Longevity News Digest
Dear Future Centenarian,
First, a story:
Did you know the electric defibrillator was invented in 1788? But the public viewed bringing people back from the dead as macabre¦ only to be reinforced in 1818 with Shelly's publication of Frankenstein.
It got worse.
Thomas Edison launched a massive PR campaign against business rival Westinghouse and Tesla's competing dangerous electrical current. Then around 1930, Frankenstein hit the movie screens.
It wasn't till the late 1950's that CPR by electric defibrillation was finally accepted and widely used 180 YEARS after being invented.
How many lives were sacrificed in the name of irrational fear?
I™m in the midst of raising moderate funding for the artificial intelligence technology that IMO promises the shortest path to extreme longevity in fact, age-reversal. And one of the investors was turned off by recent anti-AI rhetoric from Elon Musk and Bill Gates.
Is there anything to fear about AI? Nuclear power? Biotechnology? Nanotechnology? Fire? Hammers?
Sure. They can all be used as weapons.
But are they responsibly used? Of course.
You might think that we would have outgrown our knee-jerk reaction fears by now. Caution is rational. Unfounded fear is not.
Nearly everyone has heard of Musk's and Gates' cautions against AI. What has ensued however has been alarm, fueled by the press hungry for sensationalism.
Musk and Gates have focused on the threats that artificial intelligence could pose to humans. Yet this has not stopped them from investing heavily in AI.
Google, IBM, Microsoft and others are actively investing billions of dollars into artificial intelligence, and the race is on among them to acquire systems, and the creative minds behind them.
Eric Horvitz, chief of Microsoft Research, states a different viewpoint than his boss'.
He said, it's not AI that will destroy humankind, it's the absence of these technologies that is already killing people, citing medical errors and ineffective disease treatment that could be prevented and improved using AI.
"These concerns have been around for a long time," Horvitz added. "When there are concerns, we need to actually as scientists address them in a mature, receptive manner."
To Musk's credit, he made a $10 million donation to the Future of Life Institute to create of a grant program that will look into how to minimize AI risks.
But demonizing the field could lead to a rise in government interference and limits on research.
Dr. Oren Etzioni, executive director of the (Paul) Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, says there is a dangerous precedent for such limits, citing U.S. restrictions on stem-cell research enacted amid questions about the ethics of creating and destroying human embryos.
"AI escaping from the lab and running amok may make a great plot for a Hollywood movie, but it is not realistic," said Etzioni, who has been a researcher in the field for more than two decades.
Without AI, Google, Facebook and many other companies would not exist. No smart phones, no GPS, no Amazon, no search engines. It is so ubiquitous that, if AI would vanish, civilization, as we know it, would grind to a halt. Medical research would regress, and I don't see any way we would be able to reverse aging and find cures for the conditions and diseases that plague humanity.
Musk and Gates know this. So why would they purposely try to sabotage the world by stopping AI? They aren't. They are simply, albeit sensationally, expressing their concern about AI being misused. But every responsible researcher has addressed these issues for years.
I have yet to see a major personality publicly state the dangers of NOT developing a strong AI. It is the only technology capable of identifying and defending against increasing threats of ever-growing easier access to nuclear and biological weapons (as well as other irrationalities), by not only nations, but by individuals.
Here's a single technology that can not only discover cures for diseases and dramatically extend lives¦ but one that can guard against lives being destroyed on massive scales.
Trying to control or regulate it will only drive development underground or to possible unbenevolent societies.
Sometimes well-intentioned people create problems when none existed.
Latest Headlines from Fight Aging!
On the Potential Treatment of Cellular Senescence in Aging - Monday, February 9, 2015
With advancing age ever more cells in any given tissue in the body are found to be in a senescent state.
These cells have permanently exited the cell cycle in response to damage or stress, most likely in order to suppress cancer risk, but their accumulation causes progressive harm to tissue structure.
One promising approach to removing this contribution to degenerative aging is the use of targeted cell destruction therapies, such as those under development in the cancer research community. Periodic clearance of senescent cells would prevent the dysfunction they cause, and while this research is poorly funded in comparison to its potential, a few groups are working on it.
More on Declining Fluid Drainage and Amyloid-Î² Accumulation - Monday, February 9, 2015
Amyloid-Î² is a species of misfolded protein that forms solid clumps in the brain. Its accumulation and related processes are associated with the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
This isn't a slow progress of gathering waste, however, as levels of amyloid-Î² are quite dynamic. It is more the slow deterioration in mechanisms associated with ongoing clearance. So in addition to the great level of interest in developing treatments to clear amyloid-Î² from brain tissues, there is also much ongoing research relating to understanding why amyloid presence increases with age.
One contribution is possibly a decline in the function of various drainage paths that occurs for much the same reasons as the general decline in blood vessel function throughout the body.
Suggesting Better Genome Maintenance in Naked Mole-Rats - Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Naked mole-rats (NMRs) live nine times longer than other similarly sized rodent species and show comparatively few signs of degeneration in functional health along the way.
There is considerable interest in understanding exactly why this is the case: what are the important differences in the biochemistry of this species? Progress on this front is probably not going to directly result in ways to extend healthy life in humans, but it will help to prioritize efforts to treat the causes of aging by understanding which of the possible contributions are most important.
On the Fear of Overpopulation - Tuesday, February 10, 2015
As regular readers well know I think that fears of overpopulation following healthy life extension are essentially ridiculous, on a par with raising the prospect of boredom as a reason to reject longevity science and thus force billions to suffer and age to death unnecessarily.
