LONGEVITY MEME NEWSLETTER
December 01 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.
o- Why Medical Research Matters To You
o- How To Make a Longer, Healthier Future
o- Human Genome Sciences CEO Endorses Methuselah Foundation
o- Download the Life-a-thon Desktop Companion
o- Latest Healthy Life Extension News Headlines
WHY MEDICAL RESEARCH MATTERS TO YOU
Please do take a moment to read the Introduction to Healthy Life Extension at the Longevity Meme if you haven't done so already. You can find it by following the link below:
The Longevity Meme itself - the collection of ideas, viewpoints and behaviors that will enable people to lead long, healthy and extended lives - is expressed as three steps:
Step 1: Stop Damaging Your Health
Step 2: Adopt a Better Diet and Lifestyle
Step 3: Support Medical Research
Steps 1 and 2 are there to make sure that you are alive, healthy and active to benefit from the results of step 3. As I discussed in the last Longevity Meme newsletter (under "ON NATURAL LONGEVITY"), the ability to benefit from the medicine of the future is the real reason to work at your natural longevity:
Like it or not, however, enhancing your natural longevity will all be for naught in the end, if not for success in step 3. The future of our health and longevity depends absolutely on medical progress: on cures yet to be completed, on a better understanding of the aging process, on personalized medicine through genetics and proteomics, on perfecting stem cell therapies, and many other works in progress. The near future of medicine is promising, but it is not here yet and there is many a slip between cup and lip. There is no lifestyle, product or technology available today that will do more than modestly delay the onset of degenerative conditions of aging and eventual death.
You cannot spend money and time on healthy life extension products that don't yet exist, but you can help to ensure that real anti-aging and regenerative medicine will exist when you need it. Science has demonstrated great progress towards these goals in the past decade, but funding and public awareness are sorely lacking. There is the real possibility that - if we do nothing - healthy life extension might arrive too late. By standing up to make a difference now, however people from all backgrounds can help to ensure a longer, healthier future for everyone. As an organization, the Longevity Meme aims to make it easier for you to do just this. Follow the link below to see how you can take a little time to help out:
HOW TO MAKE A LONGER, HEALTHIER FUTURE
The latest article at the Longevity Meme is entitled "Activism For Healthy Life Extension," a little meditation on what you should be doing in order to obtain a longer life and lasting, excellent health.
"Despite widespread apathy, disinterest and ignorance of science in our society, there has been a real growth in size and sophistication of healthy life extension communities in the past few years. As a group united in our vision for a better future, we have come to the point of being able to say: "We want to live healthily for longer. We want real, meaningful healthy life extension therapies. What shall we do to make it all happen?" This is the key question!" Follow the link below to read more:
HUMAN GENOME SCIENCES CEO ENDORSES METHUSELAH FOUNDATION
I have to thank all of you who have donated to the Methuselah Mouse prize since the official launch a few short months ago. This is the only current prize encouraging anti-aging and healthy life extension medical research. As such, it's an important effort and is being watched carefully by scientists and philanthropists - if it succeeds, we can expect more and bigger efforts to follow. Those of us who have been pitching in behind the scenes are pleased as punch to see the fund growing so quickly after inception, and we're even more pleased to have the endorsement of William Haseltine, respected CEO of Human Genome Sciences.
It's thanks to the first donors that the prize has been able to attract so much press, industry attention and the endorsement of biotech luminaries. My hat is off to you all.
If you haven't donated to the Methuselah Mouse prize yet, please do give it some thought.
The prize is making waves in the ways in which the public and scientific establishment view serious anti-aging research. This is your chance to make waves in your future healthy and longevity, so jump on in and do it!
DOWNLOAD THE LIFE-A-THON DESKTOP COMPANION
The Methuselah Foundation, in connection with the Methuselah Mouse Prize, has released the Life-a-thon desktop companion software, a free download. Stay abreast of the latest healthy life extension news with the scrolling news ticker, and read headlines on the latest medical and longevity related breakthroughs with the RSS news feed browser. You can keep track of the prize in real time and view new donations instantly - see your name in lights! The included lifeline analysis tool allows you to plot a graph of your expected lifespan and the predicted effect the prize will have on it.
Try it out today; have fun with it! If you have comments, suggestions or any problems, you can join a growing thread in the Immortality Institute forums dedicated to the Life-a-thon:
That would be all for this issue of the newsletter; the highlights and headlines from the past two weeks follow below.
Remember - if you like this newsletter, the chances are that your friends will find it useful too. Forward the newsletter on by all means, or post it to your online communities. Encourage the people you know to pitch in and make a difference to the future of health and longevity!
