Longevity Meme Newsletter, June 13 2005

June 13 2005

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.



- Calorie Restriction Benefits From the New Internet
- Some Calorie Restriction Science Too
- Discussion
- Latest Healthy Life Extension Headlines


Online journals and blogs are the new Internet - the logical end result of falling cost of access and falling cost of publication. If it costs little to speak, then everyone has something to say! The practice of all sorts of knowledge-based pastimes, hobbies and lifestyles has been greatly improved as a result. If you want to know more about healthy life extension through calorie restriction, for example, you can now find a whole slew of personable folks talking about the ins and outs of this diet and lifestyle choice on a daily basis. For a list of some of the more frequently updated blogs and journals, take a look at the following Fight Aging! post:


If what you find intrigues you - and given the results of human studies to date, it certainly should - then you might consider picking up a copy of the latest popular book on calorie restriction:


As always, you can find an introduction to the basics of calorie restriction - extending healthy lifespan by reducing calorie intake while maintaining optimal nutrition - at the Longevity Meme and the Calorie Restriction Society:



A little new science for those already familiar with calorie restriction: the latest issue of Mechanisms of Aging and Development will focus on the biochemical and genetic mechanisms of calorie restriction and how they produce positive effects on health and life span.


As I'm sure you are aware, this field is obtaining more funding these days - new information is coming to light much more rapidly than in past years. From researcher Leonard Guarente: "Calorie restriction is the first and most compelling example of life extension in mammals. Much speculation about how CR works has focused on ideas of what causes aging. Since these causes themselves are much disputed, I have instead focused my thinking on lessons from simple model organisms, which have emerged from recent genetic studies. These findings can now be integrated with numerous, elegant studies on CR over the decades, which provide a treasure trove of information about physiological changes that are elicited by this regimen. In this paper, I present data showing that the SIR2 gene is a strong candidate to regulate CR in the simple model organisms, such as yeast and Drosophila. I then summarize what is known about the mammalian Sirt1 as it relates to physiological changes during CR, and discuss how this mechanism may impact on life span, as well as diseases of aging."

Those new to the underlying science of calorie restriction and the search for drugs - calorie restriction mimetics - that can mimic its beneficial effects on metabolism and aging might want to start with the following more introductory references:



The highlights and headlines from the past week 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



NIH Roadmap For Nanomedicine (June 12 2005)
The NIH has added nanomedicine to its roadmap initiative for medical research. "What if doctors could search out and destroy the very first cancer cells that would otherwise have caused a tumor to develop in the body? What if a broken part of a cell could be removed and replaced with a miniature biological machine? What if pumps the size of molecules could be implanted to deliver life-saving medicines precisely when and where they are needed? These scenarios may sound unbelievable, but they are the long-term goals of the NIH Roadmap's Nanomedicine initiative that we anticipate will yield medical benefits as early as 10 years from now." Nice to see that medical nanorobots as proposed by Robert Freitas are on the agenda front and center.

Never To Late To Exercise (June 12 2005)
(From Health 24). On slow news days, I like to remind folks about the health basics - things you should be taking care of today if you want to be active and alive to see the future of real, working anti-aging medicine. "Exercise helps maintain and, in some cases, improve bone mass in people aged 55 to 75." Bone density loss through osteoporosis is a major problem - and while therapies are in the works, they certainly aren't here today. You should not expect future science to rescue you from the results of neglecting your health - maybe you'll get lucky, maybe you won't. Given the sorts of healthy life extension science we expect to see in decades ahead, it would be a shame to miss the boat - die, in other words - because you didn't take care of your health today.

Stem Cell Banks From Teeth? (June 11 2005)
From Sci-Tech Today, an article on stem cells obtained from teeth - a topic I have touched on previously - and the creation of stem cell banks for these cells. The consensus from the business community appears to be that it's too early to tell whether these cells are in fact useful enough to bank. From Robert Lanza of ACT: "The real question comes down to whether or not it warrants the resources, and I think it would be premature at this point to start encouraging parents to start banking all these lost tissues from their children. As the stem-cell field advances, other strategies will pan out ... In a way, it could be taking advantage of parents who might do it out of guilt or lack of information. I think a parent would go crazy if they tried to collect stem cells every time their child lost a tooth, some hair or some blood."

Boosting Macrophages (June 11 2005)
Medical News Today reports on hints of a new way to tackle age-related conditions caused by a build-up of cellular waste in the body. "Using blood samples, investigators found that in healthy people, cells belonging to the innate immune system called macrophages, cleared amyloid-beta in a test tube test developed at UCLA. However, the macrophages of some Alzheimer's patients could not adequately perform this cleaning job. ... this immune defect may also be present in other diseases where a build-up of waste and plaques occur, such as in cardiovascular disease and Gaucher's disease. ... If further study shows that this defective macrophage function is present in most Alzheimer's disease patients, new hormonal or immune-boosting approaches may offer new approaches to treating the disease."

Fetal Stem Cell Heart Therapy (June 10 2005)
(From PR Newswire). The Barbados-based Institute for Regenerative Medicine has published results from recent work carried out in Ecuador: "This is the first-ever study to use human fetal-derived stem cell therapy in patients with heart failure and, though from a small group of patients, the results are very compelling and demand additional research ... It was especially gratifying to see these patients, many of whom couldn't walk more than a short distance without losing their breath, improve their ability to perform physical activities that are a part of everyday living." The results appear similar to those of initial trials of adult and embryonic stem cell therapies for heart damage from the past few years.

