The New Scientist comments on recent work that raises the possibility of obtaining stem cells from amniotic fluid. There are still many questions to be answered about stem cells from non-embryonic sources, such as whether all these different types of stem cells are the same, and whether they can be used in therapies or regenerative medicine. Still, it is heartening to see so much progress in this field of medicine despite attempts to ban and criminalize it. This is where the life-extending and heath-ensuring medicine of the future will come from.
In another example of stem cells leading to neural regeneration in unusual ways, researchers have found that these cells release molecules that aid neuron survival and improve motor ability. (Article from Betterhumans). This was something of a suprise. There was impressive regeneration and recovery in the studies carried out on paralyzed rats, but it was not occurring for the expected reasons. Still, the researchers are excited: this is yet more proof that stem cell therapies can cure a wide range of degenerative conditions of aging.
From EurekAlert, news of more good research work on the genetic underpinnings of the aging process. This whole process is much like unraveling a ball of tangled yarn. Scientists know some of the basic mutations that extend lifespan, and now they are much closer to understanding how these mutations actually work. This latest set of results was for the humble roundworm, but is still very applicable to further research in humans. It is very exciting to see our understanding of the mechanisms of aging advancing in such leaps and bounds in a few short years!
Here is a much more comprehensible article (at the LEF News) on the recent research on the fundamental links between cancer and aging. It certainly raises some interesting questions. It looks more and more likely that defeating cancer will be a prerequisite for creating healthy life extension medicine that blocks the biochemical processes of aging. Fortunately, as regular readers will already know, cancer is on the way out as a threat. There are currently many viable cures in development or trial around the world.
Some more clear, concise commentary on current and pending anti-research legislation in the US and abroad is over at BioMed Central. They take the glass half-full view in seeing that there is opportunity for research amid the slow turning of legislative screws. But still, one can't help but look at the sum total of all the obstacles thrown up by politicians and wonder why they don't want better medicine and longer, healthier lives. Visit our "Take Action!" section to see how you can help make things better.
Every now and again, someone points out the enormous benefits to healthy life span that can be attained by universally preventing the most common fatal illnesses of aging. Here is one from the New Scientist: researchers estimate one or two decades of additional healthy life could be gained by having everyone over 55 take a daily pill containing the most effective drugs to prevent stroke and heart attack. The prevelance of these sorts of violent heart problems are quite possibly a consequence of poor diet, however. A person on a calorie restriction diet might gain the benefits offered by the drugs in any case. Still, food for thought.
Another update from BIO 2003 is at Reason Online. This one largely focuses on bioethics and (bad, overly restrictive) legislation. It's all interesting, but scroll down to the "Stem Cells and Cloning" heading for items of interest to the healthy life extension community. As I have long been saying, vital work on regenerative medicine is in danger of being shut down in the US. It has already been greatly damaged by legislation passed in 2001, and further legislation will be further delays before better medicine reaches us all.
BioMed Central notes that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are pushing ahead with funding stem cell research. This has been delayed for three years due to legislative back and forth; yet another example of politicians holding up vital medical research and thereby damaging the prospects of future health and longevity. From the article: "Public opinion polling has consistently shown 60 to 70% support for unrestricted stem cell research."
(From Betterhumans). Researchers have triggered rapid organ regeneration in mice using adult stem cells taken from bone marrow. This is indeed "very, very cool" as one of the researchers puts it. A quote from the article: "We were unaware that an adult mammal of any kind was capable of regenerating organs that fast." This raises further questions and opportunities for investigation in this rapidly evolving field of medical research. We have to hope that recent demonstrations of the utility and promise of stem cell therapies convince the US Senate not to ban this research. You voice counts, so make yourself heard!
EurekAlert reports an important discovery in the fight against both cancer and aging. The article is a little heavy on the scientific language, but the digest would appear to be that this is a large step forward in understanding the fundamental links between the processes that cause cancer and the processes that regulate aging. The more researchers understand of the grant scheme of cellular biochemistry, the closer we will be to cures for cancer and aging.
Ronald Bailey is reporting on the BIO 2003 conference over at Reason Online. Most of this first report is on GMOs, but there is a fair amount on stem cells, biotech medicine and the disappointing legislation of same. The anti-GMO and anti-medicine crowds seem to be two sides of the same anti-progress coin. It's sad to see so much energy expended by people bent on ensuring that we don't have better medicine, that science doesn't help the poor and hungry, that we don't live longer, healthier lives. Remember to speak out if you want your voice to be heard.
A new section at InfoAging provides a comprehensive, readable introduction and overview of the future of stem cell medicine. Here are replacement organs grown to order from your own cells, cures for degenerative diseases of aging, and a call for the US government to stop blocking research. Also included are links to good resources for further reading. If you've been wondering what the big deal about stem cells is, go and take a look at this article.
