The Foresight Institute folk have been quite active over the course of a year of lockdown, running virtual gatherings and regular presentations, in which you'll find more than just the usual Bay Area communities of forward-looking individuals. The interests of the Foresight Institute principals include molecular nanotechnology, artificial general intelligence, and rejuvenation biotechnology, and so you will probably find at least a few of this year's salon presentations interesting.
The selection of events noted below are linked by the theme of biomarkers to measure the progression of degenerative aging. Aging is the consequence of accumulated cell and tissue damage, which progresses at different paces at different people. Variance in human pace of aging is near entirely a matter of lifestyle choices and degree of harmful environmental exposures, such as particulate air pollution or infectious pathogens. But measuring that variance in a useful way is much less interesting than being able to rapidly quantify the efficacy of potential age-slowing and age-reversing therapies.
Generally agreed upon measures of degenerative aging based on blood tests would greatly accelerate progress towards human rejuvenation, directing attention and funding towards better rather than worse approaches. At present, poor approaches can continue to thrive at the expensive of better approaches, given an environment in which there is little near-term reward for success nor accountability for failure in the matter of meaningfully changing the state of aging.
In this session, Steve Horvath, professor at the University of California Los Angeles, provided an overview of the current state of the epigenetic clock field and the new developments in it. Then he went on to talk about what is missing in regards to methylation clocks and the longevity field itself, as well as what might be the next steps - the holy grails we should strive to get to. He also went to address some of the common misconceptions tied to epigenetic clocks at the end.
In this session, Morgan Levine, Assistant Professor at Yale, gave a sneak peek into the new epigenetic clock they are developing that is able to probe into multiple organ systems, as well as on a new approach how to calculate clocks that is much more reliable, enabling to generate insights from methylation clocks with much smaller samples required. The second talk was given by Jamie Justice, Assistant Professor at Wake Forest, that covered the current ways and strides the longevity field is making towards validating biomarkers of aging through clinical trials, shown on examples of a few senolytic trials they made. In the end she also explained how exactly the TAME trial, which she is a coordinator of, should serve as a vehicle for the field to move further and have a flagship trial to validate new aging biomarkers against in the future.
In this session, Gordan Lauc (Genos Glyco and GlycanAge) and Vadim Gladyshev (Harvard), gave their point of view on biomarkers and aging clocks development. Gordan Lauc went through the interesting glycomic data they recently and insights it generated about aging and menopause, exceptional predictive capability of glycans for hypertension, and much more. Vadim Gladyshev then went through the approach to molecular signatures and biomarkers that they are employing to find and test interventions to extend lifespan. Part of it is also a new epigenetic clock called scAge functioning on a single cell basis. This clock enabled them to find when aging actually begins during embryonic development.