Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Healthy Ageing and Longevity

The latest Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences contains a range of interesting material from last year's third International Conference on Healthy Ageing and Longevity. I already pointed out the Longevity Dividend position paper over at the Longevity Meme, but there's much more to look into. For example:

Cytomegalovirus Infection: A Driving Force in Human T Cell Immunosenescence:

The human immune system evolved to defend the organism against pathogens, but is clearly less well able to do so in the elderly, resulting in greater morbidity and mortality due to infectious disease in old people, and higher healthcare costs. Many age-associated immune alterations have been reported over the years, of which probably the changes in T cell immunity, often manifested dramatically as large clonal expansions of cells of limited antigen specificity together with a marked shrinkage of the T cell antigen receptor repertoire, are the most notable. It has recently emerged that the common herpesvirus, cytomegalovirus (CMV), which establishes persistent, life-long infection, usually asymptomatically, may well be the driving force behind clonal expansions and altered phenotypes and functions of CD8 cells seen in most old people.

...

These virus-driven changes are less marked in "successfully aged" centenarians, but most marked in people whom longitudinal studies have shown to be at higher risk of death ... These findings support the hypothesis that persistent herpesviruses, especially CMV, act as chronic antigenic stressors and play a major causative role in immunosenescence and associated mortality.

You'll find a lot more on this topic back in the Fight Aging! archives. As for a couple of other near-future advances in longevity medicine, eliminating the influence of cytomegalovirus looks to be as much of a sure win as you're ever likely to see in the uncertain world of biotechnology research and development.

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