Welcome to Fight Aging!

Welcome aboard! This new collaborative blog will extend the slightly bloggish daily news at the Longevity Meme into a more friendly and informative format. We will be bringing in informative, intelligent folks from the front lines in the fight against aging as authors, and plan to keep you educated and aware.

As a society, we are on the verge of being able to understand, treat and ultimately prevent the degenerative conditions of aging. But we can't sit around and wait for this to happen! Join us in helping to support and document the advance of medicine for greatly extended healthy lifespans within our lifetime.

NIA Interventions Testing Program Underway

The Interventions Testing Program (ITP) at the NIA is getting underway, having chosen three compounds to test in mouse longevity studies. The details are noted at SAGE KE. This is an unambitious first set of compounds - an antioxidant, aspirin and ibuprofen. It's worth noting, however, that few groups have been funding rigorous longevity tests on these sorts of supplements and medicines. We expect to see small gains in mouse longevity from this round of the study, but nothing worth writing home about. We also hope to see some of the participants enter into the Methuselah Mouse Prize.

Link: http://www.nia.nih.gov/research/InterventionsTestingProgram.asp

Champagne Aging

An article from the Financial Express reinforces todays point about your general health and the future of healthy life extension. Your lifestyle and dietary choices make an enormous difference to your lifespan and to your quality of life in later years. It is then, when real anti-aging therapies have been developed and deployed, that you most want to be healthy in order to benefit from this ongoing revolution in medicine. Missing the healthy life extension boat in years to come because you didn't take good care of your health now would be a real tragedy. We are on the verge of an amazing, long, healthy future. Don't miss out!

Link: http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=51505

Health, Lifestyle and Natural Longevity

While researchers are racing to cure the worst age-related conditions, many of us will not live long enough to benefit from advances in regenerative medicine ... unless we work on our natural longevity. The body is just like any complex machine: good maintenance leads to better performance and a longer lifetime. This article from the Times Dispatch hits all of the relevant points we support: diet, supplements and lifestyle. We all want to be healthy enough to benefit from new life-extending therapies in the coming decades, and all it takes is a little work in the here and now to keep us in good shape.

Link: http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031773353825&path=!news!health&s=1045855935235

Alzheimer's Progress Also a Model For Aging Research

This item from ScienCentral gives a good introduction to the latest research in the fight against Alzheimer's (and plenty of good references). We often point to the successes of cancer research as the model for the future of aging research - but Alzheimer's research is also a good example. Once public support and awareness comes to a tipping point, real funding and real progress starts. The tipping point for Alzheimer's was probably only a decade ago - amazing progress has been made since then. Just imagine the results if this mighty engine of science were turned to unraveling and preventing aging itself!

Link: http://www.sciencentral.com/articles/view.php3?language=english&type=article&article_id=218392161

Better Artificial Bones

While stem cell reseachers are learning to grow new bone to repair injuries and age-related bone loss, engineers are working on making better artificial bones (as reported at e4engineering). Advances in prosthetics and artificial organs are racing with stem cell based regenerative medicine to make us healthier for longer. The end goal is to be able to prevent suffering and death due to any tissue loss or organ failure. No one loses in this sort of race; the competition is a good incentive to all parties, and the end results benefit us all.

Link: http://www.e4engineering.com/item.asp?id=44686

SAGE Crossroads on Policy Making

The newly refurbished SAGE Crossroads site now includes a section on public policy. The major issues of the day are set forth and some commentary provided on how they relate to the monolithic workings of modern government in the US. Given the level of hostility towards healthy life extension and the tools of regenerative medicine displayed by the US government to date, I'm sure many people would be happy to see less policy making take place. You can learn more about making your voice heard in these matters here at the Longevity Meme and at the CAMR website.

Link: http://www.sagecrossroads.com/public/policy/

More "Normal Aging" Identified as Disease

ScienceDaily reports on a newly identified neurodegenerative disease that has in the past been misdiagnosed as "normal aging." This is of interest in light of recent suggestions that all the symptoms of "normal aging" are in fact due to undiagnosed and as yet unclassified medical conditions. This may or may not be the case, but it's worth remembering that Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative conditions were an unidentified part of "normal aging" not all that long ago. If we insist that damage and degeneration are normal, then no funds will be allocated to research causes and cures. I think that we can do better than that.

