It has been an interesting year, and I suppose it is traditional at the tail end of December to cast a thoughtful eye back at the highlights. Which I will do, and the following items are in no particular order of importance or chronology.
This was the year that marked the end of the Longevity Meme, launched in 2001 and finally shut down and folded into Fight Aging!
2011 was also the year that I finally redesigned Fight Aging! - something I'd been threatening to get around to since somewhere in the middle of 2005. Speed of action is not high on the list of things to expect around these parts.
The SENS Foundation issued research reports that showed definite signs of progress - a million dollar budget in the prior year and concrete results starting to emerge from the research program focused on the means to repair the biological damage of aging.
Speaking of SENS, the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, the fifth SENS conference was held only a few months ago. There have been a range of presentations posted to the Foundation YouTube channel as high quality videos.
An important confirmation of the role of senescent cells in aging was accomplished in mice. Find a way to remove senescent cells and health and longevity benefit - that has been shown in action, and now the research community needs to develop a way to accomplish that goal that is better suited to clinical development of a therapy for humans.
This past year the Methuselah Foundation has refocused their efforts on establishing the New Organ Mprize as a part of the comprehensive strategy to accelerate tissue engineering and organ creation - and with it improve human longevity.
Max More has been working away as CEO of Alcor for the past year, making changes aimed at improving the transparency, community relations, and long term prospects for that part of the cryonics industry.
Some noteworthy progress was made early in 2011 in selectively reversing some of the decline of the immune system with age - this adds weight to the evidence for immune rejuvenation through selective destruction of errant cells.
I launched Open Cures this year, an effort to do something about the ridiculous state of regulation and medical development of longevity science. It is a project that I need to get back to working on more aggressively as soon as possible; change doesn't make itself happen.
An study showing an unexpected five year effect on human longevity - a good half the expected effect of regular exercise, a magnitude highly unusual for an established medical treatment - came and went largely unremarked.
The Russian side of the longevity science community has continued to build connections with the English-speaking world. The Science for Life Extension Foundation puts out very attractive materials, the Russian cryonics company KrioRus continues to grow, and more data is emerging on mitochondrially targeted antioxidants under development by Vladimir Skulachev's group.
Resveratrol and indeed the whole sirtuin endeavor has fallen out of favor in the last year - looking like yet another dead end to add to the annals of overly optimistic pharmaceutical development. I would expect to see much more of this sort of thing until the research community switches more of their focus to working on SENS program goals. Try to fix the damage, not just dig up drugs that alter metabolism a little bit.
Tissue engineering in 2011 has been a matter of leaps and bounds - too many to mention. There has been pancreas regeneration, more engineered trachea transplants, building of urethras, blood vessels, and mouse teeth. Which is not to mention small intestine sections, decellularized lungs, and the construction of a working sphincter. And more; this is what an energetic, well funded field looks like.
The naked mole rat genome was sequenced earlier in the year. This is a big step forward for the contingent of researchers agitating for the genetic comparison of long-lived mammals. Why are they long-lived? What can we learn? The mole rat genome is doing the rounds, and researchers will refine their present investigations of the species' noteworthy longevity and cancer resistance.
Sonia Arrison published 100+, a book that aimed to introduce many of the topics here at Fight Aging!, and garnered a fair amount of attention from the mainstream.
And of course, a hundred other items that I'm omitting. It's been busy out there - we're slowly edging into the early barnstorming age of longevity science, in which novel ways to extend life in mice are arriving every couple of months and new longevity-related genes are cataloged at a much faster rate. We measure progress by the degree to which people like me stop talking about certain topics or reporting on certain forms of research because they have become commonplace. It's an exciting time, certainly, and shows no signs of slowing down yet.