LONGEVITY MEME NEWSLETTER
November 03 2003
The Longevity Meme Newsletter is a biweekly e-mail containing news, opinions and happenings for people interested in healthy life extension: making use of diet, lifestyle choices, technology and proven medical advances to live healthy, longer lives.
ON YOUR HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH
At times, this newsletter becomes fully focused on activism in support of medical research. This is because, when you stop to think about it, your future health and longevity are very dependent on the pace of medical research. If medical science suddenly stopped, if no new technologies were introduced, there is no present day technique or technology that could do more than postpone aging conditions, suffering and death by more than a few decades. These horrible things would be inevitable.
Halting the wheel of medical progress would be an unacceptable state of affairs. Unfortunately, large political factions and special interests in governments around the world are trying to make this happen. Medical research for healthy life extension and curing age-related conditions is under threat. Great damage has already been done to the pace of medical progress in the US and Europe.
If left alone and fully funded, scientists will in all likelihood develop low-cost cures for cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, heart disease, nerve damage and most of the other degenerative conditions of aging within the next few decades. Most of these cures are already hinted at or even firmly established in the laboratory. If the currently threatened medical research bans (in the US, at the European Parliament, in various EU countries and at the United Nations) are enacted, this will mean suffering and death for tens of millions of people each and every year. You, one day, will be one of them.
The stakes are very high.
So read this newsletter, and please take a little time to help fight anti-research legislation by following the links and contacting your elected representatives. We do try to make it easier for you by offering contact information and sample letters, but it is up to you to make your voice heard! Your silence is taken as assent by the anti-research forces in governments worldwide, as they work to destroy your chance at a longer, healthier life.
HELP SUSPENDED ANIMATION, INC BEFORE NOVEMBER 6TH
This action item is time critical and you must act before November 6th! Suspended Animation, Inc. is the first cryonics research company in the US, and is funded by the Life Extension Foundation. The company has been in the process of setting up and running for a while in Boca Raton, Florida, but recent publicity centering on the cryonics industry has led to a concerted effort by small special interest groups to block Suspended Animation, Inc. from operating. A legislative halt at this late stage would most likely lead to the closure of the company. The hearing takes place on November 6th.
Cryonics is the only option for life extension open to many older and seriously ill people; people who cannot wait for the promised healthy life extension medicines of the next few decades. We should not leave them without options. Cryonics is an ongoing medical experiment - the chance of success is unknown, but it is certainly higher than zero. Without the efforts of research and development groups like Suspended Animation, Inc., cryonics technology cannot improve. Without improvement, cryonics will remain a niche industry. Please follow the link below to see how you can take a few moments of your time to help save this field of medical progress from anti-research forces:
HIGH TIME TO OPPOSE THE UN THERAPUTIC CLONING BAN
The United Nations, pushed along by US politicians, is heading towards enacting a global ban on theraputic cloning. Even though the representatives of some UN countries have hinted they would ignore such a ban, this would bolster anti-research special interests and cause immeasurable damage to medical progress.
As a reminder, theraputic cloning is a scientific technique that forms the basis of modern regenerative medicine. It will lead to extended healthy lifespans and cures for diseases and conditions that cause great suffering for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. This UN action would amount to a global ban on curing Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, nerve damage, age-related diseases and all the other conditions and injuries that theraputic cloning has been demonstrated to help. This isn't pie in the sky science: it has been shown to work in trials and in the laboratory
Activism on the part of many grassroots organizations (like CAMR, Stem Cell Action and StemCellHelp) has at least delayed voting on a federal theraputic cloning ban in the US to 2004, and has led some state legislatures to explicitly approve stem cell research. Faced with this opposition at home, the anti-research US administration is now pushing for a global ban at the United Nations.
