Archive for the ‘life extension’ Category

Gene could hold secret to youth

November 30, 2007

A single gene could hold the secret to eternal youth, scientists have shown, after rejuvenating the skin of two-year-old mice by blocking its activity.

Not only did the animals appear more youthful, but at a biological level they resembled new-borns. The same gene, NF-kappa-B, is thought to play a role in numerous other aspects of ageing.

It acts as a regulator, causing a wide range of other genes to be more or less active in older people.

Dr Howard Chang, from the Stanford School of Medicine in California, who led the research, said: “We found a pretty striking reversal to that of the young skin.

However, he cautioned against raising false hopes of a “fountain of youth” that can turn back time. At present no one knows how long the rejuvenating process lasts. Also, scientists do not know long-term effects that might result from tinkering with NF-kappa-B, a so-called transcription factor which helps control gene activity.

Source:  The Press Association

Novel Compounds May Battle Diseases of Aging

November 29, 2007

Experimental compounds aimed at treating diseases such as type 2 diabetes show promise, scientists say.

These “novel chemical entities” activate SIRT1, a gene controlling the aging process, the researchers report in the Nov. 29 issue of Nature.

In obese mice, these compounds improved insulin sensitivity, lowered plasma glucose levels, and increased the function of mitochondria (the powerhouse of cells).

In rats, the compounds improved whole body glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity in fat tissue, skeletal muscle, and the liver.  The experimental compounds were developed and tested by Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc., in Cambridge, Mass.

Source:  Washington Post

Anti-depressant may hold key to longer life

November 24, 2007

earthwormAn antidepressant drug has been found to boost lifespan by around 30 per cent by tricking the brain to thinking it is starving.

The drug, called mianserin, extended the life span of nematode worms Caenorhabditis elegans, U.S. researchers reported in the journal Nature. They hope to find out if the same mechanism can help people live longer.

Three other compounds, including another antidepressant, have similar effects, said Michael Petrascheck of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle. But the life-extending benefits come at a cost.

“Weight gain and increased appetite seems to be one of the side effects. It is one of the reasons these are not such popular antidepressants,” Petrascheck said in a telephone interview.

Source:  Daily Mail

Bring on the nanobots, and we will live long and prosper

November 23, 2007

Ray Kurzweil pens an op-ed in U.K’s The Guardian:

Extending human life expectancy is not a new story. When our genes evolved thousands of years ago, it was not in the interests of the species for people to live past child-rearing as resources such as food were in very short supply.

So human life expectancy was in the 20s a thousand years ago. It was only 37 in 1800. It is now pushing 80, and we have been adding about three months each year for the past several decades.

This progression is about to go into high gear. Until recently, health and medicine was a hit or miss affair. We would discover interventions such as drugs that had benefits but also many side effects. We did not have the means to design interventions, but that is changing. The breakthrough in stem-cell biology reported this week offers just one example of the progress.

The mouse that shook the world

November 2, 2007

Scientists have been astounded by the creation of a genetically modified “supermouse” with extraordinary physical abilities – comparable to the performance of the very best athletes – raising the prospect that the discovery may one day be used to transform people’s capacities.

The mouse can run up to six kilometres (3.7 miles) at a speed of 20 metres per minute for five hours or more without stopping. Scientists said that this was equivalent of a man cycling at speed up an Alpine mountain without a break.

Although it eats up to 60 per cent more food than an ordinary mouse, the modified mouse does not put on weight. It also lives longer and enjoys an active sex life well into old age – being capable of breeding at three times the normal maximum age.

Source:  Independent

Aubrey de Grey — The Invincible Man

October 31, 2007

Aubrey de Grey, photographed at San Francisco's airport, created the Methuselah Foundation to support scientific research into extending the life span, oh, 900 years.

Aubrey de Grey may be wrong but, evidence suggests, he’s not nuts. This is a no small assertion. De Grey argues that some people alive today will live in a robust and youthful fashion for 1,000 years.

In 2005, an authoritative publication offered $20,000 to any molecular biologist who could demonstrate that de Grey’s plan for treating aging as a disease — and curing it — was “so wrong that it was unworthy of learned debate.”

Now mere mortals — who may wish to be significantly less mortal — can judge whether de Grey’s proposals are “science or fantasy,” as the magazine put it. De Grey’s much-awaited “Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime” has just been published.

The judges were formidable for that MIT Technology Review challenge prize. They included Rodney Brooks, then director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer of Microsoft; and J. Craig Venter, who shares credit for first sequencing the human genome.

In the end, they decided no scientist had succeeded in blowing de Grey out of the water. “At issue is the conflict between the scientific process and the ambiguous status of ideas that have not yet been subjected to that process,” Myhrvold wrote for the judges.

Well yes, that. Plus the question that has tantalized humans forever. What if the only certainty is taxes?

Interesting stuff.  Read the whole article at Washington Post

Genes found that slow both aging and cancer

October 15, 2007

Researchers have identified a batch of genes that not only prevent cancer but slow the aging process in worms, and say they are now looking to see if the genes have the same properties in humans.

Many of the genes in the worms are already known to have counterparts in humans, and the team at the University of California, San Francisco, say they hope to better understand some of the processes that cause both aging and cancer.

Drugs that mimic the effects of these genes might help people both avoid cancer and also live longer, they wrote in Sunday’s issue of the journal Nature Genetics.

Full article:  Reuters

Long-Life Gene Might Help Lower Cholesterol

October 12, 2007

A gene already associated with longer life span may also be linked to a pathway that clears cholesterol from the body, say Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers.

They said their finding could help lead to the creation of drugs that lower the risk of cholesterol-related diseases such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and Alzheimer’s disease.

The gene, called SIRT1, prevents cholesterol buildup by activating a cellular pathway that flushes cholesterol from the body using high density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol), the team explained.

In their research with mice, the MIT team found that low SIRT1 levels resulted in cholesterol buildup in cells such as macrophages (a type of immune cell), due to reduced activity of a protein called liver X receptor (LXR). This protein is responsible for moving cholesterol out of macrophage cells.

Full article:  Forbes

Resveratrol: It’s good for mice but what about us?

October 6, 2007

MAGIC PILL?This antioxidant can protect against cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It can lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and ease pain. Best of all, perhaps, it can help users live 30% longer than they would without it.

Resveratrol — a substance found most notably in red wine — is sometimes called a “miracle molecule.”

In labs around the world, scientists are devoting their lives to studying it, and they’re writing so many papers about it that mere mortals are hard-pressed to keep up with them all.

In short, the evidence is nearly overwhelming that resveratrol can work wonders for your health.

That is, if you’re a mouse.

Full article:  Los Angeles Times

Unlocking the key to longevity

September 29, 2007

Antonio Zamora, a lean 64-year-old computer scientist from Bethesda, suffers none of the chronic diseases that afflict people his age. “I haven’t been sick for a long time,” Zamora said. “Last year, my medical bill came to $20 – for my co-pay for my yearly medical exam.”

Antonio ZamoraHis secret: a variant of an ultra-low-calorie diet known to extend the lives of animals and protect humans from age-related diseases.

Known as calorie restriction, or CR, the Spartan diet is one of several avenues researchers are exploring in their quest to understand and delay aging.

They’re also interested in genes that appear to play a role in getting older, along with a variety of chemical compounds, including one found in red wine, that may possess life-extending properties.

But assembling the clues to solve the aging puzzle is no easy feat.

Source:  Baltimore Sun