Founder, Longevity Meme
LATEST HEALTHY LIFE EXTENSION NEWS HEADLINES
Christopher Reeve: Politics Delaying Medical Research (November 30 2003)
In a snippet at HealthDay (scroll down on the page to see it), Christopher Reeve notes that stem cell and therapeutic cloning research has been significantly held back by political interference. Quote: "I think we're about five years behind where we could have been in this country because of controversy over kinds of research, particularly stem cell research." Christopher Reeve is an outstanding research advocate, and his work helps people like you and I. Take a little time to tell Christopher Reeve that you support his cause.
Seeking a Cure For Ideology (November 30 2003)
At the Palm Beach Post, an editorial on anti-research attitudes in the US administration. President Bush, the President's Council on Bioethics and other appointees are trampling over vital medical research in their rush to force ideologies into law. Researchers now claim that we're five years behind in stem cell and theraputic cloning medicine; that's five years further away from cures for heart disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, nerve damage, diabetes and even aging itself. We cannot let this attack on health and medicine continue unopposed! Take a few minutes today to step up and see how you can help.
Political Nonsense From the NIH (November 29 2003)
The Seattle Times carries comments from the head of the National Institutes of Health on the state of stem cell research. I might talk about baldfaced lying and political yes-men, but I'll settle for saying that Elias Zerhouni seems to be far removed from reality on this topic. Stem cell scientists - the people best positioned to know - and basic common sense have been telling us for years that current US administration policies are deliberately causing serious harm to vital medical research. No amount of political doublespeak can change that truth.
Understanding Age-Related Muscle Loss (November 29 2003)
As reported by ScienceDaily, researchers at Stanford have found a molecular link between older muscles and slow healing. This work could lead to a way to prevent muscle atrophy due to aging. This initial biomedical research is the first step in the path to a therapy, but the scientists have demonstrated that older muscles in mice can be convinced to regenerate as if young by blocking a certain molecular pathway. There is still a lot to learn, and much more research before any resulting therapy could enter initial trials, but it is reassuring to see science making progress towards fixing the various degenerative conditions of aging.
Working Towards Artificial Eyes (November 28 2003)
SwissInfo reports on progress in developing an artifical microchip retina to cure certain types of blindness. Bionics (and regenerative medicine based on stem cell therapies) for the eye have been progressing in leaps and bounds over the past few years. The outlook for people who suffer or expect to suffer from age-related blindness is certainly rosier than in past decades, but we're not quite there yet. As for all other fields of bionics and regenerative medicine, more funding and less government interference is needed.
Ireland Divided On Stem Cell Research (November 27 2003)
BioMed Central reports on the heated discussion in Ireland over funding stem cell research. The current European Union debate requires support from European science ministers, which has led to EU discussions repeated in miniature within member nations. The outcome of the final confirming vote on the EU framework looks uncertain, but the discussion over funding means that any discussion of a ban is out of the picture. This is a very good thing, as the threat of a ban on stem cell research has been causing great damage to medical progress.
Developing A Body Repair Kit From Blood? (November 27 2003)
The New Scientist examines the recent claims of advances in stem cell research by a UK company called TriStem. The research has not yet been widely confirmed by independent scientific review (and is thus suspect), but if true it is very promising indeed. In short, TriStem claim to be able to get adult stem cells to behave like embryonic stem cells. This would speed development of regenerative medicine, sidestep ethical and legislative concerns and lower costs all round. The article notes that the first peer-reviewed confirmation has just appeared, but scientists are still justifiably skeptical.
William Haseltine Supports Methuselah Mouse Prize (November 26 2003)
William Haseltine, Chairman and CEO of Human Genome Sciences, has become the latest luminary to support the Methuselah Mouse Prize through donation. We are pleased to see the Methuselah Foundation obtain this endorsement from one of the most respected names in the biotech field. Since William Haseltine believes in the goals of the Methuselah Mouse prize, isn't it time that you donated to help ensure your future health and longevity? Remember to download the new Life-a-thon software and give it a whirl - see your donations increase the prize fund in real time!
Immortality Institute Book Project (November 26 2003)
The Immortality Insitute has announced a book of essays and discussions for publication in 2004, with proceeds going towards the first Immortality Institute conference in 2005. Organization is proceeding apace, and submissions on basic and advanced issues relating to the development of physical immortality through science are being sought. The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2004, but earlier is always better. If you would like to talk about the planned book or find out more from the editors, jump into the Immortality Institute forums and have your say.
