Longevity Meme Newsletter, July 19 2004

July 19 2004

The Longevity Meme Newsletter is a weekly 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.



- Healthy Life Extension Book Recommendations
- Prominent Journal Promotes Serious Anti-Aging Science
- Discussion
- Latest Healthy Life Extension Headlines


A steady stream of books on the topic of extending the healthy human life span have been emerging over the past few years, and there are more lined up for release soon. This is good - books are an essential part of the education and advocacy process that builds public support for funding and medical research. Unfortunately, many people still believe meaningful anti-aging medicine is impossible. Many people still believe that life extension would mean becoming increasingly old and decrepit. These myths must be dispelled if we are to make serious progress towards fully understanding and curing aging our lifetime.

You'll find a short list of recent books in the following Fight Aging! post:


You will recall that I mentioned the forthcoming book by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman in the newsletter last week. The Amazon.com listing for "Fantastic Voyage" is now up for those of you who feel like pre-ordering, and I comment on the publisher's blurb here:


While on the topic of books, I should mention that you will find two short reviews amid recent posts at Fight Aging!: A favorable opinion for "Merchants of Immortality" and thumbs down for "The Quest for Immortality."



None other than biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey edits the latest volume of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences - a weighty and respected journal. This volume is entitled "Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence: Why Genuine Control of Aging May Be Foreseeable" and shows that Aubrey de Grey's viewpoints are gaining ground in the medical research community. Visit the following page for some good quotes from the abstracts:


The contents of volume 1019 of the Annals are a good indication of the direction Aubrey de Grey intends to take with Rejuvenation Research, another well-known journal that he now manages as Editor-in-Chief. You may recall that the re-launch of Rejuvenation Research was announced last month:


All in all, it is very pleasing to see that healthy life extension is making real headway in the scientific community.


That is 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 it on, or post a copy to your favorite online communities. Encourage the people you know to pitch in and make a difference to the future of health and longevity!


Founder, Longevity Meme



Alzheimer's - The Curse Of Longevity (July 18 2004)
An interview with an Alzheimer's expert at SwissInfo gives an overview of current progress towards understanding of - and therapies for - this horrible disease. Alzheimer's, like cancer thirty years ago, is clearly a high priority for research due to its prevalence and the lack of effective therapies: "At the moment, there are no medications which have a significant effect on treating the disease." Ever more people will contract the condition as other medical advances increase the healthy human life span. Fortunately, just as for cancer, immense amounts of money are pouring into Alzheimer's research. Effective therapies for the condition, such as vaccines, are expected in the decades ahead.

Aging, Calorie Restriction, Free Radicals (July 18 2004)
STLtoday is running a long article on current research into calorie restriction and the broader relationship between food, metabolism and aging. "Cut a mouse's caloric intake by 30 percent of what it would eat given unlimited access to food, and the mouse lives 30 percent longer." How is this relationship regulated in the body? That is the question that scientists are currently attempting to answer; there are a number of good theories on the go. Understanding the biochemical processes relating to calorie restriction will make it possible to produce therapies that have the same beneficial effects on health and life span - companies like BioMarker and Elixir are working on this.

Don't Just Sit On The Sidelines! (July 17 2004)
Far too many people are content to simply watch the battles over the future of medicine, research, health and longevity ... but there is so much more we can do! By standing up to support healthy life extension and medical research, we help to make a better future possible. Research funding ultimately depends on the will of the public - our voices, in other words. If we fail to speak out in favor of stem cell research, or in opposition to bad legislation, or to support valuable organizations like the Methuselah Foundation, then our failure will make the development of real anti-aging medicine less likely. So take five minutes today to see how you can help everyone to live far longer, healthier lives.

Consequences Of Stem Cell Politics (July 17 2004)
A Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty article looks at the consequences of restrictive stem cell legislation in the US. The ability of the US research community to move rapidly towards well-developed and effective regenerative medicine is being squandered. Investors are scared away by political threats to fundamental technologies like therapeutic cloning. Since most research is privately funded, the rate of advance towards cures for age-related conditions has been slow. The consequences of delay are terrible: those who are trying so hard to block regenerative medicine will be responsible for suffering and death on a vast scale.

Money And Longevity Again (July 16 2004)
Back in the world of accountancy and retirement, an MSNBC article illustrates that at least some people believe that longer, healthier lives won't bring financial chaos. A quote: "The fact that people are living longer is reason for celebration, not sorrow. It is one of the great accomplishments of the past century." It's somewhat sad that the author feels it necessary to state the obvious, but there is a definite trend towards portraying longer, healthier lives as somehow bad because Ponzi-style social security systems will have to be radically changed. It's never a good sign when the widespread belief is that people should serve the system (by dying in this case!), rather than vice versa.

Reminder: TransVision 2004 In August (July 16 2004)
By way of a reminder, TransVision 2004 is just a few weeks away in August. Held in Toronto, it's a yearly conference focusing on transhumanism and issues of interest to transhumanists - including healthy life extension. Transhumanist groups have long played an important part in the healthy life extension community. They laid the groundwork for the current growing acceptance of - and support for - a future that includes radical life extension. Public support for lengthening the healthy human life span is vital, since scientific research (and funding) is driven by public opinion over longer time scales. Activists, advocates, and futurists also play an essential role in this process.

