What is Aging? Can We Delay It?

Here is a very accessible position paper from the Longevity Science Advisory Panel, a UK group interested in medical intervention in the aging process. You'll need to click through to download the full PDF version:

Understanding ageing is demanding. Within it is the paradox that all species, including humans, strive for survival but ageing and death are almost universal in the living world. In this paper we summarise a range of theories and mechanisms of ageing. There is little evidence that it is programmed into our genes and substantial evidence that it is malleable, in that lifespan has been lengthened by a variety of means in a variety of species. Just as important as the process itself is the fact that ageing is associated with an increased risk of many life-threatening diseases. If ageing can be delayed then it is likely that there will be a delay in the development of some or all of these diseases, leading to increased longevity.

Our goal for this project was to produce a report about the complex processes involved in ageing. We wanted it to be accessible to a wide spectrum of readers, not just those involved in academic study. We carried out an unusual research project which involved interviewing eight respected biogerontologists to identify current knowledge about the biology of ageing, which treatments may show promise in delaying the ageing process, and what they see as the future outcomes from scientific research on this topic. We supplemented these expert views with evidence from published studies on the effectiveness of the most promising new anti-ageing treatments, and developed a model to show what this might mean for the extension of human lifespan in the future.

From this research we have been able to build up a picture of the latest developments in this area. The experts tended to agree on which possible factors are important in understanding the biology of ageing. However, they did not necessarily agree on which are the most important components of the ageing process, or on which interventions might have the greatest potential for extending lifespan.

Link: http://www.longevitypanel.co.uk/viewpoint/what-is-ageing-can-we-delay-it/

Comments

Certainly doesn't seem overly optimistic, especially in regards to adding much longevity to those 65 and older.

Posted by: Ham at May 11th, 2015 11:19 AM

Yikes, it doesn't look good. In order to extend lifespan from 80 years to 120, you need to administer drugs from age 25 onward. And no such drugs will be available in the next decade. So it's starting to look like many of us were just plain born too early.

Posted by: InternetStranger at May 11th, 2015 3:57 PM

@InternetStranger: Yes, if the only game in town is slowing aging. Which fortunately it isn't. This is one of the many reasons I support repair based approaches such as SENS that are aimed at reversing aging rather than just slowing it down.

Posted by: Reason at May 11th, 2015 4:42 PM

Unfortunately most of the efforts outside of SENS are working towards slowing aging. Hopefully SENS can produce something soon to switch efforts into the repair based approach. I do wonder though, especially since Aubrey de Grey said the other day (in the Heterochromatin and Aging article comments section) that ApoptoSENS is looking easier nowadays, even if those senolytic drugs don't work out... I wonder how much longer just a treatment like that (without the rest of the SENS treatments) would give you, opposed to one that's just slowing aging.

Posted by: Ham at May 11th, 2015 6:28 PM

Not to mention gene therapy and Plasma exchange experiments in the human model this year which are likely to boost lifespan too. There are a few games in town not just the slow plodding FDA stuff.

Posted by: Steve H at May 12th, 2015 7:11 AM

I agree with Steve, that there are other action items on the table that should increase ageing w/o SENS including CRISPR, gene editing, AI, and nanobots which I would think should be here within 2 decades.

And, until these get approved to use in the U.S., more of us will go to other countries to take advantage of the new treatments.

I do hope SENS will be successful (of course), but I think funding needs to be substantially increased first. I'd rather have my body repaired rather than bandaid.

Posted by: Robert Church at May 12th, 2015 11:27 AM

I have to wonder how much money some of these other treatments in other countries will end up costing. I'm not expecting them to be cheap in the beginning, but I know BioViva's telomerase therapy was vaguely said to be "a few hundred thousand dollars". I'd like to believe that stem cells and gene editing will be more mature within 2 decades, but I'm not holding my breath on the nanobots or AI. I hope we'll see at least one SENS therapy out within then, especially since AdG has said a couple of them are looking easier now.