Losing that excess weight is widely agreed to be a good strategy for improving your general health and lengthening your life (by reducing your risk of early onset of many aging conditions). As this MSNBC article points out, however, the weight loss industry is rife with deceptive practices, scams and misinformation. Always, always do your research carefully before adopting a weight loss strategy. While you're researching, you should take a look at calorie restriction diets as an option. It's the only proven, available way to extend your healthy lifespan at this time.
(From the New Scientist). Work on repairing shattered bones is where to look if you want to see the cutting edge merger between developing replacement body parts and biotechnology. The new work described in this article creates scaffolds in a 3-D printer (or fabricator) that can be implanted into the body. Advanced materials science means that these artificial bone fragments can be shaped as needed, are strong enough for use and are slowly replaced with real bone as the body heals. As usual, this wonderful, promising regenerative medicine is years away from human trials due to the onerous requirements of the FDA.
Betterhumans is carrying more on the recent hard-line move by the FDA to block a successful stem cell therapy from being carried out again. It is worth noting that it takes five to ten years and tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars for any procedure to pass through FDA testing; an enormous waste of time and effort on inefficient bureaucracy. This slow-down bodes ill for the rapid development and wide availability of real regenerative medicine in the US.
I noticed today that MSNBC has a longevity section in amongst the health news part of the site. This is good to know; seeing the mainstream press paying more attention to longevity, life extension and aging studies is very gratifying. The more that this area is drawn into public debate and the mainstream media, the better. This is an important part of the process of legitimizing research and obtaining greater support for real, meaningful anti-aging medicine.
From Veritas Medicine, a good summary of the recent back and forth over Atkins vrs other diets (such as calorie restriction or more traditional low-fat approaches to dieting). While this is written from the point of view of diabetes patients, the conclusions are applicable to most of the rest of us also. The conclusion to listen to, I think, is that low-calorie diets (like calorie restriction) are the way to go. Although, like the author of this article, I too know of a few people who have had good results from low-carb diets.
From Yahoo!, another study adds to the value of keeping mentally fit. "Use it or lose it" appears to be the order of the day for our mental as well as physical fitness as we age. This is all good, commonsense health advice, to go with the occasional pieces posted here regarding general physical health. So exercise your mind today, and you'll be helping to ward off the onset of age-related dementia tomorrow. As usual, we should still be cheering on and supporting the medical research that will lead to a cure for these horrible degenerative conditions of aging. Merely practicing preventative techniques is certainly not good enough for those of us who want to live long, long, healthy lives!
There are some colorful characters in the field of aging studies. Here, The Times profiles Dr. Denham Harman, who first developed the free radical theory of aging. His views are interesting, to say the least, especially since he thinks life expectancy will not increase much past 85 years! Of course, I and many scientists differ with Dr. Harman on that count, but I can't fault his dedication to his work. It's an interesting article, well worth reading.
An article from Betterhumans covers recent work that demonstrates stem cells to be effective at repairing neurological damage. In light of recent very successful trials involving direct injection of stem cells into patients with heart damage, this new finding is not unexpected. Of course, the FDA stepped in to stop the successful heart trials, with no real reason beyond the fact that they can. Unless something changes there, you and I are unlikely to see the benefits of this research any time soon.
(From CNN). The American Medical Association has stepped up to the plate to endorse theraputic cloning and stem cell research. This is an important event in the ongoing political fight over medical research. In addition to taking a pro-science stance, the AMA is backing a future in which real anti-aging, regenerative medicine will be widely available. Every major group that takes this position will make it harder for the anti-research forces in the halls of power to legislate against medicine.
Supplements, supplements, supplements. Here's a good summary of recent exchanges between parts of the scientific and supplement communities on vitamin E, from the LEF News. Up front, I'll say that modest supplementation is undeniably good for you. This article highlights two things: 1) don't base your own healthy life extension strategies on recent news, 2) the supplement industry as a whole generates far more noise than useful information. Meaningful future longevity will come from regenerative medicine, while supplements are an important way to maintain your health now.
Disappointing, frustrating news from Detroit News. The FDA is blocking further use of a successful stem cell therapy for heart damage. There are 400 people waiting to try this new therapy after it likely saved the life of a teenage accident victim, and as the article says: "About 100,000 to 200,000 people a year could benefit from this." Once again, people in the US government have shown themselves to be anti-research and disinterested in the future health and wellfare of people like you and I. This attitude, displayed so flagrantly over the past few years, is a real problem. Legislation and short-sighted politics threatens to hold back real progress in medical science.
An article at icWales provides some information on a new study of the free radical theory of aging. The free radical theory is the oldest of the modern theories of aging, and has some competition from other, more recent theories. Researchers are still trying to find a "grand unified theory" of aging, so the more funded research the merrier. Understanding will lead to faster cures for the conditions of aging, and eventually aging itself.