If you reside in a UN member nation, you should stand up and ask your elected representatives why they are supporting a worldwide ban on the most promising medical research of modern times. Do they support the continuing suffering and death of tens of millions of people each and every year? Do they endorse the deaths of 50,000 people each and every day from heart diseases that can be cured by a working, demonstrated therapy based on stem cell medicine and theraputic cloning? These are harsh, direct questions, and they must be asked. Please follow the link below to read more and find out how to help:
US POLICIES ARE DESTROYING STEM CELL RESEARCH
The policies put in place two years ago by the current US administration (which has proven extremely hostile to medical research, especially stem cell medicine and theraputic cloning) have caused great damage. Administration representatives, of course, lie - flat out, outrageously lie - about the effects of their legislation. These articles illustrate the harm done to life-saving research in the US:
Please take the time to write to your representatives to express your outrage at the way in which this current US administration is taking a wrecking ball to the science of healthy life extension. Follow the link below for more information on pending legislation and how to contact your elected representatives:
METHUSELAH MOUSE: BANNERS AND PROGRESS
The Methuselah Mouse Prize is a bright spot in this ocean of legislative gloom. The New York Times wrote an article on the prize this past weekend; great publicity, and it is very legitimizing to have the Times talk about healthy life extension in a no-nonsense fashion.
The article focuses on the recent Pop!Tech conference that the prize founders attended. The resulting buzz has boosted the prize total and number of donors quite considerably. You can help the buzz to continue by putting one of the new Methuselah Mouse animated banner ads on your website, journal or weblog. Follow the link below to find out how:
Do you know someone else who could put these on a website? Send them the link!
One of the important things at this stage is the number of donations, as being able to show a long, long list of modest donations makes wealthy philanthropists sit up and take notice. It's a form of vox populi, the voice of the people in action. Wealthy donors will rarely donate unless the cause is in the media and demonstrating wide support.
Bearing this in mind, please do jump in with a tax-deductible donation of $10 or $100. It's a small amount and won't take you more than three minutes to go to and do it online:
Showing that you support this effort, stepping up to the plate and adding your name, will have an enormous, snowballing effect on your future health and welfare. This prize can really go places, so please help to make it happen!
FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER TO YOUR FRIENDS
You can help to make more people aware of the link between their future health and activism for medical research by forwarding this newsletter. Encourage your friends to sign up today, and send them to the Longevity Meme to take a look at the basics of healthy life extension.
People should send health tips to their friends - it's the kind thing to do.
That's all for my commentary this time. Please do go back to the links above and see how you can help to ensure your future health and longevity by making your voice heard. A news roundup for the past two weeks follows below.
Have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter?
Founder, Longevity Meme
Help Suspended Animation Before November 6th (November 03 2003)
This action item is time critical and you must act before November 6th! Suspended Animation, Inc. is a cryonics research company that is attempting to start work in Boca Raton. The operation has been setting up for a while, but recent publicity centering on the cryonics industry has led to a concerted effort by small special interest groups to block Suspended Animation, Inc. from operating. If successful at this late stage, it would most likely lead to the closure of the company. Cryonics is a legitimate business that should be allowed to continue unmolested: please make your views heard.
Add Methuselah Mouse Banners To Your Site (November 02 2003)
Now you can easily show your support for the Methuselah Mouse prize effort on your website or weblog by adding one of their animated banners. Supporting the prize (and donating) is a great way to help ensure your future health and longevity. This prize is doing a wonderful job of attracting attention and commentary on healthy life extension and medical research in the mainstream press. Once wealthy donors start giving, we can expect to see a flurry of new research aimed at providing longer, healthier lives for all!
UN Theraputic Cloning Ban Debate Gets Messier (November 01 2003)
This article from the Straits Times notes the addition of a third camp to the debate; now we can choose between "ban," "mostly ban" and "ban later." It looks like the enormous near term medical and health benefits that will result from theraputic cloning (fundamental to regenerative medicine) are just there to be ignored. It is tremendously frustrating to watch small groups of privileged people blocking the development of new medical science, cures for the incurable and extended healthy livespans for all. I encourage you all to express your opinions to your elected representatives.
