A Little Science For a Friday Evening

I thought I'd point you to a couple of the items recently posted to the sci.life-extension group. If you're interested in healthy life extension, it pays to dip your toes into the ocean of medical research, gerontology and biotechnology. It's nowhere near as hard as the science-speak makes it out to be; scientists like their long words, but Google is just a click away. An impression of progress and the complexities involved will give you a far better appreciation of just how much work is yet required, as well as the great progress accomplished to date.

Epidermal stem cells and cancer stem cells: Insights into cancer and potential therapeutic strategies:

Epithelial keratinocyte regeneration has been exemplified as dependent on a population of cellular progenitors that have retained developmental pluripotency, a latent capacity for proliferation and differentiation with a prolonged lifespan. Recent evidence suggests that the cell populations that regulate the development of normal tissues, and which play vital roles in maintaining the overall homeostasis of the tissue, might be the key target population that is essential for malignant cancer development, thus giving rise to the notion of 'cancer stem cells'.

Cancer is presently the big bad bugbear of all age-related conditions: such a varied collection of complicated, age-dependant biochemical failure modes that we might have to fully understand our cells to defeat it. Or maybe not - it's possible that an engineering approach in absence of full information may lead to significant gains in the fight against cancer. It seems likely that many - or even most - cancers depend upon errant stem cells; how fortunate we will all be if the energies poured into stem cell research uncover a means and the knowledge to deal effectively with cancer.

Methionine restriction decreases visceral fat mass and preserves insulin action in aging male Fischer 344 rats independent of energy restriction:

Reduced dietary methionine intake (0.17% methionine, MR) and calorie restriction (CR) prolong lifespan in male Fischer 344 rats. Although the mechanisms are unclear, both regimens feature lower body weight and reductions in adiposity. Reduced fat deposition in CR is linked to preservation of insulin responsiveness in older animals. ... Collectively, the results indicate that MR reduces visceral fat and preserves insulin activity in aging rats independent of energy restriction.

Scientists are working a great deal more on calorie restriction and related research these days. Anything that reduces body fat is good for your long term health and resistance to age-related disease, but there is a way to go yet towards explaining why and how these various strategies work. There's still plenty of hard evidence to support the practice of calorie restriction while you wait.

In the grand scheme of things, however, this is all a poor substitute for much more directed anti-aging research. There's no such thing as useless knowledge in the long term, but it would be nice to see more aggressively funded and direct attempts to ensure we remain alive and healthy to see the long term.

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