Led by the hairshirt teachings of environmentalism perhaps a majority of people believe the world to be overpopulated today, but the regions usually pointed out as examples are characterized by terrible governance, poverty created by war and kleptocracy in the midst of a wealth of resources, human and otherwise, that go unused.
The common Malthusian vision of overpopulation - that we will run out of oil, or food, or land, or any other resource because there are more people - is driven at root by the failure to appreciate economics, how the world works and what drives human action.
The world changes and people react to potential shortages and rising prices by developing new technologies and new resources. Those who cannot look beyond what exists today will always cry that the sky is falling, as they think in terms of dividing a fixed set of resources that never changes.
Those arguments were made in every past era: the Roman age had its authors who thought that doom lay ahead if there were too many more people. In reality these views are always wrong, time and again. Even land is effectively unlimited given access to the rest of the solar system and sufficiently advanced construction technologies.
The Intricate Interplay of Aging and Cancer - Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Aging and cancer have evolved hand in hand, and numerous aspects of our biology play an important role in both.
At the simplest, highest level we have things like the decline in stem cell activity and tissue maintenance with age as a part of the evolution of human life span as a balance between death by cancer and death by functional failure of organs.
There is also the role of senescent cells in both suppressing and promoting cancer, and their accumulation as a cause of degenerative aging. There are many other more complex and less well understood relationships between aging and cancer, but this review focuses largely on cellular senescence as a comparatively new area for building interventions.
Towards Eternal Youth For All - Wednesday, February 11, 2015
The progression of degenerative aging is presently the greatest cause of pain and suffering in the world, so why are we not all greatly in favor of working towards medical technologies capable of preventing the detrimental results of aging?
Beyond removing frailty and disease, a side-effect of therapies capable of halting all age-related dysfunction through the repair of accumulated damage to cells and tissues is we'll all live very much longer in good health and youthful vigor.
Mitochondrial and Cytoplasmic Oxidative Stress Have Opposing Effects on Lifespan in Nematode Worms - Thursday, February 12, 2015
Oxidative stress refers to higher levels of oxidizing molecules present in and around cells, causing more damage by reacting with protein machinery that must then be repaired.
Work over the past two decades has show that raising or lowering levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by the mitochondria within a cell can extend or shorten life in lower animals such as nematode worms: the outcome obtained depends on the details of the process.
Cells react to the presence of ROS with increased housekeeping activities, so a modest increase can lead to a net reduction in damage while a large increase overwhelms repair systems and causes greater harm.
Since ROS do have a variety of roles in cellular metabolism, and are not just agents of harm, it matters greatly where in the cell ROS levels are altered. In this paper researchers explore localized increases in ROS levels in nematode cells by selectively deleting genes that encode varieties of superoxide dismutase antioxidant proteins.
These antioxidants reside in various different compartments of the cell, and so reduced levels lead to increased ROS, but only in the areas of the cell where the antioxidant is normally present.
Proposing Dialysis-Like Blood Filtration and Augmentation in Order to Slow Aging - Thursday, February 12, 2015
Parabiosis research in which the circulatory systems of a young and old mouse are connected has led to a cataloging of differences in circulating factors in old versus young blood.
Researchers have demonstrated that resetting the levels of GDF-11 in old mice produces beneficial effects, probably through reactivation of stem cell populations and thus increased repair and maintenance of tissues. Other important signaling molecules will no doubt be discovered and manipulated in the years ahead.
Outside of the ability to energize native stem cell populations, there may not be too much more here, however. Even that has to be cautiously approached because of the risk of spurring cancer - the consensus is that the fading of stem cell activity reduces cancer risk, but at the cost of a slow decline in tissue and organ function.
Much of the rest of the aging process is driven by things like accumulation of metabolic waste products that the body breaks down only slowly, if at all, however, things that are not much affected by stem cell activity. So it may well be that parabiosis research and the resulting manipulation of factors in the blood is one of the first stepping stones to a future of stem cell therapies that discards transplantation in favor of controlling a patient's own stem cells, but nothing more.
The proposal quoted below is one logical next step following on from present research indicating factors in old blood can be manipulated for benefit. The author suggests a sophisticated form of periodic blood filtration and augmentation, in which the level of some factors is reduced and others raised.
Whether this particular technology comes to pass or not depends strongly on the details of the ongoing cataloging and manipulation of important signaling molecules in animal studies, of course.
The Prospect of Using Antioxidants to Suppress Damage Following Stroke or Other Brain Injury - Friday, February 13, 2015
Much of the damage done following an ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow returns: there is a sudden and overwhelming production of reactive molecules and cells die as a result.
Given sufficiently potent and safe antioxidants, this harmful process could be suppressed provided a treatment is delivered rapidly.
Targeting Interleukin-10 to Spur Immune Cells into Clearing Amyloid From the Brain - Friday, February 13, 2015
The immune system incorporates a large number of very sophisticated mechanisms for clearing debris, killing errant cells and pathogens, and removing unwanted metabolic waste.
Therefore many research groups aim to harness and steer immune cells to achieve specific goals, such as the clearance of amyloid beta deposits associated with Alzheimer's disease.
There are many different approaches to developing immune therapies of this nature, some more sophisticated than others. Here is one of the less complex possible approaches.
DISCLAIMER: News summaries are reported by third parties, and there is no guarantee of accuracy. This newsletter is not meant to substitute for your personal due diligence and is not to be taken as medical advice. For originating report, please see www.fightaging.org/
David A. Kekich
Maximum Life Foundation
"Where Biotech, Infotech and Nanotech
Meet to Reverse Aging by 2033"