New York Times On The Methuselah Mouse Prize (November 01 2003)
The New York Times comments on the Methuselah Mouse Prize in this articles (from the arts section, for some reason). Dr. Aubrey de Grey, one of the founders, has much the same opinions on the degenerative conditions of aging as we do here at the Longevity Meme: "Aging really is barbaric. It shouldn't be allowed. I don't need an ethical argument. I don't need any argument. It's visceral. To let people die is bad." Have you donated yet? These guys are working hard to help ensure you live a very long, very healthy life.
More On US Policies Destroying Stem Cell Research (October 31 2003)
Slate carries an addendum on US administration efforts to block vital medical research (and lie outrageously about it). Near term cures for Parkinson's, cancer, heart disease, nerve damage and other conditions of aging are being suppressed and blocked by stem cell and theraputic cloning legislation. Hundreds of millions of people suffer (and tens of thousands die) every day from conditions that might already have been curable. We cannot let this damage continue, which is why we must speak out and be active. If we do not, the future of medicine is bleak.
Cryonics Research Company Needs Your Support (October 31 2003)
Suspended Animation, Inc., a cryonics research company, needs your help to win a critical legislative battle on November 6th in Boca Raton. A letter from the company president is on their website, outlining the situation. Suspended Animation is the only company currently planning extensive research into improving cryonics; cryonic suspension provides the only hope of a longer life in the future for many older or ill people. Please take the time to see how you can help.
On Activism And Healthy Life Extension (October 30 2003)
Transhumanity is running a pointed, good opinion column on activism and healthy life extension by an active Immortality Institute member. The sentiments are right on target: life is more important than ephemeral distractions, and death is an ongoing tragedy, a rolling catastrophe that we must fight harder to defeat. Cancer medicine didn't come from nothing, nor did advances in AIDS research - activism drove funding for successful research. To defeat aging, degenerative disease and death, to live longer, healthier lives, we must all stand up and do our part.
US Policies Destroying Stem Cell Research (October 30 2003)
An article from the Arizona Daily Sun examines the damage done to stem cell research - fundamental to life-saving regenerative medicine - in the US by the current administration. To quote: "President Bush's current limitations on stem cell research and a bill that would place criminal penalties on scientists who use a particular cloning process are causing biotechnology corporations to fall apart or flee to other countries." Our future health and longevity is vanishing before our very eyes, as advanced medical research is attacked and forbidden by a small faction of politicians.
What Is Aging Anyway? (October 29 2003)
An article from SAGE Crossroads examines a fundamental problem in aging studies: how do you tell if anti-aging therapies are working? For human trials, unlike work on flies, mice or worms, researchers obviously can't just wait and see how each treatment does. Scientists must be able to accurately and quickly measure physical aging in order to determine whether a particular therapy is working. At present, the field of aging biomarkers is somewhat up in the air, with definitive answers remaining elusive. As the article notes, "what now?"
Are Adult Stem Cells A Bust? (October 29 2003)
A concise, intelligent article from Ronald Bailey at Reason Online outlines the current state of knowledge regarding adult and embyonic stem cells. While adult stem cells have been used in regenerative therapies, it is clear that they are not living up to the promise of embyonic stem cells. From the article: "The continuing struggle over stem cell research highlights the dangers of politicizing biomedical science. Various lines of research should be pursued simultaneously in order to have the best chance of discovering effective future treatments."
Protest UN Global Theraputic Cloning Ban (October 28 2003)
The current US administration - and anti-research groups in governments worldwide - are attempting to enact a global ban on theraputic cloning at the United Nations. This UN action would amount to a global ban on curing Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, nerve damage, age-related conditions and all the other conditions and injuries that theraputic cloning has been demonstrated to help. We must stand up for our rights and protest! We must not let a small faction of politicians prevent science from curing widespread suffering and disease; please write to your representatives today.
Human Stem Cell Work May Begin In Five Years (October 28 2003)
From Yahoo! News, the pioneers of stem cell research have said they expect clinical trials for embryonic stem cell therapies in humans within five years. However, anti-research legislation has done serious damage to scientific progress: "if embryonic stem cell research had not been involved in politics we would be far ahead of where we are today." As recent articles posted here note, present day legislation is minimal compared to the bans currently under consideration at national and global levels. Development of working regenerative medicine is under threat.