From the BBC, news of an incremental but important improvement in the materials used to construct artificial knee joints. While it might seem prosaic in this age of biotech wonders just around the corner, artificial replacement surgeries (knees, hips, and so forth) are commonplace and very useful. As materials science advances, we can expect to see more intricate and useful devices. Eventually, this branch of medicine will merge with biotech; providing scaffolding to grow new organs, for example. This is in the early stages right now for bone and liver replacement. Medical progress is an amazing thing!
Have you donated to the Methuselah Mouse Prize for anti-aging research yet? Just a few tax-deductible dollars can help to invigorate the future of healthy life extension medicine. Wealthy benefactors are watching to see how much interest this first prize generates. Research prizes have been proven to bring money and interest to neglected fields of science, and this one directly benefits your future health! Read more on why you should donate and how it will make a difference.
A thought-provoking piece of research detailed at Betterhumans describes recent work on mice. It raises the possibility of identifying a crucial part of the aging process: a biochemical signal or process that instructs the aging process to begin. More precisely, the scientists were looking at senescense, a particular set of processes associated with the general decline of aging. Finding the signal will be the first step towards finding a way to literally turn off aging. Wow. We live in interesting times, folks.
A long overview of recent aging and anti-aging research shows up in the Telegraph. As it says, "the more we know about the way the body ages, the greater the chance that we can do something about it." Fundamental research is vital to our future health and longevity, which is why it is frustrating to see governments so set on bans, restrictions and hostile legislation. Do politicians not want to lead longer, healthier lives? If not, that is their choice, but they should not try to force this choice on the rest of us.
Research cited by Betterhumans would seem to indicate that bearing children reduces lifespan in humans. This has been understood to be true in animals, but this is the first study to examine humans through centuries of genealogy records. Quote from the article: "It supports the theory that if you devote energy to child-bearing, you damage the future of your own body." As for all new science (even if it sounds sensible), treat with caution until further work has been performed.
ScienceBlog reports on a new method for cheaply creating Coenzyme Q 10 (or "CoQ10"), a popular supplement in healthy life extension circles. While I consider future medical technologies far more vital than supplementation in the grand scheme of things, taking supplements does play an important role in health and wellness. CoQ10 has always been far and away the most expensive part of a moderate supplement regimen. Many people will welcome a sharp drop in price.
As described by BioMed Central, the new "Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society" created by the Bush administration has a strong anti-research bias. Those familiar with the pro-death and pro-suffering pronouncements of the Bioethics Council, and the anti-research legislation that has passed in the past few years will not be surprised. The current US government is very hostile towards the fundamental medical research that will extend and improve our healthy lives. This is a something that we must fight to change. Our health depends on it!
From the BBC, news that the Roslin Institute (home to the team that cloned Dolly the sheep) has been given permission to work on human stem cell research. A small step in the grand scale of things, but it is a good small step. This research is fundamental to the future of regenerative, life- and health-extending medicine. The more proven teams that work in this field, the better.
A very brief note worth reading from nj.com on a new cancer treatment that is claimed to "eradicate" cancer in test animals. This sounds like the apex of virus-based methods of cancer treatment, and is very exciting if it holds up to closer examination. As I have said before, the current state of cancer research (oh so close to a cure in any one of a dozen different research directions) is a model for the future of anti-aging and healthy life extension science. We need to repeat this sort of success: the activism, the funding, the public awareness, the work and finally the cure. This is the path to a better, longer future for all of us.
It's time for the monthly caution about latching onto the very latest research again. This article from Science News Online is probably the best of a number of articles on the topic of skipping meals as a way to obtain life extension benefits. A study in mice has shown that skipping meals may have some of the life-extending benefits of calorie restriction. Like all new research, consider it dubious until much more confirmation is in. Always, always, always be a late adopter. Wait for researchers to be sure, as they are for calorie restriction, before doing anything that will impact your health.
An article over at Wired discusses the science surrounding recent advances in growing organs (like arteries) to order for transplants or to replace damaged parts of the body. This is perhaps the oldest section in the new field of regenerative medicine, so it's no real surprise that the researchers here are further ahead than their counterparts in stem cell and theraputic cloning work. It's interesting to see how this all ties into telomeres and their role in aging and cancer: great strides in understanding the fundamental mechanisms of our healthy bodies have definitely been made in the past few years.
From FortWayne.com, a good, balanced article on the current state of anti-aging research and healthy life extension techniques. It focuses on what is currently available to the consumer from a few businesses that run tests and offer recommendations, but also touches on research and a little of the controversy between reputable scientists/businesses and the quacks on the fringe. Remember that you must always double-check everything you read online about anti-aging medicine. Consulting with your physician is an excellent idea as well.