Stem Cell Therapy For Stroke Damage (June 10 2005)
Promising news from ABC: "South Korean researchers say they have successfully used stem cell therapy to treat brain-damaged stroke victims and others who have suffered similar organ damage. ... The team says it has extracted stem cells from the bone marrow of the patients, whose condition was caused by clogged blood vessels leading to brain or other organ damage. They then injected the damaged organs with the stem cells. ... The function of those (impaired human) organs was found to improve significantly after they were injected by the stem cells ... It says that three of five cerebral-infraction patients who have been treated 'improved significantly in terms of linguistic impediment.'"

Reinforcing Reliability Theory (June 09 2005)
The Reliability Theory of Aging provides a powerful lense through which to view other research. Take this piece from EurekAlert on chronic illness, inflammation and what is effectively an increased rate of degenerative aging: "Older women with chronic cytomegalovirus (CMV), a lifelong viral infection, were found to have more than triple the risk of being frail than those who did not have the infection ... Further data showed that women who had both the viral infection and high levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a marker of inflammatory response, were even more likely to be frail than those who had either alone." Our bodies are complex machines; like any machine, those subject to greater rates of damage will tend to degenerate and fail more rapidly. This is why some historical gains in life span can be attributed to widespread reduction in chronic disease.

Cellular Control Is Key (June 09 2005)
You'll excuse me, I hope, for continuing to belabor the point that advancing knowledge of cellular genetics and biochemistry - and the subsequent application of that knowledge to control our cellular processes - is one of the most exciting areas of mainstream medical science at the present time. The new technologies of bioinformatics are driving basic research ever faster; the closer we look at the mechanisms of our own cells, the closer we get to directly addressing the roots of disease, cancer and aging. Get thee hence and read what Randall Parker has to say about one small part of this process - steps on the road to reverse engineering the workings of stem cells.

Towards Gene Therapy For Arthritis (June 08 2005)
As Betterhumans notes, scientists are moving towards the use of gene therapies for age-related inflammation and autoimmune disorders such as arthritis. The first, early trials have taken place or are underway: "Gene therapy can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic conditions, suggests a new human trial. ... Up to five years later, the researchers report, there are no clinical side effects and no signs that the gene-carrying vector - a modified retrovirus called Maloney Murine Leukemia Virus - has become capable of replication in the patients. ... Results showed that genetically modified cells had high levels of IL-1 Ra. Furthermore, clusters of cells that expressed large amounts of the gene were present at the surface of the synovial tissue and produced far less inflammation-provoking chemicals."

More On Stem Cell - Cancer Connection (June 08 2005)
Understanding the biochemistry underlying the way in which cancer makes use of stem cells to grow will lead to much more effective therapies and prevention. From Medical News Today: "Like a siren song, breast cancer secretes growth factors to attract stem cells then uses those cells - which normally promote healing - to help it survive, researchers have found. In the laboratory, the researchers have documented secretion of growth factors FGF2 and VEGF by breast cancer cells, seen these factors bind to receptors on stem cells then watched stem cells migrate toward the cancer. When they took the growth factors away, the deadly migration decreased." This research should also increase our understanding of how to control stem cells for new and better regenerative therapies.

Progress In Controlling Differentiation (June 07 2005)
Advances in our understanding of stem cell differentiation are starting to crystallize into hardware, software and technology platforms - an important step towards expanding the field of regenerative medicine and developing more sophisticated therapies for age-related conditions. Genetic Engineering News reports on a chip-based technology to control adult stem cells: "The solution we are pursuing is to build a device that can interact with the stem cell at the micro- and nanoscale. For example, exposure to minute amounts of chemical at the appropriate time and place could be the key for guiding stem cells isolated from fat tissue to turn into cartilage or bone constructs. ... Ultimately, surgeons could use this product to grow heart tissue in the Emergency Room to replace damaged tissue resulting from a heart attack."

Scientific Conquest of Death Review (June 07 2005)
The CBCNetwork is running a rather interesting review of The Scientific Conquest of Death: Essays on Infinite Lifespans, written by someone clearly in the pro-death camp but with a more open mind than most. It serves as both a recommendation and as a fascinating insight into the mindset of people who literally cannot see a future for healthy life extension. From within our supportive but oftimes insular community, it is easy to forget just how much work is left to do in education and advocacy for longer, healthier lives. Too people out there in the world don't yet understand that radical life extension is within sight - all the more reason to speak out in support of longevity research.

Why Live A Longer, Healthier Life? (June 06 2005)
Why do you want to live a longer, healthier life? Why do you want to see age-related degeneration consigned to the dustbin of history? What are you doing to make this future a reality? If you have a powerful, compelling answer to these questions, then the Betterhumans crew wants to hear from you. "We want to know what you think about life extension, and what you're doing to live longer and healthier. To this end we're holding The Fantastic Voyage Life Extension Blog Contest. Four winners will each receive a copy of Fantastic Voyage, as well as have their entries showcased. ... The contest is open from June 6, 2005 to June 20, 2005." Speaking out in support of healthy life extension is a vital part of ensuring a better future - so get out there and practice!

Advancing Cellular Understanding (June 06 2005)
From a long-term perspective, the most important outcome of embryonic stem cell research is a greater knowledge of cellular processes, genetics, biomechanics - and how to control them. This is the foundation of the next generation of medical science, progress far beyond near-future cures for age-related conditions. The Washington Post reports on progress towards creating embryonic stem cells without the use of embryos. "As cells mature during embryonic and fetal development, certain genes in those cells are switched either on or off. Depending on the new pattern of activity, each cell becomes skin, heart muscle, nerve or some other kind of specialized cell. Now scientists are exploring methods for resetting the genetic switches inside various cells to the positions that will make them embryonic again."



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