EU To Restrict Stem Cell Research (October 27 2003)
We've previously noted efforts in the European Parliament to ban stem cell research. This article from CORDIS notes that efforts are still continuing; EU nations are already very restrictive, and research is suffering. In place of a complete ban, proponents are now aiming for legislation that would effectively cripple all new research instead (presumably because it can be made to sound more reasonable). I encourage readers in the EU to contact your MEPs and make your views known: this is your future healthy and longevity on the line!
Massachusetts Legislature To Promote Stem Cell Research (October 27 2003)
As reported in Boston.com, the Massachusetts legislature is to promote stem cell research, explicitly including work on embryonic stem cells. They join other state legislatures, such as California, in opposing Federal anti-research legislation. Embryonic stem cell research is the foundation of modern regenerative medicine, a field that will lead to longer, healthier lives (if not legislated out of existence). You can find out more about stem cells and regenerative medicine here at the Longevity Meme.
More On UN Global Theraputic Cloning Ban (October 26 2003)
CAMR is reprinting the latest on UN deliberations leading to a global ban on theraputic cloning, a vital technology for regenerative medicine research. This ban would be wrong and immoral for all the same reasons as the pending US ban. Hundreds of millions of people are suffering and dying from age-related diseases that could be cured through theraputic cloning technologies. Meanwhile, the UN is deciding between proposals for a total ban on research or what amounts to "probably a total ban." I strongly advise you to contact your elected representatives to make your views known.
The More We Know, The More We Can Do (October 25 2003)
We are starting to see convergence and cross-talk between stem cell, cancer and aging biochemical research. Many new discoveries have applications in all of these fields, like this one detailed in the New Scientist. A molecule connected with stem cell mobility is present in spreading cancers but not normal adult cells, which may lead to a "magic bullet" cancer cure. Understanding differences between stem cells and adult cells will also ease difficulties in stem cell research. Convergence is a sign of progress: we should welcome all such news.
Debate: How Soon Will We Control Aging? (October 25 2003)
Bookmark this one for your calendar: on November 5th, Dr. Aubrey de Grey will be debating Richard Sprott of the Ellison Medical Foundation on how soon we can expect to see real progress in the fight against aging. When will we see results in our healthy lifespans, and what has to be done to get there? You can tune in at SAGE Crossroads, a site that is becoming a good general interest resource on aging, the prospects of healthy life extension and the science behind it all.
Analysing US Anti-Research Politics (October 24 2003)
An opinion piece from MSNBC goes into detail on the harm done by the current anti-research US administration. Legislation (dishonest, immoral legislation in the opinion of the author) has blocked vital medical research into regenerative medicine and scared off funding for two years now. The damage continues to mount, day by day, as we fall further and further behind the advances we could have made. This is not pie in the sky science: scientists have demonstrated amazing cures and therapies in trials and laboratories. It is nothing less than stupid and shameful that politicians are blocking efforts to cure the causes of so much death and suffering.
An Interview With Dave Gobel (October 24 2003)
Dave Gobel is the Chairman and CEO of the Methuselah Mouse Prize, a notable and worthy effort to draw attention and funding to healthy life extension research. In this interview at the Immortality Institute, Dave Gobel discusses the history of the prize and his personal journey to heading up the prize organization alongside Dr. Aubrey de Grey. The prize fund has topped $23,000 in the weeks since it launched: have you donated yet? You can find out more about research prizes (and why they are good for scientific progress) here at the Longevity Meme.
Worms Living Healthily For Six Times As Long (October 24 2003)
As reported in Yahoo! News, researchers in California have found ways to extend the healthy lifespans of worms by up to six times; a very impressive feat. Worms are considerably less complex than mice (the next step in research) or humans (the ultimate goal of any healthy life extension therapy), but it is very reassuring to see science pushing through supposed limits on natural healthy lifespans. Part of the resistance to healthy life extension is the ingrained idea that it can't be done at all, so it is good to see impressive demonstrations in the lab.