Leonard Hayflick's Pessimism (November 25 2003)
This article from UPI sheds some light on part of the scientific debate over longevity and aging. Leonard Hayflick is one of the most pessimistic gerontologists when it comes to extending the healthy human lifespan; given his influence, his position on the possibility of healthy life extension is an unfortunately one. Most mainstream gerontologists - who are still too pessimistic in our eyes - disagree with Hayflick, even if they are not as directed and upbeat as Aubrey de Grey.
Activism For Healthy Life Extension (November 25 2003)
The latest Longevity Meme article is a punchy piece on the role of activism in healthy life extension. Once you've stood up and decided that a far longer, far healthier life is what you want, what next? Read the article and then see how you can take action to help ensure the development of real anti-aging medicine and a longer, healthier future for all of us. Remember: the third step of healthy life extension is supporting medical research. Your future health depends as much on the advance of medicine as it does on staying healthy in the here and now.
Red Sea Urchins "Almost Immortal" (November 24 2003)
This story (reported here by the BBC) has been doing the rounds for the past week or two. It's certainly interesting, even if it doesn't have immediate relevance to healthy life extension research. Examples of natural healthy longevity - extreme longevity in this case - in the animal kingdom are an open invitation to study the biochemistry and genetics of these species. By doing so, we might gain further insight into how best to fight aging in humans. At the very least, those who decry longer, healthier lifespans as being unnatural can be pointed in the direction of the very natural and very long-lived red urchin.
Download Methuselah Mouse "Life-A-Thon" (November 24 2003)
The Life-a-thon is a useful little Java desktop application that keeps you up to date on the latest healthy life extension news and the Methuselah Mouse prize progress. The Methuselah Foundation likes to put its own spin on fundraising efforts, and this is an example of something new and interesting. You can also use the Life-a-thon to chart the projected effects of the prize on your healthy lifespan and make donations to help these projections actually happen. More new and helpful functions are promised in the future, so try it out!
Generating Adult Stem Cells For Regenerative Medicine (November 23 2003)
An MIT researcher has discovered how to temporarily make adult stem cells multiply like embryonic stem cells. This will be very useful when building stem cell lines for research, and gives further insight into the way in which such cells work. A quote: "If we want to do cell replacement therapy with stem cells, we have to be able to monitor them and avoid mutations that cause tumors in people." This research is a great step forward in that direction. You can learn more about stem cells at InfoAging.org.
Skeptical On Calorie Restriction (November 23 2003)
A snide human interest article from the New York Times on calorie restriction appeared today (in the Fashion and Style section of all places). The author interviews a number of long-time practitioners of calorie restriction; unfortunately choosing to focus on quirks, skipping over the overwhelming scientific evidence for the health benefits of low calorie diets. Snide articles aside, calorie restriction is well worth investigating. It is the only currently proven method of extending your natural healthy longevity.
Confirmation Of Adult Stem Cell Heart Regeneration (November 22 2003)
(From Canada.com). A Canadian doctor has confirmed that adult stem cells can be used to regenerate muscle tissue. In a sign of the times, much of the article is taken up with the doctor's desire to avoid having his work politicized: "I want to make sure I am cautious enough so this research will not be used for political reasons." "Nobody should exploit it to say we should stop studying embryonic stem cells." Politicians should stop interfering with medical research - they are slowing progress and damaging our future health and longevity.
Never Too Old For Exercise (November 22 2003)
Moderate exercise is key to extending your natural longevity, along with a low-calorie diet, sensible lifestyle choices and modest supplementation. This article from FortWayne.com reports on scientific studies showing that moderate exercise, even at a late stage in live, has a tremendous positive effect on cognitive skills and general health. A quote: "We saw significant cognitive improvement in people 55 and older over just six months." Working exercise into your schedule is essential to a healthy life - you really cannot afford to skip it, even if you are living healthily in other ways.
Aubrey de Grey at SAGE Crossroads (November 21 2003)
SAGE Crossroads have posted the transcript of the November 5th webcast debate involving Aubrey de Grey, cofounder of the Methuselah Mouse Prize. Dr. de Grey speaks his mind on the desired path forward for medical science, the possible obstacles and the timeline. He presents a coherent set of arguments for other scientists to build upon or argue with, and the comments from the other side of the debate are also interesting. All in all, an excellent debate - well worth reading and thinking about. Have you donated to the Methuselah Mouse Prize yet?