Posted by: Ham at May 12th, 2015 11:47 AM

@Robert AAV Gene therapy is already being used to treat Beckers MD in the US and interest in the field is growing. CRISPR will likely lead to packages of gene manipulations in the near future as pathway combinations are identified and targeted.

AI and nano-tech I think are a little more distant but gene therapy and CRISPR are going to come into their own soon. You are correct about offshore medical tourism, this is already happening and will increase unless the FDA sorts out the mess that is the approval system and allows researchers to research aging in a sensible manner instead of having to jump through hoops to appease an outdated system. That said even the FDA is now initiating some aging research into pathways and gene targets.

I can see gene therapy working with SENS anyway as some gene targets would work with their approach too. I said it before and will do so again, "First pass" longevity therapy is likely to combine SENS and other approaches.

You have BioViva, M Blasco and Fossell pushing for Telomere (and other) gene therapies for longevity too so I think that will happen in the fairly near future.

Posted by: Steve H at May 13th, 2015 5:19 AM

For those interested in the FDA grants for age research they are posted below. For what it's worth I think they are coming at it the wrong way but it does show a shift in attitudes to aging in the FDA which if nothing else is good they are being more receptive. I am sure Reason and others will agree that they are going about it the wrong way but even so its better than nothing.

1. Comparative Physiology RFA-AG-16-003
Application Due Date: June 2, 2015

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to support small research projects that involve comparative studies to understand biological pathways, which may explain differences in lifespan and health span phenotypes, in vertebrate species and that can be carried out in a short period of time with limited resources.

http://www.grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-AG-16-003.html.

2. Characterization of Pro- and Anti-Geronic Proteins and Peptides (R01) RFA-AG-16-005
Application Due Date: July 9, 2015

The goal of this FOA is to advance research on naturally occurring proteins (and/or peptides) known to impact one or more aging phenotypes, at physiological levels, based on whole-animal experimental evidence. These are "geronic proteins" isolated from circulation, which might reverse (rejuvenate) or potentially prevent development of aging phenotypes observable in an older laboratory animal, such as cardiac hypertrophy, diminished skeletal muscle repair-efficiency, reduced muscle strength, etc. (anti-geronic proteins), or which appear to promote an aging phenotype in a young adult laboratory animal, such as leading to decreased neurogenesis or cognitive function (pro-geronic proteins).

http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-AG-16-005.html

3. T1 Translational Research: Novel Interventions for Prevention and Treatment of Age-related Conditions (R21): PAR-15-190
Application Due Date: Standard dates apply

This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) encourages exploratory/developmental research projects to accelerate the pace of development of novel therapeutics involving biologics, pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches for preventing and treating key health issues affecting the elderly. For the purposes of this FOA, T1 translational research on aging is defined as the application of basic and clinical biomedical findings towards the development of new strategies for prevention and treatment of age-related pathologies.

http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-15-190.html

4. Analyses of Human Datasets and Biospecimens to Characterize Aging-related Phenotypes Relationships to Circulating Polypeptides and Proteins that Reverse or Accelerate Aging Changes (R01): RFA-AG-16-012
Application Due Date: July 9, 2015

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) invites applications to analyze existing datasets and stored biospecimens from human cohorts (e.g., epidemiologic studies, clinical trials) to advance understanding of potential effects in humans of polypeptides and proteins whose circulating levels change with age, and for which experimental evidence indicates reversal or acceleration of aging changes.

http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-AG-16-012.html

5. Consortia for Innovative AIDS Research in Nonhuman Primates (UM1): RFA-AI-15-022
Application Due Date: July 29, 2015

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) solicits applications that will study a vaccine shown to have protected at least a subset of Nonhuman Primates (NHP) from lethal Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) or Simian-Human Immunodeficiency Virus (SHIV) mucosal challenge.

http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-AI-15-022.html

Posted by: Steve H at May 13th, 2015 5:21 AM

The third and fourth ones one seem like the best ones as far as being somewhat useful in bringing potential treatments to clinical trials. Wouldn't it be nice if somehow SENS could get a grant?

Posted by: Ham at May 13th, 2015 3:28 PM

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