More From TransVision 2004

Anders Sandberg has more on TransVision 2004:

Perhaps the most major theme of the conference (in the sense of reporting real progress) was fixing ageing. Aubrey de Grey's initial speech laid out the plan and showed some recent progress on fixing mitochondrial mutations by moving the genes to the nucleus. That was followed by another talks sketching a possible way of finding enzymes that break down lysozomal gunk using bioremediation as an inspiration: since graveyards are not overflowing with the substances the body cannot break down, there must be bacteria that can do it. These can be isolated, and the relevant enzymes gathered. Very elegant, but rather early to tell how useful it will be.

As for elegance, Rafal Smigrodzki had an even more exciting approach: using protofection, a new form of gene therapy, mitochondrial DNA can be replaced. This is promising as a treatment of mitochondrial disease, but of course also against some aspects of ageing. And if the method was as powerful as he implied, it may be a great vehicle for gene therapy too. Which makes the other approaches more plausible as treatments too, since most seem to rely on the presence of suitable genes rather than small molecules. João Pedro de Magalhães has built a database of genes involved or implied in ageing. The network is tangled, but it is not that impossible to start to deal with using the powerful tools of modern genomics and proteomics.

You can find Aubrey de Grey's PowerPoint presentation from the conference in his collection of presentation materials.


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