From ChannelCincinnati.com (found via Transhumanity), news of the first stem cell therapy for heart muscle regeneration performed in the US. Regenerative medicine using your own stem cells is out of the lab and into trials; you may recall that this same procedure has been performed successfully elsewhere in the world. As the utility of stem cells therapies is demonstrated, we can hope that the politicians who are trying to ban this research will give up in the face of public opinion. Have you protested the coming ban yet? It's your future health that's at stake!
Betterhumans comments on recent important research that details an efficient method for prompting stem cells to change into motor neurons. A method of producing motor neurons is an essential part of any regenerative therapy that will address spinal injuries and degenerative conditions of aging like Parkinson's. It is good to see the pieces of the puzzle coming together, one by one. Scientific understanding is leading to results, and results lead to therapies that will enable us all to lead longer, healthier lives. Support our researchers!
From ScienceDaily: research on telomeres and their mechanisms has enabled scientists to grow arteries from adult cells where this was previously impossible. This is an amazing step forward! It opens the door on a second path to personalized regenerative medicine (the first being stem cells and theraputic cloning techniques), growing new tissue from your own cells to replace damaged organs and body parts. It is a very good sign when researchers start to find multiple ways of doing something: it shows that a field is expanding and becoming serious.
BioMed Central notes that the NIH has finally assigned a director for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. Why is this important? Because bioinformatics is the fast lane to a greater understanding of the complex genetic and biochemical mechanisms of aging. The NIH is still the major benefactor of aging research in the US, so this indication of priorities is a good thing.
(From the LEF News). There was a senate hearing on the future of longevity earlier this week ("The Future of Life Expectancy: How Important Are Markets and Innovation?"), at which this testimony was given. Professor James W. Vaupel expressed justifiable concern at the slowing rate of progress in health and longevity science in the US. This is a point that worries a lot of us, and current government attitudes and efforts are hindering as much as helping (witness the attempts to ban promising medical technologies and research over the past year, or the luddite positions of the President's Council on Bioethics). We need to oppose research bans and support our researchers!
This inaccurate, shoddy article from The Hill is a good illustration of the uphill battle that healthy life extension faces in many areas. The US government doesn't like or understand life extension, between the FDA and the Bioethics Council. Sad to say, but this article is how politicians, wonks and even most reputable people see the healthy life extension movement. It all appears to be supplements, mumbo-jumbo, legal battles, and other tall tales from the fringe. I would love to see the supplement industry marginalized in coming years by real advances in genetic therapies, regenerative medicine and theraputic cloning for healthy life extension. We can hope and speak out for what we want.
Betterhumans is running a good story on the recently launched Methuselah Mouse Prize. As you all know, I think that this is a very important effort. Research prizes have a strong beneficial effect on scientific progress, and here is the first useful opportunity for you and I to contribute to one. Your money will encourage other donations, and help to invigorate the underfunded field of anti-aging science. Visit the prize site today and make a tax-deductible donation to help ensure the speedier arrival of real anti-aging medicine!
As reported at Betterhumans, researchers have taken an important step forward in understanding stem cells. They have discovered how to reliably prompt stem cells to develop into one specific type of adult cell: nerve cells in this case. This is an big step forward in the march towards true regenerative, healthy life extension medicine. The research can even be repeated to find out how to change stem cells into other adult cell types as well. Therapies that allow us to regenerate from injury and the damage of aging are inching closer: we must continue to support our researchers!
Stem cell research collaboration is going global, according to this article from BioMed Central. There is a great deal of interest in this field (important for future healthy life extension medicine) and scientists are enthusiastic about setting up resources and organizations to ensure cooperation in research. Collaboration and information sharing in fundamental research is very important. It speeds up the overall process by reducing duplicate work and preventing important research from slipping through the cracks.
This fairly long (and a little rambling) article from the LEF News discusses the research of Andrzej Bartke, first recipient of the Methuselah Mouse Prize for anti-aging research. It's always fascinating to gain an insight into the thoughts and work of one of the luminaries in the field. I don't think that the article gives enough weight to calorie restriction over growth hormones: the former is proven beyond a doubt to extend life and improve health, while the latter is still a little in dispute.
The Russel Berrie Foundation has given $12 million to Columbia University to fund a branch of regenerative medicine research. This particular grant is aimed at finding a cure for adult diabetes, but the research should also have a wide range of applications. The therapies that greatly lengthen our healthy lives can only be built on a solid scientific foundation. You should all feel free to contact the foundation to express your appreciation for their generosity.
CBS News reports on another advancement in the field of regenerative medicine. Cells in the ear that normally do not regrow have been successfully regenerated in adult guinea pigs. This is a good companion to recent successful trials on regeneration in the eye in Asia. We can hope that as more specific applications of regenerative medicine are demonstrated, opposition to these new tools of medicine will vanish. There's certainly all too much opposition to stem cell therapies right now, and this is blocking rapid advances towards healthy life extension medicine.