Panel Discussion: How Can Life Extension Become as Popular as the War on Cancer?

Given the BioViva press release I pointed out earlier today, you may be interested in listening to a Longevity Day roundtable held yesterday, since Elizabeth Parrish of BioViva was participating, as well as Keith Comito of the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation, and a few other names you might recognize. From my perspective it is great to see so much going on that I only find out about after the fact: one of the signs of a healthy and growing community is that people are off doing things and I have no idea, since there is too much to keep track of in any reasonable amount of time.

What can be done to raise public support for the pursuit of indefinite life extension through medicine and biotechnology to the same level as currently exists for disease-specific research efforts aimed at cancers, heart disease, ALS, and similar large-scale nemeses? In this panel discussion, held on October 1, 2015 - International Longevity Day - Mr. Stolyarov asks notable life-extension supporters to provide input on this vital question and related areas relevant to accelerating the pursuit of indefinite longevity. This panel is coordinated in conjunction with MILE, the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension.

Panelists: Adam Alonzi, Sven Bulterjis, Keith Comito, Roen Horn, B. J. Murphy, and Elizabeth Parrish

A set of presentation slides was put together by Butlerjis, and is worth a few minutes of your time. In particular, one of the lessons to take away here is that big budget cancer research didn't just magically happen overnight. Rather it was the culmination of many failed attempts to create such a state of affairs over the course of half a century. Prior to the 1970s cancer research in fact looked quite similar to the situation for aging research today: little interest, little funding, large gaps in the scientific understanding of the fine details of the disease, but the clear potential to make a big difference to patients and therapies with what was known at the time.

Aging Research Needs Marketing: What Can We Learn from Cancer Research?

1910: The American Association for Cancer Research convinces president Taft to ask congress to build a national lab for cancer research: failure.

1927: Senator Matthew Neely asks congress to give 5 million USD for information that could lead to a cure for cancer: he got 50,000 USD.

1937: Neely, Senator Homer Bone and Representative Warren Magnuson : National Cancer Institute Act, success signed by president Roosevelt: NCI founded, but the war in Europe soon ended funds for the NCI.

1946-47: Neely and Senator Claude Pepper: 3rd proposal for nation wide cancer research: rejected.

Solomon Garb said in 1969: "A big obstacle in the fight against cancer is the severe an chronic lack of money, something that is not known to most people. We won't get there by repeating this. It is also necessary to explain how it will be used, what kind of projects will be financed with it, why these projects deserve our support, and where the scientists and technicians that have to execute them will come from."

Why do some diseases have a big impact only in a given era? Theory: the society couples diseases to psychological crises. For Cancer: in the '70s when the focus changed from external (USSR) to internal (cancer). For AIDS: in the '80s when the generation was obsessed with sexuality and freedom. For SARS: in the 21st century alongside the fears of globalization. But what about aging?

To conclude: cancer has a similar history to aging, we also need marketing, business people, and celebrities on our side, and aging has to be recognized as a disease.

Comments

I'm glad the movement is growing. Things like lifespan.io and bioviva moving forward are incredibly hopeful and promising. But I don't see it getting quite as large as the cancer movement anytime in the near future. Especially if the regulatory bodies refuse to recognize this as a disease. I'd love to be wrong on this thougg

I didn't have time to watch the whole video yet, but I will when I get time, so I don't know if this question was covered: Years ago before cancer was well funded, did everyone scream "resources!", "overpopulation!", "only for the rich", or tell you that wanting treatments was an affront to God, unnatural, and that someone was selfish for daring to want to live longer? There is a large portion of the population vehemently against this, that I don't think cancer faced. People constantly say things like "curing aging would be the biggest mistake Humanity has ever made" whenever there is an aging article posted somewhere.

Unless people (and regulatory bodies) can change the way they think about aging and age related diseases, and realize they aren't separate entities I think the movement will struggle to reach its full potential. People will even argue "well what does a healthy person die from, then?" As if we have a moral duty to die on time. That being said, I'm glad that more and more people and companies are getting involved in this and growing the field. Hopefully this ends up putting pressure on the FDA and similar bodies (which is why id like the metformin trial to get FDA blessing, despite it being near useless).

Posted by: Ham at October 2nd, 2015 6:15 PM

I don't think that life extension will become as popular as the war on cancer with the general public. However, the on-going biotech/bio-engineering revolution is going to radical reduce the cost of researching and developing the cure for aging such that public finance will be unnecessary and, thus, the mass popularity of life extension will also be unnecessary as well.

If we can accomplish our goals through private means, public support becomes irrelevant.

Posted by: Abelard Lindsey at October 3rd, 2015 12:14 PM

If aging and the diseases of aging aren't separate entities (and I agree that they aren't in any practical sense), aging research is well-funded by definition, because research focused on the diseases of aging is well-funded. What we seem to really want is funding for research that we think will have the most impact. And this is why the general public doesn't care and will never care: they care about the ends (i.e., curing disease) but not the means (e.g., statins vs LysoSENS).

Posted by: Florin Clapa at October 4th, 2015 1:36 PM

@Reason: Thank you very much for posting this roundtable.

"one of the signs of a healthy and growing community is that people are off doing things"

I fully agree.

Posted by: Waverunner at October 5th, 2015 6:57 AM

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