I’d like to present part 4 of the Human Physical Immortality Roadmap.
Tag Archives: nanotechnology
Nanoparticles activate two areas of the innate immune system, stimulating Toll-like receptors and providing lifelong immune protection in mice
Bali Pulendran, Ph.D., study leader and Charles Howard Candler professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, along with Sudhir Pai Kasturi, Ph.D., co-author of the study who works in Pulendran’s lab, and Niren Murthy, Ph.D., co-author and associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, have found the key to long-lasting immunity through the use virus-mimicking nanoparticles.
The yellow fever vaccine is one of the most long-lasting vaccines, protecting humans against the virus for decades with just one injection. Nobel Prize winner Max Theiler developed it in the 1930’s, and scientists have been looking to imitate and improve upon this design.
Now, the team of researchers from Emory has created nanoparticles, which are made of biodegradable polymers, which are similar to viruses in immunological composition and size, which has led to lifelong immunity in mice. More specifically, the nanoparticles are made of PLGA – poly(lactic acid)-co-(glycolic acid) and their two main components are MPL (monophophoryl A) and imiquimod. These nanoparticles can be used interchangeably with material from a variety of viruses or bacteria.
There are two ways in which nanotechnology may be able to extend our lives. One is by helping to eradicate life-threatening diseases such as cancer, and the other is by repairing damage to our bodies at the cellular level – in essence, a nano version of the fountain of youth!
Our average lifespan has been increased over the last 100 years by reducing the impact of life-threatening diseases. For example, vaccines have virtually eliminated smallpox. The application of nanotechnology in healthcare is likely to reduce the number of deaths from conditions such as cancer and heart disease over the next decade or so. There are many research programs working on these techniques;
Let’s look at the type of nano work that is currently being done in the way of eradicating cancer, one of the most serious of diseases on our planet:
An intriguing cancer treatment uses one nanoparticle to deliver a chemotherapy drug and a separate nanoparticle to guide the drug carrier to the cancer tumor. Nanorods circulating through the bloodstream exit where the blood vessels are leaking at the site of cancer tumors. Once the nanorods accumulate at the tumor they are used to concentrate the heat from infrared light, heating up the tumor. This heat increases the level of a stress related protein on the surface of the tumor. The drug carrying nanoparticle (a liposome) is attached to amino acids that bind to this protein, so the increased level of protein at the tumor speeds up the accumulation of the chemotherapy drug-carrying liposome at the tumor. Magnetic nanoparticles that attach to cancer cells in the blood stream may allow the cancer cells to be removed before they establish new tumors.
Another major killer in our time is heart disease. In this area, there are several efforts going on:
Researchers at the University of Santa Barbara have developed a nanoparticle that can deliver drugs to plaque on the wall of arteries. They attach a protein called a peptide to a nanoparticle which then binds with the surface of plaque. Studies have verified that the peptide attaches the nanoparticle to plaque. The researchers plan to use these nanoparticles to deliver imaging particles and drugs to both diagnosis and treat the condition.
Perhaps the most exciting possibility exists in the potential for repairing our bodies at the cellular level. Techniques in Nanorobotics are being developed that should make the repair of our cells possible. For example, as we age, DNA in our cells is damaged by radiation or chemicals in our bodies. Nanorobots would be able to repair the damaged DNA and allow our cells to function correctly.
This ability to repair DNA and other defective components in our cells goes beyond keeping us healthy: it has the potential to restore our bodies to a more youthful condition. This concept is discussed by Eric Drexler, Ph.D., an established researcher and author whose work focuses on advanced nanotechnologies and directions for current research.
Drexler states: “Aging is fundamentally no different from any other physical disorder; it is no magical effect of calendar dates on a mysterious life-force. Brittle bones, wrinkled skin, low enzyme activities, slow wound healing, poor memory, and the rest all result from damaged molecular machinery, chemical imbalances, and mis-arranged structures. By restoring all the cells and tissues of the body to a youthful structure, repair machines will restore youthful health. ”
Editor: Gregory M. Fahy
Technical Editors: Michael D. West, L. Stephen Coles, Steven B. Harris
To my mind this is a must-read book for anybody who cares about themselves and their future. An outstanding panel of authors brings their expertise to the audience in 23 chapters of what I’m sure is terrific reading. Take a look at the table of contents below and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Just as the health costs of aging threaten to bankrupt developed countries, this book makes the scientific case that a biological “bailout” could be on the way, and that human aging can be different in the future than it is today. Here 40 authors argue how our improving understanding of the biology of aging and selected technologies should enable the successful use of many different and complementary methods for ameliorating aging, and why such interventions are appropriate based on our current historical, anthropological, philosophical, ethical, evolutionary, and biological context.