Working Towards The Bionic Body (November 21 2003)
An article at MSNBC underscores just how far medical science has come with prosthetic artificial replacements for worn body parts. Devices such as these are just as much medicine for longer, healthier lives as stem cell or therapeutic cloning therapies. It is fascinating to watch these two branches of medicine advance towards solving the same human problems. It looks likely that artificial replacements will contine to be important for joints and small bones even as regenerative medicine to repair age-related damage in softer tissues is brought to market.
Ceremedix To Make Pills In Scotland (November 20 2003)
According to this article from Scotsman.com, Ceremedix are planning to manufacture their new high-power antioxidant supplement in Scotland (it will be marketed by Lifeline Nutraceuticals). Regular readers will recall that this supplement did impressively well in laboratory tests, but we're still waiting for confirming science. Everything that can extend healthy life span - even a little - is a good thing, but remember that radical life extension will require more advanced medical technology: regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies, and much more funding for aging research.
Anti-Cancer Gene Therapy Available in China (November 20 2003)
Betterhumans notes that the first of the new wave of effective cancer therapies is now commercially available in China. A big step forward in the fight against cancer! This one is a gene therapy that has performed very well in putting particular forms of cancer into remission; it is also expected to do well against other forms of cancer. Defeating cancer is one of the essential victories we need in order to extend healthy lifespan far beyond current limits. The prospects look very promising in this field right now.
Concerns Raised Over Medical Patent Provision (November 19 2003)
In a recent press release, the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research raises concerns over an anti-patent provision in an upcoming appropriations bill. The provision would ban most medical patents pertaining to the field of therapeutic cloning and stem cell research - which would lead to a sharp decline in investment from the largest funders of such research. Less investment means less medical progress towards regenerative medicine for longer, healthier lives. CAMR sees this undebated provision as "a hasty, back-door attempt to stifle therapeutic cloning research."
European Parliament Backs Stem Cell Research (November 19 2003)
(From the New Scientist). In a reversal from just a few months ago (when the European Parliament was well on the way to a stem cell research ban), MEPs have voted to support embryonic stem cell research with EU funds, rejecting restrictive and crippling amendments put forward by German MEPs. I think that we can consider this a victory, even though this is only a preliminary ("consultative") vote. It does seem that we are out of the woods in regard to any ban. EU research ministers will meet later for a final decision on this funding proposal.
Discover Magazine On Staying Alive (November 19 2003)
Here is a good, long article from Discover on the recent history of mainstream scientific opinion regarding aging and extending the healthy human lifespan. This is an interesting quote: "while there may be no biological limits to the human life span, there are practical ones. In addition to luck, these include the amount of money society is willing to invest in antiaging research." As a society, we are investing too little in medical research. This barrier must be overcome by activism and education if we are to benefit from real antiaging and healthy life extension therapies.
More On No Fixed Maximum Lifespan (November 18 2003)
The Ledger is running an article with a few more tidbits on Dr. James Vaupel's longevity data. He describes himself as "middle of the road" in terms of his predictions for increasing lifespan, but I and many others think that he is failing to take into account near future advances across the board in regenerative medicine. Regardless, his analysis - that there is no fixed maximum lifespan - should inspire us all to get out there and help the advance of medical science. If progress is faster, we live healthily for longer!
First Steps To Stem Cell Paralysis Cure (November 18 2003)
Betterhumans reports that a human trial has reported minor success in using stem cell therapy to treat paralysis. Patients regained some feeling, which while not a cure is a far better result than other therapies have achieved. This type of stem cell therapy has been refined to show more impressive results in mice, but this is the first set of trial results for spinal cord injury in humans. Overall, this is a very important step forward in learning how to regenerate nerve damage (age-related or injury-related) in humans; CRPF staff must be very pleased right now.
Mapping Out Longevity Research (November 17 2003)
From SAGE Crossroads, an article on recent attempts by the NIH to get aging researchers and gerontologists communicating more often and rowing in roughly the same direction. A proposed roadmap for research will assist in coordination between diverse groups. Modern medical research has grown so large and diversified as a field that scientists are often unaware of relevant work by other organizations or from other specializations. Better communication and organization are necessary to speed the advance of medical science.
CR Society Starts New Online Community (November 17 2003)
The CR Society, a friendly, supportive group of folks interested in calorie restriction, have started up a new "CR Community" mailing list: read the announcement and then go ahead and sign up. If you found the main CR Society communities were a little too focused on calorie restriction, facts and techniques, then this may be just the thing for you. Calorie restriction, as you might have noticed, has been showing up much more often in the press of late. This can only be a good thing, especially for companies currently investigating the underlying science.
Do you have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter?