPR and many other techniques both practically and theoretically, though I have not exactly used them to change the world. Medical progress takes forever to achieve, and it’s not exactly helped by a massive web of bureaucracy/hierarchies/prestige/laws, all contributing to slowing down progress for people in need. What can really be done? One needs to focus on the positive and go where the biotech companies can succeed!

So if things are working out for me as I hope now in 2019, I hope being able to really work full time to impact the longevity industry, I really feel like an overripe fruit that needs to get things done, because implementing stuff is what matters and not becoming some passive “longevity encyclopedia”. I’ll keep everyone as usually updated!

So happy new 2019 everyone! And make sure to take good care of yourselves!

Victor Bjoerk has worked for the Gerontology Research Group, the Longevity Reporter, and the Fraunhofer-Institut für Zelltherapie und Immunologie. He has promoted awareness throughout Europe of emerging biomedical research and the efforts to reverse biological aging. 

New Year’s Message and Prospects for Anti-Aging Biomedical Research in 2018 – Article by Victor Bjoerk

New Year’s Message and Prospects for Anti-Aging Biomedical Research in 2018 – Article by Victor Bjoerk

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Victor Bjoerk


Happy new 2018, a new year and new opportunities to do things! Setting aside the arbitrary fact of how we measure time, it is nevertheless important to reflect back on the past year!

During 2017 over 40 million people died world-wide of causes that would not have happened to them if they had been biologically less than 40 years old. I think it’s completely superfluous to add that this is unethical on all levels and will eventually go down in history books like the Black Death.

There are widespread worries about global risks in everything from politics to environment, however let’s look at the statistics as I like to point out: If you are a young person in your 20s or 30s living in the western world, and you don’t age but just carry out your normal daily life with all the normal risks, you are approximately expected to live 3000-5000 years, depending on country. Also there is a lot of improvement in living standards in the rest of the world, so most countries are heading for the same demographic problem.

So the world is a very safe place to be if you are biologically young!

During 2018 I will continue to follow the biomedical research that is ongoing, and I am co-organizing the Eurosymposium on Healthy Aging in Brussels in November of this year, to bring together researchers, investors, and other goal-oriented people active in the field of aging research.

Before that, in only 2.5 months, we have the Undoing Aging conference in Berlin, which is rapidly approaching starting on the 15th of March this year.

Now there are many other interesting conferences also, but these are at least the major ones I have in mind right now when writing, since I’m not in a position to attend everything (I wish I could).

During the upcoming years, we will see a vast market flourishing to try to repair aging damage in people and extend life; some will be purposeful deceits, other things will work great in mice but not in humans; moreover, there are therapies that will work but will have unacceptable side effects. Some discoveries will make great headlines and increase our understanding, perhaps even lead to a Nobel Prize, but be useless when it comes to any reasonably short-term applications. Media will continue to publish a lot of unspecific articles about “how you will live to 150” – simplifying science and creating hype and cult of personality. Some scientists will continue to pop up in media and spread false pessimism that nothing can be done about aging. But eventually what is going to happen is that translational medicine will continue to grow and generate an incremental improvement, what has been popularized as a “longevity escape velocity”, because here we have a complex problem which no single intervention will fix. 

The question it all boils down to is, “How soon?” What can YOU do to have an impact here? How do we run clinical trials on the elderly while avoiding pitfalls that can easily hurt the field?

And here’s the thing I personally care about: there are a lot of scientists working on things that can be of use to combat pathologies and extend lifespan in the elderly, but they are themselves unaware of these applications! I’ve seen it so many times to my surprise. Is it due to archaic academic structures or a lack of transdisciplinary thinking? Nevertheless it’s an observation.

What 2018 brings remains unknown at this moment of writing, but I wish all of my friends to really make the best of it!

Victor Bjoerk has worked for the Gerontology Research Group, the Longevity Reporter, and the Fraunhofer-Institut für Zelltherapie und Immunologie. He has promoted awareness throughout Europe of emerging biomedical research and the efforts to reverse biological aging.