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040128080418.htm

Sorting the Wheat From the Chaff

As we often point out, most of the high profile billion dollar "anti-aging" industry is based on exaggeration, bad extrapolation and outright lies. It causes great harm to legitimate science, but how do we, the consumers, learn to separate out the wheat from the chaff? What is legitimate, and what is not? This article from the Edmonton Journal gives an overview of that issue, although the author does make the classic Tithonus error in assuming that a longer life is a more unhealthy life. The points to take away are, we thing, to be skeptical, and to read the Longevity Meme.

Link: http://www.canada.com/edmonton/edmontonjournal/story.asp?id=FD5A559D-DF60-404E-8FE0-3EEB1DBD2AF4

Extropy Institute February Summit

I have a soft spot for the Extropy Institute; the Longevity Meme probably would not exist if not for the time I spent on the Institute mailing lists, and Extropy Institute founder Max More has long been a proponent of healthy life extension. The Institute is currently gearing up to oppose anti-research groups in US society and politics, kicking off the process with a summit in February. The more people who stand up to tell Leon Kass that his positions are corrupt and wrong, the better in my book. Without more strong voices to support medical research, the damage to our future health and longevity due to government policies will continue.

Link: http://new.extropy.org/summit.htm

Rats, Supplements, Healthy Life Extension

Supplements occupy something of a middle ground in the science-business rift over healthy life extension. On the one hand, the weight of evidence is that taking supplements will help you retain your good health for longer; on the other hand, supplements are aggressively marketed by some groups as anti-aging pills, complete with exaggerated claims. This article from the LEF News discusses recent studies on supplementation in rats, and is as good an example of straight talk about the science of supplements as you're going to find these days.

Link: http://newsite.lef.org/news/aging/2004/01/22/eng-abcnews_health/eng-abcnews_health_081104_8978424636926231530.html

The Rift Between Science and Business

The Courier and Press prints an interesting overview of the deep rift between the world of science and the world of business - between anti-aging science and "anti-aging" marketing. As the article points out, "aging research has been slow to gain credibility, in part, because scientists have had to counter a history of charlatanism and profiteering that goes back centuries." The billion dollar "anti-aging" business is aggressive marketing of health products at one end, and outright fraud at the other...and all of it makes legitimate scientific research in the fight against aging that much harder.

Link: http://www.courierpress.com/ecp/health/article/0,1626,ECP_756_2603919,00.html

Working to Heal Nerve Damage

(From ScienceDaily). Scientists are making progress in the basics of nerve regeneration, even as other areas of regenerative medicine are racing ahead. With a technique similar to the artificial scaffolds used to grow bone, researchers have successfully regrown nerve cells. A quote: "We have shown that our scaffold selectively and rapidly directs cell differentiation, driving neural progenitor cells to become neurons." This lays the practical foundation for therapies that will repair a range of nerve damage, such as spinal injuries and paralysis.

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040123001131.htm

Leaving the Blinders On In Germany

A pointed editorial from F.A.Z. denouces German government policy with respect to all the most promising modern medical research. Next to France, Germany enforces some of the strictest anti-research legislation and greatest government control: very little healthy life extension research is permitted in Germany, and frustration is clearly evident. We are on the verge of curing some of the worst diseases of aging, conditions that have plagued mankind for thousands of years, yet politicians insist on attempting to ban this progress! We must stand up in support of medical research if we wish to see near term benefits.

Link: http://www.faz.com/IN/INtemplates/eFAZ/docmain.asp?rub=%7BB1311FCC-FBFB-11D2-B228-00105A9CAF88%7D&doc=%7B049ADE27-5720-4332-80DD-0054ED8C417B%7D

Defeating Cancer By 2015

We've mentioned the declared goal of the National Cancer Institute before: to defeat cancer by 2015, eliminating all suffering and death caused by this condition. This article from USAToday emphasises that this is, above all, a realistic goal. Three decades of well funded research, education and widespread activism have brought us to this point. The fight against cancer is a success story in its closing stages: the fight against aging could be next if we look, learn and act. Following the example set by cancer research activists, we can encourage funding and recognition for healthy life extension research.