Proposition 71 Gathers Steam (July 15 2004)
In California, the newly numbered Proposition 71 for state funding and regulation of stem cell research is gathering steam. The Sacramento Bee reports that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar has contributed $1 million to the campaign. The Proposition would ban reproductive cloning, but allow (and fund to the tune of $300 million a year) therapeutic cloning and other stem cell research aimed at rapid progress towards cures all of the most common age-related degenerative conditions. This is not pie in the sky science: stem cell and regenerative medicine research and trials to date have been very promising. The Proposition 71 campaign is welcoming volunteer efforts and donations at all levels.

US Senate Stem Cell Hearing (July 15 2004)
(From Wired). The adult stem cell research hearings yesterday were an attempt to attack embryonic stem cell research by hyping results obtained with adult stem cells. The scientific witnesses weren't going along with this game plan, however: "I urge you to think hard whether you wish to overrule good science and medicine and ban some kinds of biomedical research and therapies for the first time in American history. In my own personal moral view, those in a position of advice or authority who participate in the banning or enforced delays of biomedical research that could lead to the saving of lives and the amelioration of suffering are directly and morally responsible for the lives made worse or lost due the ban." There's more - with some choice quotes - at The Intersection.

Growing Old Ungracefully (July 14 2004)
Spiked discusses attitudes towards aging in the baby boomer generation - they don't like it. "Many were simply terrified by the irreversible physiological changes that accompany old age ... baby boomers are prepared to pay through the nose to delay the visible signs of ageing." This driving force has been noted before, and it gives real impetus to serious attempts to cure aging. Where there is demand, the sellers try to supply products; hence the large anti-aging marketplace that exists today. The author of the article comes to the absolutely wrong conclusion, unfortunately - fighting for a cure for aging is the way to go, not acceptance of suffering and death.

Taking Nanomedicine Seriously (July 14 2004)
As this press release from Business Wire demonstrates (and as I have noted before), the business world is taking the future of nanomedicine seriously: "Nanomedicine is now within the realm of reality starting with nanodiagnostics and drug delivery facilitated by nanobiotechnology. Miniature devices such as nanorobots could carry out integrated diagnosis and therapy by refined and minimally invasive procedures, nanosurgery, as an alternative to crude surgery. Nanotechnology will markedly improve the implants and tissue engineering approaches as well." Futurists like Ray Kurzweil and Randall Parker expect nanomedicine to play an important role in extending the healthy human life span.

No US Senate Stem Cell Vote This Year (July 13 2004)
(From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer). As expected, the US Senate will not vote on easing restrictions on stem cell research this year; cynics like myself will no doubt link this to the nearness of the November election and the expectation of a close result. Playing politics is what politicians do while not busy lying, after all. As before, I'll note that Federal restrictions on government funding are nowhere near as important an issue as ongoing efforts to ban therapeutic cloning. These efforts have scared away vast amounts of private funding for stem cell research in the US, and this is far worse for the future of regenerative medicine than the games being played with public funding.

Studying The Aging Brain (July 13 2004)
Betterhumans investigates some of the new technologies that will allow us to better understand the aging process of the human brain. These developments are initially aimed at the early detection of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's, but have the potential to greatly increase our understanding of how physical structure in the brain relates to thought, memory and mind. This sort of understanding, like that sought by the Allen Brain Atlas project, is a vital part of efforts to extend the healthy human life span. In the decades ahead, regenerative medicine will allow us to replace damaged organs - but not the brain. We must learn to repair and protect the human brain from the ravages of aging in situ.

Our Newsletter Has Gone Weekly (July 12 2004)
As a reminder to folks who read the Longevity Meme news via RSS, we also publish a newsletter containing site updates, commentary and news. You can receive the newsletter via e-mail or RSS feed. In order to somewhat reduce the size of each newsletter, we recently shifted from our traditional bi-weekly format to a weekly delivery schedule; it seems to be working well. As a further reminder, back issues of the newsletter can be found online: in the July 12th newsletter we let you know that Ray Kurzweil will be speaking about radical life extension tonight on NPR. Don't miss it!

Report On Regenerate 2004 (July 12 2004)
The Pittsburgh Business Times is reporting on the Regenerate 2004 conference on regenerative medicine. As I often point out, the health of a large field in medicine can be estimated from the number of conferences and new buildings. Regenerative medicine and tissue engineering are doing well by all accounts. Assuming that governments stop blocking stem cell research and therapeutic cloning, the next decade should see a range of regenerative therapies hit the market. I predict that cures for heart disease and diabetes will be amongst the first benefits to emerge from this industry, accompanied by the ability to completely regenerate damage to organs like bones, muscle, skin, and the heart and liver.

Telomeres And Aging (July 12 2004)
A Straits Times article gives a high level overview of our current understanding of telomeres and how they fit into the aging process. We do know that telomeres shorten with age, and we know that short telomeres are strongly connected with the development of cancer. As the article notes, "scientists are still uncertain whether it is ageing that shortens telomeres or whether shortened telomeres cause ageing. If the former, then scientists searching for the elusive elixir of youth must look elsewhere. If the latter, however, telomere research might yield untold dividends." Given the cancer link, telomere research is important in any case. Understanding cellular biochemistry and processes is the path to effective therapies for any condition.



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