Enjoy Judy Campisi’s plenary talk about the relationship between aging and cancer.
Enjoy Judy Campisi’s plenary talk about the relationship between aging and cancer.
Enjoy the plenary lecture of Dr. Robert Shmookler Reis about the long-lives worms and biomarkers of aging.
This is the plenary lecture of Dr, Andrzej Bartke at the Genetics of Aging and Longevity conference that took place in Moscow on April 22-25. I will be posting the upcoming videos of the talks on the Youtube channel of our Foundation. Please, subscribe and enjoy the power of genetics of aging.
This is how the naked mole rat’s colony looks like. This excellent review in The Scientist by Thomas Park and Rochelle Buffenstein illustrates the complicated lives of these outstanding hairless animals: how they live under the ground in Africa, how they have the breeding Queen and worker-animals (just like the honey bees), how they don’t feel certain kinds of pain, how they are resistant to the lack of oxygen and toxic amounts of carbon dioxide in the air. But the coolest thing about the naked mole rats is that they basically live 9 times more than “they should”:
Although naked mole-rats are the size of a mouse, weighing only about 35–65 grams, in captivity these rodents live 9 times longer. With a recorded maximum lifespan of 32 years, they are the longest-lived rodents known. And remarkably, they appear able to maintain good health for most of their lives. At an age equivalent to a human age of 92 years, naked mole-rats show unchanged levels of activity and metabolic rate, as well as sustained muscle mass, fat mass, bone density, cardiac health, and neuron number.
So not only they are exceptionally long-lived, they are also very active and healthy even in the old age.
Somehow they delay the onset of aging and compress the period of decline into a small fraction of their overall lifespan.
They also have no cancer.
Naked mole rates are exceptions to several theories of aging. For example, the free radical theory states that aging happens, because of the extensive cellular damage from reactive oxygen species. However, naked mole rats show very high levels of oxidative damage from these free radicals and still their cells are perfectly functioning for years and years. Another hypothesis claims that aging is due to shortening of telomeres – DNA molecules caps, that shorten every time a cells undergoes division. Yet the naked mole rat has relatively short telomeres. Also the telomerase, protein that lengthens telomeres, is not really active in naked mole rats’ cells. So telomere maintenance is unlikely to explain the outstanding longevity in these animals.
So what are the reasons for these almost “magical” properties of the naked mole rat? Park and Buffenstein note:
1. Naked mole-rat tissues are better able to recognize abnormal cells, neutralize their tumorigenic properties, and repair their DNA. Should that fail, the cells are ushered into programmed cell death pathways. This means that errors in the DNA are constantly and effectively repaired or removed, before they give rise to cancer.
2. Many gene families in the mole-rat genome are involved in DNA repair and detoxification processes, and the expression of these genes remains unchanged as the animals age. So, stress resistance genes work perfectly well into the old age.
3. Proteasomes are more abundant and more efficient in degrading the damaged proteins within the cells. Same thing with autophagy – it occurs at a twofold greater rate in naked mole-rat cells than those of the mouse. These two enchanted mechanisms of cellular cleaning resist damage from toxins, heavy metals and DNA-damaging agents. In simple words: better housekeeping means longer life.
This supermodel for research is being studied only in a couple of labs in the world. This is such a shame. I wish more researchers included naked mole rats in their experiments. I wish there were more money for research in naked mole rats, because they may hold the keys to our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for life extension.
Imagine the following movie plot: A lot of characters. They fall in love, get married, sometimes get divorsed. They dream about something, and they seek something in life. Some of them achieve what they want, others don’t. And after that they all become very sick. They start to loose the ability to see, hear and walk. Some of them start to rot alive, spit blood. The majority is in terrible pain, they suffer and they are lonely. And then they all die.
Here’s another movie. Some people want the future to be the way they want it to be and do a lot to make it happen. Other men and women see their future in a completely different way and conflict with the former. The rest don’t even think about what’s ahead of them. But it’s pain, suffering and death that’s ahead of all of these people, regardless of what they have been planning for themselves.
Oh, and here’s another movie. The characters live for their children. They take care of the kids, parent them, nurture them, love them so much. Then they all die, the kids die too, a lot of them die in the throes.
Millions if movies. Different plots, events, circumstances. Different characters, habits, ideals, goals, meanings. Different people. But the end is the same. Death of everyone.
Not the best cinema, right? I wouldn’t go. Although it’s not a movie. It’s our life. This is the destiny of every person who lived on our planet: pain, suffering and death. There were some who died with no pain, but this doesn’t change their sorrowful fate. There were some who wanted to die. Because of their pain and senile dementia. But it’s not what these people wanted when they were only starting to live.
It’s aging that kills people. Also it’s stupidity and greed that kill people. It exactly the stupidity and greed that prevents people from doing much to survive. The society spends an abysmal amount of effort on life extension. Minimal interest and microscopic funding goes to studying of fundamental mechanisms of aging. Resources are being spent on any galimatias, but not on longevity. Years go by, and people become dung. Because of their own stupidity and imbecility of others.
Almost everyone who comes to somebody’s funeral should keep saying: «We are the sick people, we killed you by our passivity. Moreover, we keep on bringing death further on. The thought to identify the underlying reasons of death and to try to eliminate them doesn’t even steel into our empty minds. It’s actually just money and pleasure what matters to us. Indulging into that we seek our own death.»
When people become better, they will be immortal. Isn’t it about time?
Wall Street Journal reviewed “100Plus” – a book that argues for longer life, regenerative medicine, aging research and the future of our health. I wish there were more books like this one that promote transhumanism and show that longer lives mean healthier and hapier lives. We need more books that tell the audience how we can achieve life extension. There should be more books and articles that talk about what exactly each person can do to help depending on their occupation, social status and other factors.
Researchers, working with mice, found that a portion of the heart removed during the first week after birth grew back wholly and correctly – as if nothing had happened.
“This is an important step in our search for a cure for heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the developed world,” said Dr. Hesham Sadek, assistant professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study available online in the Feb. 25 issue of Science. “We found that the heart of newborn mammals can fix itself; it just forgets how as it gets older. The challenge now is to find a way to remind the adult heart how to fix itself again.”
Previous research has demonstrated that the lower organisms, like some fish and amphibians, that can regrow fins and tails, can also regrow portions of their hearts after injury.
From the Methuselah Foundation Blog, a message from founder and CEO Dave Gobel: “It has been a while since I sent you an update and there is plenty of good news to share as we work together towards longevity. I also want your input as we make plans for the coming year. … Methuselah Foundation has successfully promoted the extension of healthy human life – the science of aging has gained acceptance and broad-based support thanks to your ongoing contributions. Now we are strongly supporting science that will lead to tissue engineering and organ regeneration. We will be the catalyst to speed up the development of organ replacement. … I am continually delving into every area of science, the work being done in universities, labs and biotech companies, to see the latest research and how it might contribute to longer life. I am convinced that there are many viable solutions but we, uniquely, are in a position to move them to a practical place. With this mission in mind we created the NewOrgan Prize. Based on our success with the Mprize, we anticipate this new prize will accelerate the rate of research and bring us closer to practical solutions. … We must continue to accelerate practical scientific solutions related to aging. You and I – not just our children and grandchildren – should benefit from the advances in tissue engineering that are already on the table. This is why I need your input. We are contemplating a number of initiatives in support of this drive but we want to have the greatest possible impact. I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. Please continue reading and I believe you will have a clear understanding of the potential and, hopefully, will have some thoughts to share.”
“This therapy may be used to restore function even when it’s given long after ischemic brain damage has occurred,” senior author Gwendolyn Kartje, MD, PhD and colleagues write.
Kartje is director of the Neuroscience Institute of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and chief of neuroscience research at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital.
There currently is little doctors can do to limit stroke damage after the first day following a stroke. Most strokes are ischemic (caused by blood clots). A drug called tPA can limit damage, but must be given within the first three hours for the greatest benefit — and most patients do not receive treatment within that time window.
Kartje and colleagues report on a treatment called anti-Nogo-A therapy. Nogo-A is a protein that inhibits the growth of nerve fibers called axons. It serves as a check on runaway nerve growth that could cause a patient to be overly sensitive to pain, or to experience involuntary movements. (The protein is called Nogo because it in effect says “No go” to axons.) In anti-Nogo therapy, an antibody disables the Nogo protein. This allows the growth of axons into the stroke-affected side of the body and the restoration of functions lost due to stroke.
Ray Kurzweil, an American author, inventor and futurist has been discussed on my blog in many previous posts. He has been described as “the restless genius” by the Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” and PBS included Ray as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America,” along with other inventors of the past two centuries.
Recently TIME Magazine had an opportunity to interview Ray and asked him for his prediction of what’s to come for humanity. I thought it would be of interest, so here are TIME’s 10 Questions for Ray Kurzweil:
Question: Is it a mistake to use the events of the recent past as a method of predicting the future?
Answer: Our intuition about the future is linear. But the reality of information technology is exponential, and that makes a profound difference. If I take 30 steps linearly, I get to 30. If I take 30 steps exponentially, I get to a billion.
Question: You predict we’ll reach a point with artificial intelligence that you call the singularity. How will that affect us?
Answer: By the time we get to the 2040s, we’ll be able to multiply human intelligence a billionfold. That will be a profound change that’s singular in nature. Computers are going to keep getting smaller and smaller. Ultimately, they will go inside our bodies and brains and make us healthier, make us smarter. We’ll be online all the time. Search engines won’t wait to be asked.