Link: http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20040121/5855212s.htm

The Cryonics Timeship

The Guardian reports on the Timeship, a cryonics project that has been brewing for some time. In recent years, the founders of the Life Extension Foundation have been devoting more of their resources to improving, expanding and extending the cryonics industry - understandable, given their age and the rate of scientific progress in the fight against aging. It is a tragedy that many of the founders of the healthy life extension movement will not live long enough to fully benefit from the first wave of regenerative medicine. Cryonics should be an important medical industry; only investment, research and better business can make it so.

Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1129295,00.html

An Interview With Brian Alexander

USNews is carrying an interview with Brian Alexander, author of Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion, focusing on the science of healthy life extension. There are a lot of ideas and a healthy amount of name dropping in there; the author has some interesting things to say about the backdrop to the current revolution in medicine. A quote: "Life extension already exists. Scientists have made lab animals live far longer than their natural life span, up to six times longer. Translating that to people will take a long time, but it will eventually be done."

Link: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/tech/nextnews/archive/next040121.htm?track=rss

Some Adult Stem Cell Grants Coming Through

Despite the legislation restricting stem cell research in the US (and a potential ban on a necessary technology for that research), the NIH is making some grants for adult stem cell work. This article at the Alligator notes a $1.3 million grant to go towards research into regenerative tools to repair brain injuries and diseases. The brain is the most important part of the body from a long term healthy life extension point of view - it's the one organ we can't transplant or replace. More sophisticated strategies for repairing and preventing degenerative conditions of the brain will be vital.

Link: http://www.alligator.org/edit/news/issues/stories/040122grant.html

People Who Want To Block Healthy Life Extension

(From AlterNet). Anti-progress groups have campaigned against healthy life extension in recent years: all the broken arguments against technology can be used against better medicine too. Halting research because the wealthy get the first benefits is foolish. Rich people always have early access: the high prices they pay go towards making medicine better, safer and cheaper. Should we have banned cancer therapies or heart surgery because they were initially expensive? More pertinently, what sort of person advocates massive ongoing suffering and death as preferable to temporary unfairness?

Link: http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=17638

Damaging "Anti-Aging" Marketing at Work

"Anti-aging" marketing has caused a great deal of damage to funding of legitimate scientific research in the fight against aging. This "anti-aging" beer story has been doing the rounds for a week or so, and can be held up as a good example of the type. By getting the amount of press it has, it trivializes the work of legitimate scientists who investigate, treat or work towards a cure for aging and its associated degenerative conditions. The voice of real anti-aging and healthy life extension science has long been drowned out by a billion dollar industry based on potions, fraud and adventurous marketing. If even just a fraction of that money went into real research, just imagine where we would be now.

Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3407781.stm

Christopher Reeve in the News

Christopher Reeve's advocacy for stem cell research and regenerative medicine has been in the news a fair amount of late. He is one of the most outspoken advocates for freedom of research for a number of years, and is very critical of anti-research legislation in the US and elsewhere. In this article from the Palm Beach Daily News, Reeve discusses near term breakthroughs, research in Israel and a wide range of other topics. Christopher Reeve is doing amazing work in support of medical research that will lead to longer, healthier lives, and we should be lining up to thank him.

Link: http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/newsfd/auto/feed/news/2004/01/21/1074664309.26609.5395.2462.html;COXnetJSessionID=AOo8vW11ELX1Yl08VdczGZbszC2jaO1FPce7JGSpKV29NaB4eBq4!831215335?urac=n&urvf=10747025241890.6074203694022199

Progress on Alzheimer's

InfoAging (an excellent general resource for information on aging and aging research, by the way) is reporting on progress in fighting Alzheimer's. The immense amount of research funding is starting to pay off: scientists have prevented memory and learning loss in the mouse version of the disease. In addition, other interesting results on the possible root causes of Alzheimer's are noted at the site. It's worth remembering that Alzheimer's symptoms were once considered a part of aging; not a disease and not curable. That should make you pause for thought whenever you hear people claiming that all the currently unspecified degenerative effects of aging are not worth research time and money.

Link: http://www.infoaging.org/news_article.html?SMContentIndex=0&SMContentSet=0

Pessimists Debate Aging Science

Harry Moody and Arthur Caplan will debate whether aging should be viewed as a disease at SAGE Crossroads, an issue crucial to large scale funding and research strategies. I am sympathetic to the theory of aging as undiagnosed disease - most degenerative conditions were once seen as "a part of normal aging," after all. Moody and Caplan occupy very conservative positions in biogerontology; neither believes that near term healthy life extension is possible, so they do not advocate research funding for the fight against aging. This is a part of the self-defeating cycle described by Aubrey de Grey.

Link: http://www.sagecrossroads.com/public/news/stories/index.cfm?story=045

India Making Progress in Stem Cell Research

The Indian research establishment is moving wholeheartedly ahead into stem cell-based regenerative medicine. This report covers an institute working on regenerative therapies to treat corneal blindness through regrowth of damaged tissue. Elsewhere, another article notes the start of a government-funded research effort targetting stem cell therapies in neurobiology and cardiac medicine. Meanwhile, US stem cell research - despite demonstrated cures working in the laboratory - is stunted and blocked by existing and threatened anti-research legislation.

Link: http://www.newkerala.com/news-daily/news/features.php?action=fullnews&showcomments=1&id=5051

RSS Feed Upgraded

The Longevity Meme news feed has been given a long-overdue upgrade to RSS 2.0, and the other feeds will following shortly. If the update causes problems for anyone, please do let us know and we'll make the old feed format available as well. If you're already reading the Longevity Meme via RSS, why not consider adding one of our other feeds as well? Our newsletter, articles and Take Action! content are also syndicated via RSS. Keep up to date and on the ball!

Link: http://www.longevitymeme.org/syndication.cfm

Florida Research Ban Hampers Progress

The Jacksonville Business Journal examines the effects of the Florida therapeutic cloning and stem cell research ban. As expected, this has resulted in less research in the state. It discourages biotech companies from doing business in the Florida. An interesting quote from a more optimistic scientist: "I think once you can show you can cure grandpa's Alzheimer's, these issues will be resolved." Researchers have already shown that stem cell medicine can cure grandpa's heart disease, not to mention the array of conditions cured in the laboratory, but we don't seem to any closer to lifting these research bans.

Link: http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/stories/2004/01/12/story6.html

Christopher Reeve on Stem Cell Research

This Sun-Sentinel article opens with a powerful quote from stem cell research advocate Christopher Reeve: "When politics and religion try to dictate to science, sick and dying people lose." Stem cell and therapeutic cloning researchers have demonstrated cures in the laboratory or early trials for heart disease, Parkinson's, nerve damage, cancer, and many other conditions. Yet these amazing advances are still under attack and the subject of anti-research legislation in the US and elsewhere. If we want to live longer, healthier lives through advanced medicine, then - like Christopher Reeve - we must step forward and say so.

Link: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-preeve18jan18,0,6553931.story?coll=sfla-news-palm

Palm Beach Post on Calorie Restriction

The Palm Beach Post is running a long piece on calorie restriction (CR) that covers ground missed by recent articles in the mainstream press. Many journalists seem to focus on the difficulty of extreme CR, while ignoring the vast number of people who easily and safely practice mild or moderate CR. The weight and diversity of scientific evidence supporting CR as a way to improve health and lengthen healthy lifespan is overwhelming. If you are not practicing at least mild CR, then you should read the article and look into giving CR a try.

Link: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/accent/content/auto/epaper/editions/saturday/accent_0480a33bc0c8109f10c1.html

"Death Sucks"

The Speculist declares that "death sucks," and offers some background and justification for that statement. More seriously, he also examines why fear of death is a vital part of human existence and a spur for human progress. Supporting medical research to lengthen our healthy lifespans - to eventually defeat aging and death - is the culmination of a long process of scientific advancement that began in the stone age. We can overcome these limits, just as we have overcome many other limits in the past, and we can continue to use science to make our lives longer, healthier and better.

Link: http://www.speculist.com/archives/000587.html

New Republic on "Beyond Therapy"

While we are on the subject of the President's Council on Bioethics, here is a long review and commentary on "Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness" from the New Republic. The tone is carefully neutral on technology and better medicine (and of course in favor of government regulation), but it does make the underlying Council agendas clear. The Council members are pro-death, anti-research and in favor of using legislation to block access to and development of therapies that will extend the healthy human lifespan. This, sadly, is a reflection of the position of the current US administration.

Link: http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040126&s=easterbrook012604

Bioethics Council Issues Stem Cell Report

(From BioMed Central). The strongly anti-research President's Council on Bioethics has issued its first report on stem cell research. As you probably know by now, most council members are affiliated with religious policy organisations and opposed to many fields of medical research. The chair, Leon Kass, has repeatedly declared himself opposed to allowing any form of healthy life extension medicine to be developed or practiced. There are no policy recommendations in the document, but there don't have to be - existing and threatened legislation is squashing stem cell research in the US already.

Link: http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20040116/03/

Protecting the Brain From Aging

EurekAlert discusses progress towards protecting the human brain from the degenerative effects of aging: the more we know, the more we can do to prevent conditions like Alzheimer's. It's worth recalling that even "normal aging" as discussed in the article is likely to be a collection of as yet unclassified diseases and conditions. After all, the horrific effects of Alzheimer's were regarded as a part of "normal aging" once upon a time. The effects of aging can be understood, fought and beaten, but only if we support and encourage the advance of medical science.

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-01/ama-nav010804.php

Boca Raton Says No To Cryonics

The Palm Beach Post reports that the Boca Raton City Council voted 5-0 to deny cryonics research company Suspended Animation, Inc. permission to operate in the city. One council member said: "It is totally inappropriate for this council to be second-guessing the emergence of science," but he still voted against SAI. As I have said before, cryonics as a field needs new research and new products in order to grow and be able to offer the choice of cryopreservation to more people. Cryonics is the only slim change at a much longer, healthier life in the future for uncounted millions who are too old to wait: we hope to see it prosper.

Link: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/auto/epaper/editions/wednesday/south_county_04401c31c0c8800f0050.html

Human Stem Cells: the Key to Healing

I thought I'd share this excellent introductory piece on stem cell research from the Tribune in India. If only more balanced articles like this appeared in American newspapers! Understanding of stem cell research and therapeutic cloning is muddied in the US and Europe by the heated abortion and human reproductive cloning issues. Anti-research groups and politicians have no qualms about using outright lies and distortions to justify their positions, alas. We, as advocates and educators, need to try harder to get our message out - and you can help!

Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2004/20040115/science.htm#1

More on Engineering Blood Vessels

Building blood vessels is a very important part of tissue engineering - without the right shape, size and distribution of blood vessels, scientists cannot build large tissue masses, such as complete organs. As this article from ScienceDaily illustrates, researchers are past the "doing it" stage, and well into the "doing it faster, better, cheaper" stage. This sort of technology opens the door to the development of widely available replacement organs grown to order from the patient's own cells. These early tissue engineering technologies will enable us to effectively replace body parts damaged by degenerative conditions of aging.

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040114075322.htm

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Chris Mooney examines the state of gerontology and healthy life extension research in 2003, with an eye to the year to come, at SAGE Crossroads. One reassuring item is that investment into aging research has grown enormously: "private investments are probably up 10- or 20-fold." On a different note, SAGE Crossroads has just relaunched with a radically improved and much better looking website, making their archive of webcasts much more accessible. If you haven't watched any of them yet, you should go and take a look.

Link: http://www.sagecrossroads.com/public/news/stories/index.cfm?story=043

Irish Government Funds Stem Cell Research Initiative

The Irish Times notes that the Irish government is funding a stem cell research initiative, including the construction of a new Regenerative Medicine Institute at Galway. As I've mentioned before, you can track progress in any scientific field by the number of buildings being built...so the more, the merrier from where I stand. Meanwhile, other articles note the funding difficulties faced by stem cell researchers in the US, all due to restrictive legislation - almost a ban for all practical intents and purposes - imposed by the current administration.

Link: http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/front/2004/0113/541387771HM1STEMCELL.html

Suspended Animation Back Into The Fray

Boca Raton News reports that Suspended Animation Inc, a cryonics research company, will follow through with its Boca Raton petition for laboratory space despite overwhelmingly negative indications to date. (You may recall the Planning and Zoning application furor at the end of last year, and the accompanying calls for community support). Research and spin off products are essential to the long term growth and success of the cryonics industry. With that thought in mind, and considering a wider context, these current problems with anti-research politics are troubling.

Link: http://www.bocaratonnews.com/index.php?src=news&category=LOCAL%20NEWS&prid=7259

MSNBC On Calorie Restriction

MSNBC is running a very mixed article on calorie restriction (CR), alternating between describing its practitioners as "kooks" and "followers" and giving a more responsible view of the science. As I can testify, it is perfectly possible to practice CR without being hungry - it just requires careful eating habits. People who practice CR are individually making smart, educated choices for personal health and longevity. Overall, this article was a disappointing effort: it could have been much better if the author had dropped the insults and slurs.

Link: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3927655/

Microheaters For Tissue Engineering

Betterhumans looks at a novel new technology for tissue engineering, a branch of regenerative medicine dedicated to growing replacements for damaged or missing tissue in the body. The big problem of the past few years has been how to grow tissue in the right shape. Recently, researchers working on biodegradable scaffolds and engineering blood vessels have made great headway in solving this problem. It looks like this new microheater technology will help things along even more. Some observers are predicting that medical science will be able to grow new organs to order long before the end of the decade.

Link: http://www.betterhumans.com/News/news.aspx?articleID=2004-01-09-4

On Ice Age Genetic Longevity

An interesting piece at the New York Times discusses recent research into human genetic diversity. This research suggests that longevity and resistance to degenerative conditions in some human populations evolved in response to Ice Age conditions. These sorts of studies will lead to greater understanding of the way in which different people are affected by aging processes, and what medical science can do in the near term to improve our health and longevity. The work also suggests that overeating, now common in Western societies, is more damaging to long term health in human populations without these evolved resistances.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/09/science/09COLD.html?ex=1074229200&en=5d493a185fa8f4db&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE

Stem Cell Research as a Campaign Issue

Current restrictive US stem cell policies are rising as an issue of importance in the US presidential campaign: remarks by Howard Dean are reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, and a declaration by Wesley Clark is reported by WQAD. Most of the Democratic candidates claim to support stem cell research and therapeutic cloning (with varying degrees of weasel wording), and you can find their position statements at the CAMR website. Making stem cell research and the potentials of regenerative medicine a campaign issue will help in the fight against anti-research legislation, both in the US and at the UN.

Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2004/01/09/politics1354EST0639.DTL

Canadian Politicians Still Dithering Over Stem Cell Research

(From Canada East). Politicians don't like to make decisions that will rouse the ire of vocal activist groups over any choice. Stem cell research legislation is stalled in the US, but has been delayed for far longer in Canada. Stem cell research in the country is stalled for lack of certainty - just as research in the US and elsewhere has been greatly damaged over the past few years. Private funding is scared away by the possibility of later government prohibitions on research, and public funding has been banned or just not authorized.

Link: http://canadaeast.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040108/CPN/19457021

Progress at Elixir Pharmaceuticals

Elixir Pharmaceuticals is making progress on the business side of healthy life extension research, as noted at LEF News. They're licensing a patent resulting from recent research into "MTP," an aging gene uncovered in a recent centenarian study. This isn't anything major or new on the research side of things, but it is important to see progress in the corporate organization of real anti-aging research. In the long run, corporate concerns are the source of most research funding in any given field. One successful company will mean many others will soon be funded to compete...we are seeing the start of that now.

Link: http://newsite.lef.org/news/aging/2004/01/08/bw/0000-7664-ma-elixir-pharmaceutical.html

Why Lifestyle Studies Are Not All That Useful

The latest ChangeSurfer column at Betterhumans examines some of the more common studies linking particular lifestyle choices with longevity, and illustrates that these results are not all that useful. You can't choose a particular lifestyle and expect it to improve your healthy lifespan - the real reasons for study results are often buried, rarely obvious, and sometimes counter-intuitive. You have to stick with the known medical conclusions, i.e. not that getting married is good for longevity, but that eating healthily and lowering stress is good for longevity. In other words, ignore the social studies, and look at the medical reasons for longer, healthier lives.

Link: http://www.betterhumans.com/Features/Columns/Change_Surfing/column.aspx?articleID=2004-01-08-2

Cryonics Institute Successfully Negotiates Continued Operation

(From ClickOnDetroit). Media interest in cryonics during 2003 sparked some unwelcome intrusions by state and local governments into the continuing operations of established providers like the Cryonics Institute. Happily, Institute staff have negotiated a settlement ("benign regulation," as they put it) that satisfies both sides. The Cryonics Institute will continue in operation more or less as before; more details can be found at the Cryonics Institute website. To find out more about the science, business and potential of cryonics, visit CryonNet.

Link: http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/2747929/detail.html

Alzheimer's Cause Pinpointed?

Alzheimer's is one of the bugbear diseases of aging, a frightening condition that is of great concern to people who are interested in healthy life extension. Unless a cure is found, everyone who lives long enough will eventually suffer its effects. Remarkable progress is being made however, and Nature reports on the latest installment: a much better understanding of the likely cause, and a way to prevent Alzheimer's effects in mice. This is only one of a number of research efforts, resulting from new knowledge and new biomedical technologies. Progress is good!

Link: http://www.nature.com/nsu/040105/040105-6.html

Secrets of Cancer Metastasis

The ability of cancer to become metastatic and spread throughout the body is one of the most feared consequences of this disease. Science Daily reports on progress in understanding the biochemical mechanisms underlying metastasis. This understanding has already led to the ability to "turn off" metastatis in colon cancer cells in a laboratory environment - this is a big step forward in the fight against cancer. The flood of progress towards curing cancer is a result of decades of successful funding, activism and public education. Can we repeat these successes for the fight against aging?

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040106073313.htm

Resveratrol and Calorie Restriction

This CBN article gives an overview of research on resveratrol, a compound thought to activate genes in a similar way to calorie restriction. You may recall the spate of inaccurate articles on resveratrol in 2003 when the mainstream press learned the compound is found in red wine. This piece is more responsible, but - like most articles on supplements - is uninformed with regard to the potential of near future medicine to extend the healthy human life span. Supplement researchers are generally aiming low, at extending the healthy human lifespan by a few decades. This is an admirable goal in and of itself, but supplements can only take you so far. To beat the conditions of aging (and aging itself), better medical technologies will be needed.

Link: http://www.cbn.com/CBNNews/News/040106a.asp

Immortality Institute Book Submission Deadline on the 15th

As a reminder, the deadline for the first call of submissions for the Immortality Institute book project is January 15th. There may be a second call, and there will almost certainly be a second book, based on the volume and quality of submissions to date. Well known writers, futurists, journalists and transhumanists are amongst those who have offered texts. Do you have musings on healthy life extension you'd like to see published? Now would be the time to pull them together and make a submission to the book project.

Link: http://imminst.org/book/

Oxidative Stress and Aging

SAGE Crossroads is printing an article that summarizes the current state of oxidative stress and free radical theories of aging. There are currently a number of competing theories of aging, all with some good looking science to back them up. It is seeming increasingly likely that a single unified theory of aging could be found to fit current theories into a seamless whole. A quote: "It's not that oxidative stress causes aging; it's a component of aging. We're moving away from the idea that there's a single cause of aging; there are probably multiple causes."

Link: http://www.sagecrossroads.com/news_121503.cfm

Presidential Candidate Stem Cell Positions

Since we're on the topic of presidential candidates, we should point out that the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research is asking candidates for their positions on stem cell research. You can view the responses received to date at the CAMR website. A lot of shifty political doublespeak makes its way in there, so tread with care. You can also use the CAMR website to write to local media and help make stem cell research an issue in the 2004 presidential election. Go ahead and take a few minutes to do this: it's a worthwhile investment of time.

Link: http://www.camradvocacy.org/fastaction/candpositions.asp

Lieberman Would Repeal Bush Stem Cell Restrictions

Near the end of this Guardian article, US Senator Joe Lieberman promises to repeal the current restrictive Bush stem cell research prohibitions if he is elected. Everything that candidates say at this stage in the process has to be treated with skepticism - politicians, like lawyers, are basically professional liars - but it is encouraging to see that groups like CAMR have succeeded in making this an issue in the 2004 election. Bush's anti-research policies are widely acknowledged to have set back progress in regenerative medicine by five years - five more years of death and suffering while potential cures are blocked by government fiat.

Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uslatest/story/0,1282,-3585791,00.html

NJ Stem Cell Law Finally Signed

As reported by Newsday.com, New Jersey is now the second US state to pass legislation explicitly allowing stem cell research. The state governor signed the law into effect in the company of Christopher Reeve, one of the most effective advocates for stem cell research. Last minute opposition to this law from anti-research groups has been strong and vocal, but fortunately ineffective. Stem cell research is the shortest path to real, effective therapies that will lengthen healthy lifespan and defeat the diseases of aging, and every piece of positive legislation is welcome in the current political climate.

Link: http://www.newsday.com/news/science/wire/sns-ap-stem-cell-law,0,6951763.story?coll=sns-ap-science-headlines

Gene Linked to Growth Hormone Action

(From the Life Extension Foundation News). A genetic mechanism for the effects of growth hormone has been discovered, relating it to a gene that is known to regulate many aspects of cellular activity and longevity. This is a very specific result, linked to liver regeneration, but will no doubt soon be referenced by sellers of human growth hormone (HGH). The science and studies supporting HGH are nowhere near as solid as those supporting calorie restriction (to pick an example) and this most recent research does nothing to change that.

Link: http://newsite.lef.org/news/aging/2003/12/30/eng-medinews_biotek/eng-medinews_biotek_134231_3721421559213394288.html

Stem Cell Policies and Players

As an item of interest, the Genome News Network maintains an infrequently updated overview page on legislation, government policies and notable researchers in the stem cell field. While the most important stem cell news and developments are usually pointed out here as they happen, it's good to see some overviews being put together. Even partial lists of what is going on around the world are better than nothing: this one omits developments in Japan, China and South Korea, for example.

Link: http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/05_03/stem_sec.shtml

Australian Legislation Blocks Research

This article from smh.com.au is a good illustration of the damage done by restrictive stem cell research legislation enacted to try and prevent human cloning. Research on embryonic stem cells in Australia is a mere shadow of what would otherwise be possible. This means that Australia's vast medical research resources are not working towards regenerative medicine and cures for the diseases and conditions of aging. Sadly, this picture is repeated in all too many countries worldwide. The US may enact even more restrictive anti-research legislation in the coming year.

Link: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/01/02/1072908905377.html

South Korea To Restrict Stem Cell Research

The Washington Times reports on South Korean government restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. The full effects of the legislation are unclear, but it looks like only very limited research for curing disease will be permitted. It is disappointing to see the policitians of yet another country with strong medical research resources block the most promising path to curing the degenerative conditions of aging. Unfortunately, even more restrictive legislation is pending in the US and elsewhere. The chance of a healthier, longer future will be taken away from us if we do not act and speak out.

Link: http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20031230-121535-4048r.htm

More on New Jersey Stem Cell Politics

An editorial at South Brunswick Post covers the last minute political battles over the New Jersey stem cell research legislation, yet to be signed into law by the state governor. Anti-research groups are lobbying hard, employing scare tactics and hyperbole. From the editorial: "Sign the bill, governor. Show the president, the Assembly Republicans and the three congressmen who would have you do otherwise that you will give hope to those victims of preventable illnesses and curable diseases. Do it because they are living, breathing people. And they have a right to life."

Link: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1091&dept_id=425723&newsid=10736523&PAG=461&rfi=9