Genetic Cause For Common Degenerative Blindness (October 23 2003)
Scientists have pinpointed a single gene as the likely cause of macular degeneration, a common age-related condition that causes blindness. This first step, if confirmed, usually means a therapy will be possible within the next decade or so. Nailing down causes (and thus paths to develop therapies) for the diseases and conditions of aging is an important part of ongoing healthy life extension research. Funding, as always, is essential: there can never be too much medical funding, nor can there be too much activism and public education. Join in today!
Nonlinear Lifespans (October 23 2003)
This article from Tech Central Station comments on the recent Pop!Tech conference from a particular point of view. (You'll recall that Dr. Aubrey de Grey was there to talk about healthy life extension and the Methuselah Mouse project). If you scroll down to the "Nonlinear Lifespans" section in this piece, you'll see a succinct explanation of how we could attain indefinite healthy lifespans through better funding of medical progress. This is what we at the Longevity Meme are ultimately aiming for, although we've always called it "beating the aging curve."
Finding Out What Makes Stem Cells Special (October 22 2003)
Here is another interesting stem cell research article from Betterhumans. Scientists are making progress in understanding the underlying genetics and biochemistry that makes stem cells special. All this knowledge will be very important when it comes to using stem cells efficiently to attack the conditions and diseases of aging. Researchers are still in the early stages of working this all out, despite early successes in regenerative medicine over the last two years, so funding and support are vital. This research must not be hampered by restrictive legislation if we are to see the benefits.
Stem Cells Assist Nerve Regeneration (October 22 2003)
Betterhumans explains recent research on the way in which gene engineered stem cells can regenerate damaged or destroyed nerves. This is very early stage work, looking into the underlying biochemistry of this process. The aim is to improve the action of stem cells on nerves and develop therapies for people with serious nerve damage and paralysis. This research also sheds light on the way in which stem cells lead fairly directly to regeneration in other cases (such as in the heart): it may be because of chemicals produced by the stem cells.
Suspended Animation Permit Hearing (October 21 2003)
The Boca Raton News reports that the permit hearing for Suspended Animation, Inc. will be held this Thursday. As you might recall, this is a new research cryonics company intending to operate in Florida. Suspended Animation (funded by the Life Extension Foundation, who have been putting more money into cryonics of late) will be looking at ways to improve cryonic suspension technologies, freezing the body indefinitely without damaging tissue. In addition to the obvious application to cryonic preservation, improvements to cryonics will provide benefits to many other areas of medicine as well.
More on UN Global Theraputic Cloning Ban (October 21 2003)
BioMed Central carries more information on US administration efforts to obtain a global ban on theraputic cloning (or SCNT), the technology underlying all current success stories in regenerative medicine. This is very worrying, since it allows anti-research groups in governments around the world to enact a ban without consulting their electorates. In the US, the Senate still hasn't voted to ban theraputic cloning, thankfully, but I think it's time to be writing to our elected officials on this matter. Ask them how they feel about the US administration going over their heads to block important medical research.
The Road To Regeneration (October 20 2003)
Wired is running an interesting article on work to replicate the regenerative powers of amphibians and fish in humans. Zebrafish can regrow lost and damaged body parts to an amazing degree, and the scientist featured in this article is working to turn on the same ability in mammals (and eventually, humans). This research is a fascinating parallel to other reported work on stem cells and regenerative medicine in the past few years. All of these paths offer the hope of longer, healthier lives by boosting our natural abilities to repair age-related damage.
Gene Engineering To Kill Cancer (October 20 2003)
Another new approach to killing cancer is entering human trials in Australia, as reported by news.com.au. The patient's own blood cells are modified with a gene enabling them to attack and kill cancer cells, in essence changing the immune system to target cancer. This technique has worked very well in mice, and researchers believe it could put most common cancers into remission in humans. Quite spectacular! A cure for cancer is high up on the list of things we'd like to have for healthy life extension; fortunately, it looks like the decades of cancer research funding are paying off in a big way.
Do you have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter?