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LIFEmag - researched life extension coveragehttp://www.lifemag.orgLIFEmag - researched life extension coveragehttp://lifemag.org/images/lifemag.pngLIFEmaghttp://lifemag.orgThe quest to conquer death: A brief history of longevity researchhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-quest-to-conquer-death-a-brief-history-of-longevity-researchFrom the philosopher\'s stone to Google Calico, anti-aging and longevity research still captures our imagination.Read more @ VocativThe centenarian tide is on the rise http://lifemag.org/article/the-centenarian-tide-is-on-the-riseDeath rates have been dropping for Americans of almost every age for decades now. A study of centenarians, Americans 100 years and older, suggests that they are joining the ranks, as their death rates started to decline in 2008.Read more @ CNNCancer drug clears Alzheimer's-related plaques and improves memory function in micehttp://lifemag.org/article/cancer-drug-clears-alzheimers-related-plaques-and-improves-memory-function-in-miceA drug used to bolster the body’s immune system in the fight against tumours has been found to reduce Alzheimer’s-related symptoms in mice, including cutting the build-up of toxic amyloid plaques in the brain by half, and restoring certain memory functions.Read more @ Science AlertUsing CRISPR to cure age-related blindnesshttp://lifemag.org/article/using-crispr-to-cure-age-related-blindnessIn a new study, researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute have been able to hinder retinal degeneration in an inherited form of blindness called retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Read more @ GENA Single Blood Test For All Cancers? Illumina, Bill Gates And Jeff Bezos Launch Startup To Make It Happenhttp://lifemag.org/article/a-single-blood-test-for-all-cancers-illumina-bill-gates-and-jeff-bezos-launch-startup-to-make-it-happenWhat if a simple blood test could detect any cancer early, when it was still easy to treat?It sounds like science fiction. But Illumina ILMN +0.27%, the $24 billion (market cap) biotechnology company that has pioneered cheap, efficient sequencing of DNA, says it could be a reality in a few years.Read more @ ForbesThe political implications of increased life expectancyhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-political-implications-of-increased-life-expectancyThere is no reason to think that this increase in life expectancy will abate any time soon. Indeed, it may accelerate. And that has tremendous public-policy implications with regard to Social Security, Medicare, etc.Read more @ CommentaryExploring the future of biotech http://lifemag.org/article/exploring-the-future-of-biotech

Evan Johnson reports on last week’s “The Future of Biotech Enterprise: Exponential Opportunities and Existential Risks” conference in Cambridge.When most people think of the word biotechnology, a number of thoughts might pop into their head, ranging from DNA to vaccines to perhaps Darth Vader even. But far from being a fantastical concept, biotechnology broadly defined as ‘modifying living organisms for human purposes’, is in fact used in and impacts upon fields as varied as agriculture, molecular biology, and chemical engineering. The biotechnology field is advancing rapidly. One example of this has been decoding the human genome - a task of mammoth proportions - which took huge amounts of government funding and international collaboration and coordination. The price of DNA sequencing is now exponentially decreasing thanks to the combination of scientific research with increasingly powerful computational muscle and intelligent software. This has led to the birth of an entire industry of personal genetic testing, in which a customer can have cheap access to a plethora of information about themselves. By simply spitting into a tube, an individual can now gain access to knowledge that would have been considered science fiction just a few years ago.Nonetheless, this translation of science fiction into science fact has a dark side, and as costs have fallen dramatically, biotechnology has increasingly become democratized. Technologies previously limited to the ivory towers of academia and laboratories are now available to anyone with enough know-how to do some intense research on the internet. You don’t need to be the most savvy denizen of the internet to know that safety is far from the most pressing concern for many self-styled amateur scientists. The possibility for a seemingly harmless experiment to go awry, and unleash a new virus on the world increases every time someone tinkers with genetic code. As of yet, those with malicious intent have been unable to spread their malevolence, but some consider it only a matter of time.With biotechnology having both huge opportunities and massive risks, it is imperative that the issue of its development is addressed from all angles. Fortunately, such public discussions are already underway. On December 2nd at Cambridge University, Professors Chris Lowe and Derek Smith of Cambridge, along with Dmitry Kamsinkiy, of Deep Knowledge Ventures, headed the forum entitled “The Future of Biotech Enterprise: Exponential Opportunities and Existential Risks”.The first speech was from Kaminskiy, senior partner at Deep Knowledge Ventures, an investment fund focused on disruptive, exponential technologies such as biotechnology. Kaminskiy noted that while some progress in biotech has been rapid -such as genome sequencing - other spheres - such as pharmaceutical development - have actually slowed down in recent years. The key factor in accelerating progress, he noted, was the use of machine learning in big data analytics, with more and more companies using such techniques to make analysis actionable. Kaminskiy was adamant in his belief that this factor is critical, and highlighted how his fund uses such methods to select strategic investments. He then detailed the work of two Deep Knowledge Venture portfolio companies, Insilico Medicine, which focuses on anti-aging treatments, and Pathway Pharmaceuticals, which provides personalized oncology solutions with its product, OncoFinder. Both of these companies may be considered prime examples of exponential opportunities in biotech due to their use of big data analytics developed with machine learning to provide personalized treatments for patients.Kaminskiy was well aware of the existential risks posed by such technologies, and stated that it was important to build organizations that would bring scientists and the public together. It was in this spirit that he highlighted several projects of Deep Knowledge Ventures. The first was the Exponential Technologies Institute, which is a collaborative IT platform designed to bring experts together to create dynamic roadmaps of the development of technologies which will have the most impact in the coming future. Kaminskiy announced that such a platform, which will fully launch in early 2016, is the ideal way to involve people globally, as anyone can have access to this information. The next project highlighted was the Oxford-based BioGerontology Research Foundation, a charity organization which supports research and development in the longevity field. The BGRF is focused on public outreach, hosting forums and maintaining publications such as The Longevity Reporter to inform people not only of developments within the anti-aging field, but what risks they entail. Kaminskiy finished his segment by announcing the formation of Deep Knowledge Life Sciences, an offshoot of Deep Knowledge Ventures to be located in the UK focusing specifically on biotechnology and life sciences.Next to speak was Chris Lowe, Professor Emeritus in Cambridge’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. Professor Lowe’s work is focused on healthcare biotechnology, especially biopharmaceuticals, sensors and diagnostics, and microbial technology, and he has received numerous awards including “Most Entrepreneurial Scientist in the UK”. He explained his vantage point on the biotechnology industry, first explaining how much the industry has progressed in the past three decades. While he was confident that there has never been a better time to be investing in the future of this revolutionary technology, he also cautioned that such technology enable a relatively small group of intelligent people to cause disproportionately massive harm. Ending his speech, Professor Lowe highlighted how the current state of affairs for drug discovery and healthcare is untenable; within the next few years, he emphasized, new technologies in personalized and precision medicine will dramatically lower costs and improve access.Last was Derek Smith, Professor of Infectious Disease Informatics in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge. Professor Smith’s research uses mathematical and computational methods to study the evolution and spread of pathogens. He discussed the current landscape of virulent infectious disease research but stated that nature is the worst terrorist, reminding the audience of the pandemics that have historically threatened humanity’s existence. Professor Smith stated that the only way to mitigate the threat of these kinds of pandemics would be to stay one step ahead of nature and predict which mutations will enable viruses to threaten humanity. He said that he hopes we can continue researching and publishing the threats about global pandemics in order to mitigate them before they happen. Professor Smith ended with the thought that this information could be very dangerous in the hands of the wrong people, but it would be far worse for us not to know.With the rapid development of biotechnology, which shows no signs of letting up, its potential to shape the future, creating a real life heaven or hell is enormous. Venturing forth into unknown territory is always risky, which is why it is crucial that we have institutions set up and expert figures ready to lead the way. This past event at the University of Cambridge highlighted the effectiveness of collaboration between academia and the venture capital world, and is an enheartening sign of faith in the future.

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Cryopreservation: What’s all the fuss about? http://lifemag.org/article/cryopreservation-what-s-all-the-fuss-about

In January this year, a two year old girl in Thailand sadly lost her battle with an incurable brain tumour. A tragically premature death of course, but also an arguably unremarkable one. With around 8.2 million cancer deaths worldwide per year, what exactly made this particular case so special? The answer lies in cryonics. The infant, known as Einz, made headlines all over the world after becoming the youngest human to be cryogenically frozen, a procedure that was carried out in line with her parents wishes. Similarly, in 2013 there was also the highly publicised case of 23 year old Kim Suozzi, a terminally ill cancer sufferer who, despite the religious views of her parents, managed to raise enough money via a Reddit campaign to undergo the preserving post-death op.While these ideas on the surface may just seem like desperate attempts to cling onto hope, more and more of the population - since the early 1970’s - have been signing up to be cryogenically frozen, and the methods behind such procedures have been growing in complexity, popularity and legitimacy year on year. So what’s all the fuss about, how exactly is this fascinating fast track to a new life in the future carried out today? It all starts with a Watch ListWhile there are several non-profit organisations like “The Cryonics Institute” & “KryOrus” currently practicing and researching in the field of cryonics, currently at the forefront is the Arizona based “Alcor Life Extension Foundation”. Members within Alcor are constantly monitored for medical anomalies. When a patient’s health seems to be failing, they’re added to the companies ‘Watch List’. Then at the point of near certain death, a professional standby team is sent to accompany the patient in their dying hours (although teams can often wait days, maybe even weeks for a patient to pass). This may seem over anticipated and disrespectful, but the minutes immediately after legal death are a vital timeframe to utilise. As soon the body is no longer living, everything begins to deteriorate including that all important brain tissue; the longer the wait to begin preservation, the more likely the body and brain will sustain irreparable damage, even with assumed future medical marvels. The more in tact the brain remains, the easier it will be for future generations to regenerate the subject, maintaining as much of the patients former “soul” as possible in the process.Once the patient is declared legally deceased, the team get to work. The patient is transferred from the hospital bed, to a cooling bed, where the body is covered with an icy slurry. A device called a “heart-lung resuscitator” is then used to ensure the blood starts moving throughout the body again. At this stage at least 16 different medications are administered, both commonplace and experimental, to protect the cells from deterioration - now surgery can begin. In the next phase the body is preserved internally; the chest area is opened up to give access to the major blood vessels, these are then attached to the draining mechanism which is responsible for emptying the blood from the body and replacing it with a medical grade antifreeze solution (the same chemical liquid used for preservation during organ transplants). The main aim of this complex procedure is to ensure that ice crystals don’t form within and destroy body cells.The final stage is a lengthy cooling process. Once the blood networks are completely filled with the antifreeze solution the team begin to steadily drop the temperature of the patient\'s body, about 1°C every hour. Then around two weeks later, they are stored in a specially modified freezer-come-stasis pod at around -196°C until their hypothetical revival in a technologically superior future. Patients can also alternatively opt for neuropreservation; the procedure follows the same basic principle but is only used to protect the head and brain. This method is cheaper, and frees up additional storage space… but exactly how much does a one way ticket to the future cost? The Price of Immortality Like most post-death arrangements, cryogenic freezing is certainly not a free service. Using Alcor as an example, patients will be required to spend around $770 in annual membership fees and a further $80,000 to $200,000 to actually preserve their head or body respectively. The money is gathered into a trust fund, which is then used to run the facilities and ensure that the patient’s body will continue to be preserved over the next few decades, maybe even centuries, until suitable cures and medical breakthroughs become readily available. An obvious question that seems to present itself in light of these facts is this, “will this procedure only be financially available to the wealthy?”. Speaking to Stephan Beauregard, official administrator of social networks and communications at Cryonics Institute, he explains that: “Most people who make cryonics arrangements aren\'t rich. The vast majority are in fact middle-class people who place a greater than average importance on the possibility of a vastly extended lifespan, allocating their assets accordingly. A fear that the rich will be disproportionately benefitted should not be used as an excuse to stop the the progress of medical technology…” “The more these technologies progress, the more they will be readily available to people of all socioeconomic levels. Cell phones were initially only available to the rich, yet are now owned by some of the poorest people in the world.”Financial aspects are just the tip of the iceberg however, the field itself has often come under scrutiny from those within the scientific community and is not without its fair share of ethical quandaries.A Gamble into the FutureOn the surface the idea of cryogenic freezing, albeit slightly ‘out-there’, seems like a foolproof plan. Swerving the clutches of death, or at least prolonging the inevitable, with the ingenuity of hypothetical future science.But herein lies the fundamental problem. As the full extent of the science needed to resurrect a frozen human body remains hidden from view, the technology cannot be tested, nor demonstrated, and therefore cannot be proven. This is where many experts within and outside of the field of cryonics and cryobiology argue that it is to faith, and not science, that this practice belongs. Furthermore on the controversial side of the spinning coin, much like euthanasia, it may be difficult to gauge how informed and sound of mind the potential patient may be or, like the case of the Einz child, they may be too under-intellectually developed to make a choice at all. It’s difficult to say where the line should be drawn and how one would even begin to dictate who is and isn’t eligible for a potential new lease of life? Most importantly, there are no guarantees it will even work. Looking Ahead Despite cryonics’ obvious opposers, there are actually rather a lot of positive attitudes surrounding the subject, socially and academically speaking. Firstly, when considering the physical laws of nature and assuming our current predictions of what technology will be feasibly available to us in the next 50 - 100 years is accurate, the cryogenic freezing and re-animating of a correctly stored human body is fully bound within these laws - nothing needs to be altered or re-written.Furthermore, although cryogenic freezing is a thoroughly underwritten topic in scientific academia, the literature that does directly address the subject is overwhelmingly positive. In Ralph C. Merkle’s respected paper “The Molecular Repair of the Brain” he boldly states: \"A literature search on cryonics along with personal inquiries has not produced a single technical paper on the subject that claims that cryonics is infeasible or even unlikely. On the other hand, technical papers and analyses of cryonics that speak favourably of its eventual success have been published. It is unreasonable, given the extant literature, to conclude that cryonics is unlikely to work. Such unsupported negative claims require further analysis and careful critical evaluation before they can be taken seriously.\" This growing trend of acceptance over dismissal can also be observed in the increased number of members that the cryonic companies are experiencing year after year. As Mr. Beauregard from Cryonics Institute stated further: “Cryonics is being viewed more and more positively than we could have imagined. The real good news is that more people are informed by this option, many then opt for this post legal death choice thereafter. At this time, just under 1% of people on the planet know that this procedure exists for them.” That may seem like a painfully small statistic but with a world population currently pushing 7.2 billion, at even half a percent, that’s still around 35 million people. The exponential growth of technology, medicine and philosophical thought over the last 100 years has been nothing short of staggering, the greatest age of human endeavour and scientific discovery out of all of our species’ recorded history. So, acknowledging the trends we’ve seen so far, is it really that foolish to place our trust in our not-too-distant descendants?

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Puma's once-vaunted cancer drug dogged by side effects in Phase II resultshttp://lifemag.org/article/pumas-once-vaunted-cancer-drug-dogged-by-side-effects-in-phase-ii-resultsPuma Biotechnology\'s ($PBYI) in-development breast cancer treatment demonstrated some clinical benefit in a Phase II trial, but the high rates of serious diarrhea that have long plagued the drug again resurfaced, clouding the therapy\'s regulatory future. Read more @ Fierce BiotechNew ASU worldwide resource for exploring genes' hidden messageshttp://lifemag.org/article/new-asu-worldwide-resource-for-exploring-genes-hidden-messagesAn international scientific team, led by Arizona State University professor and Biodesign Institute researcher Marco Mangone, has added a new worldwide resource with the first library built for researchers to explore genes\' deep and hidden messages.Read more @ EurekalertDiabetes drug could protect the hearthttp://lifemag.org/article/diabetes-drug-could-protect-the-heartNew research has shown the promising potential of a new glucose-regulating drug to protect the heart from scarring, a common complication of diabetes that can cause heart failure.Read more @ Medical XpressWhy humans uniquely live long enough to become grandparentshttp://lifemag.org/article/why-humans-uniquely-live-long-enough-to-become-grandparentsHow we live long enough and healthfully enough to become productive grandparents is an open question. A new study, however, points to the development of two gene variants in genes linked to dementia. And because these don’t show up in chimpanzees, our closest evolutionary relatives, we know the genes’ protective variants evolved to be uniquely human.Read more @ GLPThis tiny animal might just live foreverhttp://lifemag.org/article/this-tiny-animal-might-just-live-foreverProviding the strongest evidence to date that some animals have the potential for immortality, new research released today confirms the tiny hydra does not age and, if kept in ideal conditions, may just live forever. Read more @ Pomona Crispr gene-editing gets rules. Well, guidelines, reallyhttp://lifemag.org/article/crispr-gene-editing-gets-rules-well-guidelines-reallyRules, handed down at the culmination of a three-day Human Gene Editing Summit at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC probably won’t mean big changes. The US government will continue its prohibition on funding for gene-editing research in human embryos. The Chinese government will allow it to continue. Other nations will continue to debate how far to allow their scientists to go.Read more @ WiredUsing baking ingredient to create “nano” bombs and destroy cancer stem cellshttp://lifemag.org/article/using-baking-ingredient-to-create-nano-bombs-and-destroy-cancer-stem-cellsResearchers in Ohio have unveiled a new weapon; a nanobomb that targets cancer stem cells.Read more @ The Stem CellarLaziness and lack of sleep can shorten your life, especially when combined, study sayshttp://lifemag.org/article/laziness-and-lack-of-sleep-can-shorten-your-life-especially-when-combined-study-saysA new study says that spending too much time in a chair and depriving yourself of necessary sleep should join a short list of behaviors known to increase your risk of premature death.Read more @ LA TimesNegative stereotypes about aging linked to increased Alzheimer’s riskhttp://lifemag.org/article/negative-stereotypes-about-aging-linked-to-increased-alzheimer-s-riskThe studies, published Monday in a paper in the journal Psychology and Aging, show that people who have negative beliefs about aging are more likely to have brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s.Read more @ Washington PostScientists are now using parasites to cure diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/scientists-are-now-using-parasites-to-cure-disease

Rates of multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and Celiac disease have all gone up significantly in economically developed countries in recent decades. While the causes of these diseases are complex and controversial, they are all related in some way to a malfunctioning of the immune system. What these conditions also have in common is that they tend to be chronic and difficult (or even impossible) to treat. However, an increasing number of scientists believe that they are among a group of disorders that can be treated with a rather bizarre, experimental new treatment known as helminthic therapy, i.e. deliberate infection of the patient with parasitic worms.The Hygiene HypothesisThe theoretical basis for helminthic therapy is provided by the \'hygiene hypothesis\', which was initially proposed by David Strachan in 1989. Strachan\'s idea was that exposure to infection in childhood prevents the development of allergic disorders, and that higher rates of allergies such as hay fever can therefore be explained by improved rates of hygiene and cleanliness. While the theory has never been without controversy, and even its supporters have reworked it significantly in the decades since it was first proposed, the theory has generated a large body of research looking at the role of hygiene as a cause of allergies and other inflammatory, immunoregulatory disorders.One area of research inspired by Strachan\'s hypothesis relates specifically to the role of parasites in the human body. Until very recently, parasitic infection was an endemic problem all over the world – indeed, in many parts of the world it still is a major issue. Parasitic worms (also known as helminths) can enter the body in a number of ways, for example from undercooked food or from skin contact with infected soil. Once they are inside the human body, they lay eggs and feast on their host\'s blood or tissue, disrupting the body\'s absorption of nutrients and causing a number of problems, such as diarrhoea and malnutrition. Although the infected person does not always suffer from particularly serious symptoms, in other cases parasitic infection can be fatal.In economically developed countries these types of infection have been very nearly eradicated. While this is in some ways undoubtedly a good thing, many scientists believe that it has contributed to the rise of autoimmune disorders. This is due to the way in which parasites interact with the human immune system. The majority of autoimmune diseases are caused by the hyper-activity of a particular type of immune response known as the Th1 mechanism, which causes inflammation. Parasites, however, have a means of keeping this type of immune response in check, so as to prevent themselves being removed from the body. The presence of parasites in the intestine triggers a different type of immune response – the Th2 mechanism – that actively combats inflammation.While the idea that parasites have a positive effect on the human body may sound strange, it is worth remembering that bacteria also used to have a pretty bad reputation. Nowadays, however, probiotic yoghurt drinks are top-sellers and an increasingly large body of research points to the role of a large and varied intestinal bacteria population as a central element of good health. Recent research suggests that a healthy gut flora can prevent or hinder the development of a range of diseases, including depression and anxiety disorders. Many experts even support the idea of fecal microbiota transplants – otherwise known as stool transplants – as a treatment for certain diseases.Helminthic TherapyOn the basis of the hygiene hypothesis – in particular regarding the positive role of parasites for regulation of the human immune system – researchers have developed a new form of treatment for autoimmune diseases, known as helminthic therapy. The patients taking the treatment may drink a liquid that has been mixed with parasitic eggs, or apply a preparation of worm larvae directly to their skin. While the former is apparently no different to drinking any other type of liquid (i.e. one doesn\'t notice the eggs), people who have undergone the latter form of helminthic therapy describe feeling a tingling or itchy sensation as the parasites burrow their way through the skin. In order to minimise the risk of side-effects, researchers are very careful about the type of parasites they use. Pig whipworms are considered to be particularly safe, because they cannot survive for long periods in the human body and there is correspondingly no risk of developing a chronic infection. In addition to pig whipworms, however, researchers are also experimenting with the human hookworm – a major cause of medical complications in some parts of the world. There is a higher risk of chronic infection with hookworm, as it can potentially live for years within the human intestine, but it is nonetheless considered to be relatively safe in a clinical, controlled setting.The EvidenceOne of the earliest trials involving deliberate infection with parasites was in the late 1990s, when David Elliott and Joel Weinstock discovered that this could protect mice against ulcerative colitis, a form of irritable bowel disease. This news triggered a wave of other experiments – some on animals, some on humans – that tested the effects of helminthic therapy on a range of different diseases. While results have been mixed, a number of these experiments have had positive results.In one trial on patients with ulcerative colitis, for example, 43% of patients who were given pig whipworm eggs improved, against only 17% of test subjects who had taken a placebo. Another (very small scale) trial infected nine ulcerative colitis patients with the more dangerous hookworm: seven of these improved, while the condition of the other two deteriorated. A recent trial involving 40 patients with Celiac disease also suggested that hookworm treatment could be effective; by the end of the trial, participants were able to eat medium-sized bowls of spaghetti without the negative consequences this would normally have caused. Furthermore, small scale trials with multiple sclerosis patients have suggested that helminthic therapy can slow progression of the disease.It must be stressed, however, that research is still at an early stage and evidence remains unclear. For example, a recent systematic review on the effects of helminthic therapy on patients with irritable bowel disease concluded that there was insufficient evidence for its safety and efficacy. And while a number of animal studies have demonstrated a significant positive effect of helminthic therapy on preventing the development of allergies, there is little evidence that it can reduce allergic symptoms in either humans or animals who have a pre-existing allergy. Overall, more research is required before we can expect helminthic therapy to become an approved treatment for any disease.The Online MarketIn the meantime, however, this has not stopped people from taking things into their own hands. Although helminthic therapy has yet to receive regulatory approval, on the internet it is possible to buy almost anything – including preparations of hookworm and whipworm larvae or eggs. It is not easy to get hold of these in the United States, as the country\'s Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has categorised helminthic therapy as an Investigational New Drug, but potential customers in other countries can easily access a range of options. A three-year course of hookworm can be bought for $3050 from one company, for example, while another offers a single dose of 25 larvae for $200.It seems that the initial positive evidence for the effect of helminthic therapy – as well as the lack of effective alternative options for many diseases – has created a significant market for these products. And it doesn\'t take long to find testimonials on the internet from people swearing that they have benefited as a result of using them. However, negative side-effects are possible and use of hookworm entails the risk of developing a chronic infection. Even Joel Weinstock, one the most vocal proponents of helminthic therapy and author of several studies on its efficacy, warns against taking parasites bought online: “Patients are not doctors or scientists... The online sites are not monitored. What they sell and say may not be as advertised or true” (quoted in Vice magazine).Indeed, some scientists are sceptical about the whole idea of using parasites as a form of treatment. For example, Peter Hotez from the National School of Tropical Medicine in Texas argues that helminthic therapy “makes absolutely no sense at all”, and that the risks of worm infestation significantly outweigh the benefits (quoted in Science Line). He therefore supports the idea of isolating the anti-inflammatory molecules produced by helminths and developing these into pharmaceutical drugs. However, while some progress has been made in this area, research remains at an early stage, and no clinical trials using helminth-derived molecules have been conducted so far. In the meantime, one can assume that the online trade in parasites will continue to flourish.

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Genes for a longer, healthier life foundhttp://lifemag.org/article/genes-for-a-longer-healthier-life-foundOut of a \'haystack\' of 40,000 genes from three different organisms, scientists have found genes that are involved in physical aging. If you influence only one of these genes, the healthy lifespan of laboratory animals is extended -- and possibly that of humans, too.Read more @ Science DailyGene repair could be tested on people in 2017http://lifemag.org/article/gene-repair-could-be-tested-on-people-in-2017A controversial new form of \'gene repair\' could be tested on humans within two years, scientists say.Human trials are being proposed by Massachusetts-based biotechnology start-up Editas Medicine to treat a rare form of blindness that affects one in 50,000 people.Read more @ Daily MailSeek and destroy: Targeting cancer stem cellshttp://lifemag.org/article/seek-and-destroy-targeting-cancer-stem-cellsWe now know many cancers contain a population of \'cancer stem cells\', which often escape treatment and cause later regression. Treating these cells could knock out cancer at its source.Read more @ Longevity ReporterRisks of mass toying with genes addressed at Cambridge conferencehttp://lifemag.org/article/risks-of-mass-toying-with-genes-addressed-at-cambridge-conference

While the global academic discussion focuses on the coverage of existential risks associated with the rise of a Skynet equivalent artificial intelligence; it is worth mentioning that there are divergent advances in biotech which are as alarming and urgent as the rise of an all omnipotent and omnipresent AI. Those issues should be directed and scanned under a microscope because they are at our doorstep. We should note that the application of “wind tunnelling” towards new technologies is necessary to prepare for the future, and subsequently, we should mitigate the risks and anticipate the greatest threats associated with technology XYZ as well as the biggest opportunities.If we recall the year 2011, virologist Ron Fouchier presented his enhanced version of the H5N1 which could create a pandemic of massive impact wiping out half the world population if not more. Fouchier was experimenting with the avian flu virus searching for virulence enhancing evolution paths. What he did is spread the virus throughout a population of ferrets, and it reproduced with an increase in its ability to adapt at each transformation; in ten generations, the airborne version gained so much in virility that it had the potential power to kill half of the human population. A year after that, in 2012, CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering/editing tool was first shown to work in human cell culture. It allows scientists to edit genomes which binds and splices DNA at specific locations. The complex can be programmed to target a problematic gene, which is then replaced or repaired by another molecule introduced at the same time. A highly precise method. In the past years there has been much research conducted, e.g. the first monkeys with targeted mutations were born, and even editing methods for preventing HIV-1 infection in humans. What this means is the introduction of a complex randomness factor. If in the past a handful of people had access to genomic iterations and experimentation; now this fact is about to be change, releasing the proverbial genie from the bottle, with little ability to control it. Everything would have been \'warm and fuzzy\' if not for the fact that the current situation presents not only superior opportunities for solving many ills, but we also face great risks - and these risks should be addressed. Now that we can engineer versions of viruses, many people with access to the technology might pose a global existential threat. Imagine a world where almost anybody could willingly or by mistake print some kind of virus that will have a global lethal effect. Needless to explain further, these are important world security issues. With these pandemic events being scalable in their nature and having a humungous impact, we have to say that these debates should be raised on the political agendas of nations.Major security concerns materialise from the rise of such technologies. Among the cognitive inquiries that arise, are such questions as: “who should be allowed to access the technology to edit and modify genes?”, “what tools and technologies can we engage to limit the access?”, “what type of tools and levellers should be engaged to address crises of that kind?”It is not to say that these issues are not covered at all. In fact they are addressed by scholars who label these fundamental problems as urgent. Such an event was hosted on the 2nd of December in The Queen\'s Lecture Theatre, Emmanuel College, Cambridge under the name of “The Future of Biotech Enterprise: Exponential Opportunities and Existential Risks”; where Professors Chris Lowe, Derek Smith, and Dmitry Kaminskiy scratched the surface of the future with what it presents in terms of exponential opportunities and existential risks. Raising public awareness for such events is important for addressing the challenges of the future.Expect a full report on the conference soon at LIFEMAG

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Discovery of an Embryonic Switch for Cancer Stem Cell Generationhttp://lifemag.org/article/discovery-of-an-embryonic-switch-for-cancer-stem-cell-generationAn international team of scientists, headed by researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, report that decreases in a specific group of proteins trigger changes in the cancer microenvironment that accelerate growth and development of therapy-resistant cancer stem cells (CSCs). Read more @ UC San Diego HealthNewly evolved, uniquely human gene variants protect older adults from cognitive declinehttp://lifemag.org/article/newly-evolved-uniquely-human-gene-variants-protect-older-adults-from-cognitive-declineMany human gene variants have evolved specifically to protect older adults against neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, thus preserving their contributions to society, report University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers in the November 30 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Read more @ Eurekalert3D bioprinting market anticipated to reach $1.82 billion by 2022:http://lifemag.org/article/3d-bioprinting-market-anticipated-to-reach-1-82-billion-by-2022Global 3D bioprinting market is expected to reach USD 1.82 billion by 2022, according to a new report by Grand View Research Inc. Rising prevalence of chronic diseases such as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) which demands kidney transplantation is expected to boost the market growth, as 3D bioprinting is convenient and cost effective substitute for organ transplantation.Read more @ medgadgetLongevity secrets from around the worldhttp://lifemag.org/article/longevity-secrets-from-around-the-worldAcross the globe, the longevity of people is steadily lengthening. This astounding increase in lifespan is most likely the result of worldwide improvements in sanitation, nutrition, education, and medicine.Read more @ Everyday HealthCan scientists slow down aging?http://lifemag.org/article/can-scientists-slow-down-agingDr. Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, believes he’s found a way to to mirror the slow aging of the centenarians he has studied using a drug shown to have an anti-aging effect in some animals.Read more @ ForbesFuture of human gene editing to be decided at landmark summithttp://lifemag.org/article/future-of-human-gene-editing-to-be-decided-at-landmark-summitNow that the ability to selectively insert or remove genes from DNA is widespread, a ‘global discussion’ is being convened to agree fresh safeguards.Read more @ the GuardianWhy we age at different rates: Genetics vs environmenthttp://lifemag.org/article/why-we-age-at-different-rates-genetics-vs-environment

Aging, at least for now, is an inevitable process for us human beings. How we age though, and aging in good health begins before we even realize. Before we are born, our genetic inheritance is laid down, yet can easily be influenced by the environment while we are even still in the womb.On the biological level, ageing does in part come down to your genes. When hair starts to grey for example, or being prone to baldness will be a direct lineage from your father. However, exposure to a stressful environment or unhealthy habits may lead to premature greying regardless of your genetic background. Scientists believe that this phenomenon comes down to epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of biological mechanisms which influence the way your genes are expressed, without affecting the underlying DNA sequence. Epigenetic events are highly complex and orchestrated to influence cellular decisions and fate, and are directly impacted by environmental factors.Contrary to initial hypotheses, recent research has revealed that decisions we make can influence not only our own epigenome, but our children\'s and even grandchildren after us. Perhaps the most well characterized epigenetic mark is DNA methylation. Methylation patterns exist in every cell in the body and are critical for proper control of gene expression. DNA methylation patterns are often abnormal in disease, and are prone to environmental influences. For example, it is well accepted that smoking during pregnancy is harmful to the developing fetus. Studies have highlighted that chemicals found in cigarette smoke directly alter DNA methylation patterns, which has numerous side effects, including low birth weight and developmental problems. Even more striking studies have emerged from controlled populations, indicating the environment your parents were exposed to, might have influenced you. For example, children of Holocaust survivors were found to have aberrant methylation patterns which predisposes them to stress disorders. Cause or consequence?What is not known, is whether epigenetic changes are the cause or consequence of genetics. It is clear that they go hand-in-hand and are implicated in ageing as well as many diseases, including cancer, a disease more prevalent among older populations and in more developed societies. These findings have led to a surge in the pharmaceutical industry to identify drugs which can block or even reverse epigenetic events, opening the possibility of treating age-related diseases and subsequently prolonging ageing.Since epigenetic events are due to environmental factors, is it possible to naturally slow down our ageing clock? It is well known that societies which have a healthy lifestyle, not only live longer, but have a good quality of life, and are less prone to disease. Being from a Mediterranean country as an example, where plant based diets, filled with fresh fruit and vegetables and healthy fats from olive oil and fish as well as a less stressful lifestyle is the norm. Scientific evidence shows that such plant-based diets may promote longevity through delayed telomere shortening. Telomeres are important structures which cap and protect the ends of our chromosomes from fraying and damage. One study on over 4500 individuals showed those who ate a more plant based diet had an increase in telomere growth while those having a more unhealthy diet had shorter telomeres and impaired growth.The enzyme telomerase, co-discovered by 2009 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, governs the growth of telomeres. Currently, Blackburn and her team are investigating the role stress has to play in telomere growth. Stress and depression seem to pose negative effects on telomere length and thus, aging. Interestingly, the team are leading trials in which mindfulness meditation is introduced to alleviate stress, protecting telomeres from shortening and thereby prolonging cellular aging. Aging and your microbiome - correlation or causalityWhile us humans are a complex species, made up of around 100 billion diverse cells, we have evolved to coexist with 10 times that amount of bacteria, mainly found on our skin or in our gastrointestinal tract. Recent advances in high-throughput sequencing have allowed us to appreciate our complex relationship with bacteria (microbiome). The Human Microbiome Project http://hmpdacc.org/ led by the NIH is an online repository for research in this area, and aims to characterize the human microbiome and its role in human health and disease.This is a rapidly advancing research field, and there have already been many associations made linking our health to our microbiome, although evidence for correlation exists, evidence for causation is not so clear. Recent work published in the journal Cell has shown that the composition of our microbiome changes as we age. Could this observation be correlation? That our microbiome adapts itself to an aging body, or could this be causal? An indication that changes in your microbiome may alter longevity? And what does this have to do with our genome or epigenome?Some reports suggest the diet to be a major, controllable, environmental factor influencing the composition of the host microbiome. Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London has dedicated his life to studying identical twins. Originally a geneticist, Prof. Spector is a firm believer that environmental factors are tightly linked to how our genes are expressed, shaping our health and identity. More important are the millions of microbes inside our bodies, which he believes are the key to a happy, healthy and long life. Perhaps alongside focusing on the genetic regulation of healthy aging, we should pay equal attention to prebiotic regulation of longevity.The question remains, is aging down to genetics or the environment?At the end of the day, the speed of individual aging will depend on a number of factors, both genetic and environmental. Our genetic code, laid down while we were conceived, is the blueprint of each and every cell in our body. However, this code is susceptible to change, be it through epigenetics, or the interplay with our microbiome, both of which can be influenced by our environment. Taking care of our mental health through relaxation techniques as well as eating diverse, natural foods may be the key to keeping us young and happy!

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Britain will see world's first babies born from three genetic parentshttp://lifemag.org/article/britain-will-see-worlds-first-babies-born-from-three-genetic-parents

Each year around 100 children in Britain are born with a form of mitochondrial disease. The conditions, which range from deafness to heart disease and brain disorders, are often fatal. In 2016 a cure will come closer. Britain will become the first country to allow babies to be born using mitochondrial donation, creating children with genes from three people rather than two.Read more @ the Economist

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A faster resting heart beat can predict early deathhttp://lifemag.org/article/a-faster-resting-heart-beat-can-predict-early-deathSlow and steady may win the race, as new research finds a quick resting heart rate to be a good predictor of early mortality.Read more @ Longevity ReporterHow to (really) engineer a human babyhttp://lifemag.org/article/how-to-really-engineer-a-human-babyA global meeting in Washington, D.C., isn’t just about whether or not we should alter our species with gene editing. It’s about how we can pull it off.Read more @ MIT Technology ReviewStem cell trial success could lead to new heart disease therapieshttp://lifemag.org/article/stem-cell-trial-success-could-lead-to-new-heart-disease-therapiesThe CARE-MI project has developed a new approach to limit tissue damage based on the activation of the heart\'s natural repair mechanisms in response to damage. The success of the project trials will enable the researchers to perform further analyses on stem cell treatments, with final results expected in the first half of 2017.Read more @ Medical Xpress York research points to enhanced detection of Parkinson'shttp://lifemag.org/article/york-research-points-to-enhanced-detection-of-parkinsonsNew research by biologists at the University of York could lead to improved methods of detection for early-onset Parkinson\'s disease.Read more @ EurekalertBone marrow-derived stem cells produce fat cells possibly linked to diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/bone-marrow-derived-stem-cells-produce-fat-cells-possibly-linked-to-diseaseScientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus say they have found that fat cells produced by stem cells from bone marrow may be linked to chronic illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and some cancers.Read more @ GENNanomedicine is here: But don’t get too excited just yethttp://lifemag.org/article/nanomedicine-is-here-but-don-t-get-too-excited-just-yet

In his most recent round of predictions for the near future, Google’s ‘genius’ futurist Ray Kurzweil, has claimed that soon “we will have “nanobots” in our blood stream” that will keep us healthy at the cellular and molecular level. In fact, he goes even further, saying that nanomedicine devices will be a “billion times more powerful than they are today in 25 years, and will continue the accelerating path to radical life extension.” Kurzweil, and many others, have their heart set on nanotechnology as the most promising path to better medical care. Especially in the last few years, this field of science has been attracting a lot of attention. But just how likely is Kurzweil’s prediction that its advancement will revolutionize the industry?What is nanotechnology?Nanotechnology is an extremely broad term for the manipulation of matter at the atomic level. A nanometer is about three to five atoms wide, roughly 40,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Technology on this scale would be able to make repairs, or influence human biology, on the cellular level. Predictions for nanomedicine are numerous, and range from more efficient drug delivery to being able to “send nanobots into living people’s brains and extract memories of people who have passed away.” The technology is still in the early stages of development, and is being researched in a number of scientific and medicinal fields, including physics, chemistry, biology, material science, and engineering. Though, through the skill of the craftsman, primitive manipulation on the nanoscale has been around for much longer than initially thought, with pre modern examples, from the 4th century onwards, such as stained glass windows, decorative materials, and in some forms of weaponry. From the nineteenth century a greater understanding of the nanoscale has fused with improved technology, leading to more powerful microscopes able to see individual atoms, and IBM, the first company to directly manipulate specific atoms, ushering in the applied use of nanotechnology. The early 2000’s saw consumer products developing in this field, with materials resistant to denting, improved displays, better cosmetics, and much more. In the last five or so years, developments have led to huge injections into medicine. Nanostructures, nanoelectronics, and patterning have opened up an entirely new field which could involve medical applications of nanomaterials, biological devices, sensors, and machines, otherwise known as nanobots. Where is nanomedicine at?At the moment, when discussing the application of nanomedicine, words such as “could” and “potential” are used as standard procedure within scientific communities and the media. However, technology really is progressing. Two companies, Second Sight and Bionic Vision, are both using nanoscale electronic components to partially restore some sight for individuals blinded by degenerative eye disease. Second Sight’s technology, the Argus II, uses an array of electrodes implanted behind the retina to stimulate healthy cells. Connected to a camera, the implant relays a fuzzy, light to dark, video feed. Bionic Vision say they are currently developing a high-acuity device with 256 electrodes, which compared to previous double digit prototypes would increase sight dramatically. A research team in Israel, though, have gone one step further, testing an implant that consists of over 676 electrodes on pigs, and are looking at human prototypes that reach up to 5000, with their target being “20/20” vision. Drug delivery is another area in which excitement has been rumbling. Nanoparticles are being designed to deliver drugs, heat, or light, to specific cells in the body. There are currently tests in progress for targeted delivery of chemotherapy drugs. The company Cytimmune has developed a ‘nanotherapy platform’, called Aurimune. This is a trojan horse of the medicinal world that will travel through the body to vulnerable points, such as tumors, and destroy the defensive structure, opening the way for further treatment to eradicate the disease. Other teams, such as the one at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, are studying nano devices that clear life-threatening obstructed blood vessels. At the University of Illinois, researchers have found that gelatin nanoparticles laced with medications that can be delivered directly to the brain, bypassing the blood-barrier, enhancing treatment to the injured regions. Other areas of treatment include therapy techniques, where nanosponges absorb toxins from the bloodstream, nanotube covered lenses producing noninvasive soundwaves to blast diseased areas of the body, and bismuth nanoparticles to concentrate radiation. Diagnostic techniques, where nanotubes are embedded under the skin to monitor levels of nitric oxide in the blood are being researched, alongside attaching nanoparticles to molecules to indicate the start of an infection. The list goes on, and on. Nanotechnology, although still at a relatively formative stage, is well and truly on the move, and there are numerous areas of promising research continuing to push the boundaries. What is the future for nanomedicine? Earlier this year scientists at the University of California, published in the journal ACS Nano, delivered a consignment of nanoparticles into the stomach lining of a mouse. The machines are only 20 micrometers long, made with polymer tubes, and are designed to dissolve in the stomach tissue to deliver their drugs. This study represents the first major step toward the huge goal of doing the same in humans. The team say they need to “further evaluate the performance and functionalities” of this nanotechnology, before moving to human trials. Nonetheless, at the moment, there are only a few instances of nanomedicine making it to the human trial stage. Those include fluorescent particles that highlight tumor cells, preventative applications to decrease the damage to certain cells during other treatment, and the commercial successes of Second Sight and Bionic Vision. In a study called ‘Future impact of technology on medicine and dentistry’, published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, researchers propose what the next 20 years of nanomedicine will look like. Their conclusions include the manufacturing of nanomechanical devices that would be able to store and execute plans, receive and process signals, and communicate with other nanocomputers. The main focus of their research includes how the machines would be programmable, to allow scientists and doctors to perform precise interventions.The researchers stated that the visions described in the article may sound \'unlikely, implausible, or even heretic.\' Yet, \'the theoretical and applied research to turn them into reality is progressing rapidly.\'Infinitesimal machines, with motors and sensors, onboard computers, power supplies, and possibly arms and legs, could well be swimming through blood streams within the next two decades. Their usage could likely see treatment time for numerous infections fall to a few hours, where antibiotics take weeks. On top of this, microbes would not be able to evolve resistance, as they do to drugs. In addition to this, these machines could also be used to perform surgery on individual cells. An article, published in Journal of Evolution & Technology, outlines the ultimate goal of nanomedicine, which the researchers believe is ‘to perform nanorobotic therapeutic procedures on specified individual cells’. They propose the idea of a hypothetical mobile cell repair machine. It would perform very complicated tasks such as chromosome replacement therapy, whereby faulty chromosomes are replaced with artificial defect-free chromosomes. Huge potentialAlthough known to be right ‘86% of the time’, Kurzweil’s hopes for nanotechnology may well have burdened the field with an almost impossible target. Particularly the notion that in the 2030s “we are going to send nano-robots into the brain that will provide full immersion virtual reality”. In reality, nanomedicine is still at a rather humble stage of development, with animal trials in many areas, but only a handful of human trials. The technology is progressing, but designs at the moment are simple. Nonetheless, developments have been significant enough to ensure that initial skepticism regarding the possibilities has now made way for much more serious discussion. The potential impact of nanotechnology is indeed huge. Instead of unwanted side effects and long treatment times, doctors could deploy machines that act with immense precision and have no side effects, and take little to no time at all. Most exciting of all, physiological data could likely be monitored leading to better understanding of chronic, age-related disease such as Alzheimer’s.Thus, although currently, the short time frame in which Kurzweil proposes nanotechnology will develop almost exponentially may seem decidedly far-fetched, the concept itself is by no means impossible. Only time will tell.

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Is the cost of healthcare killing us?http://lifemag.org/article/is-the-cost-of-healthcare-killing-us

Can doctors save lives at the same time as saving money? As ageing populations and chronic illnesses put the world’s health care systems under ever-greater strain, find out about those trying to deliver health without wealth.See the video here

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J. Craig Venter Institute receives $962,500 grant from US Department of Justicehttp://lifemag.org/article/j-craig-venter-institute-receives-962-500-grant-from-us-department-of-justiceThe J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) was recently awarded a two-year, $962,500 award from the United States Department of Justice to help design and build an open-access microbiome database for the forensic science community. See the full press release hereNew insights into protein structure could change the future of biomedicine http://lifemag.org/article/new-insights-into-protein-structure-could-change-the-future-of-biomedicineResearchers at the University of Waterloo have discovered a new way to create designer proteins that have the potential to transform biotechnology and personalized medicines.Read more @ NanowerkInfertile worms resist infection-induced neurodegenerationhttp://lifemag.org/article/infertile-worms-resist-infection-induced-neurodegenerationThe connections are still obscure, but mounting evidence points to a link between infections, the immune system, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer\'s, ALS, and Parkinson\'s. Now, a team of Duke University researchers has shown that infection with live, pathogenic bacteria causes neurodegeneration in the worm C. elegans.Read more @ Phys.orgCRISPR/Cas patent wars have begun at the European Patent Officehttp://lifemag.org/article/crispr-cas-patent-wars-have-begun-at-the-european-patent-officeOn 26 October this year the CRISPR/Cas patent wars truly began with the filing of European oppositions against what appears to be the first patent granted in Europe for this revolutionary gene-editing technology. The patent was granted to the Broad Institute, MIT and Harvard College on 11 February this year (1), and at least nine different opponents filed oppositions against it before the deadline this month. The European opposition procedure that will now follow could result in the amendment or even the revocation of the patent, but it is likely to be at least five years before the final outcome is known.Read more @ Bio NewsCan stem cell technology be harnessed to generate biological pacemakers?http://lifemag.org/article/can-stem-cell-technology-be-harnessed-to-generate-biological-pacemakers

A Review article published on November 20 in Trends in Molecular Medicine highlights the promise and limitations of new methods based on stem cell and reprogramming technologies to generate biological pacemakers that might one day replace electronic pacemakers.Read more @ MNT

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1 In 3 Healthy Adults Will Develop Diabetes Over Their Lifetimehttp://lifemag.org/article/1-in-3-healthy-adults-will-develop-diabetes-over-their-lifetimeAlmost half of 45-year-olds will develop so-called prediabetes, an elevated blood sugar level that often precedes diabetes, according to a large study from The Netherlands using population estimates.Read more @ Huffington PostBusiness plus politics equals science: The underworld of regenerative medicinehttp://lifemag.org/article/business-plus-politics-equals-science-the-underworld-of-regenerative-medicineScience is big business. Johnson & Johnson the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant is worth trillions of pounds. Another, GlaxoSmithKline, owning brands from Panadol to Sensodyne toothpaste also worth trillions. Astellas Pharma, one of Japan’s major drug companies has recently made big news. They have bought out Ocata, a Massachusetts based company for £247million.Read more @ NouseHow your genes influence what medicines are right for youhttp://lifemag.org/article/how-your-genes-influence-what-medicines-are-right-for-youGenes influence how drugs work, and understanding how these genetic differences work means that physicians can take a more personalized approach to selecting the right medication and dosage for each individual. Read more @ Huffington PostEngland's first ever stem cell brain injection carried out on stroke patienthttp://lifemag.org/article/englands-first-ever-stem-cell-brain-injection-carried-out-on-stroke-patientA 66-year-old woman has become the first person in England to undergo a stem cell brain injection to help recover the use of her arm after she suffered a stroke.Read more @ Daily Mail'Smart biogel' that kills cancer tumors in developmenthttp://lifemag.org/article/smart-biogel-that-kills-cancer-tumors-in-development

A team from the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre are developing an intelligent biogel that delivers anti-cancer agents directly into tumors, instead of into the blood stream. Read more @ Medical News Today

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New vaccine could prevent high cholesterolhttp://lifemag.org/article/new-vaccine-could-prevent-high-cholesterolResearchers at the University of New Mexico and the National Institutes of health in the US, studying mice and macaques, have developed a vaccine that leads to reductions in LDL cholesterol, directly linked to heart attacks and strokes. They say that the vaccine has the potential to be more powerful than statins. Read more @ Science DailyMedical robots – the future of surgery?http://lifemag.org/article/medical-robots-the-future-of-surgery

For some people the idea of being operated on by a robot might sound horrifying, particularly if there isn\'t even a doctor in the room to check that everything is running smoothly. Surgery is in any case a risky business that few would undertake willingly if it wasn\'t absolutely necessary, and it seems unlikely that the spectacle of an enormous machine with mechanical arms attached to surgical scalpels would reassure anyone about having to undergo an operation. However, the use of robotic surgery has spread rapidly in recent years and for some types of operations it is becoming the standard. While there is a lot of controversy surrounding the topic, many doctors see surgical robots as a vital tool to provide better medical care and lower the risks associated with surgery.History of robotic surgeryThe roots of robotic surgery go back to the mid-1980s, when a robotic surgical arm was first used to perform a neurosurgical biopsy. Two years later, the first robot-assisted laparoscopic (i.e. keyhole) operation was conducted, a cholecystectomy. The following years saw continued advances in the area of robotic surgery, which was used for a growing range of surgical procedures. One of the earliest robotic surgical systems to enter into general use was the ROBODOC system, which came on the market in the early 1990s and allowed surgeons conducting hip replacements to mill the femur with more precision that would have been conventionally possible.A major driver of robotic surgery research in this period was the interest that NASA and the US Army had in the concept of remote surgery, i.e. when a surgeon performs an operation on a patient without being physically present. This idea was very appealing to the military, as it has the potential to reduce wartime mortality by enabling rapid provision of medical care to injured soldiers without deploying medical staff to dangerous conflict situations. One of the ideas currently being developed by the US Army is that of “Trauma Pods”, unstaffed treatment centres where wounded soldiers could be attended to on the battlefield by surgeons working from removed locations.As of yet there remain a number of unsolved issues in relation to remote surgery – for example the fact that the surgeon cannot physically feel the patient, and the need to avoid the occurrence of time-lapses between the movement of the surgeon and the response of the robot – but massive advances have been made. 2001 saw the first transatlantic remote surgical procedure, in which doctors in New York performed a cholecystectomy on a patient in France.The da Vinci robotIn terms of everyday civilian healthcare, one of the most important developments in the field of robotic surgery has been the da Vinci robot, which was approved by the FDA for general laparoscopic surgery in 2000 and has contributed to a massive increase in the use of robot-assisted surgery in routine healthcare. This is a complete robotic surgical system that includes both surgical instruments and visual aids. It consists of several mechanical arms attached to surgical instruments, as well as an additional arm with a camera on it. Rather than standing directly next to the operating table, the surgeon sits at a computer console from which she/he controls the machine\'s arms, guided by a magnified, high-resolution and three-dimensional image of the surgical area.Since its introduction, use of the da Vinci robot has spread rapidly. At least three million operations have been conducted with the system since it was brought onto the market, and already in mid-2014 more than 3,000 of the systems were in operation worldwide. Primarily they are used for minimally invasive keyhole surgery, in particular for prostatectomies and hysterectomies (together these accounted for more than half of the 570,000 robot-assisted operations performed worldwide in 2014). Already in 2009, 86% of prostate cancer operations in the US were robot-assisted.However, the extent to which hospitals make use of robotic surgery equipment varies significantly. Among other things, medical training and the availability of the expensive equipment play a role in determining what type of surgery will be performed. Last year the Royal College of Surgeons published a report in which they criticised the UK\'s National Health Service (NHS) for reacting too slowly to surgical innovation and failing to take advantage of robotic surgery. While the first robotic procedures were offered by the NHS in 2004, it has been reluctant to finance their widespread use.According to the report from the Royal College of Surgeons, robotic surgery can have a number of advantages over conventional surgery. Looking in particular at Robotically Assisted Radical Prostatectomy, it refers to several improved patient outcomes, including faster recovery, better maintenance of continence and sexual function, less blood loss and more effective cancer control.In general, proponents of robot-assisted surgery argue that it allows for much more precision and control, meaning that surgeons can perform delicate procedures – such as removing cancerous tissues from hard-to-reach areas – that would otherwise have been impossible, or at least very difficult. Improved precision and control is viewed as being particularly important when operating in sensitive areas (e.g. near the spinal cord). Furthermore, robotic systems may allow the use of keyhole surgery in situations where conventional methods would require open surgery, which is associated with longer recovery times and more post-surgical complications.ControversyOn the other hand, robot-assisted surgery also has its critics. Some surgeons have called into question its efficacy, particularly in view of the fact that it costs so much more than conventional surgery. Evidence for the superiority of robotic surgery is not clear-cut – for example, a study published in 2013 by researchers from Columbia University found that robotically assisted adnexal surgery is actually associated with a slightly higher risk of complications than conventional laparoscopic surgery. At the same time, the costs are very high – the initial investment in a da Vinci robot costs around two million dollars, with additional costs arising from the use of disposable surgical tools. It has been estimated that robotically assisted gallbladder removal operations cost around three times more than conventional procedures. Critics of robot-assisted surgery stress that new is not necessarily better and urge people not to get carried away by its supposed benefits.It seems that one key point toward making effective use of robotic surgery is to ensure that the surgeons using the robotic equipment have received sufficient training. Studies have found that the rates of complications and readmissions, as well as the length of a patient’s stay in hospital , tend to be very dependent on the amount of experience that the surgeon has had with robotic surgery. The ECRI Institute included robotic surgery as one of its Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2015, explaining that: \'If surgeons, the rest of the surgical team, and associated staff are not sufficiently trained on how to use the robotic surgical system and how to perform a surgery under these unique conditions, adverse events can result\'.Furthermore, it is important that surgical robots are only applied in situations where there is actual evidence of a genuine clinical benefit – while robotic surgery may in some cases be superior to conventional methods, it is not appropriate for all types of surgical procedures. According to Dr. Terry Loftus, who conducted a study of robotic surgery outcomes at the Banner Health hospital network in Arizona, “I saw some things I couldn’t believe... Some physicians were doing a range of procedures, such as biopsies and diagnostic laparoscopies, using the robot, which is clearly an inappropriate use of the technology. Certain cases should not be done robotically because there is no evidence to support it and it’s not cost-effective” (quoted in General Surgery News).Besides questions relating to the superiority of robotic surgery over conventional methods, other issues have also been raised. In particular, there are concerns about the vulnerability of these systems to hacking. This was displayed very clearly earlier this year when researchers at the University of Washington conducted an experiment on a novel remote surgical system. They found that they were able to hijack the system, disrupting its functions and overriding command inputs.While non-remote robotic systems are less prone to this type of attack, security issues remain. A security audit conducted last year by Essentia Health (which runs a chain of hospitals and clinics in the American Midwest) found that their medical equipment was severely vulnerable to abuse, partly due to software security holes, but also relating to the use of weak passwords and ineffective firewalls. Among other things, the audit found that it was possible to alter medical records, as well as manipulate CT scanners and infusion pumps to change the dose of radiation or drugs that patients receive. They were also capable of breaking down the firewalls protecting the surgical robots.Artificial intelligenceConcerns about robotic surgery become even more pronounced in regard to one of the most recent developments in the field, namely systems that make use of artificial intelligence. Google, for example, is currently teaming up with Johnson&Johnson to develop semi-autonomous robotic surgical assistants. Research being conducted by NASA goes even further – due to the huge distances involved in space travel, remote surgery will not always be possible, and the organisation is therefore exploring the possibility of developing robots capable of performing operations without the guiding hand of a surgeon on Earth. However, it is difficult to imagine this type of technology being introduced into everyday healthcare any time soon, if at all. Surgery entails a huge amount of potential for unexpected occurrences, and completely removing doctors from the picture would generate all sorts of risks. It is also unclear whether the idea could find public acceptance.Whether or not fully-automated surgery ever becomes a realistic proposition, however, robots will surely play an ever larger role in medical practice. Research is ongoing to solve the current flaws of robotic surgery, for example by finding better ways to replace the tactile feedback that a surgeon conventionally gets from touching a patient with their hands. Moreover, laparoscopic surgery is by no means the only area of medicine to make use of robots. Robotic exoskeletons for people recovering from strokes, miniature robots that perform biopsies in the human colon and robotic maggots that remove cancerous brain tissue are just a few of the ideas currently being worked on.

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Mutations in key cancer protein suggest new route to treatmentshttp://lifemag.org/article/mutations-in-key-cancer-protein-suggest-new-route-to-treatmentsFor years, scientists have struggled to find a way to block a protein known to play an important role in many cancers. The protein, STAT3, acts as a transcription factor—it performs the crucial task of helping convert DNA into the RNA instructions used to make new proteins.Read more @ Medical XpressLongevity can be a positive force for economic, social development: Singapore PM Leehttp://lifemag.org/article/longevity-can-be-a-positive-force-for-economic-social-development-singapore-pm-leeSingapore PM Lee Hsien Loong says that while some fear an aging population, \"longer lives can make up for lower fertility, if older workers can be supported in achieving lifelong employability.\"Read more @ Channel News AsiaBioprinting stem cell 'building blocks'http://lifemag.org/article/bioprinting-stem-cell-building-blocksUsing a special designed extrusion printer he created to squeeze out a mixture of hydrogel and stem cells, Wei Sun, PhD , Albert Soffa chair professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering , is making strides toward rapid prototyping the building blocks of life. Read more @ Drexel NowBlocking immune cells defeats new type of diabetes in micehttp://lifemag.org/article/blocking-immune-cells-defeats-new-type-of-diabetes-in-mice

Diabetes is an extremely common disease whereby sufferers lack naturally produced insulin, the hormone that signals to cells to take sugar out of the blood after eating. According to the American Diabetes Association, from their report released in June 2014, almost 9.3% of the American population has the disease, of those 11.8 million were over the age of 65. Recently, scientists from the Salk Institute discovered a new form of diabetes, type 4, which is caused by old age, rather than the typical risk factors such as weight gain. This motivated the team to research the mechanism that causes type 4 in older, non-obese mice. The results, which reveal a direct link between a certain type of immune cell and insulin resistance in the brain, have been identified in a CIRM-funded study published in Nature.They compared the immune systems of healthy mice and lean mice, with age-associated insulin resistance and with obesity-associated insulin resistance. The study showed that the number of immune cells called T regulatory cells (Tregs) were radically different in the mice. Lean mice with age-related diabetes had many more Tregs in their fat tissue compared to obesity-related diabetic mice. This meant that the overabundance of these immune cells caused insulin resistance in those mice with age-related type 4 diabetics. This naturally prompted the next step for the team, after identifying the cause, to look for the solution or the cure for this type of diabetes. Blocking the build up of Tregs in the fat tissue using an antibody drug that inhibits their production successfully cured those mice with age-related diabetes of their insulin resistance, but not of the mice with obesity-related diabetes. Type 4 can be cured using this antibody drug, and thus concludes that the other form of diabetes has a different cause. Ronald Evans, the director of Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory, stated that “We hope our discovery not only leads to therapeutics, but to an increased recognition of type 4 diabetes as a distinct disease.”

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Baby's experimental leukemia treatment could help others with cancerhttp://lifemag.org/article/babys-experimental-leukemia-treatment-could-help-others-with-cancerA gene-editing technology that made headlines recently for successfully treating a baby with leukemia may one day be used to treat other types of cancers, experts say.Read more @ Scientific American Human vocal cords built from scratch in world firsthttp://lifemag.org/article/human-vocal-cords-built-from-scratch-in-world-first

Doctors have grown the world’s first vocal cords from scratch. The breakthrough could one day restore speech to people who have lost their own vocal cords through surgery or disease.Read more @ New Scientist

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A fishy tale: A gene that blocks regeneration in fish blocks cancer in humanshttp://lifemag.org/article/a-fishy-tale-a-gene-that-blocks-regeneration-in-fish-blocks-cancer-in-humansIn a paper published in eLife, scientists from UCSF have found a a gene responsible for preventing cells from growing uncontrollably into deadly cancers in humans is also able to block tissue regeneration in zebrafish.Read more @ Stem CellarGoogle invests 50 million dollars into cardiovascular diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/google-invests-50-million-dollars-into-cardiovascular-diseaseCardiovascular disease is one of our greatest foes and is the biggest killer in the developed world - taking the lives of more than 17 million people every year. We\'ve made some progress, but Google wants to up the game.Read more @ Longevity ReporterCoffee drinking linked to lower mortality risk—againhttp://lifemag.org/article/coffee-drinking-linked-to-lower-mortality-risk-againIn a study involving more than 200,000 people, researchers found that drinking coffee—regular or decaf—is associated with an overall lower risk of mortality.Read more @ ars technicaAlgae has been engineered to kill cancer cells and leave healthy cells unharmedhttp://lifemag.org/article/algae-has-been-engineered-to-kill-cancer-cells-and-leave-healthy-cells-unharmedScientists have genetically engineered tiny algae to kill up to 90 percent of cancer cells in the lab, while leaving healthy ones unharmed, and the treatment has also been shown to effectively treat tumours in mice without doing damage to the rest of the body.Read more @ Science AlertThe state of life extension advocacy on social mediahttp://lifemag.org/article/the-state-of-life-extension-advocacy-on-social-media

Anti-aging science has seen a steady rise in advocacy in recent years. However, breakthroughs in research and development are still not covered enough in mainstream media. It is clear that the foundation of support has been growing, particularly through the expanding number of Facebook pages and groups on the subject, but the question remains; to what degree can social media influence mainstream support and increased awareness? Sophisticated use of social media can act as a sound tool for scientific education, debate, advocacy, and influencing social behaviour. As such, this research aims to evaluate the capacity of social media to support the development of science combating age related disease. The study will explore whether this particular area of science is benefiting from social media promotion and advocacy, or instead failing to inspire or achieve any of these things. Key to this is determining the percentage of facebook posts which offer legitimate information in relation to prolonging lifespan. The results were obtained by analysing a sample of 100 facebook posts from each of the most popular (in terms of membership) facebook groups related specifically to life extension. Each post was categorised by purpose and topic, and then those intended to spread seemingly legitimate information were given a legitimacy ranking of 1-6 - 1 being the most legitimate. From the results, it is clear that these posts, on the whole, are not acting to stimulate development or progress in this area of science. Of most concern was a lack of legitimacy and scientific evidence behind many posts on the subject of life extension. The research highlights a range of issues which, if not improved upon, represent a genuine obstacle for popularising and advancing science combating age-related disease.MethodologyWe looked at the ten most popular Facebook pages in terms of membership, and from these pages assessed the 100 most recent posts on and before the 30th September 2015. We reviewed each Facebook post individually, first by purpose which included the categories: raising awareness of a potential cure for age-related disease, a potential cause, analysis and opinion, fundraising, commercial, and no identifiable purpose/unrelated to life extension. The posts were then sorted by topic: Diet/nutrition, fitness/exercise, AI/robots, genetics/stem cells, transhumanism, events, cryonics, memes/quotes/videos/pictures, promotion, the body/biological, drugs/medication, aesthetics, or little to no relevance to life extension. Once we had established which posts were intended to provide information on prolonging lifespan, these posts were then given a legitimacy value. The scale, from 1-6, begins with ‘actual study’, which is a link to a scientific study published in peer reviewed journals. Second on the scale, ‘analysis of a study’, is an article that investigates a scientific study and includes a valid link. Third on the scale, ‘link to analysis of a study’, is a post linking to an article analysing a scientific study, with links and sources. Fourth on the scale, ‘Opinion piece/blog related to study’, is a post linking to an opinion piece, with links to a scientific study. Fifth on the scale, ‘Press release’, is a link to a statement in the news announcing scientific developments. Last on the scale, ‘Opinion piece/blog not related to study’, is a post linking to an opinion piece, without any links to a study or valid sources. Results Overall, we accessed 10 Facebook pages and 938 posts on and before the 30th September 2015.14.71% of posts were raising awareness of a potential cure for aging or age-related disease, 2.55% were raising awareness of a potential cause for age-related disease, 17.59% were analysis/opinion on subjects related to life extension, 31.02% were general advocacy, 5.86% were related to fundraising, 1.06% promoted commercial ventures, and 27.18% had no identifiable purpose or were unrelated to life extension. 7.35% of all posts were in the diet/nutrition topic category, 2.45% in AI/robots, 6.39% in genetics/stem cells, 5.01% in transhumanism, 2.13% in events, 1.81% in cryonics, 15.35% general advocacy for life extension/immortality (memes/pictures/video), 18.23% commercial promotions, 12.36% in body/biological, 3.19% in drugs/medication, 0.31% in aesthetics, 25.42% no identifiable purpose/unrelated to life extension. 248 of 938, or only 26.4% of all posts were suitable for the legitimacy scale. This denoted posts which were specifically intended to promote or raise awareness of a development with the potential to prolong lifespan. Of those posts, a mere 1.21% were placed on value scale 1, 13.31% in 2, 40.72% in 3, 7.26% in 4, 1.2% in 5, and 36.3% in 6.Only 14.71% of all posts were related to potential cures, and 82.61% of these were suitable for the legitimacy scale. Of these, 0% were actual studies, 55.9% were links to an analysis of a study, and 22.81% were articles based on opinion rather than a scientific study. 2.56% of all posts were related to potential causes, and out of this, 87.5% were suitable for the legitimacy scale. Again, 0% of these were actual studies, 57.14% were a link to an analysis of a study, and 23.81% were articles based on opinion rather than a scientific study. If we take a look at the overall picture of life extension on social media, taking into account all the data we have collected, only 26.4% of posts could be considered as scientifically informative. Of these, a tiny 1.21% could be considered as a grade 1 legitimate source. This represents a mere 0.32% of all posts analysed. Informational posts graded 2-4, which can also be considered legitimate represent just 16.2% of all posts. This leaves 9.9% of posts in the category 5-6 - intended as informative but with little credible scientific basis. And a huge 73.6% offering no legitimate or useful information in relation to aging science. Although fundraising for scientific research falls into this category and represents an entirely legitimate and worthwhile use of social media, this accounts for just 5.9% of that total. ConclusionThe purpose of this research was to evaluate the capacity of social media to support the development of science combating age related disease, from the assessment of these results it is clear that the social media around this particular area of science is currently coming up short as a tool for genuine scientific education, debate, and advocacy. For these pages that are primarily concerned with scientific developments, it is a huge surprise that there is such a huge proportion of posts which were, for the most part, unrelated. In addition, the majority of posts had no scientific basis. These results clearly show that these pages could be doing more to stimulate relevant debate and advocate the science around curing aging.This is concerning, as legitimate information about developments in science are integral to spreading awareness among the mainstream. Advocacy is clearly a double-edged sword, as even advocacy based on memes and images is positive for the overall picture. However, advocating posts based on memes, images, and promotion, seem to play a more self gratifying role, and offer little in terms of legitimising the cause, particularly to a mainstream audience. Above all else, although attempts to raise awareness and gain greater advocacy through social media are admirable, and absolutely essential to the cause, the results show that a great deal more caution, and in many cases vigilance needs to be exerted when sharing information.

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New stem cell gene correction process puts time on researchers' sidehttp://lifemag.org/article/new-stem-cell-gene-correction-process-puts-time-on-researchers-sideResearchers from the Morgridge Institute for Research and the Murdoch Children\'s Research Institute (MCRI) in Australia have devised a way to dramatically cut the time involved in reprogramming and genetically correctingstem cells, an important step to making future therapies possible.Read more @ Medical News TodayTaking antibiotics can change the gut microbiome for up to a yearhttp://lifemag.org/article/taking-antibiotics-can-change-the-gut-microbiome-for-up-to-a-yearA new study illuminates the problems antibiotic overuse could cause for individual patients.Read more @ the AntlanticLongevity Gap: America's big spending on healthcare doesn't pay offhttp://lifemag.org/article/longevity-gap-americas-big-spending-on-healthcare-doesnt-pay-offAmerica remains the world’s most profligate spender on health care, yet the average American dies 1.7 years earlier than the average OECD citizen. Find out more @ the EconomistClassifying aging as a diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/classifying-aging-as-a-disease

In line with the recent paper published by Insilico Medicine and the BGRF, Evan Johnson makes the case for classifying aging as a disease...Recently, I celebrated my birthday. With each passing year, it seems that the joy of the occasion diminishes, as age becomes less of a mark of development and more one of deterioration. That kind of perspective may be a bit macabre for someone in their mid-20’s, as people of my age have yet to face the seeming inevitability of aging. However, one does not need to be elderly to understand the physical limitations that the word implies. The physical effects of getting old have been accepted as natural and final, but what if we have just had the wrong understanding of aging?Aging itself is the process of the human body deteriorating over time, and its effects are now attributed to a wide range of illnesses. People gradually lose their sight and vision, their organs suffer decreased function, and in some cases people’s very minds change so much that they cease being who they used to be. Several diseases and conditions are labeled as the culprits of aging, with research and treatments being directed at each of them individually. This work is certainly important, but several scientists argue that this approach is too piecemeal. According to them, such ailments represent the side effects of a greater disease, one that in fact can be treated and prevented. That disease is aging itself.The notion of aging as a disease is not an entirely revolutionary one, and several scientists have been pushing for such recognition. Scientists at Insilico Medicine, an American company which uses bioinformatics to develop personalized medicine and anti-aging treatments, and the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research have recently called on the World Health Organization to classify aging as a disease in the 11th iteration of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11). The ICD is the standard tool for identifying and classifying diseases used by medical professional throughout the world.Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov of Insilico and Bhupinder Bhullar of the BGRF begin their paper by examining the history of disease classification. Throughout most of history, the classification process itself has been a bit sporadic, with different institutions applying different standards as to what exactly constitutes a disease. The authors give the example that the ICD itself had only begun to classify mental disorders as diseases in 1949, and that a lot of the reasoning behind classifications has been due to mostly economic and social reasons. The paper points out that our current biological understanding of aging is shifting along with societal attitudes towards what can be classified as a disease, and that the ICD-11 needs to be updated to reflect this.A change in nomenclature may not sound like it has much effect, but it has great potential. History has shown that the classification of mental disorders, such as autism, as diseases has led to increased attention to the subject, the development of more accurate diagnostic methods, and increased involvement of the pharmaceutical industry and policy makers. It also provides the basis for clinical trials, which are critical in creating specific anti-aging treatments. A formal WHO classification of aging as a disease would involve the creation of a dedicated task force, in a fashion similar to what is being done for chronic pain. It would also allow for the recognition of an “ideal norm” of a disease-free state of a specified age (such as 25), which would provide a clear goal for treatments to strive towards.While the benefits of classifying aging as a disease are quite apparent, the notion is far from being universally supported. From a scientific standpoint, it has been argued that since there are no specific gerontogenes that cause aging, it is therefore a natural process. From an ethical point of view, few people would be willing to readily accept the fact that they have been carrying a disease since birth, and even less would be open to the idea that, without specific treatment, they are somehow second-rate after their twenties.The first point can be countered with the fact that we just haven’t done enough specific research to identify a cause for aging. However, Zhavoronkov and Bhullar state that technological advances, particularly in big data analysis, enable scientists to track and identify potential causes better. Countless times throughout history, scientists have discovered that what we previously thought was natural and inevitable was merely masquerading as such behind ignorance. Anyone who has taken a flight, gotten a vaccine, or even just has all of their teeth can attest to this.The ethical argument may prove a bit trickier, but consider the following: is there not already a divide between the old and young? Besides the physical limitations, age discrimination is a hindrance within our society. Those who are older often lose out in job applications to their younger counterparts, even if they have better qualifications. The economic costs are staggering as well, as developed countries are faced with the challenge of skyrocketing pension and healthcare costs related to aging. These trends are only increasing, and making sure that people stay fit and healthy as they become older would be the key factor in maintaining global stability.Once we accept the fact that aging is a disease, how can we move forward? Zhavoronkov and Bhullar propose creating an international task force that can bring attention to the issue and dedicate large amounts of resources to a multidisciplinary approach. The authors of the paper also state that when aging is classified as a disease, better metrics can be applied to make research more quantifiable and ultimately attractive to corporations and other non-research organizations. This classification could very well be the action that kick-starts a flood of longevity research, funding, and developments.If we consider aging a disease, it doesn’t just represent a nomenclatural change in thinking but rather a paradigm shift. The first step in tackling a problem is to define it, and while people may not specifically consider aging a disease as of yet, we have always been striving for longer and healthier lives. It is, after all, the entire purpose of medicine, and this classification is a logical next step.Science and medicine only make progress once the problem is properly identified. In the mid 19th century, a cholera outbreak ravaged London, and no one seemed to know just where it came from. The prevailing notion at the time was that it was spread via the air, but preventative measures geared towards this understanding proved ineffective. A physician named John Snow took a new approach to fighting the disease, and with statistical analysis identified the source as a water pump on Broad Street. It was only after this revelation that cholera was understood to be water-based, and effective measures could be taken. Just as John Snow had to identify the Broad Street pump before we could fight cholera, so too must we properly classify aging as a disease to fight it.Read the original paper here

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New tool may help diagnose and treat Parkinson's disease in early stageshttp://lifemag.org/article/new-tool-may-help-diagnose-and-treat-parkinsons-disease-in-early-stagesA group of experts working under the umbrella of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), have developed a new tool for healthcare professionals that they hope will mark a significant advancement in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson\'s disease, especially in its early stages.Read more @ News MedicalHow cancer doctors use personalised medicine to target variations unique to each tumourhttp://lifemag.org/article/how-cancer-doctors-use-personalised-medicine-to-target-variations-unique-to-each-tumourThe Children’s Cancer Institute in Sydney recently launched an ambitious program. From early next year, scientists will analyse the unique cancer cells of 12 children diagnosed with the most aggressive forms of the disease to find the best treatment for each child.Read more @ The ConversationExperimental drug targeting Alzheimer's disease shows anti-aging effectshttp://lifemag.org/article/experimental-drug-targeting-alzheimers-disease-shows-anti-aging-effectsSalk Institute researchers have found that an experimental drug candidate aimed at combating Alzheimer\'s disease has a host of unexpected anti-aging effects in animals.Read more @ Science DailyYou, only betterhttp://lifemag.org/article/you-only-betterIs \'biohacking\' just a fad? Or can data-driven diets help us become an improved, happier species?Read more @ New York Times‘Death clock’ in cells could tell you when you’ll get cancerhttp://lifemag.org/article/death-clock-in-cells-could-tell-you-when-you-ll-get-cancerHow fast we age and whether we get cancer may be predetermined by two “clocks” discovered in almost every cell in the human body.Read more @ New ScientistGene therapy: A promising candidate for cystic fibrosis treatmenthttp://lifemag.org/article/gene-therapy-a-promising-candidate-for-cystic-fibrosis-treatmentAn improved gene therapy treatment can cure mice with cystic fibrosis (CF). Cell cultures from CF patients, too, respond well to the treatment. Those are the encouraging results of a study presented by the Laboratory for Molecular Virology and Gene Therapy at KU Leuven, Belgium.Read more hereCRISPR research is thriving, in spite of the intellectual property debate http://lifemag.org/article/crispr-research-is-thriving-in-spite-of-the-intellectual-property-debate

Crispr has been heralded as the most important biotechnology breakthrough of the century. The battle over intellectual ownership of the platform has turned into an East Coast-West Coast rivalry of epic proportions. New developments published last month in Cell, however, are calling the relevance of this conflict into question. Revolutionary TechnologyFor the uninitiated, Crispr is part of some bacteria’s natural self-defense systems. When a virus invades, strands of RNA target its genome. A protein then cuts the viral DNA, disabling it. Scientists have harnessed this ability to edit the genomes of other organisms, including humans. While the technology is still very new, it has enormous implications for the future of medicine. In 2012, Dr. Jennifer Doudna of the University of California and Emmanuelle Charpentier of Umea University in Sweden published a paper in Science about the Crispr/Cas9 complex. Cas9 is the name of a protein used to cut the viral DNA once the bacterial RNA has targeted it. Doudna and Charpentier’s paper suggested that the Crispr/Cas9 system could be used to edit DNA, but did not lay out specific instructions for doing so. At the beginning of 2013, Dr. Feng Zhang, of the Broad Institute, and Dr. George Church, of Harvard Medical School, both published papers on the use of the Crispr/Cas9 complex in human cells. Because Crispr is a naturally occurring system, the mechanism itself cannot be patented. However, the modifications that allow researchers to apply CRISPR to human cells are considered proprietary technology. All the money lies in the potential medical applications, too numerous to count. Doudna and Charpentier first filed a patent application in May of 2012. Although Doudna was the first to publish on Crispr and the first to apply for a patent, so far, all patents have been granted to Zhang. While a dispute over the ownership of the CRISPR/Cas9 system rages on, a discovery published by Zhang’s lab last month in Cell may undermine much of the effort that both parties have poured into it. Tip of the IcebergCpf1 is a protein that serves a function similar to Cas9 in human cells, but with some compelling variations. It is smaller, requires only one strand of RNA to target the DNA (as opposed to two), and cuts strands in a way that makes it easier for new DNA sequences to bind. It cuts further from the target site, allowing more room for error, and recognizes different sequences, giving researchers more options when selecting a protein. This discovery shows that the Crispr/Cas9 complex is not the only tool in the drawer. “We have the feeling it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” John van der Oost, a microbiologist and co-author on the paper, told Wired. There may be many such proteins like Cas9 and Cpf1 that can be used to perform a similar function with slight variations. As Zhang told Technology Review, “Nature has had billions of years to create these tools. We would like to turn over as many rocks as we can find.”Intellectual Property What does this mean for intellectual ownership? The discovery of Cpf1 is likely to deflate Crispr/Cas9’s value as a proprietary technology. Zhang, Doudna, and Charpentier have all licensed their methods to startups in hopes of cashing in on their discoveries. While Zhang could patent Crispr/Cpf1 separately, the value of such licensing is now somewhat diminished. The beauty of the Crispr/Cas9 complex lies in its highly democratic nature: it is inexpensive and requires relatively little training to use. Doudna and Zhang have both made their technologies widely available to research institutions. Anyone looking to profit off of a therapeutic use could be required to pay a royalty to the patent holder. The potential for profit is so great that investors are largely undeterred by the uncertain patent situation. Research is pushing ahead. If more alternative protein complexes emerge—which, according to Zhang and colleagues, appears likely—the value of any individual patent will likely decrease. Patent owners will still be able to demand royalties, but the price will be lower than if CRISPR/Cas9 were the only complex on the market. While this discovery may call the value of the original patent into question, it is likely excellent news for potential therapies. The more versatile the genome editing toolkit, the more swiftly, safely, and diversely these discoveries can be translated into human health—at least, that is the hope.Both Zhang and Doudna have put in the legwork to make Crispr systems accessible throughout the research community. The number of academic papers on gene editing has skyrocketed. CRISPR-related research is thriving in spite of the intellectual property debate. It will be interesting to see what develops in the coming years.

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‘Health Nucleus’: How Human Longevity Inc. aim to outmaneuver diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/health-nucleus-how-human-longevity-inc-aim-to-outmaneuver-disease

In 2000, following an international research effort, the human genome was mapped. In a world first, the Human Genome Project, alongside Celera Genomics, led by Craig Venter, read nature’s complete genetic blueprint for a human being. It was thought at the time that this revolutionary development would lead rapidly to a new understanding of health and medical care, through the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. In the fifteen years that have passed there have been many medical advancements following directly from that breakthrough. For example, where it once cost around 2.7 billion dollars to sequence the genome, it now costs less than five thousand. Doctors can now diagnose challenging disorders and diseases, with relative success, through DNA analysis. Further, they can now sequence a patient’s tumor to identify what treatment is best, and understand the genetic basis of thousands of conditions. However, these advancements, despite their importance, are not revolutionary. They are gallant notches on the medical timeline, but nothing compared to what was predicted of genome sequencing. The Human Genome Project has so far failed to deliver the upheaval in health care that was promised, but this can surely only mean that what has been achieved is only the tip of the iceberg. Craig Venter and those at Human Longevity Inc. definitely believe that there is still so much more to come. Human Longevity Inc. and personalised health careHuman Longevity Inc. was launched almost two years ago by Venter and aims to lead the way in bearing the torch of the Human Genome Project. On its website it states that, “HLI is going to change the way medicine is practiced by furthering the shift to a preventative, genomic-based medicine model.” It claims to be doing this through building the ‘world’s most comprehensive database on human genotypes and phenotypes’, with further plans to sequence somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000 human genomes per year. This, among other things, is the first time a company has offered wide access to genetic information on a commercial basis. HLI have partnered with major insurance companies worldwide, including Discovery Health which insures four million people in South Africa and the United Kingdom, to make genome services commonplace and low cost to the individual. This is a strategic two pronged attack by HLI, to create another source of income, and to tease out all the useful information in the human genome. In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Venter explained how the completion of the sequencing of the human genome really was the first major step toward predictive medicine, “I’ve had my genome for 15 years, and there’s not much I can learn because there are not that many others to compare it to.” And this comparison is exactly what Venter’s new project, the Health Nucleus, aims to undertake. He wants to sequence everyone’s genome so that, before long, it could take seconds to compare any one genome with another. This, many believe, could be his greatest challenge yet, and at the core of the project will be “one of the greatest translation challenges in history.”The hype about the Health Nucleus and predictive analytics HLI claim that Health Nucleus will sequence a patient’s entire genome ‘with extraordinary resolution and accuracy’, then by scanning the body in fine detail, the compounds, microbes, fat deposits, shapes of vessels, and almost every other biological element will be measured and calculated. The data will then be simplified and streamlined into an easy to understand iPad app, and also sent to your physician. All of this is advertised in an equally streamlined and slick video with Venter at the center, explaining his concepts and ideas about the future of precision medicine. It is the next scientific enterprise of Human Longevity; aiming to lessen and soften the distinction between science and medical care, whilst at the same time of course making a huge profit. It is what this company seems to do best, hauling in great sums of investment in order to start its next big-budget adventure. Nonetheless, the Health Nucleus, according to Craig Venter is much more than just a “physical on steroids”, as he has called it in the past.It is at the core of Venter’s vision to turn everyone’s health into masses and masses of data, so that science can predict disease, and essentially outmaneuver it. The resulting database could be an incredibly powerful tool, and could lead to scientific revelations and healthcare revolutions. It would be the world’s largest, and would consist of such human genetic and medical information that it could allow for swathes of connections and predictions about this information and the development of disease. From these links, scientists and researchers are hoping to lead the way toward predictive medicine, so that they can use this information to avoid disease through treatments or a change in lifestyle.The challenges for HLIThe potential for this new venture is huge, and is the driving factor behind it. It most likely will turn out to be a good source of revenue for Human Longevity Inc, but behind the enterprise will always be the original motivation, an opportunity for scientific research. Nonetheless, this could result in a clash between HLI’s scientific research and the health systems which would need to be in place to administer any resultant treatments. HLI, for their venture to truly work, must blur scientific research and healthcare, with the provision of care something that the HLI is not so accomplished in. Further, after being asked about the potential of Health Nucleus, Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, said “I think there is absolutely no evidence that any of those tests have any benefit for healthy people”. She is not alone, as many other doctors are beginning to question the capacity of these tests, some claiming that it could lead to patients believing that this excessive testing will affect their health somehow. This kind of opposition is exactly what HLI do not need, but it does propose an interesting perspective. Despite all the initial comprehension of individual health, and the huge potential for the future of medicine, the Health Nucleus might not offer all that much at the moment.Making the science easy to understandWhat the Health Nucleus does, without any doubt, is simplify what would normally be extremely complicated science. For a patient it is a process of disentangling their health and having it as an entity they can access and reclaim, rather than a vague concept that is often being fought over in the mainstream media. For society too, what HLI are doing is important. They are defining the information generation, pushing science into the mainstream through christening phrases such as the ‘human genome’, ‘genetics’, and ‘the study of aging’.This process is a symbol of the company itself. Building on the progress made by the Human Genome Project; sequencing the genome which essentially unscrambled three billion base pairs of DNA, they now want to unscramble everybody’s DNA and organise it into As, Bs, and Cs. The company’s website offers just a little over one hundred words to explain their Human Genomics science, and the same for the science behind the database. Craig Venter, as the spokesperson for HLI, is famously proficient in making difficult science intelligible. Appearing on Ted Talks a number of times, as well as panel discussions and multiple TV programmes and news shows talking clearly and understandably; Venter represents a new breed of scientist. And HLI seem to represent a new breed of company in the field of aging science. In their Health Nucleus video they address the statistic that aging is the number ‘one risk factor for almost every disease’. From the name, Human Longevity, it\'s clear what obstacle they address, the ‘diseases associated with aging-related human biological decline.’ There are no secrets here and no qualms about whether they believe aging as an area, and a concept, is suitable for advancing science to focus on. With Health Nucleus, HLI are certainly taking bold steps towards doing so.

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Germany, U.S. in hot pursuit of 'messenger' drug moleculeshttp://lifemag.org/article/germany-u-s-in-hot-pursuit-of-messenger-drug-moleculesA molecule that carries the recipe for making drugs inside body cells is exciting scientists and investors alike, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in a scramble for the next promising area of biotechnology.Read more @ ReutersA psychologist visited an Italian island to find out why so many people lived to 100 — and discovered something amazinghttp://lifemag.org/article/a-psychologist-visited-an-italian-island-to-find-out-why-so-many-people-lived-to-100-and-discovered-something-amazing

While it\'s hard to say that it\'s solely relationships that help people to live so long in Sardinia, psychologist Susan Pinker says that human connections are a driving factor in longevity.Read more @ Business Insider

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First genetically modified humans could exist within two yearshttp://lifemag.org/article/first-genetically-modified-humans-could-exist-within-two-yearsBiotech company Editas is planning to start human trials to genetically edit genes and reverse blindness. Read more @ The Telegraph Gene therapies offer dramatic promise but shocking costshttp://lifemag.org/article/gene-therapies-offer-dramatic-promise-but-shocking-costsThe Washington Post contends that in spite of increasingly impressive results, the cost of gene therapy still represents a barrier to success.Read more hereIL7R gene expression network associates with human healthy ageinghttp://lifemag.org/article/il7r-gene-expression-network-associates-with-human-healthy-ageingThe level of expression of the interleukin 7 receptor (IL7R) gene in blood has recently been found to be associated with familial longevity and healthy ageing. IL7R is crucial for T cell development and important for immune competence.Read more @ Immunity & AgeingFour Prestigious NEDs Join UK Precision Medicine Catapult Boardhttp://lifemag.org/article/four-prestigious-neds-join-uk-precision-medicine-catapult-boardThe Precision Medicine Catapult, the UK\'s innovation centre for precision medicine, has strengthened its Board with the appointment of four non-executive directors with broad healthcare expertise. Professors Sir John Bell and Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Dame Julie Moore and Dr Mene Pangalos will guide the Precision Medicine Catapult\'s strategic direction as it helps build a world-leading UK precision medicine industry.Read more @ Business WireFirst precision medicine trial in cancer prevention identifies molecular-based chemoprevention strategyhttp://lifemag.org/article/first-precision-medicine-trial-in-cancer-prevention-identifies-molecular-based-chemoprevention-strategyA team of scientists, led by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center, report that a genetic biomarker called loss of heterozygosity or LOH is able to predict which patients with premalignant mouth lesions are at highest risk of developing oral cancer.Read more @ eCancerNewsStudy reveals state of life extension advocacy on social mediahttp://lifemag.org/article/study-reveals-state-of-life-extension-advocacy-on-social-media

A LIFEMAG study to be published next week has revealed the state of life extension advocacy on social media.Collecting data from the 10 most popular advocacy groups by membership, and ranking shared posts by timeframe, subject, and legitimacy of information, the study found that a mere 15% of posts across facebook were related to legitimate potential cures for age-related disease and/or prolonging lifespan. “Upon analysis, it is clear that social media is, on the whole, not currently working sufficiently to stimulate development or progress of this area of science. Instead, we have found other aims and factors, many concerned with little actual science” said lead researcher Peter Moulding. “Through showing that, in this instance, social media performs these different wayward functions, the research has highlighted a troubling issue, and an obvious wider obstacle for science combating age related disease.”Reviewing the purpose and topic of posts, the study also analysed the value of those posts that were scientifically founded.The scale, from 1-6, progressing from ‘actual study’, to ‘opinion piece/blog not related to study’, took into account the perceived scientific value of a post. The purpose being to further discern the current overall function and intention of the pages under analysis.Out of all posts, although the most common purpose was advocacy, the most prevalent topics were memes/pictures/video, many with little or no relevance to life extension research and development itself. As a result, the study found that these Facebook groups are not acting to stimulate progress, but instead have varying and different functions, often unrelated to anti-aging, whilst those that are were often without scientific basis.“The key message is that these Facebook posts are not providing the foundation from which anti-aging science can progress into the mainstream, like other areas of science are doing.”The hope is that this research can serve to highlight these issues, and be used to improve the use of social media as a tool for taking life extension ideas from the radical to the mainstream. The full study will be published at www.lifemag.org on Tuesday 17th November.

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Macular degeneration may be treatable with Parkinson's drughttp://lifemag.org/article/macular-degeneration-may-be-treatable-with-parkinsons-drugThe mountains of data collected on health, patients, treatments and disease create opportunities to mine them for new insights. Now, such an exercise has led to a potential breakthrough in the treatment of macular degeneration - the most common cause of blindness among older Americans.Read more @ Medical News TodayFormer medical school dean discusses learning and longevity at Stanford 125 event http://lifemag.org/article/former-medical-school-dean-discusses-learning-and-longevity-at-stanford-125-eventIn his talk, Pizzo, founding director of the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute, explored the topics of learning, aging and longevity and how traditional views of education and career (learn when young and do the same job for life) no longer apply now that people are living and working longer than ever.See the video hereSleep could be the missing link in dementiahttp://lifemag.org/article/sleep-could-be-the-missing-link-in-dementia

New research suggests that sleep and circadian rhythm problems experienced earlier in life actually may contribute to the risk of Alzheimer\'s and accelerate the disease.Read more @ Chicago Tribune

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Your kids will live longer than you thoughthttp://lifemag.org/article/your-kids-will-live-longer-than-you-thoughtThe New York Times look at the numbers around longevity, and explore the possibility of the next generation living well into their 80s. Read more hereCRISPR cluster: How the media spotlight is focusing on gene editing toolhttp://lifemag.org/article/crispr-cluster-how-the-media-spotlight-is-focusing-on-gene-editing-toolThe Stem Cellar takes an in-depth look at the media coverage surrounding CRISPR.Read more hereWe're living an extra 20 years, so we need to adapthttp://lifemag.org/article/were-living-an-extra-20-years-so-we-need-to-adapt

According to this year’s World Health Organization (WHO) report on aging, we will live an average 20 years longer than 50 years ago. While this number varies based on one’s socioeconomic status and/or home country, it is predicted that by 2020, the number of over 60’s will outnumber children <5 years. This wave of population aging is happening faster than ever before, and it is going to be a major global challenge to cope with this shift. In addition, this increase in the aging population will mean that there will be further opportunities for the elderly, including entrepreneurial opportunities, which will most likely affect perceptions and economic situations. Why is the population aging? A number of factors influence our aging population. The WHO report explains how the increased life expectancy is due to a combination of factors, namely declining mortality rates. This decline differs demographically; we see that in high-income countries longevity is continually extending, whereas in low to middle-income countries childhood mortality as well as death from infectious diseases is rapidly decreasing.Interestingly, a marked global drop in fertility rates is also pushing this trend, which will impact the structure of populations. According to a recent UN report, the average fertility rate worldwide has dropped from 3 children to 2.5 compared to 20 years ago, particularly in Europe, where the average is at an all time low of 1.6 children. This trend comes from a number of factors, namely birth control, and a surge in highly educated, career-focused young women.Improvements and better access to medical care, as well as the eradication of disease also has a major impact on our aging population. Last year alone, 10 new cancer therapies were approved by the US FDA, aiming to extend the life of cancer patients. The development of vaccines which can prevent infectious diseases, particularly in developing countries, has also had an immense impact on global longevity.Although the report highlights some general factors, one’s socioeconomic status is not necessarily predictive of country of origin. For example, a study found that children from the richest areas of Britain can expect to live a full, active life for as much as 20 years longer than their counterparts in the poorest neighborhoods. One reason for this can be chronic stress induced by financial strain, accumulating in a number of serious health issues. Another reason can be attributed to diet. Eating healthy, natural food is nowadays often more expensive than convenience foods which can have devastating effects on an individual\'s health over time. The British government are even considering introducing taxes on unhealthy foods to try and deal with this problem. Better education for children on these issues may help to balance the difference in aging. The challenges of an aging populationNo matter what socioeconomic background, or part of the world one is from, we are going to live on average 20 years longer, and it is going to be a global challenge to deal with this shift. The WHO report stresses the economic burdens associated with aging like healthcare and pension costs. Plans need to be put in place now in order to cope with this.A sub-report focuses on creating age-friendly cities, emphasizing important points of change for an aging population. Transportation, health services and housing are major factors to be worked on. After that comes participation in society, be it through community support, employment or social inclusion. A combination of efforts in those areas could lead to an era of age-friendly cities which promote healthy aging and enhance quality of life for the elderly. Deep and fundamental changes in health services are called upon in the report. Almost a quarter of the overall global burden of death and illness is in the over 60s. Programs tailored to specific countries should be set in place to deal with localized health issues. Moreover, policies aiming to prevent and better manage chronic illness will have a long-term benefit. Shedding an optimistic standpoint, Dr Chatterji from the WHO states “Collectively, we need to look beyond the costs commonly associated with aging to think about the benefits that an older, healthier, happier and more productive older population can bring to society as a whole.\"The report goes into much detail on health issues in an aging population and how global policy-makers and governments need to implicate systems to deal with this transformation. Though, a major finding is that if those extra 20 years are experienced in good health, societies can directly benefit from an extended workforce, compared to poor health where physical and mental capacity is declined, leading to negative implications upon society.Opportunities opening up to the aging populationAs well as challenges, an aging population opens up new opportunities. With an extra 20 years, one may consider following their passion and starting a second career as an entrepreneur for example. Evidence is starting to accumulate showing such changes. Recent statistics found that in the United States, 23% of new entrepreneurs in 2011-2012 were aged between 55-64. Healthy aging is not only about your health and environment, but also takes into account well-being and purpose in society.To plan for our extra 20 years, the WHO have initiated a Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health in consultation with Member States and other partners. The plan has a number of priorities including being committed to healthy aging and establishing age-friendly environments with systems for long term care to align with needs of our aging population.A major aim is to have all countries committed to fostering healthy aging by 2020, with action plans set in place to maximize functional ability, and that reach everybody. A global consultation meeting in Geneva this year will bring together a number of bodies, including representatives from the UN, scientific experts, national and international organisations as well as a number of departments within the WHO to discuss the implementation of the aging plan. The WHO envisions the outcome to be published in an updated report by January 2016.ConclusionIt is clear that society needs to adapt on many levels. Individually, in communities, whole nations and all the way up to global politics. Only through combined efforts will the proposals set out in the report become a reality. Particularly intriguing is the notion of “age-friendly cities” and how this will be implemented worldwide.Further, younger populations should set the ball rolling by engaging the older community in their activities and interests. As outlined in the report, an aging population comes with a lot of experience which potentially brings enormous opportunities. Working together with experienced people will also positively affect one\'s perception of the elderly.

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The gene hackers http://lifemag.org/article/the-gene-hackersThe New Yorker offers a comprehensive analysis of CRISPR technology. Read more @ The New YorkerScale of dementia death trebles in a decadehttp://lifemag.org/article/scale-of-dementia-death-trebles-in-a-decadeA recent study of death statistics by the Office for National Statistics in Britain shows that while there has been an overall fall in death rates in England and Wales, the impact of dementia is being felt more than ever with dementia related deaths increasing by over 7%.Read more @ The Telegraph Scientists have breached the blood-brain barrier for the first time to treat a brain tumourhttp://lifemag.org/article/scientists-have-breached-the-blood-brain-barrier-for-the-first-time-to-treat-a-brain-tumour

In a world first, scientists at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Canada have developed a method to temporarily open the blood-brain barrier, which up until now has been a persistent obstacle to delivering valuable therapies, so to deliver chemotherapy medication directly into the malignant brain tumor of a patient. Read more @ Science Alert

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Breakthrough prize honors scientists working on Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Neutrinos, and morehttp://lifemag.org/article/breakthrough-prize-honors-scientists-working-on-alzheimers-parkinsons-neutrinos-and-moreMark Zuckerberg and fellow tech leaders fund annual prizes worth $22m, and this year many prizes have gone to researchers working on cures for age-related disease. Read more @ Popular ScienceAlzheimer's disease will strain future Medicaid budgets, report sayshttp://lifemag.org/article/alzheimers-disease-will-strain-future-medicaid-budgets-report-saysAlzheimer\'s disease can deplete brain function, but it can also ravage a person\'s wallet, according to a new report by the national Alzheimer\'s Association.Read more @ KSLScientists create functional tissue implant with intricate blood vessel networkhttp://lifemag.org/article/scientists-create-functional-tissue-implant-with-intricate-blood-vessel-networkResearchers at both the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University have created an implant with an intricate network of blood vessels, which serves as a possible answer to many of the challenges surrounding regenerative medicine.Read more @ GENCRISPR gene editing to be tested on people by 2017, says Editashttp://lifemag.org/article/crispr-gene-editing-to-be-tested-on-people-by-2017-says-editasEditas, a biotechnology startup based in Boston, have announced that they will soon begin clinical trials on humans using CRISPR to treat a rare form of eye disease called Laber congenital amaurosis, which affects the light-receiving cells of the retina. Read more @ MIT Technology ReviewBritish baby given genetically-edited immune cells to beat cancer in world firsthttp://lifemag.org/article/british-baby-given-genetically-edited-immune-cells-to-beat-cancer-in-world-firstIn a world first, scientists in London have successfully applied a gene editing technique called TALEN to treat leukaemia in a young patient. Doctors will continue to monitor her closely, but believe that she has been cured of the cancer.Read more @ The Telegraph Possible solution for side effect of Alzheimer’s immunotherapy treatmenthttp://lifemag.org/article/possible-solution-for-side-effect-of-alzheimer-s-immunotherapy-treatment

By engineering antibodies, researchers at the University of Southampton have discovered a possible solution to rid immunotherapy, a promising treatment for Alzheimer\'s, of its inflammatory side effects. Read more @ EurekAlert

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The problem with antimicrobial resistancehttp://lifemag.org/article/the-problem-with-antimicrobial-resistance

A brief glance at some of the medical discoveries that have been made in recent years is enough to leave one impressed at the state of modern medicine. Whether it’s bionic organs or stem cell research, medical progress seems to be advancing at a staggering rate. However, at the same time, many of the basic achievements of modern medicine are under threat from a much more banal, and relatively under-reported, phenomenon – namely that of antimicrobial resistance.Antibiotic ResistanceThe most well-known – and perhaps most troubling – form of antimicrobial resistance is antibiotic resistance, i.e. the tendency of bacteria to become resistant to treatment (although viruses and fungi can also develop resistance to medicine). Use of antibiotics creates a type of selective pressure in bacteria populations, where those bacteria with little resistance die, while those with resistance survive and multiply. Over time this can lead to the development of disease strains that are completely impervious to existing antibiotics. This risk is inherent to the use of antibiotics, and scientists have been aware of it for a long time – indeed, Alexander Fleming warned of the dangers arising from antimicrobial resistance in 1945 while accepting his Nobel Prize for the discovery of penicillin. It did not take long for his fears to be confirmed and penicillin resistance to become relatively widespread. For quite a while, however, this was not seen as an urgent problem, as scientists kept discovering new antibiotics, thereby compensating for growing resistance to existing drugs. This was the so-called “golden age” of antibiotics, which lasted until the 1970s. But then the development of new antibiotics dried up – the last completely new class of antibiotics to be licensed was discovered in 1987.The majority of existing antibiotics were developed by extracting microbes from soil, but at a certain point this appeared not to work anymore, as it was impossible to grow most soil microbes in normal laboratory conditions. Moreover, pharmaceutical companies had little interest in developing new antibiotics, as the potential for profit is very low in comparison to other types of medicine, in particular those used to treat long-term, chronic diseases (antibiotics, by contrast, are only taken for a short period of time). One of the last major pharmaceutical companies continuing to research new antibiotics was Pfizer, which ceased its main research operations in 2011, quoting financial reasons.Antibiotic OveruseThe problem is exacerbated by persistent overuse of antibiotics. According to the EU\'s Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance, 70% of antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly. For example, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat flu-like symptoms that are actually caused by a virus, against which antibiotics are completely useless. This is partly related to patient expectations that they receive some type of prescription when they go to the doctor, but it is also the result of inadequate or lengthy diagnostic procedures – if doctors don\'t know how to diagnose a patient, or don\'t have time to wait for the results of the diagnostic test, they may rely on the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Additionally, in some countries it is very easy to buy antibiotics without a prescription, which massively increases the risk that they will be used incorrectly.Moreover, antibiotics are not only used on humans – in fact, it has been estimated that around 70% of antibiotics sold in the US are given to farm animals. These are not only administered on a large scale to prevent occurrence of disease (i.e. before the animals actually get sick), but are also used to encourage growth. Antimicrobial resistance in animals has therefore developed into a major problem, and – while animal diseases are different to human ones – it is possible for drug-resistant animal infections to be passed on to humans. For example, several outbreaks of multi-drug resistant Salmonella in recent years have been traced back to consumption of beef and poultry products.As a result of these factors, antimicrobial resistance has already developed to a point where it is causing major harm. A large number of drug-resistant diseases have become widespread, including strains of tuberculosis and gonorrhoea, as well as the hospital “superbug” Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). According to figures from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20,000 people die in America every year as the result of untreatable infections.While there are signs that MRSA has been brought under much better control in recent years, the same period has seen an increasing trend towards multi-drug resistance in other types of bacteria, in particular Escherichia coli (a major cause of urinary tract infections) and Klebsiella pneumoniae (which can infect the urinary tract, the respiratory tract and the bloodstream). In regard to the latter, a troubling development has been the recent growth of resistance to the carbapenem class of antibiotics, drugs that are often used as the last line of defence against multi-drug resistant bacteria.Prognoses for the future are even more worrying. According to the UK government\'s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, 10 million people could die annually by 2050 as the result of untreatable infections. If things get worse, we could return to conditions in which minor, everyday infections can prove deadly. This would have massive implications for medical practice; surgery, for example, would become much more risky. Vital surgical procedures that we take for granted, such as joint replacements or organ transplants, could become untenable, as the risk of post-surgery infection would be too high. The use of chemotherapy, which suppresses the human immune system, also relies on the application of antibiotics to prevent infection and would be much more dangerous if these no longer worked.In view of its potential to undermine so many of modern medicine\'s achievements, antimicrobial resistance has been described by Sally Davies, England\'s Chief Medical Officer, as a “catastrophic” threat. Some observers have compared it to climate change, in the sense that it is an enormous problem with huge consequences for the entire world, yet very little is actually being done about it.Research on new antibioticsPartly this is related to funding issues. As mentioned above, there is very little financial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in the development of new antibiotics. For this reason, many people see hope resting primarily on government funded research in university departments, or call for measures to incentivise research in the private sector. There are some indications that national governments are beginning to take the problem more seriously – in 2012 the UK government launched a five year action plan on antimicrobial resistance, and the White House issued a similar plan early this year. However, actual funding levels have been very low. Of the $142.5bn spent by the US National Institutes of Health on research between 2010 and 2014, for example, only $1.7 was designated for antimicrobial resistance. In the UK, £14bn was made available for research on bacteriology between 2008 and 2013, but only £95m of this was spent on the search for new antibiotics.Nonetheless, there are signs that some progress is being made. At the beginning of 2015, a group of researchers from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts announced the discovery of an entirely new form of antibiotic, teixobactin. It had been thought that soil offered no further possibilities to discover new antibiotics, as most soil microbes cannot grow in laboratory conditions, but the researchers managed to do so by using an innovative new way of encouraging growth. This is very promising, as it suggests it may be possible to develop many more antibiotics from soil. Moreover, teixobactin attacks bacteria in a different way to most antibiotics, making it less prone to the development of resistance. The researchers who discovered it think it may take at least 30 years for significant resistance to appear. As of yet, however, teixobactin has not been licensed for clinical use, and it will take some time before even the first clinical trials are possible.Other research areasBesides development of new antibiotics, there are a number of other research areas that may provide ways to deal with the problem. One of these involves the use of bacteriophages, viruses that infect and kill bacteria and which were already used as a form of treatment in the Soviet Union. In contrast to antibiotics, phages only attack specific bacteria, meaning they leave good bacteria intact. However, the specific nature of their attack represents an obstacle, as doctors may not know which exact bacterial strains are causing an infection and would have to treat patients with multiple phages. Supplies of phages would need to be regularly updated, and each new phage would have to pass regulatory tests. At the current moment phage therapy is only readily available in certain countries, but there have been several relevant clinical trials in recent years, and the use of phages to prevent Listeria contamination in meat products has been approved in the US since 2006.Another potential alternative to traditional antibiotics relates to the use of antimicrobial peptides, short chains of amino acids that are part of the natural immune systems of all living creatures. Peptides are capable of killing bacteria (those isolated from amphibians and reptiles are particularly effective) and research is currently ongoing on the possibility of isolating and modifying them for clinical use. Although it is possible that bacteria would develop resistance against peptides, some researchers argue that this would only occur very slowly, as bacteria would find it difficult to adjust to their mode of attack. On the other hand, as the human body naturally uses peptides to fight infection, there exists concern that any resistance that does arise would compromise natural defence mechanisms, i.e. those bacteria with resistance to clinically applied peptides might also be resistant to those produced by the immune system.It is also worth mentioning current research that focuses on the way in which bacteria communicate with each other. Bacteria use chemical signals to alert each other to their presence, meaning they can wait until they have reached a critical mass before attacking a human cell. This process is known as quorum sensing and makes their attack far more virulent than if they would act individually. Researchers are therefore working on mechanisms that interfere with this process, in the hope this would allow the immune system to react while it still has a chance of success.In addition to those research areas mentioned above, other potential alternatives include the use of predatory bacteria that attack their fellow microbes, the application of metal nanoparticles (although the possibility of metals accumulating in the body and poisoning it significantly limit this approach) and ways of encouraging the beneficial bacteria that live in the human gut. A more traditional strategy would be to focus on development of new vaccines, although – as with all the other alternatives mentioned so far – it is controversial to what extent these could replace antibiotics, and many people only see these new therapeutic strategies as complementary to traditional antibiotics. In all cases, there is a need for much more research before any real certainty can be achieved.In the meantime, the British and American action plans on antimicrobial resistance both include measures to reduce overuse of antibiotics. It is hoped that this can be partly achieved by the development of new and better diagnostic tools, as well as wider use of existing rapid diagnostic tests. The use of whole genome sequencing, for example, could provide much faster results than those that are currently in widespread use. Other measures foreseen to reduce overuse include better education of doctors and tighter control of prescription practices. Improved hospital hygiene could also limit the spread of infection and thereby the need to use antibiotics. However, while measures to improve hygiene and reduce misuse of antibiotics are clearly very sensible, they can at best slow down the pace at which resistance develops. Research on new antibiotics and alternatives is therefore imperative.

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Have scientists really invented a test that can detect cancer from a single drop of blood?http://lifemag.org/article/have-scientists-really-invented-a-test-that-can-detect-cancer-from-a-single-drop-of-bloodScientists are working on a technique that could diagnose cancer using the equivalent of a drop of blood. And their proof-of-concept study looks very promising.Read more @ IFL ScienceLarry Page wants to grow Alphabet to a scale never seen beforehttp://lifemag.org/article/larry-page-wants-to-grow-alphabet-to-a-scale-never-seen-beforeIn his first remarks since the creation of Google\'s parent company (including Calico) earlier this year, Page spoke to the company\'s ambitions, both for employees and its impact on the world.Read more @ Business InsiderAlzheimer's disease research is pointing in a very surprising new directionhttp://lifemag.org/article/alzheimers-disease-research-is-pointing-in-a-very-surprising-new-directionNew research suggests that fungus could be perhaps the culprit of Alzheimer’s. Scientists at the University of Madrid found evidence of fungi in every single brain tissue sample taken from cadavers and none in non-Alzheimer’s-afflicted persons. Read more @ Big ThinkConventional heart drug may stop the progression of cancerhttp://lifemag.org/article/conventional-heart-drug-may-stop-the-progression-of-cancerA common heart drug may stop the progression of angiosarcoma, a cancer of the inner lining of blood vessels, according to a study by researchers at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso.Read more @ Medical XpressWhat Singapore’s plan for an aging population can teach the United Stateshttp://lifemag.org/article/what-singapore-s-plan-for-an-aging-population-can-teach-the-united-states

Singapore, one of the world’s fastest-aging countries, has announced a massive, multipronged plan to help its citizens age successfully — one that advocates say leaves the United States in the dust.Read more @ Washington Post

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Fighting cancer with microbes, flagship bets on a $35M startuphttp://lifemag.org/article/fighting-cancer-with-microbes-flagship-bets-on-a-35m-startupThe trillions of bacteria that live in our guts, and on our skin, also hide out in a strange place – the microenvironment around tumors. One of biotech’s daring early-stage venture capital outfits, well aware of the surge in microbiome research, is committing $35 million to get some answers to a basic question. Can microbes be made into cancer drugs?Read more @ ForbesCan 3D-Printing keep lab-grown organs alive? http://lifemag.org/article/can-3d-printing-keep-lab-grown-organs-aliveUsing sugar, silicone, and a 3D printer, bioengineers and surgeons have created an implant with an intricate network of blood vessels. The work points toward a future of growing replacement tissues and organs for transplantation.Read more @ FuturityA 'huge milestone': approval of cancer-hunting virus signals new treatment erahttp://lifemag.org/article/a-huge-milestone-approval-of-cancer-hunting-virus-signals-new-treatment-eraImlygic programs viruses to attack only cancer cells and gives patients more humane options – potentially ‘a complete change in the game’ in treatment. Read more @ the Guardian We're on the cusp of a revolution that will change the world as much as computers didhttp://lifemag.org/article/were-on-the-cusp-of-a-revolution-that-will-change-the-world-as-much-as-computers-didMost people do not yet understand the potential impact of our newfound ability to edit and eventually rewrite genetic code, the blueprint for life itself.Read more @ Business InsiderThe great gene editing debatehttp://lifemag.org/article/the-great-gene-editing-debate

This year has seen the debate around gene editing erupt with CRISPR/Cas9 emerging as the latest, and by far most profound, scientific development in the field so far. Some are claiming that CRISPR/Cas9 has ushered in a new, more formidable, era of editing the human genome. It has been hailed as both a villain and a saviour, as proponents and opponents line up on either side, ready to either ridicule or praise. The dispute is centered upon the possible social, ethical, and political implications, regardless of the fact that gene editing could provide us with cures for genetic diseases that affect millions across the world. A statement from a letter published in Nature, written by a leading group of scientists led by Edward Lanphier, chairman of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine in Washington DC, presented the problem, “We are concerned that a public outcry about such an ethical breach could hinder a promising area of therapeutic development”. Others though, such as Jennifer Doudna, a key pioneer in the development of CRISPR/Cas9, claim that the scientific community cannot rush into gene editing, as it could lead to further frightening outcomes which cannot be harnessed, such as designer babies, and biohacking, “invoking the dystopic vision of a eugenics future”. The recent turn of eventsThis year saw the real spark of the new debate, not only in the form of one specific development, but rather hundreds of them, entering the scientific sphere from thousands of research institutions and laboratories now using CRISPR/Cas9. It has taken the scientific community by storm. We have seen the designing of extra muscular animals, the removal of HIV genes from infected cells, and more recently research aimed at curing cancer. Attempts were made, in April of this year, by Chinese scientists to genetically engineer human embryos, which, in the thick of all the recent developments stuck out as a step too far. Genetically modifying human embryos is possibly the most controversial area of scientific inquiry, with many claiming that scientists are rubbing up too close to God.Currently in Britain, embryo research can only proceed under review from the HFEA, and embryos must be destroyed within 14 days. It is widely agreed, in both the UK and the US, that human embryo research is not nearly safe enough or prepared for use in clinics yet. There are clear concerns as to what harmful consequences and generational complications may arise. This move then, by Chinese scientists at Sun Yat-sen University that explored genome editing within fertilized human eggs, called zygotes, has angered many within the scientific community. Although confirmed to be at a very basic level of embryo research, it has led to a surged international outcry about the progression of these techniques.In the US the situation has become particularly intense, with a letter published in the prestigious journal Science. The letter, written by a group of scientists, called for a ‘framework for open discourse’ on the use of gene editing on humans, alongside discussion about proposed boundaries, and standardizing and benchmarking the industry. This letter was followed by another, published in Nature, talking about the ‘grave concerns regarding the ethical and safety implications of this research.’At the end of the letter they state that what must be clear is the distinction between genome editing in somatic cells and in germ cells. Somatic cells are any cells in the body apart from the sperm and egg cells, and editing of these cells is relatively safe and well researched, and can not be passed down through reproduction. However, germ cells are those cells in the body that will give rise to the gametes of an organism that reproduces sexually, and the research on the effects of editing them is very limited. The letter calls for a voluntary moratorium in the scientific community, which they say would be an ‘effective way to discourage human germline modification.’ This research, as a world first attempt by the Chinese scientists, presents the ethical line that many are very opposed to crossing, that between editing somatic and germ cells. Germline changes will most likely alter the lives of future generations. The potential ramifications can seem like scary science fiction: researchers developing cures which are later revealed to be worse than the initial disease, bio-hackers editing the genome of influenza, the rich editing themselves leading to greater inequality, or a less destructive outcome, designer babies. Designer babies The concept of designer babies, it seems, is reintroduced with every new development in genetics. The same was said in 1978, when the first child was conceived through in vitro fertilisation, and again in 2001, when labs and researchers were pushing the boundaries of human cloning. This is the next installment in the series. However, many people today believe that those previous alarms were pure speculation, whereas now with CRISPR in such high usage and advancement, the methods of genetic selection are already here. The idea is that, as germline editing techniques advance, clinics will begin to offer people the opportunity to choose their child’s appearance, personality, and intelligence. Many are saying that modern society hasn’t fully thought out the ethical implications of this, with no current policies or regulations in place. “No one is prepared for an era when editing DNA is as easy as editing a Microsoft Word document”, stated an article published in The Washington Post. The fear is that progression in this field will lead to a strange dystopia, with some people being able to afford genetic treatment, and the rest not. Scientists could design a super intelligent group of people, and they would then move on to be world leaders, or so the story goes. These fears divert from the real problem. Designer babies that are more intelligent or have different appearances, as we imagine, are a definite point for ethical consideration. Though, the truth is that without international control of some sort, like for example in the UK and in Germany, rogue clinics could use germline editing and offer and sell their brand of ‘designer’ babies, of which the outcome could be disastrous.The possibility of designer babies, and the genetically superior, make people most weary of gene editing as a whole, and although it is a possibility, like it was in 1978, and in 2001, it is blurring the real debate. Somatic or Germline1 in 33 children a year in the US are born with birth defects, alongside the 60% of all deaths worldwide which are caused by chronic diseases. Genome editing, if research is funded significantly, would be a medical revolution unlocking new ways to tackle age related diseases.As the letter in Nature confirmed, before international moves are taken to halt or slow the developments, the public and the scientific community must be fully aware of the differences and implications of the two types of cells, somatic and germline. The research regarding somatic cells is much further developed, and the effects of this gene therapy cannot be passed down from generation to generation. The types of mutations are strictly limited to the descendants of the original cell that developed the mutation. Scientists are already editing the genome of somatic cells. It is viewed as rather conservative and safe, as it only affects the targeted cells of one individual patient. These mutations can cause a number of diseases, including cancer, from which mutations lead to tumours. Somatic cell research must be stepped up and taken onto the next level of awareness, as the potential is huge for tackling age-related disease. The first real problem is that the current controversy that is everyday gaining pace is close to being completely skewed by the ethical and social fears of germline editing. The current public disillusion is having a direct impact on the important work being done on somatic cells. The editing techniques that are currently being developed may offer a powerful approach to treat human diseases including HIV/Aids, haemophilia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, sickle cell anaemia, and several forms of cancer.Genetic editing of germline cells is very different, and will almost definitely lead to inherited mutations. The children of a patient of germline editing will also have the edited genome, which could lead to complications yet unknown to science. Germline research is underfunded and under-researched, and with the current calls for an immediate end to further research the potential for germline therapy, if there is one, will never be discovered. “There needs to be a debate… and some rational thought rather than knee-jerk reactions”, stated Professor Robin Lovell-Badge from Medical Research Council in a BBC article. Though, in some cases, a knee-jerk reaction is exactly what has happened. In April of this year the American National Institute of Health released a statement announcing that they will not “fund any use of gene editing technologies in human embryos”, on the basis of “ethical issues presented by altering the germline in a way that affects the next generation without their consent.”Genome therapy, and research into the editing of germline cells within that, could be the next landmark in the history of medicine, like the discovery of penicillin. Germline cell editing should therefore be looked into further, for the sake of the sufferers of those diseases caused by germline mutation, of today and those of the future. We should be thinking of designer babies not through the offers of more intelligence or a better appearance, but rather, without horrible genetic diseases. If germline editing could eradicate a terrible disease from the gene pool, surely the generation of tomorrow will be grateful. If not, and it is too risky, at least the attempt was made. The real problemThe real problem is that the argument has been quickly polarised, between the refrains of a utopia and a dystopia, between the promise of complete disease eradication and a genetic disaster. These strategic refrains prevent a wider discussion about the actual potential and access of the technology between those two poles of argument. It forces a certain public perception that is only concerned with germline cells, and that will lead quite easily down the road to designer babies. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO) have said in a press release that the editing of the human genome is “unquestionably one of the most promising undertaking of science of the sake of all humankind”. They, along with many scientists around the world, call for a moratorium, that should be listened to, against trials on germline cells until there is enough research and evidence to drive forward with its potential. Most of all, the conversation must begin with the radical difference between germline editing and somatic cell editing. These two methods are completely different, and so should be treated independently. The public must be aware of the possible social and ethical implications of germline editing, so that the important debate can take place. But, these implications should not be skewed with the possible extremes, and should be presented alongside the potential for its success to rid the gene pool of certain age-related diseases.

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Frontline Genomics interview with J.Craig Venterhttp://lifemag.org/article/frontline-genomics-interview-with-j-craig-venter\"Everyone has a Craig Venter story to tell. If they don’t have one from personal experience, people will certainly tell you one they’ve heard from someone else. With so much myth around the man, we thought we might as well hear direct from the source himself!\"See the full interview @ Frontline GenomicsHigh-power sound waves used to blast cancer cellshttp://lifemag.org/article/high-power-sound-waves-used-to-blast-cancer-cellsBritish doctors develop revolutionary new therapy that can precisely target tumours without surgery.Read more @ the GuardianRon Howard, Brian Grazer search for a 'Breakthrough' in anti-aging therapies in NatGeo science serieshttp://lifemag.org/article/ron-howard-brian-grazer-search-for-a-breakthrough-in-anti-aging-therapies-in-natgeo-science-seriesRon Howard, the 61-year-old director who won an Oscar for \"A Beautiful Mind,\" is, along with his longtime producing partner, Brian Grazer, the guiding force behind \"Breakthrough,\" a new six-part science series that premieres Sunday on National Geographic Channel. Howard directed \"The Age of Aging,\" the film on medical research into anti-aging therapies. Read more @ LA TimesThe science of aging wellhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-science-of-aging-wellGenetic treatments to reverse aging at the cellular level? Diets and exercises that help your mind and body function better longer? It\'s not a sales pitch from a life-extension guru - it\'s science. Read more @ DiscoverIntroducing Human Longevity, Inc. Health Nucleushttp://lifemag.org/article/introducing-human-longevity-inc-health-nucleusHLI have released a video explaining \'Health Nucleus\' their new initiative designed to \'provide a novel approach devoted to exploring, quantifying and beginning to understand as much as possible about individual health and disease risk. See the video hereNew treatment targets cancers with particular genetic signaturehttp://lifemag.org/article/new-treatment-targets-cancers-with-particular-genetic-signatureOxford University researchers have found the Achilles heel of certain cancer cells - mutations in a gene called SETD2. Their findings will be presented to the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Liverpool this Monday (2 Nov 15).Read more @ EurekalertResults of ten year yeast gene study shows promise for combating age-related diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/results-of-ten-year-yeast-gene-study-shows-promise-for-combating-age-related-disease

Scientists at the University of Washington and Buck Institute for Research on Aging have finished a protracted, exhaustive ten year effort to identify 238 genes that, when removed, increase the replicative lifespan of S. cerevisiae yeast cells. The scientists studied 4698 yeast strains, counting yeast cells and monitoring the effects of removing and blocking single genes. Brian Kennedy, the CEO and president of the Buck Institute, said that the “study looks at aging in the context of the whole genome and gives us a more complete picture of what aging is”.It was discovered that switching genes off, even singularly, can make those yeast cells live much longer. For such a small genetic tweak, this result is truly outstanding. Interestingly, these genes are also present in roundworms, which have also been tested on, and in other mammals including humans. This means that potentially switching off these genes in humans could lead to a rather dramatic increase in lifespan. According to the Buck Institute, almost half the genes they found which affected aging are found in mammals. The scientists conducted the study by examining 4698 strains of yeast, deleting single genes from each and monitoring how long it was before the cells stopped dividing. The LOS1 gene responsible for protein building was claimed to be one of the most exciting, as when it was deleted it extended life by 60%. The gene is otherwise known as a genetic master switch, long associated with calorie restriction through fasting. This study has revealed a considerable wealth of information, mapping the impressions of thousands of genes on aging. The scientists have made it clear that this research is only a part of a longer and much larger process to further chart genetic relationships. The task now is to use the results to work toward a greater understanding, that will one day hopefully lead toward new therapies and medicines to combat a range of age-related diseases. “In theory, any of these factors could be therapeutic targets to extend healthspan. What we have to do now is figure out which ones are amenable to targeting”, Kennedy concluded.The research was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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Using CRISPR as a high-throughput cancer screening and modeling toolhttp://lifemag.org/article/using-crispr-as-a-high-throughput-cancer-screening-and-modeling-toolA contingent of researchers from the UK, Germany, and Spain have recently developed a novel CRISPR/Cas9 system that they believe can be utilized as a multiplexed screening approach to study and model cancer development in mice.Read more @ GENResearchers hack off-the-shelf 3-D printer towards rebuilding the hearthttp://lifemag.org/article/researchers-hack-off-the-shelf-3-d-printer-towards-rebuilding-the-heart

As of this month, over 4,000 Americans are on the waiting list to receive a heart transplant. With failing hearts, these patients have no other options; heart tissue, unlike other parts of the body, is unable to heal itself once it is damaged. Fortunately, recent work by a group at Carnegie Mellon could one day lead to a world in which transplants are no longer necessary to repair damaged organs.Read more @ Science Daily

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Inconsistency in microbiome studies due to variable approaches to DNA sequencing and data analysis http://lifemag.org/article/inconsistency-in-microbiome-studies-due-to-variable-approaches-to-dna-sequencing-and-data-analysisHuman Longevity Inc. and Venter Institute scientists have published a paper demonstrating inconsistency in microbiome studies due to variable approaches to DNA sequencing and data analysis.The comparison of four common library prep methods found significant differences in types of microbes uncovered, and showed biases in error and duplication rates. Read the full press release here US death rates, declining for decades, have flattened, study findshttp://lifemag.org/article/us-death-rates-declining-for-decades-have-flattened-study-findsGains in the American life span have slowed in recent years, according to a new report, with average annual death rates flattening for the first time since researchers started measuring them in the late 1960s.Read more @ Washington PostWSU researchers develop natural protein cage for improved cancer drug deliveryhttp://lifemag.org/article/wsu-researchers-develop-natural-protein-cage-for-improved-cancer-drug-deliveryWSU researchers, shown in EurekAlert, have developed a unique, tiny protein cage to deliver chemotherapy chemicals directly to cancer cells. This method could improve treatment, and lessen side effects for patients. Read more @ EurekAlert CRISPR/Cas9 used for rapid functional study of cancer-causing geneshttp://lifemag.org/article/crispr-cas9-used-for-rapid-functional-study-of-cancer-causing-genesEurekAlert presents recent findings from researchers in Germany, the UK, and Spain, who have used the gene editing system CRISPR/Cas9 to develop a multiplexed screening approach to study and model cancer growth in mice. Read more @ EurekAlertOld rat brains rejuvenated and new neurons grown by asthma drughttp://lifemag.org/article/old-rat-brains-rejuvenated-and-new-neurons-grown-by-asthma-drug

New Scientist present a study by Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg which has shown how an asthma drug can rejuvenate the brains of old rats, allowing them to perform just as well as younger rats in a number of tests. Read more @ New Scientist

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The race to reverse aging: 5 breakthroughs that could cheat deathhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-race-to-reverse-aging-5-breakthroughs-that-could-cheat-deathIn the hope of winning this year\'s Palo Alto Longevity Prize, competing researchers from 30 teams across the globe are studying a variety of factors that contribute to aging, with the hope of restoring the body’s balance and ending—or reversing—aging altogether. Read more @ WiredLearning from dogs with cancerhttp://lifemag.org/article/learning-from-dogs-with-cancerResearch in dogs will help with the design of later human trials, including the best way to administer drugs, and way lead to improved treatments for both pets and people. Read more @ New York TimesUK NHS starts 'stem cell factory' for diabeteshttp://lifemag.org/article/uk-nhs-starts-stem-cell-factory-for-diabetes

The NHS is setting up a stem cell factory in Liverpool to treat people with diabetes. NHS Blood and Transplant wants to make and give the experimental therapy to patients at high risk of developing diabetes-related kidney problems.Read more @ BBC

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These are the genes linked to aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/these-are-the-genes-linked-to-agingIn the most complete tally yet, scientists have identified nearly 1,500 genes that are connected to how we age. Read more @ Time Scientists have found a way to make red blood cellshttp://lifemag.org/article/scientists-have-found-a-way-to-make-red-blood-cellsResearchers combined stem cell techniques with the latest genome editing strategies to grow red blood cells in the lab. Read more @ Time 5 treatments with the potential to fight aging http://lifemag.org/article/5-treatments-with-the-potential-to-fight-aging

A definitive cure for aging and age-related disease continues to elude us, yet almost on a daily basis scientists throughout the world are making new exciting discoveries. Whether targeting specific diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer, or heart and liver conditions brought on and exacerbated by the aging process, a range of potential treatments have emerged in the last year particularly with the potential to increase healthy human lifespan. Stem Cells Regenerative medicine is perhaps the most long-standing of all potential anti-aging treatments, and is based around the idea that by treating damaged, malfunctioning and dying specialised cells, with lab-grown stem cells, they will be able to rejuvenate each part of the body. Scientists throughout the world have been taking varying steps in stem cell research and have made slow but promising progress, however, in the last twelve months there has been a surge in activity. Most recently, scientists in Australia were able to grow kidney tissue from the stem cells found in human skin; whilst British doctors may have also found a potential cure for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), using a stem cell from a human embryo and cultivating new cells in a laboratory.These steps forward are profound in their achievement and expose the great potential of stem cell research, with the ultimate possibility being that eventually we could treat all age-related diseases using stem cells, including aging itself. Find out more here: ‘Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine’Bioprinting Literally hundreds of thousands of lives are lost in the US alone each year when no suitable donor can be found for failing organs. And even if a transplant is successful initially, there is no guarantee that it won’t then be rejected by the body further down the line. Medication can lessen the likelihood of rejection, but it is expensive. As lifespans lengthen, more people require life-saving transplants, and what is already becoming a crisis is only expected to worsen. As a result, bioprinting organs has thus emerged as a method of delivering safe, reliable transplants to patients in need. “3-D printing of organ tissue, or bioprinting, works by arranging the body’s own cell lines along three-dimensional structures to produce functional organs. There is no risk of rejection, and thus no risk of costly anti-rejection treatment.”Many obstacles prevent this field from being fully realized. Human organs present a variety of highly specific cell types that are hard to mimic. Pancreas and liver cells, for example, are highly complex and notoriously difficult to grow outside of the human body. However, with enough fine-tuning, the reliable, standardized production offered by bioprinting seems to hold the most promise. Find out more here: ‘Can bioprinting solve the US organ crisis’Xenotransplantation As some predict that 3D printed organs are still a few decades off, scientists are also working on another potential way to harvest the organs we need. Since the 1950s scientists have been trying to use animals such as chimpanzees and pigs to harvest organs and transplant them into humans, however the likelihood of rejection made it an ultimately fruitless pursuit. But recently, researchers have discovered that by genetically engineering the DNA of the host animal, namely pigs, they can lessen this risk. Public and private advances are turning what once sounded like science fiction into a viable future for organ transplantation. Even if pig organs are unable to meet the needs of an entire human lifespan, they could serve as a “bridge” therapy to tide a patient over until a suitable human organ becomes available. As with any risky procedure, the benefits of receiving a pig organ transplant must be weighed against the dangers of infection, but targeted immune therapy and developments in genome editing may mean clinical trials are not so far off. Thus, in the near future, it is possible that patients suffering from end-stage liver, lung, and heart failure will start receiving organ transplants from pigs.Find out more here: ‘Pig organs may provide radical solution to organ shortage’Parabiosis According to a 2014 study conducted by the World Health Organisation, the number of dementia sufferers worldwide will likely increase by over 300% by 2050. However, increased research in parabiosis, the surgical union of two organisms, has presented a significant step forward in combating this terrible debilitating disorder. Parabiosis is the process of adding blood from a younger organism to an older organism, a process that has most commonly been tested on mice. This intermingling of blood, which can now be performed through simple injection, has shown promising effects upon brain tissue. A study published in May 2014 by Nature Medicine, showed that older mice injected with young plasma performed better in behavioural tests. Some of the biological changes included a 20-50% increase in the neuroplasticity network. The Wyss-Coray laboratory in Stanford have been leading the research in parabiosis, achieving several accolades for their work, including last year, where Science named their work as one of the top breakthroughs of the year. Human trials are now currently underway in the US, involving patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer\'s. Parabiosis is quickly becoming an important area of research, aiming to eradicate age related disorders such as dementia. Find out more here: ‘Parabiosis: Treating the aged with young blood’CRISPR But what if genetic disease, and the parts of our genome which make us more susceptible to contracting life-threatening conditions - particularly later in life - could be eradicated completely, even at birth? CRISPR caS9 has emerged as a genuinely promising means of editing the human genome, administering a therapeutic transgene which allows for the cutting of DNA and literally removing and replacing the parts of our genetic makeup which lead directly to an early death. Even an ongoing patent dispute between University of California and the MIT/Harvard Broad Institute looks unlikely to dampen enthusiasm for the process, or threaten the development of treatments using the technique. In this vein, BioViva, a company that define “aging as a disease”, made the headlines last week after announcing that they had become the first company to administer anti-aging gene therapy on a human subject, their CEO Liz Parrish. This controversial step demonstrates the popularity and power of CRISPR, and other gene therapies, in the fight against aging.Find out more here: ‘Now Trending: CRISPR’

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Scientists can now make leukemia cells kill each otherhttp://lifemag.org/article/scientists-can-now-make-leukemia-cells-kill-each-otherLeukemia, a group of cancers affecting the bone marrow and blood, is notoriously difficult to treat, often relapsing and becoming resistant to treatment. But a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could offer hope, revealing that it\'s possible to make leukemia cells kill each other.Read more @ IFL ScienceScientists use high powered microscopes to get the clearest image yet of telomerase http://lifemag.org/article/scientists-use-high-powered-microscopes-to-get-the-clearest-image-yet-of-telomeraseScientists from UCLA and UC Berkeley have produced the clearest images of telomerase using high-powered microscopes, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry and biochemical methods.Read more @ FuturismTargeting mutant proteins might be silver bullet for neurodegenerative diseaseshttp://lifemag.org/article/targeting-mutant-proteins-might-be-silver-bullet-for-neurodegenerative-diseasesScientists have unraveled how mutant molecules damage the nervous system of people with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, a group of disorders that hinder people\'s ability to move and feel sensation in their hands and feet, according to a paper published October 21, 2015 in Nature.Read more hereWhy biomedical superstars are signing on with Googlehttp://lifemag.org/article/why-biomedical-superstars-are-signing-on-with-google

Scientific American looks at how Google is enticing top scientists and researchers to join the ranks of its new biomedical divisions. Read more @ Scientific American

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23andMe will resume giving users health datahttp://lifemag.org/article/23andme-will-resume-giving-users-health-dataThe genetic testing company 23andMe became a Silicon Valley sensation by providing consumers with health and ancestry information based on a sample of their saliva, but suffered a setback when the Food and Drug Administration told it to stop presenting health data in 2013. Now, after nearly two years, 23andMe is announcing on Wednesday that it will begin providing customers with health information again, though much less than before and with F.D.A. approval.Read more @ New York TimesThe science surrounding cryonicshttp://lifemag.org/article/the-science-surrounding-cryonicsMIT Technology Review explore the science and technology that is trying to preserve human memories and consciousness, by looking at current surgical and experimental procedures.Read more @ MIT Technology ReviewArtery cell discovery paves way for new heart disease treatmenthttp://lifemag.org/article/artery-cell-discovery-paves-way-for-new-heart-disease-treatmentA radical new treatment for heart disease could be developed after scientists found cells that can grow into fresh arteries and restore blood supply to the organ. The work paves the way for natural bypass therapies that coax heart cells into forming new arteries capable of re-routing blood around diseased and blocked blood vessels. Read more @ The Guardian Pig organs may provide radical solution to organ shortagehttp://lifemag.org/article/pig-organs-may-provide-radical-solution-to-organ-shortage

The prefix “xeno-“ has a Greek root meaning “strange” or “foreign.” In human-to-human organ transplants, there is always a risk of the recipient body fighting off a perceived invasion by an unknown entity. With xenotransplantation, the transfer of organs or tissues between species, this risk is intensified. Thousands of people in the US die each year waiting for organ transplants. Many organs that become available go to waste. Lungs and hearts can only be used after a few hours on ice. The current shortage has scientists searching for substitutes, but 3-D printed organs are still a few decades off. “Until we learn to grow organs via tissue engineering, which is unlikely in the near future, xenotransplantation seems to be a valid approach to supplement human organ availability,” Dr. Muhammad M. Mohiuddin of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) told the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS). “Despite many setbacks over the years, recent genetic and immunologic advances have helped revitalize progress in the xenotransplantation field.”The Past Xenotransplantation has been around almost as long as human-to-human organ transplants. While the field has been quiet the past few decades, recent advances have highlighted animal-to-human transplant as a viable alternative to the current organ crisis. In the near future, it is possible that patients suffering from end-stage liver, lung, and heart failure will start receiving organ transplants from pigs.Despite having diverged on the tree of life roughly 80 million years ago, pigs and humans share many genetic similarities. The organs of young pigs are close to the appropriate size for human transplant. Pigs are widely available, and the methods for raising them are well known. By modifying the porcine genome to make it more compatible with humans, researchers hope that pig organs will provide a long-term transplant solution. Primate studies have shown preliminary success: this summer, NHLBI reported a baboon surviving with a pig kidney for 136 days; Mohiuddin says a baboon has survived with a pig heart for almost two and a half years. Xenotransplantation as a concept dates back centuries. Blood transfusions between humans and animals took place as early as the 1600s. Human-to-human organ transplants started in the 1950s, and animal-to-human transplants followed the decade after. One woman lived for nine months with a chimpanzee kidney in the 1960s. Pig valves have long been used in heart transplants, but these are stripped of their cells, making them much less complicated. A famous case occurred in 1984, when newborn “Baby Fae” died three weeks after receiving a baboon heart. While primates seem like a natural choice for xenotransplantation, their genetic proximity to humans intensifies the risk of spreading disease between species, a danger known as zoonosis. Primates reproduce slowly and poorly in captivity, and are largely endangered. They are too expensive to breed on a wide scale, and scientists have little experience modifying the primate genome. Raising primates for slaughter also brings up an ethical dilemma that society has circumvented for pigs, which are already bred for food. RevivicorMartine Rothblatt is a well-known American entrepreneur and the CEO of Revivicor, a regenerative medicine company based in Blacksburg, VA. Rothblatt’s daughter suffers from pulmonary arterial hypertension, an often-fatal condition for which she is likely to need a lung transplant in the future. Motivated by her daughter’s condition, Rothblatt entered the biotech sphere by founding United Therapeutics in 1996. According to their website, their Pipeline initiative aims to provide an “unlimited supply of transplantable organs.” Rothblatt hopes to achieve the first pig-to-human lung transplant within the next decade. Revivicor has been working with famed geneticist Craig Venter since last year, when Rothblatt invested $50 million in his company, Synthetic Genomics. Venter’s team has been tasked with editing the genomes of pig cells, which Revivicor then breeds into piglets by cloning. Venter is famous for being among the first scientists to sequence the human genome, and the first to introduce a synthetic genome into a cell. On the topic of xenotransplantation, he told the World Post, “It’s not trivial to do but it is such a key medical need that we are giving it a go.” Revivicor has their work laid out for them. Genes that are incompatible with human physiology must be knocked out of the genome. Human genes are added in. Once the organ has been transplanted, targeted immunosuppressants are administered to avoid rejection. In 2003, Revivicor cofounder Dr. David Ayares became the first to overcome the most immediate hurdle to xenotransplantation, known as hyperacute rejection (HAR), by engineering pigs that lacked an aggravating sugar molecule usually found in their blood vessels. The more compatible the pig genome, the less severe the course of immunosuppression needed. “We are adding the human genes to the pig so you have the organ repressing the immune response, rather than have to give a whopping dose of immune suppressants,” Ayares told MIT Technology Review. Revivicor is working with transplant surgeons to determine which genes should be added. Their pig genomes are currently “humanized” with five genes—soon to be eight—which allay the immune response. For example, the protein thrombomodulin is added in to make antibody attachment sites appear more human, preventing clotting. Rothblatt told Technology Review, “We’re turning xenotransplantation from what looked like a king of Apollo-level problem into just an engineering task.”National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Last August, the NHLBI in Bethesda, Maryland, reported having kept a pig heart alive in a baboon for over a year. Baboons in the experimental group received hearts with three modifications: two genes were knocked out that coded for sugar, and one gene coding for human thrombomodulin was added. The hearts were heterotopic, meaning they were joined to the circulatory system, but did not pump blood. The baboon’s natural hearts remained intact, while the transplanted organs were inserted into the baboons’ abdomens. At the time, the average survival of the group that received the human gene-modified hearts was 200 days, with the longest living for over 500 days. This summer, Mohiuddin reported that a baboon had survived for 945 days.This study helped researchers determine which immune suppressant was most effective, which will serve as a starting point for future trials. Next, researchers will develop hearts with seven modifications, replacing the baboon’s actual hearts using the predetermined immunosuppressant method. “Based on the data from long-term surviving grafts, we are hopeful that we will be able to repeat our results in the life-supporting model,” Dr. Mohiuddin told the AATS. “This has potential for paving the way for the use of animal organs for transplantation in humans.” Like NHLBI, Revivicor is also focusing on hearts before developing lungs. Because it contains so many blood vessels, lung tissue is in constant contact with the immune system, a fact that could require unreasonable levels of suppressive therapy. Testing can run at about $100,000 per transplant, but Rothblatt has a personal stake in the matter and remains undaunted. Researchers at the University of Maryland are studying pig lungs flooded with human blood as a means towards this end.Complications Aside from rejection, several unknowns surround the concept of xenotransplantation in humans. The body temperature of a pig is about two degrees Celsius higher than that of a human. Hearts must be taken from pigs when they are young to be the appropriate size, but it is unclear whether the hearts will continue to grow once implanted. Pigs have a lifespan of about fifteen years, which could cause their organs to wear out much more quickly than a human transplant. Human organs produce hormones that pig transplants would be unable to mimic. Perhaps the most pressing barrier is the danger of cross-species infection. The effects of zoonosis are heightened by immunosuppressive therapy, since the body’s capacity to fight off infection is limited. Many infectious agents can be eliminated through rigorous sanitary measures. Food and water must be sterilized, and mammalian protein must be eliminated from the diet to prevent prion disease. Viruses pose a larger threat. Certain viruses, such as swine flu, are already known to pass between pigs and humans. Retroviruses, which integrate their own DNA into the DNA of their host, pose a risk as well. They could lie undetected in the genome beyond the length of a clinical trial. The most widespread of these is porcine endogenous retrovirus, or PERV, which is present in all pigs. Certain forms of PERV can infect human cells. Further study is needed to determine what risk, if any, PERV poses to humans.Genome Breakthrough At the beginning of this month, Dr. George Church of Harvard Medical School announced serious progress in combatting PERV. Dr. Church and his team altered 62 genes in pig cells using the futuristic genome-editing technique CRISPR. Only one CRISPR molecule was required to snip all the viral DNA from the pig genomes, which the cells then replaced with their own DNA. The edited cells were 1000 times less likely to infect human kidney cells.At an October 5 meeting on gene editing at the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Church reported having successfully created pig embryos with inactivated PERV sequences. He hopes to start implanting PERV-negative pig embryos that are compatible with the human immune system into surrogate mothers sometime next year. His team is currently working to make this process as inexpensive as possible. Looking ForwardPublic and private advances are turning what once sounded like science fiction into a viable future for organ transplantation. Even if pig organs are unable to meet the needs of an entire human lifespan, they could serve as a “bridge” therapy to tide a patient over until a suitable human organ becomes available. As with any risky procedure, the benefits of receiving a pig organ transplant must be weighed against the dangers of infection. Targeted immune therapy and developments in genome editing may mean clinical trials are not so far off. In the United States, xenotransplantation in humans would require the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The guidelines for this practice are set to be revised in March. Unknown obstacles may arise once clinical trials are under way. As Dr. Joshua Bloom of the American Council on Science and Health has mentioned, “In many ways, this is similar to drug discovery. Just when you think you’ve solved one problem, ten others pop up, always unanticipated… In medical research, almost all rides are bumpy.”

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People with Parkinson’s walk again after promising drug trialhttp://lifemag.org/article/people-with-parkinson-s-walk-again-after-promising-drug-trialAn expensive cancer drug may reverse late-stage Parkinson’s disease, enabling participants in a small clinical trial to speak and walk again for the first time in years. While there are several treatments for the symptoms of Parkinson’s, if confirmed this would be the first time a drug has worked on the causes of the disease.Read more @ New ScientistHuman Longevity Inc. Launches Health Nucleushttp://lifemag.org/article/human-longevity-inc-launches-health-nucleus

Whole genome sequencing, as a process, involves arranging chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA to determine the complete sequence of DNA. Not to be confused with DNA profiling, or full genome sequencing, which cover smaller amounts of the genome. Whole genome sequencing covers more than 95%. The field has advanced a long way in only two decades, with the first organism to have its entire genome sequenced, in 1995, only a mere commensal bacterium. On the 13th October, Human Longevity, Inc., the genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company headquartered in San Diego, California, launched Health Nucleus. This is a new genomic powered clinical research program that hopes to undertake whole genome sequencing of humans, all 6 billion base pairs of DNA. The project model aims to “transform healthcare” by personalising it, delivering the “most complete picture of individual health”.According to HLI, customers will receive a year of health insight and analysis, so to gain an unprecedented understanding of their health, and crucially, their susceptibility to genetic diseases. However, the clinic does not use genome sequencing exclusively, rather with an array of other complex clinical and biological measures. They claim, it is the combination of these methods that makes Health Nucleus so unique.Alongside genome sequencing, Health Nucleus will also aim to incorporate microbiome sequencing, which is the study of microbial communities found around the body. There are estimated to be more than 10 times more microbial cells than human cells in the body. Additionally, metabolome characterisation, which measures chemical fingerprints left behind from cellular processes, and a comprehensive body MRI scan that will screen for any abnormalities and “provide a baseline for the future”.With more clinics to open across cities in the US and the rest of the world, HLI hope that Health Nucleus will be a frontrunner in “revolutionising the practice of medicine” by driving the movement away from treatment to preventative medicine. The key is to translate the masses of data that will be acquired into “clinically relevant information”, from which a web based portal will be updated with all the current information. “The Health Nucleus is our opportunity to lead the way to genomic health, enabling individuals and their physicians to pivot towards a more proactive, preventative and predictive healthcare future,” said J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., Co-founder and CEO, HLI.“We’re trying to focus our efforts on the diseases that kill people—cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s,” said Pamila Brar, medical director of Health Nucleus.

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German and US partners join forces in stem cell research to speed development of therapieshttp://lifemag.org/article/german-and-us-partners-join-forces-in-stem-cell-research-to-speed-development-of-therapiesResearchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in California, USA, and two German institutes, the Center for Integrated Psychiatry Kiel (ZIP) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, have announced a partnership to advance the quality control of human stem cells.Read more @ EurekalertWhere in the world could the first CRISPR baby be born?http://lifemag.org/article/where-in-the-world-could-the-first-crispr-baby-be-bornA look at the legal landscape suggests where human genome editing might be used in research or reproduction.Read more @ NatureThe media’s fixation with immortality: Is it becoming a problem?http://lifemag.org/article/the-media-s-fixation-with-immortality-is-it-becoming-a-problem

The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the attention given to science intended to increase healthy human lifespan. Since 2013 particularly, the formation of the Google-backed Calico, and Craig Venter’s Human Longevity Inc. - high-profile companies seeking to cure age-related disease, has precipitated a surge in mainstream coverage of the industry. This increased coverage, as anyone would assume, should have represented a step forward. With astronomically wealthy private entities such as Google in support, many predicted a move toward a more legitimate and widely accepted status for both the industry and its advocates, investors, and experts. However, coverage of research and developments is still being taken out of context and hyped up to the point of farce. The main issue being the media’s fixation with the notion of immortality. Key figures such as HLI’s Craig Venter and Aubrey de Grey of SENS have repeatedly reiterated the fact that their work is concerned with increasing healthy lifespan by tackling age related diseases and conditions. Radical life extension then, meaning living for well over 120 years, is a possible outcome, but not the goal itself. Granted, these aspirations are held by some, but due to a combination of overhype on the part of both the press and some within the industry itself, has become synonymous with the field as a whole. ‘Google says humans could live for 500 years’If one is to peruse the world’s most popular online media outlets, then you will find studies focused on tackling specific age-related diseases are unequivocally linked with the notion of immortality.To note some recent examples, The UK Daily Mail, the most read English language online news source in the world has been a repeat offender in this regard. It’s coverage of the formation of Calico, albeit eight months after the fact, held the headline: ‘Google says humans could live for 500 YEARS’, a personal quote attributed to Google Ventures’ Bill Maris, but by no means the ethos of the company itself. Calico, according to their website, will use their knowledge and research of biology ‘to devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives.’ Similarly, on the back of this year’s sci-fi film ‘Self/Less’, an interview with University of Arizona researcher Wolfgang Fink is preceded with the title: ‘Scientists say humans really could become IMMORTAL’ even though there is no reference to immortality at all within the interview, and Fink merely discusses the possibility of ‘slowing aging.’ The Guardian, also based in the UK, and the world’s second most popular English language digital news outlet, follows the same pattern. Attributing the headline ‘Live for ever’ to a piece detailing Silicon Valley’s investments in the industry, and giving similar titles such as ‘Do you want to live forever?’ and ‘Who wants to live forever?’ to coverage of related developments. All over the world, mainstream media are choosing to focus on the concept of immortality as a means of grabbing attention. The Sydney Morning Herald report to ‘Never say die’, The US tech publication the Verge focus on ‘Google\'s project to \'cure death,\' CNN say that ‘Google\'s Calico aims to fight aging and \'solve death\', Tech Insider list the ‘6 billionaires who want to live forever’, and The Washington Post address the ‘Tech titans’ latest project: Defy death’. There are many, many more examples. ‘Do you want to live forever?’The media’s obsession with immortality is of course rooted in the need for an attention-grabbing headline. Ignoring the science and focusing on the possible fantastical outcome of living forever is an easy way to reel in readers. The problem with this coverage is that it doesn’t show any interest in the actual progress of science, and further alienates the industry, associating the bizarre with the real and critical. Furthermore, for readers, these attention grabbing headlines are neglecting the actual scientific processes and complexities of anti-aging research. What we are left with is a stripped down version of the industry, which doesn’t reflect the developments in healthy life extension, and withdraws from any real in depth analysis. Advocacy coming from among those who are interested in immortality will no doubt increase, but not the awareness amongst the general population, what the industry is really aiming for. Rather than being seen as a single issue subject, life extension science wants to be seen for what it is, an important and complex area of science aiming to eradicate age-related disease. Real and, in many ways, awful diseases and conditions which blight us later in life, no matter how much our lifespan has increased. For journalists and news outlets covering life extension, instead of conceding in creating clickbait titles which attract one-time readers on the subject, why do they not engage in a debate and provide real analysis, which would more than likely, over time, establish a base of returning readers.Life extension has been granted its place in mainstream media, which many areas of science would still love to acquire, but this elevated position is currently not doing anyone any favours. With this obsession with immortality, people who could be potential supporters and advocates of healthy life extension are put off. By asking the question ‘do you want to live forever?’ rather than ‘do you want to see more investment in cures for age-related disease?’ the media faces the reader with a fantastic and in many ways terrifying notion, instead of one which is entirely practical and more likely to be universally supported. Greater exposure then, of this kind, has a direct negative impact on advocacy. ‘He wants to live forever - with no underpants’But in some ways, those within the industry do bring it on themselves. Due to the effectiveness of immortality in making headlines, the last few years have seen a large number of spokespeople for the ‘anti-aging industry’ also feeling the lure of alluding to the potential of living forever when challenged on their research. Exaggerated speculation is not an anomaly in the general coverage of other sciences. Scientists have always speculated based on the evidence: a major part of science is probability and prediction. Though, within life extension, it is clear that scientists are often pushed to speculate further, and are repeatedly asked to discuss the potential for their work leading to practical immortality. For all too many scientists, researchers, and theorists the understanding of how the mainstream media use immortality as a hook, has meant it has become all too tempting to play up to this notion in order to gain more attention and ultimately funding for their research. Furthermore, the entire fascination with immortality between the media and the industry has led to a certain estrangement of its main characters, as they are encouraged to fill the role of the mad scientist. Both scientists and investors have been encouraged within the mainstream media to conduct themselves in a certain way, as the frenzy around immortality has gained pace. Aubrey de Grey for example, the Chief Science Officer at the SENS Research Foundation, has, more than anyone, had his appearance and persona projected into mainstream media headlines. Some notable instances include titles such as, ‘Aubrey de Grey: He wants to live for ever — with no underpants’, and lines such as, ‘With his beard and robust opinions, there\'s something of the Old Testament prophet about Aubrey de Grey.’ The more cynical among us might contend that de Grey has used his distinguishing image to create a persona that the mainstream media love to incorporate into any stories related to developments in life extension. Regardless, this and his speculative statements about immortality such as ‘his claims about the possibilities (he has said the first person who will live to 1,000 years is probably already alive)’ create an interest in the individual, rather than the science. The consequence more often than not, is that this kind of media coverage is ultimately counterproductive, as it draws excitement and advocacy away from the scientific process and healthy life extension. ‘Never Say Die’The overarching issue is that, for the mainstream audience, the concept of life extension has become seen as ultimately concerned with radically prolonging lifespan, when in fact this is only a possible end result, or even side-effect of the work which is being done. Whereas, in other areas of science the scientific process is the center of attention, with more details and an enthusiasm around how scientists achieved their end result. As we have seen, some scientists and investors are drawn to comment and make claims about it because, for them and many others, nothing can surpass the end result of immortality, even the scientific process. Further, the mainstream media is forced to ask leading questions resulting in spectacular claims, for the same reason, and they are compelled to focus on immortality. This is because immortality is a subject that to many is the ultimate insurmountable objective. Immortality is something that for a long time hasn’t quite been in the same realm as other sciences: it is intangible, otherworldly, and metaphysical. Thus, healthy life extension research suffers because of its weak links with immortality, meaning that this entire area of science has become somewhat lost under the banner of living forever. This is of course not to say that radically extending lifespan to the point of immortality would be a bad thing. Far from it. But important developments in combating age-related diseases, and technological advancements moving toward alleviating debilitating conditions that occur in later life, are lost amongst the media, investors and scientists speculating about immortality. It means that the movement doesn’t gain momentum, real advocacy doesn’t grow, and coverage doesn’t transfer into support.

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World's largest cancer charity lays out field's grand challengeshttp://lifemag.org/article/worlds-largest-cancer-charity-lays-out-fields-grand-challenges

On 12 October, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) in London announced its intention to dedicate at least £100 million (US$153 million) over 5 years to funding research teams to take on these and four other ‘grand challenges’. The targets were identified by a panel of independent international researchers convened by the charity, which received input from the wider community.Read more @ Nature

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Income inequality grows with age and shapes later yearshttp://lifemag.org/article/income-inequality-grows-with-age-and-shapes-later-yearsDr. Corey Abramson’s book “The End Game: How Inequality Shapes Our Final Years,” and a report from the National Academy of Sciences last month on the growing life expectancy gap, underscore the effect of income and education on old age.Read more @ New York TimesKeeping elderly cells old to understand the aging processhttp://lifemag.org/article/keeping-elderly-cells-old-to-understand-the-aging-processAging is a key risk factor for many diseases, particularly disorders of the brain like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, which primarily occur in the elderly. So a better understanding of the aging process should provide a better understanding of these neurodegenerative diseases.Read more @ The Stem CellarGiving babies stem cells before birth could help stop brittle bone diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/giving-babies-stem-cells-before-birth-could-help-stop-brittle-bone-diseaseResearchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden will be coordinating a study in which 30 fetuses will be injected with stem cells to treat brittle bone disease - a rare genetic disease. This is the first time a trial will test a treatment designated for unborn babies,Read more @ Popular Science10 things we learned from Liz Parrish’s Reddit AMAhttp://lifemag.org/article/10-things-we-learned-from-liz-parrish-s-reddit-ama

BioViva made headlines last week after announcing that they had become the first company to administer anti-aging gene therapy on a human subject. But missing from the press release was exactly how this would work, the likelihood of its success, and the consequences. How better to address this then, than to hear from ‘Patient 0’ herself, Liz Parrish, the company’s CEO who will be undertaking the treatment. Yesterday (October 11), she took part in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), answering a range of questions submitted by Reddit users seeking to find out more about this supposedly pioneering study. Here are ten things we learned from Liz Parrish’s Reddit AMA. 1. What exactly have they done?According to BioViva’s prior research, they use AAV (Adeno-Associated Virus) as a vector, with a therapeutic transgene inserted (for example, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated). This viral vector, not known to be pathogenic to humans, is then injected into various parts of the body, where the vector injects the gene into a cell nucleus (i.e. transduces the cell). This influences the production of protein, becoming based upon the transgene - treating the disease.One month ago, Parrish was given a course of injections by doctors which she says were both “inter muscular, sub-dermal and systemic.” The hope is that the treatment already tested on animals produces positive results in humans: “The gene therapies on my body are to measure the effects on humans. There is plenty of animal research to support these gene therapies but no one was conducting human tests.”2. How will they know if it has worked?Parrish will be monitored monthly, and then conclusively after one year using “visual biomarkers, MRI and a panel of blood and tissue testing including work on telomere length with Spectracell and Life Length and epigenetic testing.” According to Parrish, “if you don’t look younger then we have failed.” In this regard, they hope for the same reduction in grey hair and more youthful appearance observed when telomerase has previously been administered in mice.3. Has she experienced any side effects so far?One month on, she claims to have experienced no side effects, is sleeping well, and has “lots of energy.”4. If it works, what is the next step?If successful, Bioviva aim to raise funding in order to carry out further clinical trials. To circumvent the ‘FDA barrier’ these will be conducted offshore.5. So how much does it cost?Parrish concedes that the therapy is currently \"cost prohibitive at this time for most people\" - although they are working to get those costs down.6. But how will they get these costs down?The goal is “to build laboratories that will have the mission of a cGMP product at a reduced cost.” Parrish makes the comparison with the exponential growth of faster and cheaper computers: “Gene therapy technology is much like computing technology. We had to build the super computer which cost $8 million in 1960. Now everyone has technologies that work predictably and at a cost the average person can afford.” By working with ‘governments and insurance providers’ they aim to ensure the same affordability for anti-aging gene therapy treatments.7. So if a success, when will it be universally available?Parrish states that BioViva aim to bring the treatment to the world as “quickly and safely as Possible.” She estimates that this will take just 3-5 years: “If the results are good we hope to have something to the general public, that is cost acceptable, in 3-5 years. What you will get then will be vastly more predictable and effective that what we are doing today and at a cost you or your insurance can cover .”8. But do such treatments increase the risk of cancer?A general concern, particularly for treatments amending telomere length is that this heightens the risk of cancer, but Parrish is unconcerned: “In animal models both FST and hTERT haven\'t increased the risk of cancer. We expect to see the same result on myself, and to that effect we are measuring all known cancer biomarkers.”9. And why the decision to undergo the therapy herself?At 45 years old, Parrish claims that she already has “aging as a disease” so was happy to “step up.” Similarly, she claims that undergo the treatment herself rather than experimenting on another patient was “the only ethical choice.”10. What can we expect from an ageless future?Parrish dismisses claims that prolonged human lifespan will ultimately have adverse effects such as overpopulation and depletion of resources: “As lifespan increases fertility rates go down all over the world. Humans will create better technology and space travel will increase. These are all good signs for the future.”

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Study finds cultural differences influence perceptions on aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/study-finds-cultural-differences-influence-perceptions-on-agingA new study tests the idea that traditional societies see aging in a more positive light than modern societies, a presumption supported by anecdotes and personal narratives but lacking systematic cross-cultural research.Read more @ FuturityAustralian high court rules that human gene can't be patentedhttp://lifemag.org/article/australian-high-court-rules-that-human-gene-cant-be-patentedThe Australian High Court ruled has ruled that the BRCA1 gene - which is linked to a significant increase in breast and ovarian cancer risk - isn\'t a \"patentable invention\". The decision means that a single company will no longer be able to control research on the gene, or receive all the profits from testing for it.Read more @ Science AlertDeleting genes could boost lifespan by 60 per cent, say scientistshttp://lifemag.org/article/deleting-genes-could-boost-lifespan-by-60-per-cent-say-scientists

Scientists have discovered more than 200 genes linked to aging, and have found that switching them off extends life. Read more @ the Telegraph

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The future of health and medicine: In your pocket, continuous, and connected to the cloudhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-future-of-health-and-medicine-in-your-pocket-continuous-and-connected-to-the-cloudDaniel Kraft highlights some of the emerging technologies and approaches which have the potential to shift health, medicine and biopharma from an intermittent and reactive physician-centric mode, to an era of more continuous data and a proactive approach in which the individual is increasingly empowered and integrated into personalized wellness, diagnosis and therapy.See the video hereNeurons derived directly from skin cells act the age of their donorshttp://lifemag.org/article/neurons-derived-directly-from-skin-cells-act-the-age-of-their-donorsBecause brain tissues from living donors are not widely available for study, researchers have devised ways to generate neurons from patient skin cells. One problem with this process—which often involves turning fibroblasts into pluripotent stem cells—is that it reprograms neurons to an embryonic state of development. In the October 8 Cell Stem Cell, researchers report that they may have circumvented that issue by directly converting fibroblasts into neurons. Read more @ AlzforumA new way to fight aging in the brainhttp://lifemag.org/article/a-new-way-to-fight-aging-in-the-brainFor the first time, scientists can take skin cells from people of various ages and transform them into brain cells reflecting the ages of their donors.Read more @ MIT Technology ReviewThe increasing movement towards precision medicine as the future of healthcarehttp://lifemag.org/article/the-increasing-movement-towards-precision-medicine-as-the-future-of-healthcare

Recent technological advances have changed the medical landscape for the better. Over the past decade, the democratization of genetic testing has opened new doors for the study of disease. The explosion of wearable devices has allowed us to closely monitor the finite details of our fitness and sleeping patterns. Bioinformatics, the study of complex biological data, has emerged to help scientists grapple with this influx of information. In turn, a new string of “-omics”—genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, pharmacogenomics—has emerged, all aimed at turning this information into usable clinical data. Precision medicine is a rapidly developing trend in clinical research. Scientists in this field intend to tailor medical care to individuals based on their genes, environment, microbiome, health history, and diet. By splitting patients into subpopulations based on these parameters, doctors will select treatments from which the patient is most likely to benefit, and avoid those that might be ineffective or harmful. This is a marked break from the “one size fits all” approach practiced in the past. By searching for biomarkers—peculiarities about a person’s biological data—researchers may be able to uncover early indications of disease, or factors that confer resistance. Precision Medicine Initiative At the beginning of this year, US President Barack Obama announced a proposed budget of $215 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI). This forward-thinking endeavor will involve the cooperation of multiple government agencies, along with a host of public-private partnerships, with the goal of large-scale biomedical data collection and analysis. The PMI’s bread and butter will be its research cohort, a group of over 1 million Americans who volunteer to share their data. The cohort will be open to all US citizens. Patients will give blood samples and DNA for sequencing, undergo a clinical exam, donate their health records, and potentially contribute fecal samples so that researchers can analyze their microbiome. To sequence entire genomes on such a large scale would be too costly, so researchers instead will hunt for specific single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, pronounced “snips”), mutations linked with known genetic conditions. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will receive the lion’s share of the funding, and will be charged with establishing and collecting samples from the cohort. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will receive funding to set up a database to store the collected data, and to develop techniques for the next generation of genome sequencing. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) will oversee the privacy of the patients and ensure secure data exchange.If Congress approves the budget request, the cohort will begin recruiting sometime next year. The self-stated mission of the PMI is to “enable a new era of medicine through research, technology, and policies that empower patients, researchers, and providers to work together toward development of individualized treatments.” The short-term research goal is cancer. This family of diseases is becoming a greater problem as the population ages. Most cancers are the result of damage to the genome that occurs throughout life, although some are caused by inherited mutations. Precision medicine shifts the focus of cancer diagnosis from survival likelihood to measurable parameters specific to a particular patient’s case, such as tumor load. Each tumor has its own genetic profile that can be mapped and analyzed. Currently, we do not know why some cancers are not affected by particular drugs, why genetic variations exist among tumors, and how certain drugs can affect a tumor when used in combination. We need tools to measure drug response and cancer recurrence more accurately. The PMI hopes to address these issues. In the long term, the PMI aims to provide techniques for the molecular diagnosis of a wide array of conditions. In the future, blood tests may be able to detect circulating cancer cells early on. Genomics may uncover genes that confer disease resistance. The gut microbiome may reveal clues about obesity. Portable devices may more accurately monitor blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart rhythm. The greatest strength of the PMI will be its scale. Data will be shared among researchers all over the country. More eyes means more chances of uncovering clues, and more opportunities to think creatively. There are problems posed, however, by the prospect of large-scale data collection. Because this effort is the first of its kind, the infrastructure to support this type of project must be built from the ground up. Patient privacy must be a number one priority. There are doubts as to whether the NIH can support this expensive and long-term study. The National Children’s Study, involving 100,000 subjects, abruptly failed due to budget and management concerns. While other countries are already studying large groups on this scale, such an undertaking has been nearly impossible in the US, which lacks a centralized health system. If the plan is implemented carefully and correctly, however, it could be a turning point for the field of medicine. 23andMe It is impossible to discuss large-scale biological data collection without mentioning 23andMe. This Silicon Valley-based private company has pioneered the “direct to consumer” approach to genetic testing by partially analyzing the genomes of over 1 million customers. 23andMe’s strength lies in the size of its active community. By offering engaging surveys, 23andMe keeps its members interested while uncovering links between their DNA and their health, habits, and characteristics. The company currently offers test kits for $99. After a saliva sample is received, it is tested on a “SNP chip,” which looks at 650,000 genetic variants. Members are grouped by traits, and those groups are analyzed for common SNPs. Initially, 23andMe provided its customers with health reports outlining their chances of developing certain diseases, but the FDA banned them from offering this service in 2013. The company is currently working with the FDA to bring back health reports by the end of this year. 23andMe has shown some success in retroactively predicting the efficacy of certain medications. By analyzing the target SNPs of drugs in clinical trials, their researchers predicted with somewhat higher accuracy whether those drugs would succeed. However, there is potential that a given SNP is just a marker commonly inherited alongside the disease-causing mutation, and not the problem itself. This has not stopped 23andMe from stepping into the biotech sphere. In March, the company announced that it will be starting its own research and development team, and they may start sequencing full genomes in the near future. Baseline Study Last year, Alphabet Life Sciences (formerly of Google X) announced its own foray into the realm of large-scale biological data collection. The Baseline Study will start out by collecting data from 175 people, and later thousands, to paint a picture of what a healthy human looks like. The team, composed of experts from many different fields, is not studying one specific disease. Rather, the Baseline Study will utilize Google’s computing power to search for biomarkers hidden within a mass of biological data. The majority of known biomarkers are associated with late-stage diseases, since the patients being studied are already sick. The Baseline Study hopes to establish early biomarkers to speed up diagnosis, potentially before the disease takes hold. The dream is to shift the focus of medicine to prevention, rather than treatment. The Life Sciences team is already a pioneer in mobile health-monitoring technology. Last year they unveiled a smart contact lens that continually monitors blood glucose for patients with diabetes. Google is already set up to amass and sort through large quantities of data, so they do not have to start from the ground up, as with the PMI. The Baseline Project appears promising, although as with Google’s other highly ambitious projects, it is unclear whether this will be more than just a publicity generator. The Big Picture Outside of the US, several countries are making headway in precision medicine. The 100,000 Genomes Project by Genomics England and the National Health Service (NHS) is sequencing the entire genomes of its participants, a feat that has yet to be undertaken on a large scale in the US. Sequencing entire genomes may lead to the discovery of new disease-associated SNPs, which could yield novel cures. With an effort like this, the wider the net cast, the better, as long as it coincides with a sufficiently stable infrastructure. Cooperation—among government agencies, among public and private entities, and among nations—will be necessary to maximize the benefits of large-scale research. Transparency will be crucial, in order to reach as large and diverse a population as possible. By making the public an active participant in medical discovery, precision medicine has the potential to uncover groundbreaking techniques and treatments that were once out of reach.

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Researchers study elephants for cancer-fighting clueshttp://lifemag.org/article/researchers-study-elephants-for-cancer-fighting-clues

Elephants appear to be exceptional cancer fighters, using a special set of proteins to kill off damaged cells.Read more @ New York Times

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Comprehensive study finds 238 genes that affect aging in yeast cellshttp://lifemag.org/article/comprehensive-study-finds-238-genes-that-affect-aging-in-yeast-cellsFollowing an exhaustive, ten-year effort, scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the University of Washington have identified 238 genes that, when removed, increase the replicative lifespan of S. cerevisiae yeast cells. Read more @ PhysorgImmune gene prevents Parkinson's disease and dementiahttp://lifemag.org/article/immune-gene-prevents-parkinsons-disease-and-dementiaA research team at University of Copenhagen, Denmark, has discovered that non-inheritable PD may be caused by functional changes in the immune regulating gene Interferon-beta (IFNβ).Read more @ EurekalertWhy Elon Musk doesn't want to live foreverhttp://lifemag.org/article/why-elon-musk-doesnt-want-to-live-forever

Elon Musk would love to invest more money in genetics, but he definitely doesn\'t want to live forever.Read more @ Business Insider

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Researchers describe mechanism behind premature aging diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/researchers-describe-mechanism-behind-premature-aging-diseaseProgeria is a premature aging disease. So far, there is no cure for it, and though researchers identified the abnormal protein behind the disease – progerin – the exact way in which it causes the accelerated aging remains elusive. In their latest publication, researchers describe a yet unknown mechanism behind progeria that may provide new approaches for therapy.Read more @ Science DailyUK National Health Service outlines personalized medicine strategyhttp://lifemag.org/article/uk-national-health-service-outlines-personalized-medicine-strategyThe shift towards personalized medicine in the NHS is already underway. To ensure these new technologies and opportunities are maximized, an over-arching NHS England strategy for personalized medicine is now required.Read more @ GenomicsnetStem cells from human skin turned into kidney tissuehttp://lifemag.org/article/stem-cells-from-human-skin-turned-into-kidney-tissueHuman stem cells have been turned into clumps of kidney tissue in a crucial first step towards building new organs for patients in the lab.Read more @ the GuardianResearchers are developing a test to detect all known viruses in your body, even at low levelshttp://lifemag.org/article/researchers-are-developing-a-test-to-detect-all-known-viruses-in-your-body-even-at-low-levels

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a test kit that they say can scan a patient for almost every virus known to infect people, in extraordinary detail, even if the viruses are present at only “very low levels.” Read more @ Quartz

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Gene-editing record smashed in pigshttp://lifemag.org/article/gene-editing-record-smashed-in-pigsFor decades, scientists and doctors have dreamed of creating a steady supply of human organs for transplantation by growing them in pigs. By modifying more than 60 genes from pig embryos—ten times more than have been edited in any other animal—researchers believe they may have produced a suitable non-human organ donor.Read more @ Scientific American Nobel Prize goes to scientists mapping how cells repair damaged DNAhttp://lifemag.org/article/nobel-prize-goes-to-scientists-mapping-how-cells-repair-damaged-dna

The war on cancer, a disease that in 2012 had over 14 million new cases and 8.2 million related deaths worldwide, has been raging for decades, with these figures expected to rise by about 70% in the next two decades. However, three scientists that have today won the Nobel Prize for chemistry, have provided the field with new ammunition, mapping how cells repair damaged DNA. Tomas Lindahl, of the Francis Crick Institute in London, Paul Modrich, of Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University School of Medicine, and Aziz Sancar, of the University of North Carolina, have unlocked this fundamental knowledge detailing how living cells function. They were awarded the Nobel Prize specifically for the value of their research to the development of cancer treatment. Damage to cell genomes occur every day from radiation and other sources such as carcinogenic substances. Further, due to natural spontaneous changes and cell divisions, a process which occurs millions of times every day in the human body, defects can arise and problems can occur. However, our DNA remains intact due to a range of molecular systems that monitor and repair, called nucleotide excision repair and mismatch repair. These mechanisms that occur were mapped and explained by Aziz Sancar and Paul Modrich, which has helped point the way for better and more well equipped disease treatments, especially for cancer. Scientists in the 1970s believed that DNA was an extremely stable molecule, though Tomas Lindahl has since demonstrated that the opposite is the case. Infact, DNA decays at an astonishing rate that Lindahl pointed out should have made the development of life on Earth impossible. This observation led to the discovery of the molecular machinery which counteracts the collapse of our DNA, named base excision repair. Lindahl said he was surprised by the news, feeling “very lucky and proud”, but also that, \"We have to understand the mechanisms, so we can selectively provide good therapy\". The laureates’ work on DNA repair, according to the scientific community, will play a vital role in human health and developing future treatments. Professor Glaes Gustafsson, a member of the Nobel assembly has explained that, “by inhibiting repair actually in the cancer cells you might get something that… will specifically kill the cancer cells.”

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These Russian scientists are on a quest to extend human lifehttp://lifemag.org/article/these-russian-scientists-are-on-a-quest-to-extend-human-life

The quest to extend life has lately become an obsession among a certain Silicon Valley crowd—a moonshot sort of thing. Heavyweights like Peter Thiel, Larry Ellison, Peter Diamandis, and Craig Venter are putting significant energy and money towards the goal.\"There\'s a convergence of IT and biomedicine,\" says Alexander Zhavoronkov, who\'s part of the extending life scene. \"There are more and more people from the IT industry entering the biomedical field. Many people in aging research come from IT.\"Read more @ co.Exist

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Craig Venter makes the case for extending healthy lifespan over seeking immortalityhttp://lifemag.org/article/craig-venter-makes-the-case-for-extending-healthy-lifespan-over-seeking-immortalityCraig Venter was the scientist who, in competition with the National Human Genome Research Institute, sequenced the human genome over a decade ago, at a cost of $100 million. Today, he runs a La Jolla, Calif.-based company called Human Longevity Inc. or HLI, which is building a massive database of genetic information in the hopes of finding links to disease.Venter may have built a business around longevity, but he does not want to live forever. On stage at the Rock Health Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday, Venter said his mission is to support a “higher-quality life span,” and “predict everything we can from the genetic code,” rather than to find the elixir for eternal life.Read more @ KQEDCan exercise be replaced with a pill?http://lifemag.org/article/can-exercise-be-replaced-with-a-pill

Exercise compliance levels are almost universally low, especially for people using home-based exercise programs, representing a major obstacle to the wide-scale implementation of exercise training methods. As a result, researchers are exploring the possibility of developing drugs which mimic the effects of exercise - essentially a workout in a pill. Find out more here

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BioViva treats first patient with gene therapy to reverse aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/bioviva-treats-first-patient-with-gene-therapy-to-reverse-agingBioViva USA, Inc. has become the first company to treat a person with gene therapy to reverse biological aging, using a combination of two therapies developed and applied outside the United States of America. Testing and research on these therapies is continuing in BioViva’s affiliated labs worldwide.BioViva USA, Inc. announced their intentions with gene therapy on September 30th. They are yet to disclose any information regarding how this therapy will work, and the likelihood of its success. Read more @ prwebWhat old age is really likehttp://lifemag.org/article/what-old-age-is-really-like

What does it feel like to be old? Not middle-aged, or late-middle-aged, but one of the members of the fastest-growing demographic: the “oldest old,” those aged eighty-five and above? Read more @ the New Yorker

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Why do women live longer than men?http://lifemag.org/article/why-do-women-live-longer-than-menAll across the world, women enjoy longer lifespans. David Robson investigates the reasons why, and whether men can do anything about it.Read more @ BBC NewsElabela identified as potential hormone for regenerative medicinehttp://lifemag.org/article/elabela-identified-as-potential-hormone-for-regenerative-medicineScientists from the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) of Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), in Singapore, have discovered that the recently-identified hormone ELABELA is critical in promoting the growth of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), suggesting its potential as a target for applications in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The study was conducted in collaboration with A*STAR\'s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) and Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS).Read more @ Science DailyCan bioprinting solve the US organ crisis?http://lifemag.org/article/can-bioprinting-solve-the-us-organ-crisis

123,000 people in the US are currently on a waiting list for an organ transplant. Every day, an average of 21 patients pass away without receiving one. Even for the lucky recipients, there is an ever-present risk that their bodies will reject the organs. Medication to reduce this risk is expensive but wholly necessary. As lifespans lengthen, more people require life-saving transplants, and the crisis is only expected to worsen. A method must be found that can deliver safe, reliable transplants to patients in need. Regenerative medicine hopes to answer such problems. Scientists in this field seek to restore organ function by utilizing the body’s healing mechanisms. In recent years, new technology has offered a compelling solution. 3-D printing of organ tissue, or bioprinting, works by arranging the body’s own cell lines along three-dimensional structures to produce functional organs. There is no risk of rejection, and thus no risk of costly anti-rejection treatment. Technical Difficulties Many obstacles prevent this field from being fully realized. Human organs present a variety of highly specific cell types that are hard to mimic. Pancreas and liver cells, for example, are highly complex and notoriously difficult to grow outside of the human body. Tissues fall under one of three categories: flat, such as skin; tubular, as in blood vessels; or hollow, like the bladder. Certain complex tissues are delicate and risk collapsing under their own weight. Hydrogels can be used to hold these structures in suspension. They must walk a fine line between being sturdy enough to provide structure, yet permeable enough to allow cell migration and the development of vascular networks. The scaffolding that cells grow on, sometimes referred to as the extracellular matrix, presents its own challenges. Polymers and ceramics can mimic the basic arrangement, but such structures are intricate and difficult to faithfully reproduce. They require an extremely high resolution, akin to a high pixel density along three dimensions. Doris Taylor, of the Texas Heart Institute, has devised a solution: by removing the living cells from pig hearts and other pre-existing tissue, researchers can obtain a collagen matrix which they can then re-populate with a patient’s cells. By working off of a pre-formed scaffold, the printing process is simplified. Once the scaffolding is in place, cells must be introduced and begin to specialize. Induced pluripotent stem cells are the cells of choice, since they can be easily obtained from a patient’s skin sample. The scaffolding is populated with stem cells and loaded into a bioreactor, which provides an environment in which the vascular network can develop. Provided with the correct nutrients, the cells will take on the desired form and function. Bioprinting has come a long way since its inception. Multilayered skin grafts have been used to treat burns; tracheal splints have repaired airways; heart tissue and cartilage have been printed on demand. With luck, bone, kidney, and liver transplants are not so far off. Promising Developments The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is at the forefront of the bioprinting field. The institute started off printing the relatively simple human bladder in 2001. Since then, Wake Forest scientists have successfully transplanted muscle, bone, skin, and ears in animal models. In addition to bladders, they have produced skin, cartilage, and urine tubes for human patients. Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the institute, cautions that bioprinting of complex 3-D organs is still decades—as opposed to years—away. The institute is making progress, however, in printing with multiple cell types, strengthening resolution, and printing blood vessels into tissue. While currently they are only able to print the top two layers of skin to treat burn wounds, eventually this will likely expand to include hair follicles and fat tissue. Epibone, as its name suggests, focuses on printing 3-D human bone replacements. This small company uses a patient’s stem cells to grow bone along a customized scaffold. While at this time the technology has only been tested on animals, it has acquired generous start-up funding. Last year, the company received a $350,000 grant from Breakout Labs, a nonprofit fund started by Peter Thiel. In the future, Epibone hopes to treat conditions ranging from complex fractures to bone loss, without the risk associated with artificial implants. Looking Forward Well-placed excitement surrounds 3-D bioprinting. It is difficult to find fault with a field that strives to provide long and healthy lifespans for all of its patients. Realistic expectations are important when dealing with technology of such promise. Dr. Atala gave a TED talk in 2011 which many felt suggested that bioprinting was much more sophisticated than it actually was, and the field suffered as a result. Bioprinting complex organs, especially the heart, liver, and kidneys, remains a distant goal. Dr. Atala is outspoken about the fact that, as long as patients receive all of the organ transplants they need, the mechanism by which this occurs is irrelevant. With enough fine-tuning, the reliable, standardized production offered by bioprinting seems to hold the most promise. With any luck, this “vision zero”—no patient lying in wait for an organ transplant—exists in our not-too-distant future.

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DNA-cutting enzymes could slice through gene editing patent spathttp://lifemag.org/article/dna-cutting-enzymes-could-slice-through-gene-editing-patent-spatWho owns the biggest biotech advance of the century? Geneticists in Boston may have found a way around a high-stakes patent dispute over one of the most significant biotechnology breakthroughs in recent years, two novel DNA-slicing enzymes that aren\'t covered by any of the previous patents and that can replace the one at the center of the legal spat.The discovery could potentially sidestep the patent dispute: it offers a different way to perform CRISPR gene editing - one that can be covered by a separate patent. Read more @ New Scientist U.S. biotech to apply artificial intelligence to UK genome studyhttp://lifemag.org/article/u-s-biotech-to-apply-artificial-intelligence-to-uk-genome-studyBerg, a private company that uses artificial intelligence to discover new drugs and diagnostics, will help England\'s national genomics project mine DNA and health data from thousands of British citizens for potential drug targets.Read more @ ReutersLifespan inequality: Are we heading toward a dystopia, or does it already exist?http://lifemag.org/article/lifespan-inequality-are-we-heading-toward-a-dystopia-or-does-it-already-exist

Concerns about the advance of life extension science research and development frightens many people. Particularly, the level of private investment pouring into the industry. The most extreme of prophecies argue that there will be an absolute divide between the handful of super rich who can afford life extension treatments, and those who can’t. The fear is that this divide will permit a world in which a new social order is established planted in financial wealth, but rooting from access to life-prolonging medicine. In recent years the scientific community as a whole has seen more private commercial injections, as the figures associated with private and philanthropic contributions grow. Virgin Galactic, for example, led by Sir Richard Branson, is perhaps the most publically recognised commercial injection into science, furthering the scientific research around suborbital space flight, but leaving only the richest to enjoy it.Virgin Galactic is just one example in a long line of commercial ventures propped up by billionaires and multinational companies with the aim of advancing scientific research. Last year Google launched its subsidiary company, Calico, pumping in millions of dollars to kick start the commercial drive toward establishing an anti-aging industry. Life extension science is at the forefront of this debate, with critics arguing that scientific research should be led by a social contract, rather than a fiscal objective. However, supporters believe that commercial input, especially in life extension, is accelerating the overall momentum of scientific research.Ultimately though, life extension science is suffering from a complete lack of federal funding, and so if an anti-aging community is to be created, whether the result will benefit us all or just the richest in society, it must first be born out of big business and philanthropy. So then, if this is the case, how much truth and evidence are there in the claims from either side of the debate, and should we be afraid of private entities taking hold of the anti-aging industry?At the moment, whether we like it or not, privately funded anti-aging research is all we have. In April of this year, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a full report outlining in detail the severe decline in US government spending on basic scientific research -from 10% of the total federal budget in 1968 down to below 4% in 2015. The report, called \"The Future Postponed\", provides a thorough account of each area of scientific research that is suffering as a consequence, and also details the potential short and long term ramifications upon the US economy. The first chapter of the report focuses on Alzheimer’s disease, specifying that there are over 5 million sufferers in the US alone, which is more than most forms of cancer. The prevalence of this is projected to double in the coming decades. Despite these figures, Alzheimer’s is greatly misunderstood, and research is relatively non-existent. According to the report: “Under current funding constraints, the National Institute of Aging can fund only 6 percent of the research ideas it receives.”However, this decline in federal scientific research funding has seen private backing soar, filling the void left behind. Science philanthropy is rife, and anti-aging research has been elected as the next major investment obstacle, with many wealthy individuals taking up the challenge, including Larry Ellison, Peter Thiel, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Does privately funded science result only in a private beneficiary?Answering this question is important when looking at the reality of the potential that anti-aging research has. Historic and current trends within the broader picture of science must be considered, so to determine whether the result of private funding in anti-aging will produce a world of haves and have-nots, as many on the opposition bench are claiming. It would be easy to focus on the channeled privately funded companies such as Virgin Galactic, with ticket prices for a flight of up to $250,000, as an example of clear private beneficiary. But, privately funded scientific research is now a huge slice of the industry, and following the crumb trail of a single company does not really prove that the same would happen with anti-aging advancements.Regarding the US alone, the portion of biomedical research funded by private backers and companies within the industry has almost doubled since 1980, with it presently at around 60%. The American health care system has, rightfully, many critics, as statistics are constantly circulated of its all too apparent lack of scope. Included in the statistics are the most visible problems, that almost 33 million people are without health insurance, and of those who are insured, millions are considered underinsured, often forgoing care. In 2013, 1.7 million Americans living in households declared bankruptcy due to healthcare issues, and over 25 million adults did not receive necessary medical attention due to cost. With this real crisis in the healthcare system it is true that, in terms of health in general, the US is already a nation of haves and have-nots. However, these clear disparities, although shocking, do not reveal any tangible link between privately funded science and private beneficiaries. What they do reveal though is a much greater issue, of the decrepit state of current health care systems and the resulting beneficiaries of both privately and publically funded research. There is a clear case to argue that anti-aging advancements would systematically follow the trends of any other scientific advancement, and be exposed to the inequality of health care systems around the world. Predictions of wealth, poverty and life extension in the USIn the US, the cost of healthcare is not regulated by the government, and so it is probable that the initial prices of any anti-aging treatment, or treatment for specific diseases, will be astronomically high, leading to the probable scenario of a significant hike in the very wealthy purchasing them. Furthermore, because life extension science is so controversial and the benefits so huge, any significant advances leading to either a longer life, or a significantly healthier life, will likely cause an enormous media frenzy. In turn, this may create an initial surge of people taking out loans, or declaring bankruptcy, as they race to acquire treatment. However, this would probably soon curb as prices decrease, while a large proportion of the population catches up. Anticipating this decrease, the wealthier middle classes in the US would then look toward treatment.However, with the healthcare system as it is, millions of people are not likely to have access to any form of treatment, and depending on the variety of cures and the cost of treating each specific disease and condition, the distribution of medicine is likely to be irregular and will result in an inconsistency amongst the population. Inequality in America is currently at a desperately high level, with the top 3 percent now holding over double the wealth of the poorest 90 percent of families. Critics and naysayers believe that advances in life extension science will widen the gap to a point we could hardly conceive now. The problem with these opinions is that they regard life extension as a non-medical subject outside of the current economic situation, ignoring the real problem within healthcare and economic inequality at the moment. The problem isn’t the rich taking hold of life extension, the problem is within the grossly unequal society we live in today. The fact of the matter is that advances within this research, and further access to treatments, would not likely widen the gap so much as access to new treatments for cancer or heart disease might. The advances within this area of medical research would more or less play by the rules of the economy, and follow the trends of other areas of research, leaving millions of people out of the game.The question that we must ask ourselves then, is how can we justify only extending the lives of those who have more already? Disparity in life expectancy and access to health care is already a problem in the US, as those who are lucky enough to be born into stable environments with financially stable parents are more likely to have access to health insurance, hospitals, nutrition, and greater social care. While those who aren’t are more likely to fall ill to preventable diseases, and die from those that are treatable. Last year, Michael Reisch, a professor of social justice at the University of Maryland, stated that, “Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life.” For any health care system to truly serve properly, it must serve everyone equally. Unequal attention across racial and economic linesAs the New York Times article by William J. Broad makes clear, historically, disease research is ‘prone to unequal attention along racial and economic lines.’ And so, when looking at the leading research campaigns from those companies which are funded privately by rich philanthropists, the initiatives are evidently driven by personal adversity, and conditions that affect those who are funding them. This theory is likely to see a stark absence of research and thus treatment or prevention for diseases more widespread in low income nations, such as malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis. 95% of the global AIDS prevalence and 98% of active tuberculosis infections are accounted for in low income nations. The 2014 United Nations Human Development Index (UNHDI) compiles tables of statistics related to human development. Table 1 includes life expectancy, presenting some particularly shocking results from nations, the majority from sub-saharan Africa, whose inhabitants live to a mere average of around 46 years old, due partly because of the prevalence of these diseases. These issues are likely to remain, as life extension research drives forward in different directions. As the years are added to people\'s lives in countries such as the US, life expectancy in countries such as Sierra Leone, Chad, Congo, and Mozambique would remain low.This inequality in the research approach would coincide with the economic and access to healthcare trends within these areas of the world. In terms of medicinal and biological scientific advancements, in the majority of low income nations, it is only the minority of their populations who can afford treatment that receive it. The UNHDI reveals the very low levels of adult health, health expenditures, population in or near severe poverty within the bottom 40-50 nations classified with the ‘Low Human Development category’. If following this trend, it is thus clear that life extension advances would more than likely not reach the majority of people within these countries. Private funding, will likely partially contribute to a resulting severe inequality, but it is not the problem. It is not fair to assume that life extension research is being taken over, or overrun, by the rich just because the rich and other private backers are its only major supporters. Indeed, it is being driven by private beneficiaries, but it is not absolutely being diverted by them. Radical or indefinite life extension, as a hypothesised science fiction entity could result in a terrible dystopia, but as a vast area of research, with multiple and various objectives, motives, and directions, will more than likely follow the currents of today’s world. This though, could be just as worrying. Following the trends of other such recent advances in treatments for cancer, HIV, coronary heart disease, and malaria, in high and low income nations, one can see that the possible social ramifications are both huge and considerably less clear-cut than those predictions made by naysayers, with the result likely to produce a more disheveled world map.If life extension science continues to advance, it may taint our already vastly unequal economic landscape with a slightly darker shade of disparity. Millions of people could be denied access to medicine that could grant them a healthier and longer life, leaving entire communities and great proportions of populations dieing decades younger according to their place of birth. Nonetheless, life extension research is following the course of research in any other field, and so cannot be at fault for the inequality that it would inevitably produce. The problem is with healthcare, in the lack of government action toward alleviating inequality and taking steps toward advancing access to medicine. In this regard, if there really is no difference between the social ramifications of life extension research and research within any other area, then what is the problem with it progressing?

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Lifespan.io's #LifespanChallenge is starting on October 1st, International Longevity Dayhttp://lifemag.org/article/lifespan-ios-lifespanchallenge-is-starting-on-october-1st-international-longevity-dayLifespan.io will be running a social challenge campaign, not unlike the Ice Bucket Challenge, to raise both funds and awareness for life extension research — the #LifespanChallenge. It will begin on October 1 and run through the month of October. Lifespan.io are challenging people to donate toward any campaign already running at Lifespan.io or to the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF). Alongside this, post a short video on social media. Find more out about the challenge @ Lifespan.ioHuman Longevity, Inc. appoints William A. Roper, Jr. as Chief Financial Officerhttp://lifemag.org/article/human-longevity-inc-appoints-william-a-roper-jr-as-chief-financial-officerHuman Longevity, Inc. (HLI), the genomics-based, technology-driven company, announced today that William A. Roper, Jr. has been appointed Chief Financial Officer, reporting directly to HLI’s CEO, J. Craig Venter, Ph.D. Roper joins the company full-time after serving as interim CFO.Read more @ Human Longevity, Inc.Doctors take 'big step' towards a cure for age-related blindnesshttp://lifemag.org/article/doctors-take-big-step-towards-a-cure-for-age-related-blindnessA cure for the most common form of blindness has been developed by British surgeons in a ground-breaking operation. Experts hailed the breakthrough as a “big step forward” in treatment of agerelated macular degeneration (AMD). It could now mean that surgery to reverse vision loss is routinely offered to the 600,000 patients who have the disease in the UK in the same way that cataract sufferers are treated.Read more @ The TelegraphThe age old debate over statins http://lifemag.org/article/the-age-old-debate-over-statins

Statins, the class of medicines that are used to lower blood cholesterol, are once again in the news for their potential adverse side effects. On Sunday 27th September, the Express published an article, based on ‘disturbing new research’ from July 2015 by scientists at Tulane University in New Orleans, claiming that the drug will speed ‘up aging process’. This has reignited the debate around statins, provoking other news outlets around the world to choose which side of the dispute they are on.The Express article, quoting experts, calls for patients to “think very carefully” before taking the drug. The side effects, according to the research, could include memory loss, muscle pain, diabetes, cataracts, liver dysfunction, and fatigue. Dr Malcolm Kendrick is quoted saying, “The side effects of statins mimic the aging process.”The research, which was posted in the American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology, involved taking fat tissue biopsies from healthy people and extracting stem cells, and then exposing the samples to one or two types of statin. The researchers found that the stem cells changed into immune cells at lower levels if they were exposed to statins, linking to a prevention of cardiovascular disease. Also, studies were taken regarding the length of time it took for each sample to double in its reproduction, of which those cells which were treated with statin grew more slowly. The connection was made between this and premature aging. In response to the Express, The Guardian published an article challenging any assumptions, suggesting that it is ‘quite a large leap’ to take between the actual results of the study and the claim of aging prematurely. The Guardian called for a re-evaluation of the research and a consideration of science’s growing, but still limited knowledge on the cellular mechanisms around aging. ‘Stem cell proliferation speed is associated with aging. However, it is not the only mechanism that has been shown to be, and which ones are causal has not really been determined.Statins were first introduced for clinical use in 1987 and are now, according to the British Heart Foundation, the most commonly prescribed medicines in the UK, alongside further huge distributions in the US, where they are being taken by one in four adult Americans over 45. With no clear end in sight, the debate around their overall benefits has been rumbling on for years and concerns millions of people worldwide. As anti-aging research progresses scientists should have a better understanding of the claims around statins, but until any clear evidence arises it is likely that we will see more projections and estimations around the subject.

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The war over genome editing just got a lot more interestinghttp://lifemag.org/article/the-war-over-genome-editing-just-got-a-lot-more-interestinglast week, gene-editing scientists dropped some curious news: They’ve found a CRISPR system involving a different protein that also edits human DNA, and, in some cases, it may work even better than Cas9.Find out more @ WiredVatican to host conference on stem cells, other regenerative medicinehttp://lifemag.org/article/vatican-to-host-conference-on-stem-cells-other-regenerative-medicineThe Third International Conference on the Progress of Regenerative Medicine and its Cultural Impact will be held at the Vatican from April 28 to 30, 2016, according to a statement released by the Vatican.Read more @ CBS NewsThe connection between cleaner air and longer liveshttp://lifemag.org/article/the-connection-between-cleaner-air-and-longer-lives\"The hundreds of millions of life-years saved from improved air quality in our country didn’t happen by accident or overnight. This happened because a collective voice for change brought about one of the most influential laws of the land.\" The New York Times looks at the impact of cleaner air upon lifespan. Read more @ The New York Times Parabiosis: Treating the aged with young bloodhttp://lifemag.org/article/parabiosis-treating-the-aged-with-young-blood

On September 21, World Alzheimer’s Day, Alzheimer’s Research UK released a chilling statistic: one in three people born in the UK will develop dementia in their lifetime. As human lifespan increases, so unfortunately, does the prevalence of age-related chronic conditions. In 2014, the World Health Organization estimated that the number of dementia sufferers worldwide will increase by over 300% by 2050. Scientists are working feverishly to combat this looming public health crisis. News on this topic is not all bad, however. Last year, researchers in California, led by Stanford neurologist Tony Wyss-Coray, published some startling (and heartening) findings. After adding blood from a young mouse to the circulatory system of an old mouse, researchers observed a significant increase in tissue function. Brain tissue was among the areas showing improvement, making this a plausible area for Alzheimer’s research. While the results are exciting, the methods by which Wyss-Coray’s lab arrived at them are a little shocking. The researchers sewed together pairs of mice of differing ages, and allowed their circulatory systems to fuse, a technique known as parabiosis. They then studied the effects that intermingling blood had on the two mice. The technique has since been refined and can now be completed via injection, opening the doors for potential therapeutic uses in humans. Restoration Breakthrough In the human brain, one of the first regions to decline with age is the hippocampus, which is responsible for both learning and memory. This is partially due to a decline in stem cells, which give rise to new cells throughout the body. Wyss-Coray’s lab analyzed many of the 700 protein factors circulating in the blood to determine how such factors could affect stem cell function over time. They found that they could determine a person’s relative age by analyzing these factors. What is even more exciting is that their research on mice has shown that tissues can recoup some age-related loss of function when infused with blood from a younger animal. “This opens an entirely new field. It tells us that the age of an organism, or an organ like the brain, is not written in stone. It is malleable. You can move it in one direction or the other,” Wyss-Coray told the Guardian. “It’s almost mythological that something in young organisms can maintain youthfulness, and it’s probably true.” History of Parabiosis One surprising aspect of this discovery is that the technology has been available for so long. It did not require the highly sophisticated (yet still woefully incomplete) knowledge of the human brain that we have today. This study could have been performed decades ago. As a technique, parabiosis has been around since at least the 1600s. Methods of conjoining have much improved since those times, but the process is still gruesome. It was not until 2008, however, that scientists began to uncover its potential for studying age-related changes in learning and memory.In 2011, Wyss-Coray’s team found that when mice of different ages were conjoined, the younger mouse could not develop as many new neurons. A later study, published in Nature Medicine in May 2014, focused more on the behavioral effects of commingling. In order to test for behavior the mice could not be conjoined, so the lab streamlined a process for injection. Whereas before the younger mice had suffered adverse effects from old blood exposure, this risk could now be circumvented. These developments paved the way for human trials. The study in Nature Medicine showed the old mice injected with young plasma did better on classic behavioral tests, such as the maze water test. Researchers observed positive structural changes in their brains, including a 20-50% increase in the neuroplasticity network. If these findings can be reproduced in humans, this technique could be used to treat a host of age-related diseases. The scientific community has taken notice: last year, Science named Wyss-Coray’s work one of the top breakthroughs of the year. Human Trials Human trials testing the efficacy of young-to-old blood transfusions are currently underway in the US. The randomized, double-blind study involves 18 people aged 50-90 with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s. For one month each patient will receive a weekly plasma injection from donors aged 30 and under, in addition to a four-week course of saline as a placebo, with six weeks between the treatments. They will then be subjected to multiple rounds of testing for mental acuity, and their caregivers will watch them closely for behavioral changes. Because blood transfusion is already an established process, the team was able to skip the traditional animal testing phase and jump right to human trials. The results are expected at the end of this year. Wyss-Coray and others have set up a private company, Alkahest, in order to fund such studies. Much of the money for the initial trial was donated by the family of a Chinese billionaire, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and appeared to improve temporarily after receiving a blood transfusion. Alkahest hopes to separate out factors related to healthy stem cell function and mix them into a “cocktail” to inject into aging patients. It is estimated that this goal could take about 10-15 years. Despite the optimism of those involved in this venture, this area of study is still very new. The existence of a private company does not mean the results are guaranteed. Parallel WorkScientists other than Wyss-Coray are doing significant research in this field. Two researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Dr. Lee Rubin and Dr. Amy Wagers, published separate papers on growth differentiation factor-11 (GDF-11) in Science last May. By injecting GDF-11, a circulating protein, into the blood of older mice, they found they were able to exercise longer and better differentiate between smells. Dr. Rubin’s mice developed more blood vessels and neural stem cells, while Dr. Wager’s team found improved muscle stem cell function. It is estimated that many blood factors besides GDF-11 could have this effect. Both studies illustrate the potential scope of this type of work. Measured Enthusiasm Scientists working in this field are quick to caution that while young-to-old plasma transfusions could improve health later in life, there is no evidence that it could prolong the lifespan of mice or humans. The technique is not a way to turn back the clock, but rather to restore some function to worn-out tissues. Furthermore, as with other techniques that involve stem cell stimulation, there is also a risk of uncontrolled cell division leading to cancer. Ultimately, the Stanford trial may find the transfusions have little to no effect on the subjects. Humans live long lives in complex environments, and the results of the mice studies may not carry over. Wyss-Coray and others have noted that the “cocktail” approach—mixing known factors for injection—may be more effective in a human trial setting. The development of synthetics would be a necessary step for widespread therapeutic benefit, as human plasma is in limited supply. While the results of this trial may send scientists back to the drawing board, they are nonetheless eagerly awaited.

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At home molecular diagnostics could become reality with new test designhttp://lifemag.org/article/at-home-molecular-diagnostics-could-become-reality-with-new-test-designDoes being able to test for allergies, STDs, or even cancer in minutes from the comfort and privacy of your home sound like science fiction? Well, a newly designed test from researchers at the University of Montreal could make it a reality before the next Star Trek movie comes to theaters.Read more @ GENNobel Prize predictions see honors for gene editing technologyhttp://lifemag.org/article/nobel-prize-predictions-see-honors-for-gene-editing-technologyScientists behind the discovery of a technology called CRISPR-Cas9 that allows researchers to edit virtually any gene they target, are among the top contenders for Nobel prizes next month, according to an annual analysis by Thomson Reuters.Read more @ ReutersThe impact of 'mental noise' on our brains as we age http://lifemag.org/article/the-impact-of-mental-noise-on-our-brains-as-we-age

Circuits in the brain grow noisier over time, a series of new experiments demonstrated, and this contributes to slower processing speeds in aging brains.Read more @ Medical Daily

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Adults with sickle cell disease cured with stem cell transplantshttp://lifemag.org/article/adults-with-sickle-cell-disease-cured-with-stem-cell-transplantsUniversity of Illinois at Chicago physicians have cured 12 adult patients of sickle cell disease using stem cell transplantation from healthy, tissue-matched siblings. The transplants at UI Health were the first performed outside the National Institutes of Health campus in Maryland, where the procedure was developed. Because the technique eliminates the need for chemotherapy to prepare the patient to receive the transplanted cells, it offers the prospect of a cure for tens of thousands of adults with sickle cell disease.Read more @ ScienceBlogDare to be 100: Is aging a disease?http://lifemag.org/article/dare-to-be-100-is-aging-a-diseaseIn an opinion piece for the Huffington Post, Walter M. Bortz, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, explains his \'Grandfather Clock\' theory on aging: \"When it stops running is it broken? Fix it. Is it worn out? Junk it. Or does it need to be wound up? I favor, most commonly, the last choice.\" Read more @ Huffington Post Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences enters into a collaboration agreement to open up new possibilities in the quest to combat Alzheimer’shttp://lifemag.org/article/nestl-institute-of-health-sciences-enters-into-a-collaboration-agreement-to-open-up-new-possibilities-in-the-quest-to-combat-alzheimer-sThe Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences SA (NIHS), a research institute of the global nutrition, health and wellness company Nestlé, has signed a research collaboration agreement with AC Immune SA – a leading Lausanne-based biopharmaceutical company focused on neurodegenerative diseases. The aim of the collaboration is to develop a sensitive, minimally invasive Tau diagnostic assay for early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by applying Nestlé’s proprietary multiplexed ultrasensitive antibody technology platform.Read more @ Financial Making sense of SENShttp://lifemag.org/article/making-sense-of-sens

Can we look to Aubrey de Grey\'s SENS Research Foundation for the next big breakthrough in aging research? Harriet Easton takes a look at the life extension industry\'s most \'popular\' yet divisive organisation.The SENS Research Foundation: a California-based research institution with the goal of reversing the aging process through ‘engineered negligible senescence’, is without doubt the most popular organisation within the field of aging research - at least amongst members of the life extension public.Boasting tens of thousands of likes across its various social media channels, and spearheaded by the charismatic Dr Aubrey de Grey - who himself enjoys an almost cult-like status among longevity advocates worldwide, it is perhaps no wonder that prominent figures such as Peter Thiel and Jason Hope have felt compelled to make substantial donations toward the company’s efforts, as well as providing ongoing financial support. Yet, some members of the scientific community are not quite so adoring. In 2005, Dr. Richard Miller, a Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Gerontology, penned a rebuttal to a paper written by Dr de Grey, which was signed by twenty-eight other scientists working in the field of aging.The strongly worded critique asserted that: “A research programme based around the SENS agenda... is so far from plausible that it commands no respect at all from within the scientific community.\" Similarly, another prominent critic of SENS, Prof. Colin Blakemore, a Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, went so far as to call de Grey’s views as foolish” and “naive”, and his proposed remedies for ageing as “dangerous snake oil”.. during an Oxford debate in 2012.Ten years on, Miller remains unconvinced of the legitimacy of the SRF’s activities: \"De Grey does not do any research, so far as I know...I have never seen him present any data or research findings. He does not have a lab; he theorizes. What de Grey does is not science - it\'s advertising...\" But are these criticisms fair? Or, is it the sheer unconventionality of the SENS method and its chief proponent, Aubrey de Grey, which is really rattling the cages of the scientific community? “commands no respect at all from within the scientific community.\"De Grey’s unconventional scientific career path could partially explain why he, and his research organisation, have struggled to gain respect from the scientific community . In an interview with The Insight this year, he claimed that he “accidentally learned a lot of biology” after he married his biologist wife. This inspired him to give up on his career as a software engineer and teach himself biology, by reading textbooks or academic journals and attending conferences on the subject of gerontology. After just two months of observing the subject, he wrote a groundbreaking paper about the accumulation of mutations in the mitochondria, which challenged the widely held, yet experimentally unproven, belief that these mutations were to blame for cellular decay. Such was the quality of his well-reasoned theories, that the University of Cambridge chose to award him a PhD in biology in 2000, in spite of the fact that he had never done any lab work. Upon this basis, many gerontologists thought that de Grey was unqualified to suggest that they were going about their work in completely the wrong way; to argue for the need “to change the way the world researches and treats age-related disease.” Rather than slowing it down, de Grey proposed to repair the damage caused by aging and ultimately reverse the process. However, whilst it is clear that some scientific experts are still sceptical about the feasibility of the SENS method, let’s not forget the prize fund set up jointly by de Grey and the editor of the MIT Technology Review, Jason Pontin in 2005. As of yet, no one has been able to claim the $20,000 reward for submitting \'an intellectually serious argument about why the work undertaken by SENS is so wrong and thus unworthy of learned debate\'.“De Grey does not do any research, so far as I know...\" De Grey has structured the SRF’s unusual research strategy around a theory of ‘seven deadly things’. Over the past century, scientists have identified seven different categories into which all of the various molecular and cellular changes in the body that cause damage can be placed, namely: ‘junk outside cells’ (extracellular aggregates); ‘junk inside cells’ (intracellular aggregates); death-resistant cells; cell loss and tissue atrophy; cancerous cells; mitochondrial mutations; and protein crosslinks (extracellular matrix stiffening). In order to cure all age-related diseases, scientists will need to figure out how to repair the damage causedby each one of these ‘deadly things’. De Grey did admit in his Insight interview that some areas of SENS’ work “are not really our work in the sense that we don\'t actually do much of them.” Currently, SRF is grappling with just two out of the seven deadly things at its own research centre; with intramural projects on the repair of mitochondrial mutations, and to discover how cancer cells make use of a process known as the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT). For the remaining five, SRF is funding extramural research projects being conducted by its partners: the University of Texas, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Rice University, the Buck Institute of Aging, the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Babraham Institute, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the University of California, Yale University and the University of Oxford.“I have never seen him present any data or research findings.”Such a comment raises an important question as to whether SENS has generated any breakthroughs. De Grey is keen to stress that “there\'s always progress being made here and there; there\'s always good news everywhere.” In other words, the progress of the SRF’s research is slow but steady. However, de Grey has also made it clear that a true breakthrough could still be some years away. He envisages reaching a ‘tipping point’ within the next ten years - “a point where we have mice in the laboratory and we extend their lives by a sufficient magnitude and by appropriate means.” Having achieved “robust mouse-rejuvenation”, it will be “only a matter of time before we bring ageing under comprehensive medical control for human beings as well.” So yes, it is true that the SRF has not yet presented any breakthroughs. However, it is fallacious to claim that the organisation has not presented any data or research findings. Miller clearly failed to take a look at the publications section of the SENS website, which includes an impressive list of articles that have been published in scientific journals. “What de Grey does is not science - it\'s advertising…” Scientific research is just one of the three strategies deployed by the SRF in its mission “to change the way the world researches and treats age-related disease.” - the other two being education and outreach. It is these latter two strategies to which the criticism about ‘advertising’ is the most applicable. The proclaimed mission of SRF’s education section is to make the field of regenerative medicine comprehensible to everyone. They want to train scientists, doctors and policy makers to work in the field of rejuvenation biotechnology, as well as provide the public with a better understanding of the kind of research that is being conducted. In their opinion, pharmaceutical companies and regulatory agencies would be motivated to alter their approach to treating the diseases of aging if they felt that their activities were being scrutinised by a well-informed public. SRF Education runs programmes which provide opportunities for science students to get involved in research projects taking place the labs of experts in the field of regenerative medicine. The two main programs targeted at students are the Summer Scholars Programme and the SRF Literature Review Program. Meanwhile, for the benefit of the general public, SRF has created a series of educational videos, summarising its main areas of research. Once they have a better understanding of the topic, the SRF’s outreach programme to mobilises the public’s support in the fight against age-related diseases. The foundation hosts an annual Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference; allowing those with an interest in life extension research to deepen their understanding of the field, form collaborations and engage in cross-disciplinary modes of research. In addition, the Celebrity Reimagine Aging Campaign was launched 2012 in order to change the way people think about aging, by asking prominent actors, musicians and other celebrities to provide their thoughts on the topic. Given that the ‘Take Action’ page on the outreach section of the SRF website describes making a donation as ‘the best thing which can be done to support its work,’ it seems that the SRF’s ‘advertising’, in the form of its outreach and education programmes, and transparency in general, are strongly influenced by financial considerations. The hope is that people will be more likely to make a donation if they can see exactly how their money is being spent. In fact, SENS is the only major research organisation in the field of healthy life extension which relies on charitable donations to partially fund its work. This means that it has to operate on completely different terms to the more traditional scientific research organisations, such as the deeply mysterious, yet privately funded, Calico. This particular organisation has little motivation to keep the public informed of its goings-on, since it is not reliant upon them for charitable donations. Instead of an outreach programme, Calico has employed a Vice President for Business Development, who is ‘responsible for supporting the company’s growth through partnerships and collaborations’ (read: ‘responsible for securing multi-million-dollar investments’). SENS and SENSibilityThe SRF is, essentially, an unconventionally-financed scientific research organisation, whose founder has an unconventional scientific background, and which advocates an unconventional approach to fighting age-related disease. This makes it an easy target for criticism from the rest of the scientific community. And, objectively speaking, it is possible to see where some of the critics of the SRF and de Grey get their ammunition from. The foundation is indeed undertaking a form of ‘advertising’ with its outreach and education programmes. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It has certainly done a lot to raise the profile of rejuvenating biotechnology; to persuade increasing numbers of people that this is a legitimate area of scientific research and not the stuff of science fiction. Whilst the organisation is currently one of the leaders of the healthy life extension movement, there is a risk that it could lose its edge in the future if it is unable to attract the same amount of funding that its competitors receive. Thiel and Hope’s contributions seem positively frugal in comparison to some of the investments being poured into Calico. For example, in 2014 Calico and AbbVie agreed to co-invest up to $1.5 billion in anti-aging research. In this respect, the SRF’s status as a registered charity could potentially have a crucial impact. The pockets of the general public may well not be deep enough to enable the SRF to take its research to the next level.Furthermore the allegedly slow progress of SENS research could partially be attributed to financial issues. In another recent interview de Grey stated: “We could be going three times faster if we had the funding that we needed, and that means that an awful lot of lives are being lost... The budget that SENS currently has is around $5 million per year and I reckon that we would very realistically be in a position where the money wasn\'t limiting if we had only one more on that.\"All in all, the lifespan of SENS Research Foundation has yet to be determined.

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Scientists sequence genome of worm that can regrow body parts, seeking stem cell insightshttp://lifemag.org/article/scientists-sequence-genome-of-worm-that-can-regrow-body-parts-seeking-stem-cell-insights

Tourists spending a recuperative holiday on the Italian coast may be envious of the regenerative abilities of locally found flatworm Macrostomum lignano. Named for its discovery near the Italian beach town of Lignano Sabbiadoro, this tiny worm can regenerate almost its whole body following an injury, and researchers have long been trying to understand how it\'s able to pull off this trick.Read more @ EurekAlert

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How robots and sensors will transform elder carehttp://lifemag.org/article/how-robots-and-sensors-will-transform-elder-careSensors and robotics are two exponential technologies that will disrupt a multitude of billion-dollar industries. How will the main three industries — transportation, agriculture, and healthcare/elder care — change this decade?Read more @ SingularityHubScientists reveal how stem cells defend against viruseshttp://lifemag.org/article/scientists-reveal-how-stem-cells-defend-against-virusesScientists have uncovered the mechanisms which embryonic stem cells employ to inhibit virus expression. The groundbreaking discovery could potentially advance stem cell therapeutics and diagnostics.Read more @ ScienceDaily World’s largest stem cell collection could lead to new medical advanceshttp://lifemag.org/article/world-s-largest-stem-cell-collection-could-lead-to-new-medical-advancesThe world\'s largest stem cell collection has opened in California, allowing for extensive disease research and potential drug discoveries. Scientists will be able to study diseases such as Alzheimer\'s, autism, heart and lung diseases and neurological disorders in children.Read more @ Business WireNot all organs age alikehttp://lifemag.org/article/not-all-organs-age-alike

Aging is typically thought of as the gradual decline of the whole body, but new research shows that age affects organs in strikingly different ways. A study published September 17 in Cell Systems provides the first comprehensive view of how cellular proteins age in different organs, revealing major differences between the liver and brain in young and old rats.Read more @ Eurekalert

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One-third of British people born in 2015 'will develop dementia'http://lifemag.org/article/one-third-of-british-people-born-in-2015-will-develop-dementiaOne in three people born this year will develop dementia, according to new figures.The Alzheimer’s Research UK charity warned of a “looming national health crisis” as the population ages. It called for greater efforts across the globe to help develop new treatments.Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK, resulting in the loss of brain cells. The most common type is Alzheimer’s disease.Read more @ The Guardian 3-D printed guide helps regrow complex nerves after injuryhttp://lifemag.org/article/3-d-printed-guide-helps-regrow-complex-nerves-after-injuryScientists have developed a first-of-its-kind, 3-D printed guide that helps regrow both the sensory and motor functions of complex nerves after injury. The groundbreaking research has the potential to help more than 200,000 people annually who experience nerve injuries or disease.Read more @ ScienceDailyUK scientists seek permission to genetically modify human embryoshttp://lifemag.org/article/uk-scientists-seek-permission-to-genetically-modify-human-embryos

Genetically modifying human embryos is possibly the most controversial area of scientific inquiry. With staunch opposition building alongside the advancement of gene editing technology, many are claiming that scientists are rubbing up too close to God. However, scientists in the UK have taken one step closer toward using such procedures within their research, by applying to the government’s fertility regulator, The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), for a licence to perform them. This application follows closely behind the attempts made, only a few months ago, by Chinese scientists to genetically engineer human embryos using the latest procedure called Crispr-Cas9. Developed three years ago, Crispr-Cas9 has recast the way biomedical research is conducted, giving scientists the basis to modify DNA. The procedure is used to turn genes on or off within human embryos by programming RNA molecules and CAS9 enzymes to match, remove, and replace faulty sections of DNA. After performing Crispr-Cas9, the UK scientists aim to study the effects on the cells that would go on to form the placenta. These observations, they argue are essential in understanding how a healthy human embryo develops. Currently in Britain, embryo research can only proceed under review from the HFEA, and embryos must be destroyed within 14 days. It is widely agreed, in both the UK and the US, that human embryo research is not nearly safe enough or prepared for use in clinics yet. There are clear concerns as to what harmful consequences and generational complications may arise. This move then, although confirmed to be at a very basic level of embryo research, will concern and anger many who are amongst the community calling for a complete halt in the advancement of gene editing, even for research purposes.Challenging preconceptions, Kathy Niakan, the stem cell scientist in London leading the application, has affirmed that their basic research is not a slippery slope toward designer babies. Instead, if allowed, it would have the potential to revolutionise our views and practices on diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer’s, HIV, malaria and influenza. Although, she states that, “It is up to society to decide what is acceptable: science will merely inform what may be possible.”Read more @ The Guardian

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The influential patent that's driving anti-aging researchhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-influential-patent-thats-driving-anti-aging-researchAs part of its World\'s Most Innovative Universities ranking, Reuters looked at tens of thousands of patents filed by researchers at global universities, and counted every time a filing cited other patents as prior art. The results showed more scientists who say Goldfarb\'s \"Method for altering the lifespan of a eukaryotic organisms\" influenced their work more than any other recent discovery. Find out more @ ReutersDisguised nanoparticles slip past body's immune defensehttp://lifemag.org/article/disguised-nanoparticles-slip-past-bodys-immune-defenseResearchers say that they have found a way to smuggle drug-carrying nanoparticles past the body’s immune system: by camouflaging them to look like cell fragments found in human blood.Read more @ Scientific AmericanA barrier against brain stem cell aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/a-barrier-against-brain-stem-cell-agingNeural stem cells generate new neurons throughout life in the mammalian brain. However, with advancing age the potential for regeneration in the brain dramatically declines. Scientists of the University of Zurich have now identified a novel mechanism of how neural stem cells stay relatively free of aging-induced damage. A diffusion barrier regulates the sorting of damaged proteins during cell division.Read more @ EurekAlertFrom 35 to 95: A brief history and future of human lifespanhttp://lifemag.org/article/from-35-to-95-a-brief-history-and-future-of-human-lifespan

We normally assume that life expectancy has drastically increased throughout history. However, if we take a look at studies on the subject we can see that the change in life expectancy over the past millennia has not been as drastic as expected. People born before 100 BC lived just as long as people who died before 1950. The idea that life expectancy has increased from 35 years — during the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome — to almost 80 nowadays is partly true but also misleading. To begin with, life expectancy is not the same as lifespan. To put it another way, if we know that life expectancy during a particular historical period was about 35 years, we should not assume that everyone dropped dead at the age of 35; some would have died before then, whilst others would have lived for longer. 35 years, for instance, represents the mean life expectancy in Ancient Rome; a figure which was affected by a high child mortality rate. However, many Romans did in fact live past the age of 70. Augustus, the first Roman emperor, who died when he was 77 years old, is a good example. Therefore, life expectancy, the average amount of time we are expected to live for, should not be confused with maximum lifespan, or the longest amount of time which we might be able to live for. In addition, calculations for life expectancy do not exclude important thresholds; events in life that were previously most difficult to survive. The first and most important of these life events, until relatively recently, was being born itself and surviving the first years. Early childhood was a critical period, as the child\'s immune system had to be strong enough to fight the many infectious diseases that were common until the development of proper sanitary conditions. This fact can be deduced from the statistical data, and has been pointed out on many occasions by researchers studying life expectancy throughout history. For example, Rowbotham and Clayton, who studied dietary patterns in the mid-Victorian period stated that, once the first five years of life are excluded from the calculations, life expectancy during this era was surprisingly similar to what it is today. In fact, life expectancy at the age of 5 was 75 years for men and 73 years for women. If we look at the difference between men and women we notice something else. Although nowadays life expectancy is higher for women, this was not always the case,.. which brings us to a second threshold: giving birth. Life expectancy for women used to be much higher for those who made it past their child-bearing years. Women aged 15 at the beginning of the 17th century had a life expectancy which was 30 years shorter than that of modern day women.Of course, there were many other challenging years in the life of a person, depending on the civilization or historical period in question. For example, in the case of ancient Romans, the military service years were obviously difficult to survive, which takes us back to the previously mentioned misconception about lifespan in Ancient Rome. Although many Romans lived for longer, average life expectancy was only 35 years, partly because so many men died during military service. Another example is the fact that sanitary conditions were particularly bad during the Middle Ages, when bacteria carried by insects and rodents caused multiple diseases. The lack of sanitation was a major problem, with cholera and typhoid proliferating close to where people lived, in the places where human waste was deposited. Moreover, the lack of refrigeration made food storage difficult in the summer and people often consumed rancid food products. Many diseases could be neither prevented nor treated, since there were no vaccines or antibiotics available. Therefore, after making some clarifications about the statistics for average life expectancy, we can still be certain that people are actually living longer. The decline in infant deaths and better conditions for the mother during the process of giving birth are some of the main factors. A decrease in the infant mortality rate was one of the main causes of the rise of life expectancy for men which, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, increased from 45.6 years in 1907 to 75.5 years in 2007. Yet, as shown, there are some other reasons that we should also consider, such as better daily sanitary conditions, better health treatments and improvements to medicine.The future: A longer lifespan? According to a US National Institute on Aging report, there will be a 351 percent increase in the number of people aged 85 or more between 2010 and 2050. And the latest edition of life expectancy tables published by the ONS estimate that by 2035 cohort life expectancy (which takes into consideration the projected changes in mortality) will reach 94.2 years for men and 97.2 years for women. Whether there is a real limit to how long we can live for is still unknown. On the one hand, until now, the longest documented human lifespan has been 122 years. Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago argues that life expectancy has reached its peak. Based on the idea that the greatest improvements in life expectancy have been due to a decrease in infant mortality, Olshansky maintains that further innovations in medicine or changes in lifestyle will not cause a major improvement. On the other hand, since 1840, life expectancy has risen by about three months every year and is expected to rise in the following years, regardless of any new medical discoveries. James Vaupel, the founder of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, suggests that this rise will continue at least until life expectancy reaches 100 years of age. Up to now, no major improvement in biotechnology has been responsible for a radical increase in human lifespan. However, with more than $1 trillion having been spent on biomedical research over the past 20 years, it seems that it is only a matter of time before we start seeing the first results.

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UI Health validates cure for sickle cell in adultshttp://lifemag.org/article/ui-health-validates-cure-for-sickle-cell-in-adultsPhysicians at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System have cured 12 adult patients of sickle cell disease using a unique procedure for stem cell transplantation from healthy, tissue-matched siblings.Read more @ EurekAlertRapamycin prevents Parkinson's in mouse model of incurable neurodegenerative diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/rapamycin-prevents-parkinsons-in-mouse-model-of-incurable-neurodegenerative-diseaseRapamycin, an FDA-approved drug that extends lifespan in several species, prevented Parkinson\'s disease (PD) in middle-age mice that were genetically fated to develop the incurable neurodegenerative motor disease that affects as many as one million Americans.Read more @ EurekAlertTelomeres hold clues to aging gracefullyhttp://lifemag.org/article/telomeres-hold-clues-to-aging-gracefully

As the only variable portion of the human genome, telomeres hold great promise for human longevity research. Several exciting recent studies have highlighted the role they play in aging. What are these tiny telomeres, and how do they fit into the big picture? Protective Coating Our genetic information is present in the series of bases that make up our DNA, wrapped into chromosomes. Telomeres cap the ends of our chromosomes to help stabilize them. They are often likened to the plastic caps on the tips of shoelaces – they help keep the ends of DNA strands from fraying. Without telomeres, the cell might confuse the end of a chromosome for a piece of broken DNA and attempt to repair it. This could lead to cell death, cancer, and other complications.When a cell divides, it makes a copy of all the genetic information in the chromosomes. This includes the telomeres, which are made up of about 9,000 repeating bases in a human newborn. However, the copying machinery is imperfect; during each division, about 30-200 bases are lost from the telomeres. Each cell divides 50-70 times in its lifetime, and each consecutive strand of DNA is shorter than the last. The telomere of the average human adult contains only about 3,000 bases. Shorter telomeres are associated with age-related diseases and lower life expectancy. Researchers are investigating the role that telomere length plays in the aging process, and whether these effects could be reversible. Exacerbating Aging Science has shown that shorter telomeres are related to lower life expectancy. In 2003, a study at the University of Utah found people over the age of 60 with short telomeres were three times more susceptible to heart disease and eight times more vulnerable to infectious disease. A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked short telomeres with a three-fold risk of developing cancer over the next decade.This February, researchers at Stanford University published the results of their study of turquoise killifish in Cell. Turquoise killifish have a highly condensed lifespan that makes them useful for aging studies. Researchers silenced the gene responsible for building telomeres, known as TERT. The fish experienced age-related maladies early on in their development, although their lifespans were not affected. The lack of capped chromosomes played an obvious role in the aging process.These results seem promising and call for further research. As Carl Zimmer noted in the New York Times, any drug that could extend the lifespan of these fish by even a small amount could hold major potential for human longevity. Stress Response In 2009, Dr. Jack Szostak, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, and Dr. Carol Greider received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their “discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.” Telomerase adds DNA back to the ends of chromosomes, making up for some of the loss in telomere length. In most cells, however, telomerase levels decrease with age, making it less effective over time. Dr. Blackburn researched the effects that physiological stress can have on telomere length. She tested samples taken from mothers with sick children and wives of dementia patients. The longer the women had been in these situations, the shorter their telomeres. Stress had caused their telomerase activity to decline, leaving them more vulnerable to telomere shortening, thus hastening the aging process. A difficult family situation is one of many influences that can cause telomere shortening. An observational study published this summer in PLoS One compared telomere length, and thus biological age, with feelings of stress about one’s neighborhood. People in the Netherlands who lived in a particularly bad area were shown to be biologically older than their more secure counterparts by about 12 years—a staggering difference. Stress has long been thought to contribute to aging. These findings underscore the importance of mental wellbeing to overall health. Telomere shortening leaves individuals vulnerable to heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and diabetes, among others. Uncontrolled Growth Increased telomerase activity has been linked to cancer, a hurdle that researchers must now confront. By replacing lost portions of DNA, the enzyme increases the number of times a cell can divide. Uncontrolled cell growth is often symptomatic of a tumor. Any treatment that uses telomerase to extend lifespan could leave the patient at an increased risk of cancer. At the same time, telomerase offers a promising avenue for cancer research. If scientists can figure out how to stop telomerase from working, they can theoretically cut off cell division in a tumor. This must be done selectively, or risk compromising the immune system. At the beginning of this year, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine announced that they had successfully extended the telomeres in human cell cultures. These cells are difficult to grow in a lab because of the limited number of times they can reproduce. This new method will make it much easier to culture human cells for drug and disease research. Even better, the lengthening effects are temporary. In other words, there is a potential for medical application without the risk of cancer. Personal Best As we learn more about the role of telomeres, we find more ways to combat the effects of telomere-related aging. Stress relief, exercise, weight loss, and a healthy diet are all old news, but they bear repeating. A 2014 study in the British Medical Journal looked at the eating habits of 4,700 women over 20 years. Researchers found that the closer the woman’s eating habits aligned with the Mediterranean diet, the longer her telomeres. As the lead author, Marta Cous-Bou, told the New York Times, “a three-point change in the adherence score [out of six] is equivalent to 4.5 years of aging, a difference comparable to that between smokers and non-smokers.” Swedish scientists tracked the influence of a sedentary lifestyle on telomere length. While more time spent sitting was associated with shorter telomeres, they found little correlation between exercise and telomere length. Mortality rates declined the more time subjects spent standing. These results suggest that longer bouts of low-impact movement may be more beneficial than condensed, high-impact workouts for fighting the effects of aging. Blood Testing Several companies offer telomere testing for people who want to check their biological age. One such company is Telomere Diagnostics, Inc., cofounded by Nobel recipient Elizabeth Blackburn. The test costs $200 and requires a doctor’s participation. It is not intended to diagnose a particular disease, but to serve as a red flag if something is awry. “It’s not a crystal ball to tell you how many years you’ve got left or any such nonsense,” Dr. Blackburn told the New York Times. Despite all her expertise in the field, Dr. Blackburn’s venture has been met with criticism, including from fellow Nobel winner Carol Greider. Detractors have argued that too much individual variation among patients makes it difficult to obtain meaningful results. An uncommon reading could expose healthy individuals to a deluge of unnecessary testing. One Piece of the Puzzle Although telomeres correlate with many age-related chronic conditions, they may not explain the underlying cause. Telomeres alone do not dictate lifespan: humans have much shorter telomeres than mice, but live much longer. Dr. Richard Cawthon of the University of Utah estimates that telomere length combined with chronological age and gender contribute only 37% to a person’s chances of dying after the age of 60. Other factors include oxidative stress, exacerbated by inflammation, infection, and consumption of cigarettes and alcohol; and glycation, which may be improved by restricted calorie intake. Still, Dr. Cawthon believes that stopping telomere shortening entirely could extend the human lifespan by 10-30 years.

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The people who think we could live foreverhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-people-who-think-we-could-live-foreverThe BBC’s Benjamin Zand goes on the search for immortality and “meets the people who think we could live forever.” This film is part of BBC’s ‘Intelligent Machines Week’ and includes an excellent interview with Humanity+ board member Dr. Ben Goertzel and more.Watch the film here @ hplusmagazine The false science of cryonicshttp://lifemag.org/article/the-false-science-of-cryonicsWhat the nervous system of the roundworm tells us about freezing brains and reanimating human minds.Read more @ MIT Technology ReviewResearch breakthrough in fight against muscle wasting diseaseshttp://lifemag.org/article/research-breakthrough-in-fight-against-muscle-wasting-diseasesA new study from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and University of Alberta could be a game changer for patients, improving both quality of life and longevity. The research team discovered a new gene involved in muscle wasting that could be a good target for drug development.Read more @ EurekalertUK DNA shared in worldwide search for genetic causes of diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/uk-dna-shared-in-worldwide-search-for-genetic-causes-of-disease

The DNA of thousands of British people has been read and made available to researchers around the world to boost the search for genetic causes of disease.Read more @theguardian

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Up to half of U.S. premature deaths are preventable; lifestyle choices keyhttp://lifemag.org/article/up-to-half-of-u-s-premature-deaths-are-preventable-lifestyle-choices-keyUp to half of all premature (or early) deaths in the United States are due to behavioral and other preventable factors—including modifiable habits such as tobacco use, poor diet, and lack of exercise, according to studies reviewed in a new National Research Council and Institute of Medicine report.Read more @ US Population Reference BureauCommon molecular tool kit shared by organisms across the tree of lifehttp://lifemag.org/article/common-molecular-tool-kit-shared-by-organisms-across-the-tree-of-lifeResearchers have discovered the assembly instructions for nearly 1,000 protein complexes shared by most kinds of animals, revealing their deep evolutionary relationships. Those instructions offer a powerful new tool for studying the causes of diseases such as Alzheimer\'s, Parkinson\'s and cancer.Read more @ScienceDailyInternational Longevity Centre - UK investigates cancer’s cost to the UK economyhttp://lifemag.org/article/international-longevity-centre-uk-investigates-cancer-s-cost-to-the-uk-economyRethinking Cancer, a new report by the International Longevity Centre- UK (ILC-UK) quantifies the cost of cancer to the UK economy, its families and its communities. The independent report, supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb, presents research on the economic and societal impact of cancer.Read the full press release hereCraig Venter: We have the dangerous power to control evolutionhttp://lifemag.org/article/craig-venter-we-have-the-dangerous-power-to-control-evolution

Craig Venter - the pioneering cartographer of the human genome, speaks about the promises and perils of being able to read, write and edit the human genome.Read more @ World Post

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University of Iowa study finds causes of age-related muscle weakness http://lifemag.org/article/university-of-iowa-study-finds-causes-of-age-related-muscle-weaknessAccording to the senior study author, Christopher Adams, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine in the UI Carver College of Medicine, “many of us know from our own experiences that muscle weakness and atrophy are big problems as we become older.” His team of researchers recently demonstrated that 2 compounds, ursolic acid and tomatidine, dramatically reduce age-related muscle weakness and atrophy in mice. Adams\' company is working on ways to use these compounds to help solve age-related muscle wasting.Read the full study @ Journal of Biological ChemistryA dying young woman's hope in cryonics and a futurehttp://lifemag.org/article/a-dying-young-womans-hope-in-cryonics-and-a-futureCancer claimed Kim Suozzi at age 23, but she chose to have her brain preserved with the dream that neuroscience might one day revive her mind.Read more @ New York TimesResveratrol phase 2 study disappointshttp://lifemag.org/article/resveratrol-phase-2-study-disappointsThe results of a recent study published in Neurology to determine the effectiveness of resveratrol as a supplement for Alzheimer\'s disease reported a decrease in Abeta40, a biomarker of aging. While these findings are not sufficient evidence to indicate recommending it to patients, researchers are continuing with phase 3 trials to determine the suitability of Resveratrol as a supplement for Alzheimer\'s.Read more @ Medical News TodayPast trauma, future breakthrough? - Epigeneticshttp://lifemag.org/article/past-trauma-future-breakthrough-epigenetics

Have you ever known a pair of identical twins? In their youths, they may have been impossible to tell apart. When they aged, however, they may have become more and more distinct, as the passage of time caused one twin to age much more quickly than his or her sibling. Epigenetics, a relatively new field of biology, has set out to account for these differences. Although identical twins share the same genetic code, the theory goes, differences in environment and living habits can influence a person’s health, speeding up or slowing down the aging process accordingly. Perhaps more revolutionary are recent discoveries suggesting the influences these factors exert on an individual can actually be passed down to the next generation. This potential gives an added weight to the choices we make, which could theoretically affect not only ourselves, but also our offspring. While this idea of epigenetic inheritance has opened the doors for a range of innovative therapies, it has been met with criticism in the scientific community. It is difficult to believe that such a powerful mechanism could have eluded geneticists for so many years. What is Epigenetics? All the cells in an organism contain the same genome, and yet not all cells are created equal. Different genes are activated depending on the specific function of a cell, known as its differentiation. The epigenome is what allows cells to differentiate. It is the physical structure surrounding DNA, made up of chemical tags, which allows some genes to be expressed while others are silenced. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine describes the genome as written in pen, while the epigenome is written in pencil. It is flexible, changing in response to stress, diet, and other environmental signals. The epigenome tweaks gene expression to optimize cell function. One way to accomplish this is through the addition of methyl groups, which are usually associated with gene inactivation. When a gene is tagged, or methylated, it is silenced and no longer produces protein. Roughly 10-20% of genes in a cell are active at a given time. In most cases, the epigenome is replicated along with the DNA. When it comes time to reproduce, almost all epigenetic tags are erased from the sperm and eggs so that the new embryo can start fresh. Tags that are not erased are said to be imprinted, and these will likely be present in the new organism.Epigenetic Inheritance While epigenetic inheritance is a compelling theory, it is notoriously difficult to demonstrate. Most successful studies have heretofore focused on animal models, with some notable exceptions. The Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah cites several struggles that scientists must confront. First, they must rule out the possibility that a mutation in the genome is the underlying cause. Direct exposure to an environmental toxin must be excluded as well. This can be tricky, since when a mother is pregnant, there are three generations (the mother, the fetus, and the fetus’ reproductive cells) present at once. Finally, the epigenome is not fixed, which can make it difficult to pin down specific changes. The overwhelming number of variables makes confirming epigenetic inheritance a tall order, although some promising new studies have supported the concept. A classic display of epigenetic inheritance centered on the parenting habits of mother rats. Rats who displayed nurturing behavior such as licking their young yielded offspring who were relatively resilient to stress. The young who were neglected as pups, on the other hand, were much more susceptible to anxiety as adults. In a majority of cases, whichever behavior a female rat was accustomed to as a pup became her modus operandi as a parent. After ruling out genetic factors, the scientists concluded that the experience of being licked as a pup had altered the rats’ epigenomes in a way that could be passed onto future generations. Several more recent studies have focused on humans. Data concerning the food supply of a town in Sweden was compared with the medical histories of its residents over several generations. The parents’ diets showed a strong influence on their children’s health. If the father experienced starvation before puberty, the children were much less likely to develop heart disease. The data also showed a link between food scarcity and diabetes over three generations. Another study concluded that, if the paternal grandmother had experienced starvation before puberty, the risk of heart disease among the grandchildren increased. Last month, a study was published describing the stress hormone profiles of Holocaust victims and their children. Holocaust survivors were more likely to have lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that helps the body deal with stress, in addition to an enzyme that helps break up cortisol in the blood. While their children’s cortisol levels were similarly low, the cortisol-deactivating enzyme levels were high. This latter trait is thought to be a defense mechanism that would have developed in utero, and may make the children of Holocaust survivors particularly susceptible to PTSD. Taken together, these studies highlight an important aspect of the theory of inheritance: it can operate postnatally, in utero, or at the embryonic level. Epigenetic Therapy As scientists continue to learn about epigenetics, potential therapeutic uses are in the works. It may one day be possible to map a patient’s epigenome to create a customized nutritional plan, an idea known as nutrigenomics. Several disorders associated with intellectual disability involve epigenetic changes, which we may one day combat with targeted therapy. Behavioral epigenetics is a new field that is concerned with the impact of epigenetic changes on human behavior. Scientists looked at methylation patterns in the brains of child abuse victims, finding a strong correlation between heavy methylation and a heightened risk for suicide. There is also potential that epigenetics could provide answers concerning behavioral disorders with a significant non-genetic component, such as schizophrenia.The first disease ever traced to epigenetic changes was cancer, in 1983. Improper methylation patterns are a common symptom of tumors: depending on whether the wrong genes are tagged or untagged, this can cause rapid growth, chromosome instability, a breakdown in DNA repair, or a faulty self-destruct switch. Scientists are studying targeted drug therapies to fix these anomalies, a highly fragile process. Any treatment must be specific to the problematic cells alone, or risk causing the very disease it is intended to cure. The excitement surrounding this field is contagious. Once you start looking beyond the genome, the options seem limitless. More reproducible testing will be required for epigenetic inheritance to be commonly accepted in the scientific community. It is unclear whether the results of past animal studies will carry over to humans as cleanly as some scientists hope. Further testing is imminent, however, as the implications are enormous.

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Inflammation, not telomere length, predicts healthy longevity of centenarianshttp://lifemag.org/article/inflammation-not-telomere-length-predicts-healthy-longevity-of-centenariansA team of experts from Newcastle University\'s Institute for Ageing and Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, have explored which biological and pathological processes may be the most important for successful ageing after 100 years of age.Read more @ Medical XpressWhat will 'drag and drop' gene editing do for you?http://lifemag.org/article/what-will-drag-and-drop-gene-editing-do-for-youRaymond McCauley, chair of the biotech track at Singularity University and co-founder and chief architect of Biocurious, answers questions about biotechnology and bioinformatics and digital biology. Some of the topics covered this week include CRISPR gene editing and biohacking our way out of poverty.See the video hereLongevity escape velocityhttp://lifemag.org/article/longevity-escape-velocityIn a recent video Aubrey de Grey outlines his theory of \'longevity escape velocity\' - when progress in repairing biological \'damage\' outpaces diminishing returns. See the video hereThe 5 common traits of negligibly senescent specieshttp://lifemag.org/article/the-5-common-traits-of-negligibly-senescent-species

The biology of aging is traditionally studied in fast-living organisms such as mice, worms and fruit flies. Short-lived species certainly have a role to play in this field, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. Within the natural ecosystem, organisms display a range of aging processes, most often accelerated aging, or gradual aging (in the case of humans), but also, a range of species with slow or even negligible aging, which is known as negligible senescence. Unlike humans, such species have a constant mortality rate for the duration of their lifespan, as well as a constant or even increasing fertility rate. The number of negligibly senescent species which we are currently aware of is likely to grow as more and more are studied and discovered, both in the wild and in the lab. By studying the processes which give these creatures longer lifespans, there is the possibility that they could be recreated in humans in order to extend our own.How negligible senescence is achieved by each individual species varies, but here are five of the most common traits.1. Slow growthThe phenotype of very slow aging often evolves in environments with relatively low numbers of predators. This is explained by the fact that, if external mortality (the risk of being killed) can be kept low, then species can afford to have a slower internal process of aging. Furthermore, it can be beneficial for species living in harsh environments to age slowly. Places with extreme temperatures, salinity or low nutrient sources limit the speed and the extent of growth in inhabiting populations. In response, these species will try to prolong their cycle of life by growing slowly. A good example of such a species is the Antarctica islandica ocean quahog. Its metabolism is already slowed down because it inhabits the cold Antarctic waters. This clam is also able to voluntarily depress its metabolism even further by burrowing itself beneath the sand, even though there are very few predators around which it needs to hide from. 2. Intermittent oxygen restrictionHuman tissues are highly sensitive to hypoxia . The damage doesn’t occur during hypoxia per se, but during reoxygenation. Yet a couple of animals have developed extreme anoxia tolerance, which allows them to depress their metabolism safely and then recover afterwards, similar to the case of hibernation. This phenotype seems to have evolved in environments where animals regularly undergo intermittent oxygen restriction. One of these animals is actually the longest living mammal. The bowhead whale undergoes intermittent oxygen restriction each time it dives deep to feed itself. Unlike its close relatives, the bowhead lives in close-to-freezing waters for all of its life, even whilst breeding and rearing its young. As a result, the whale has developed specialized mechanisms to avoid injuring itself during the process of reoxygenation-reperfusion when entering upward water levels again. There is another reason why the bowhead whale serves as a useful, albeit neglected, biological model in aging science. Second only to heart attacks, cancer is the most frequent age-related disease in the human species. If each cell inside a multicellular organism has an equal chance of undergoing malignant mutations as its neighboring cells, then the more cells an organism has and the longer the lifespan of that organism, the higher its overall risk of cancer is. The bowhead whale lives a double centenarian lifespan and it weighs a couple of tonnes, yet cancer is a rarity in this species. Scientists are still trying to figure out how it manages to keep cancer at bay.3. Intermittent calorie restrictionCalorie restriction has been proven to prolong lifespan in countless species. It was first demonstrated in mice in the 1930s Consistently eating less than required forces an organism to downregulate several of its growth signals. For example, experiments have shown that in mice and human volunteers undergoing caloric restriction the IGF-1 and growth hormones are downregulated. Thus calorie restriction leads to slow growth. A native of Africa, the naked mole rat spends its whole life two meters below the ground. One of the few eusocial mammals, this tiny creature lives for about 30 years, making it the longest-living rodent. Within mole rat colonies, labor is divided so that each individual is given a certain task to accomplish. Yet irrespective of their assigned role they all feed on a limited diet of tubers. Intermittent calorie restriction becomes essential during times of drought , as the ‘worker’ rats are unable to burrow and gather new tuber supplies. The mole rats then have no alternative but to fast - the indirect consequence being an extended lifespan.4. NeotenyNeoteny is the preservation in adults of traits previously seen in the young. It is a hot topic in developmental biology. In environments with limited resources, the development of individuals is often slowed or delayed; allowing only the reproductive system to reach maturity. Neoteny may prolong lifespan in several ways. First of all, tissues from younger individuals have superior regenerative abilities . For example, the brain tissue of human newborns is more capable of surviving hypoxia than the brain tissue of a mature adult. Secondly, younger tissues use resources more efficiently and repair cells promptly. When individuals mature, these resources are diverted towards reproduction and away from self-maintenance. Neoteny allows individuals to maintain the right balance between caring for themselves and producing offspring. As mentioned above, negligibly senescent species often evolve in places with low numbers of predators and hostile environments. The Proteus anguinus olm is no exception. Unlike other amphibians, the olm has developed thyroid hormone resistance. Metamorphosis would be costly in the underwater hypoxic caves it inhabits, hence the animal maintains its juvenile features and allows only its sexual system to mature to adult levels - thereby developing neoteny.5. Complete regenerationIf a human fetus undergoes surgery during the first or second trimester, the wound will heal without any scar. Yet, if the same surgery is practiced during the final trimester and beyond, only minor injuries will heal without fibrosis. Animal species differ widely in their regenerative abilities. Species which do retain their regeneration ability as adults are able to regenerate any of their tissues. Those with limited regenerative ability will be able to repair some, but not all of their tissues. Finally, there are species with a restricted regenerative ability, such as adult humans, who are only able to completely repair skin tissue and, in the case of women, regenerate endometrium tissue on a monthly basis. All other tissues are healed with fibrosis. However, this type of tissue repair can shorten lifespan. For this reason, regeneration is preferable to fibrosis. Sea sponges are able to completely regenerate any part of their body, even forming new individuals. Salamanders are somewhere in the middle – they are able to regenerate their limbs and their tail, but not their heart or their brain. The more complex the immune system of a species is, the more likely it is that damaged cells will be replaced with collagen instead of fresh cells and tissues. That immunologists could be the ones to bring up the next big discovery in regenerative medicine is a very real possibility.We can only find something if we decide to go looking for it in the first place.. So it\'s time to step things up and widen the scope of gerontological research. Rather than experimenting on short-lived species, we should be delving deeper into the hidden treasure trove of negligibly senescent species. For example, studying cancer-proof species could enable humans to invent new l drugs for combating cancer, inspired by the mechanisms which have evolved in such species. Similarly, the capabilities of modern medicine are severely hindered by the intrinsically limited regenerative ability of humans, but species which undergo complete regeneration could pave the way for the development of novel immunological drugs There’s a wealth of untapped potential. . IAnca Ioviţă is the creator of Longevity Letter and the author of Eat Less Live Longer: Your Practical Guide to Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition available on Amazon and several other places. If you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to sign up to receive updates on her second book ‘The Aging Gap Between Species’ regarding a comparative biography of aging from the simplest to the most complex organisms known.

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Research into GM human embryos 'essential', group argueshttp://lifemag.org/article/research-into-gm-human-embryos-essential-group-arguesResearch on genetically modified human embryos has \"tremendous value\" to science and should be freely permitted, a group of international policy experts has argued.Read more @ WiredIs there a genetic limit to human longevity?http://lifemag.org/article/is-there-a-genetic-limit-to-human-longevityHuman life expectancy has been slowly creeping up, leading to more and more really old people. Can it creep forever?Read more @ InverseCastration, urophagia and sex robots: When the science of living longer doesn't make sensehttp://lifemag.org/article/castration-urophagia-and-sex-robots-when-the-science-of-living-longer-doesnt-make-sense

A lot of bizarre things get put on the internet these days. However, given that almost anyone can contribute practically anything they like to the worldwide web of information, it’s getting increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction. Due to the misinterpretation, misuse or misunderstanding of scientific evidence, many minor studies are often seized upon, and portrayed as concrete fact in spite of a lack of basis. One scientific area which is particularly affected by this issue is the field of healthy life extension. There are literally thousands of websites and articles out there which offer advice on how to overcome age-related diseases or radically increase lifespan, many of which are highly misleading. By following some simple rules however, it can be relatively easy to identify what is legitimate and what is not. And using these rules to scrutinise some of the most radical ideas - reported to be so beneficial to human health that following them can significantly increase our lifespan - highlights a range of issues prevalent within coverage of science as a whole. Consider the number and quality of the studies backing a hypothesisRather than focusing solely on the results of a scientific study, journalists would do well to pay some attention to the methods which have been used to generate them, since this can provide a good indication of how valid and applicable such results might be for their readers. Too often, articles imply that the results of a scientific study are of far greater relevance to the reader than they actually are. When it comes to examining the association between an exposure and an outcome, the most widely trusted approach is the randomized controlled trial, whereby individuals are randomly assigned to either the treatment group or the control group. If done with a large and varied number of people, the trial will cause the two groups to be statistically identical to each other, except for the experience of the treatment (or not). Whatever changes are observed can then be attributed to that treatment, or exposure, with a good degree of confidence. In other words, randomized trials provide the best grounds for arguing that there is a causal relationship between two variables. However, it is not always possible to conduct randomized trials. Alternatively, researchers can turn to “nonexperimental” or “observational” database studies. These database studies make use of large sets of data collected from past surveys. Because they don’t have to generate new data, nonexperimental studies are typically cheaper than randomized trials and produce results more quickly. They can be useful to scientists conducting research into fields such as healthy life extension, where the results of experimental studies can, quite literally, take a lifetime to compile. Furthermore, there are certain experiments for which it would be particularly difficult to recruit participants. For example, it’s little wonder that South Korean researchers investigating the link between castration and lifespan were unable to assemble enough willing volunteers for an experiment. Instead, the scientists consulted historical records of the lifespans of Naesi servants in Korea, all of whom were eunuchs. When their lifespan was averaged and compared to that of the similarly well off, non-castrated Korean aristocracy, the difference was 14 years. As a result, in an article published in Current Biology in September 2012, the scientists claimed to have sufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that male sex hormones decrease the lifespan of male humans. The plethora of online articles reporting on this study then chose to use bold headlines such as: ‘castration can increase a man’s lifespan’.It is important to point out, however, that the study examined just 81 of the thousands of Naesi who were employed by the royal courts in the course of some 600 years of Korean history. Such a sample is by no means large enough to be representative of all eunuchs in all countries from all time periods; let alone support a hypothesis that concerns the entire male human population.Furthermore, whilst non-experimental observational studies aim to examine the association between a single exposure and a single outcome, because of all the exposures that happen at the same time in the complex lives of humans, many things can never be fully accounted for. It is difficult to prove that a particular effect was solely caused by one particular factor. In this case, an absence of testicles may not have been the only way in which the Korean Naesi servants differed from their aristocratic counterparts. It is likely that they would have led a more virtuous lifestyle, abstaining from health-harming substances such as alcohol and tobacco. Ultimately, no single study is perfect - be it a randomized trial or a non-experimental one. This is why it is better to wait until enough evidence to support a particular hypothesis has accumulated from multiple studies, which make use of a range of methods and have been applied to different populations. Be wary of claims which rely on anecdotes rather than scientific studiesIn the absence of studies which test out a specific hypothesis, it can be tempting for journalists to make inferences from other studies, or worse still, attempt to conduct their own ‘scientific’ research. To take just one particularly amusing example, in November 2012, an article appeared on Transhumanity’s website bearing the title: Sex robots \'can extend lifespan through longevity orgasms\'. The claim was that the so-called ‘longevity orgasms’ produced whilst having sex with a robot had the potential to increase lifespan. This was eagerly seized upon by major news outlets and circulated worldwide.Admittedly, numerous scientific studies have previously demonstrated the health benefits of regular orgasms. For example, in 1999 psychologists at Wilkes University, Pennsylvania surveyed the sexual activities and saliva samples of 111 undergraduates. Students who had sex once or twice a week were found to have slightly higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in their saliva - an antigen which provides an indication of the robustness of the immune system. Similarly, in 1997 a study of 918 men living in or near to the village of Caerphilly in Wales found that the risk of dying from coronary heart disease was 50% lower in men with a high frequency of orgasms (twice per week) than in men with a low frequency of orgasms (once per month).Just over a decade later, Truecompanion launched Roxxxy - the world’s first sex robot. Since then, there has been a great deal of speculation about - but far less scientific investigation into - the amount of sexual pleasure derived from frolicking with robots. However, this didn’t deter the author of the said article from expressing a firm belief in the superior quality of robot-induced orgasms in comparison to human-induced ones. They claimed that robots have an ‘inexhaustible stamina’ and that they are ‘more desirable, patient, eager, and altruistic’ than human partners. How exactly they assembled the evidence upon which to base such a conclusion is best left to the imagination. Nonetheless, this is an example of a conclusion which has been drawn from anecdotes, rather than the results of scientific experiments. So, in this case, scientific studies about the health benefits of regular orgasms were far too tenuously linked to hypothetical ideas that sex with robots will produce bigger orgasms. Tellingly, the article has since been removed from Transhumanity’s website. Know that meanings can be distorted through the use of languageSometimes, for the sake of artistic licence, non-experts reporting the outcomes of a scientific study choose to alter the wording of the phrases being used to describe the results. Whether it is intentional or not, such alterations can grossly distort the implied meaning. One of the best examples in this regard relates to urine therapy - essentially the act of recycling the water that flows through our body in a variety of often unsavoury ways.Martha Christy, a medical research writer and so-called ‘natural health’ consultant, is a firm advocate of the life-prolonging properties of urine. She even published a book about it in 1996: Your Own Perfect Medicine: The Incredible Proven Natural Miracle Cure that Medical Science Has Never Revealed! The following extract from her book makes for some very entertaining reading:“For almost the entire course of the 20th century, unknown to the public, doctors and medical researchers have been proving in both laboratory and clinical testing that our own urine is an enormous source of vital nutrients, vitamins, hormones, enzymes and critical antibodies that cannot be duplicated or derived from any other source. They use urine for healing cancer, heart disease, allergies, auto-immune diseases, diabetes, asthma, infertility, infections, wounds and on and on -- yet we\'re taught that urine is a toxic waste product. This discrepancy between the medical truth and the public information regarding urine is ludicrous”Based on a collection of more than 50 research studies on the use of urine in medicine and healing, Christy claims that the medical community has been conspiring to “pull off one of the biggest hoodwinks in history.” However, her paranoia has led Christy to take some serious liberties when interpreting these conclusions of these scientific studies. For example, she writes about a Scandinavian researcher “who, in 1951, conclusively proved that human urine can completely destroy tuberculosis.” By contrast, the tone of the language in a direct quote from the study is far less certain:\"In a preliminary experiment performed in this laboratory employing (solutions of) saliva, serum and urine from different subjects...urine seemed to have a considerably stronger inhibitory effect and a concentration of 50 per cent urine in (a) medium completely inhibited the growth of the tubercule bacilli in most cases...\"Thus, Christy’s use of language is misleading; it makes the results of the study seem more conclusive than they actually are. Some scientific studies receive more attention than others for a good reason; and it’s not due to some cunning conspiracy being concocted by the scientific community. Rather, studies which Christy picked up on are little publicised because most of them, as shown by the example above, are suggestive rather than conclusive. There is not enough good quality scientific evidence to prove that urine is indeed the golden elixir of life. This handful of examples thus proves clearly the need to be careful when deciding between what is fact or fiction, and the great deal of diligence required in terms of fact checking and data analysis. Ultimately, providing a platform for the most unlikely and strange pieces of advice can damage the reputation of any scientific field. In the case of research into increasing healthy lifespan, the spreading of misinformation serves only to slow the rate of progress and acceptance of this relatively new branch of science.

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International team of longevity scientists publish first online database of geroprotectorshttp://lifemag.org/article/international-team-of-longevity-scientists-publish-first-online-database-of-geroprotectorsInsilico Medicine, a company specializing in drug repurposing in cancer and bioinformatics of aging contributed to the development of Geroprotectors.org. This web-based knowledge management system is billed as a structured and curated database of therapeutic interventions in aging and age related diseases.Read the full press release @ EurekalertResearchers develop a method for controlling gene activationhttp://lifemag.org/article/researchers-develop-a-method-for-controlling-gene-activationResearchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, have developed a new method which enables the activation of genes in a cell without changing the genome. Applications of the method include directing the differentiation of stem cells.Read more @ Phys.org Gene editing is now cheap and easy, and no one is prepared for the consequenceshttp://lifemag.org/article/gene-editing-is-now-cheap-and-easy-and-no-one-is-prepared-for-the-consequencesHundreds, if not thousands, of labs are now experimenting with CRISPR-based editing projects. But changing the human germ line is incredibly risky without much better knowledge of how our DNA actually works.Read more @ Singularity HubCutting back on calories: how much do we really know about calorie restriction and lifespan?http://lifemag.org/article/cutting-back-on-calories-how-much-do-we-really-know-about-calorie-restriction-and-lifespan

Hara hachi bun me, the Japanese practice consisting of eating only until 80 percent full is now spreading around the world. The reason may be found in Okinawa, Japan, where the practice is widely followed. Okinawa is a blue zone, one of those places on earth where people live the longest. Approximately 50 per 100,000 inhabitants are centenarians in Okinawa, which is the world’s largest ratio of centenarian to population. And science seems to support the idea that both facts are related. In effect, calorie restriction is arguably currently the best anti-aging therapy known. However, the fact that we are still far from knowing everything about it and its effects becomes more and more evident with each new study published on the topic. Effects of calorie restrictionCalorie restriction consists of reducing calorie intake while still including all the necessary nutrients in the diet. A more radical approach was already followed during World War II at the University of Minnesota under the name Minnesota Starvation Experiment. Back then, the results derived from drastic dietary restriction —closer to starvation than to a calorie restricted diet with all the key nutrients— ranged from decreases in the subject’s metabolic rate to negative psychological effects, sometimes even extreme. However, more recent and moderate experiments have successfully linked calorie restriction to positive effects in relation to combating disease and the aging process. Admittedly, the results of the studies on calorie restriction that have been conducted on animals until now are inconclusive. Calorie restriction seems to work in some species, but it has not had an effect in many others. For instance, some one-celled organisms as well as fruit flies, some strains of mice, and rats benefited from this dietary regime. But the results of the studies on rhesus monkeys are contradictory, and other species like wild mice did not have an expanded lifespan by eating less. Yet, preliminary studies conducted in humans have revealed positive effects such as decreased risk of atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer. Moreover, research has found that the symptoms of asthma subjects have improved after alternate day fasting. All the benefits of calorie restriction have been explained by the hormesis mechanisms that increase cellular stress resistance. In other words, a limited calorie intake would protect against oxidative stress, which plays an important role in the aging process as it causes cellular damage.CALERIE studiesIn the last years, the Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE) has investigated prolonged calorie restriction in humans. By the end of the experiment, the participants of the first study, overweight adults, had lower insulin levels and body temperature, thought to be potential contributors to extended lifespan. Other effects included a reduction of the participant’s risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Last week, the results of a new CALERIE study indicated that calorie restriction is also beneficial for non-obese people. The new study evaluated the effects of a 25 percent reduction in caloric intake prolonged for two years on 218 healthy adults. Calorie restriction significantly lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease and the participant’s blood pressure, cholesterol and C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, dropped by 4, 6 and 49 percent respectively. Moreover, participants had higher levels of HDL cholesterol—the “good” cholesterol— at the end of the experiment, as well as lower thyroid activity, which may be associated with longer life span. Still, the results were not entirely satisfactory, as the 25% reduction on regular intake could not find the expected decrease of body temperature and resting metabolic rate drops previously found in experiments with animals and that were thought to be linked to increased lifespan. According to John O. Holloszy, principal investigator of the study, people found it difficult to reduce their daily intake by 25 percent and although its effects were generally positive, calorie reduction also caused anemia and decreases in bone density in some participants. The future of calorie restriction investigationThe results of the CALERIE study suggest that calorie restriction may be affecting longevity indirectly rather than directly as was previously thought. Therefore, while still uncertain about how the positive effects of calorie restriction work, many studies are now focusing on the existence of chemicals that mimic calorie restriction’s benefits without the negative effects of possible malnutrition. Resveratrol, found in grapes and nuts, pterostilbene - found in blueberries, or the substance rapamycin are three of these chemicals. In a previous study, resveratrol was administered to one group of overweight mice on a high-fat diet and compared to a similar group that did not receive the chemical. The results indicated that mice that got resveratrol lived longer compared to the second group. However, the researchers also found that when the mice were already middle-aged, resveratrol slowed their deterioration, but could not increase their longevity. On the other hand, rapamycin has been proven to expand the lifespan of mice, even those that were already old. However, the toxicity of rapamycin may compromise its long-term use in humans. Thus, overall, how exactly calorie restriction works, and what the exact benefits are remain difficult to pinpoint. But as more studies consider the impact of other factors which may work with or against calorie restriction in extending lifespan, we are likely to gain a greater insight. As pointed out by Evan Hadley, director of the National Institute on Aging\'s Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology, the long-term benefits of calorie restriction and the differences between this dietary regime and the weight loss caused by exercising are some of the topics that should not be overlooked in future investigations.

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New CRISPR-Cas9 strategy edits genes 2 wayshttp://lifemag.org/article/new-crispr-cas9-strategy-edits-genes-2-waysA team of Harvard and MIT researchers have developed a way to perform genome engineering and gene regulation at the same time.Read more @ EurekalertPeter Thiel backs Biotech “Unicorn” fighting cancer stem cellshttp://lifemag.org/article/peter-thiel-backs-biotech-unicorn-fighting-cancer-stem-cellsAre stem cells at the root of common cancers? A startup named Stemcentrx thinks so.Find out more @ MIT Technology ReviewThe genomics underlying cardiovascular diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/the-genomics-underlying-cardiovascular-diseaseSince cardiovascular disease (CVD) still represents the leading cause of death in the United States, researchers are, if anything, only more determined to identify the triggers of disease and those who may be at greatest risk.Read more @ GENThe problem with Paleohttp://lifemag.org/article/the-problem-with-paleo

Hattie Easton and Tasneem Dustagheer set out to discover if the Paleo diet really is worth all the hype.Our brains’ and bodies’ needs have evolved considerably since the Stone Age, and so too have the foods we eat. Yet, as the most googled diet of 2013, it would seem that the Paleo diet has provoked a serious case of nutritional nostalgia. Increasing numbers of people are choosing to revert right back to the basics; anything which was not on our ancestors plates should not be on our plates today. So, what are the basics according to Paleo dieters? Meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and even more meat. Dairy products, refined carbs, processed foods, legumes, coffee, alcohol and sugar are all strictly off limits. The theory is that we are just not genetically built to consume these foods. Paleoistas firmly believe that this ancient diet is the solution to living a longer, healthier life. However, not fitting to everyone’s budget or lifestyle, the diet is arguably overrated and its popularity unjustified. The logic behind the Paleo DietAt first glance, one might tend to agree with the Paleo dieters’ rationale. They claim that the foods introduced into our diets by the agricultural revolution are responsible for many of our modern-day allergies and intolerances. They also argue that our contemporary menu has supersized us. The statistics certainly support the Paleoistas on this latter point. According to the World Health Organisation, 38% of the adult world population is overweight, and 13% is obese. Strokes, heart diseases, cancers and musculoskeletal disorders are rampant. However, as far as allergies and intolerances are concerned, studies have shown that the human body did in fact adapt to cope with the new foods that were a product of the agricultural revolution. For example, our bodies adapted in order to be able to break down starches into carbohydrates. The fact that the human digestive genes have evolved, and will go on evolving, renders this part of the Paleo dieters’ argument quite redundant. Moreover, the University of Chicago’s Quarterly Review of Biology recently released a report which calls into question another one of the Paleo dieters’ core beliefs: that the advent of hunting equipment during the stone age, and the subsequent switch to a meat-heavy diet, led to an increase in human brain size. According to evolutionary biologist Karen Hardy and her colleagues, it was in fact carbohydrates which played an essential role in the development of bigger brains. High-functioning human brains require large supplies of glucose, as provided by carbohydrates.Dieticians have been equally critical of the paleo diet. For example, in January 2014, Lucy Jones, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, told The Telegraph that the paleo diet trend was a ‘dangerous fad’ on the grounds that “its demand that you exclude food groups essential to health such as dairy, grains and legumes could leave people seriously deficient in essential vitamins and calcium, not to mention constipated from the lack of dietary fibre.”Impractical and unbeneficial Indeed, a diet which advocates the elimination of so many foods groups can be extremely difficult to follow in practice. So restrictive is the Paleo diet, that even some of its most enthusiastic supporters say that they are only 100% Paleo 80% of their time . Another point with regards to impracticality, is that this diet is based around some of the most expensive foods on the supermarket shelves: meat, fruit and vegetables. This is not a diet which all can financially afford to follow. Granted, the Paleo diet fits well with certain, highly-active lifestyles.Indeed, the diet initially gained popularity in the 1970s, and even more in the 1990s thanks to a new genre of fitness training - CrossFit. The main aim of this hugely popular regime is to empower and strengthen the body by lifting extreme weights. CrossFitters expend a huge amount of energy during their training, hence burning a huge number of calories. Our hunter-gatherer predecessors also expended a lot of energy - hiking long distances, hunting extensively, and most probably fighting off wild animals. With calorie requirements similar to those of our ancestors, CrossFitters thus felt the need to mimic the diets of our ancestors. CrossFit aficionados can afford to eat larger than average quantities of red meat, since they know they are training their bodies. A diet rich in protein can help to build up the muscles required for such an activity. But what about the rest of the population, who do not have time for such intensive training? For them, the very same red-meat-heavy diet can be life threatening. Nutritionists from all over the world will tell you that there is a link between consuming large amounts of red meat and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. An excess of red meat can also bring about cardiovascular problems and hypertension. Therefore, it is important to remember that the high animal protein content of the Paleo diet is not necessarily beneficial for all.Slimming downSure enough the diet has proven to be effective for a number of individuals. Many reported that they lost weight within a few weeks of implementing the diet, and they continued to lose weight if they stuck to it in the longer term. This isn’t surprising, given that the diet encourages people to eschew junk food in favour of buying fresh food to cook at home; a common sense approach to healthy eating in general. As such, there is one aspect of our loincloth-wearing, club-wielding ancestors’ diets which we would all undeniably find beneficial; namely, the principle of cooking meals from scratch with fresh ingredients. In this respect, there is nothing wrong with feeling a sense of nostalgia for the pre fast-food era.Longevity?So what about the claims to longevity? Conclusively, whilst the Paleo diet has certainly helped some people to lose weight and feel healthier in general, we cannot say for sure that it is helping people to live for longer. There is not a single legitimate study which proves that the paleo diet alone directly correlates with significantly increased lifespan, and this, in spite of the diet’s popularity, is what counts.

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Is it ever right to try to create a superior human being?http://lifemag.org/article/is-it-ever-right-to-try-to-create-a-superior-human-beingPeople have long dreamed of improving humanity through science, but what results might no longer be human, argues the philosopher John Gray.Read more @ BBC News10 facts about Aubrey de Greyhttp://lifemag.org/article/10-facts-about-aubrey-de-grey

1. Childhood curiosity and his wife influenced his interest in agingEven before he was old enough to start growing a beard, de Grey was baffled as to why others around him willingly accept ageing as an unfortunate, yet inevitable, process. He couldn’t understand why no one was trying to fix it. However, as an adult, his attention was initially diverted towards computer science, which he studied at university before landing a job as a software engineer. It was only when he met and married a biology professor, Adelaide Carpenter, that his interest in ageing was reawakened. Interview with the Observer from 20072. He taught himself biology Inspired by dinner table conversations with his wife, in 1995, de Grey began to teach himself biology by reading textbooks or academic journals and attending conferences on the subject of gerontology. After just two months of observing the subject, he wrote a groundbreaking paper about the accumulation of mutations in the mitochondria, which challenged the widely held, yet experimentally unproven, belief that these mutations were to blame for cellular decay. His paper helped far more experienced gerontological researchers to realise that the reason why they had been struggling to produce experimental evidence to support this popular theory is because it was, in fact, untrue. 3. He hasn’t done any lab work, yet still has a PhD. In spite of his ‘mad scientist’ appearance, de Grey doesn’t spend his days tinkering with test tubes in a laboratory. On the contrary, he has never done any lab work. However, such was the quality of his well-reasoned theories, that the University of Cambridge chose to award him a PhD in biology in 2000. 4. Like all great scientists, he has had a ‘Eureka!’ moment.This occurred in the early hours of the morning in a hotel room in California in 2000, when he has struggling to sleep due to jet lag. As he told The Observer, he “suddenly had the realisation that if you focus on fixing the damage rather than on pre-empting the damage, you\'ve got a much more feasible approach.” “We are machines, and ageing is the wearing out of a machine, the accumulation of damage to a machine, and hence potentially fixable.” 5. He has a ‘Seven Deadly Things’ theory During his moment of jet-lag-induced inspiration, de Grey identified seven categories, into which all of the various molecular and cellular changes in the body that cause damage can be placed, namely: Junk – Inside Cells Junk – Outside Cells Cells – Too Few Cells – Too Many Mutations – Chromosomes Mutations – Mitochondria Protein Crosslinks In order to cure all age-related diseases, scientists will need to figure out how to repair the damage done by each one of these seven deadly things. This has become the goal of the SENS Research Foundation - a non-profit organisation, co-founded by de Grey, which was set up in 2009. 6. He’s not aiming for immortalityIn an interview in 2013, de Grey expressed his frustrations about the media’s relentless determination to portray him as ‘the prophet of immortality’. Headlines such as ‘Immortality’ and ‘Who wants to live forever?’ are enough to make his beard bristle. He was keen to state: “I don’t work on longevity. I work on health.” Furthermore, he described the work of the SENS foundation as ‘the development of rejuvenation biotechnologies’ - medicines for the future which will slow down and eventually reverse the process of ageing. 7. He’s on a mission to secure more funding for life extending research Over the years, de Grey has managed to persuade many people to donate money to gerontological research. One of the most high profile investors was the billionaire entrepreneur and PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel. Since the two met in 2004, Thiel has donated a total of $3.5 million to de Grey\'s other non-profit organisation - the Methuselah Foundation. Not wishing to be outdone, when de Grey inherited £11 million from his artist mother when she died in 2011, he chose to invest the majority of this windfall (£9 million) in the SENS Foundation’s research.8. He has an unusual way of warding off criticismIn 2005, the editor of the MIT Technology Review, Jason Pontin, penned a damning personal attack on de Grey: “He dresses like a shabby graduate student and affects Rip Van Winkle\'s beard; he has no children; he has few interests outside the science of biogerontology; he drinks too much beer.” When asked by outraged readers to provide a reason for the attack, Pontin claimed that he simply repeating remarks made by respected biologists, who had not yet dared to criticise de Grey in public. By way of an apology, Pontin agreed to set up a prize fund in conjunction with de Grey - offering $20,000 to any molecular biologist who was able to submit \'an intellectually serious argument about why the work undertaken by SENS is so wrong and thus unworthy of learned debate\'. So far, no one has been awarded such a prize. 9. He has an answer for everythingDe Grey has thought of comebacks to all of the major objections to the concept of radical life extension. Overpopulation will not become an issue since people will stop having children or, failing that, there is always the option of developing colonies on the moon and Mars. He believes that, if we knew that we were going to live for longer, we would be more motivated to find solutions to the problem of shortages in food, water and space. And as far as the morality of healthy life extension is concerned, how can something which will save hundreds of thousands of lives be deemed immoral? 10. And finally, his beard has its own Facebook group Arguably his facial hair has attracted almost as much attention as his academic research. In interviews, de Grey has repeatedly attributed the wiry mane sprouting from his chin to the fact that his wife ‘is a beard girl’. And, at the time of writing, it seems that 128 other people agree with his wife’s opinion: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aubrey-de-Greys-beard/154902674539712

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Transhumanist Party USA - next stop: immortality?http://lifemag.org/article/transhumanist-party-usa-next-stop-immortality

A year ahead of the next US presidential election, candidates from both major parties present a colorful cast of characters. In keeping with this theme, meet Zoltan Istvan: the 2016 Transhumanist Party nominee. Istvan is many things: A husband. A father. The inventor of volcano boarding. And now, a presidential candidate. This weekend, Istvan will kick off his nationwide tour, spreading the Transhumanist message as part of his political campaign. Many within the Transhumanist community are already familiar with Istvan and his antics. For those new to the scene, Transhumanism seeks to improve the human condition and experience by using technology to influence biology. If this sentence conjures up images of cyborgs, you are not far off—many Transhumanists support using robotics and artificial intelligence to extend the human lifespan ad infinitum. Indeed, conquering human mortality is the number one priority for the Transhumanist Party, and for Istvan’s campaign. With proper investment in research, he estimates that this goal is attainable within the next twenty years.The ‘Immortality Bus’ What better way to spread this hopeful message than by travelling the country in the very thing he wishes to avoid: a coffin? This weekend, Istvan will begin touring the US in his Immortality Bus, a 40-foot vehicle fashioned to look like a casket. A crowdsourcing campaign has exceeded the $25,000 necessary to put this plan into action.The Immortality Bus campaign heralds the vehicle as “a pro-science symbol of resistance against aging and death.” Istvan’s own campaign site proudly displays an endorsement from Robert Kennedy, Jr., a public figure whose relationship with science is contentious at best. Other guests slotted to accompany Istvan include longevity scientist Maria Konovalenko, writer Jamie Bartlett, and Dr. Lisa Memmel, a California-based physician and Istvan’s wife. The bus will also be home to an interactive robot named Jethro Knights, in addition to other miscellaneous tech gear aimed to surprise and delight. As Istvan told Tech Insider, “When you are a third-party candidate, half of what you do is entertainment…because you are actually trying to spread a message knowing you have very little chance of winning.” The campaign will kick off in San Francisco on September 5 before travelling north, hitting major cities on the west coast, and then heading east to end in Washington, DC. Istvan and company will protest pollution near the Mississippi River, wind through the Bible Belt preaching at megachurches, and stop off in Detroit to discuss automation and the job market. The tour will culminate on the steps of the United States Capitol, where Istvan will read out the Transhumanist Bill of Rights. “The bill will advocate for government policy to support indefinite lifespans in our species,” Istvan wrote in the Huffington Post, “as well as the use of synthetic and robot technology to live healthier and better.”The Evidence According to Istvan, the Transhumanist movement has grown considerably within the past few years. Recent advances in medicine and significant investments by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have bolstered hopes of living to well over 100. But while the average human lifespan has indeed improved, conquering death is a separate question entirely. Very little concrete evidence exists to suggest that immortality is attainable, at least in so short a timeframe. Istvan’s articles invoke different experts who give varying estimates of how far we are from this goal, but the Transhumanist Party’s website and Istvan’s personal campaign site are conspicuously bare of concrete scientific data. While this would not be the first time a candidate has delivered empty promises, it does not bode well for his cause. Investing trillions of dollars to research areas such as stem cells, telomeres, and artificial organs is sure to spur advances. However, many of these roads will likely be dead ends for immortality. As LIFEMAG has noted before, the public is much less likely to fund a quest for the fountain of youth than it is to support research for age-related diseases that affect us here and now. While greater financial support for biomedical research will reasonably lead to longer, healthier lives, any candidate should be expected to back up scientific claims with hard evidence.The Issues Problematically, Istvan’s own background is as a writer, not a scientist. He is arguably most well-known as the author of The Transhumanist Wager, a science fiction novel in which protagonist ‘Jethro Knights’ (get the link?) “sails around the world promoting indefinite life extension,” hotly pursued by anti-Transhumanist Christians. Istvan is a former employee of the National Geographic Channel and a regular writer for media outlets such as Gizmodo, The Huffington Post, and Slate. His media savvy has made him moderately successful in raising awareness for his personal vision of Transhumanism. In his column for the Huffington Post last October, he announced both the founding of the Transhumanist Party and his own nomination as the party’s presidential candidate. Rose-colored glasses When confronted with potential issues surrounding immortality, Istvan’s answers are vague and endlessly optimistic. He advocates for environmental protection, but assumes that “the world will find the best path to preserve the shining brilliance of this ecologically fragile planet.” He shrugs off the specter of overpopulation: “The Transhumanist age is ushering in new wealth to the world… and with it will eventually come a balanced and acceptable growth rate of population levels.” His belief that everything will fall into place is directly at odds with the present and future concerns of the average American voter.Istvan’s refusal to focus on the issues of the day, coupled with his lighthearted dismissal of the country’s founding principles (“We laughed,” he wrote in Gizmodo, “thinking it ridiculous to try governing a country with a 226-year-old document in the Transhumanist age”), negates his chances among moderate voters. Istvan is a controversial figure within the Transhumanist community itself—not all support his extreme vision, which includes a history of anti-religious sentiment. As the leader of a political party that he himself founded, Istvan aims to build support and awareness for life extension science. For a candidate of his background, the political arena seems an odd choice to accomplish this end. “Like the great bus tours of the 1960’s that brought a culture of hippie love to America and the West, the Immortality Bus hopes to bring a culture of desiring far longer lifespans via science,” Istvan wrote in the Huffington Post. This comparison ultimately seems fitting—both parties have viewed the world through rose-colored glasses. Like the hippie movement, the Transhumanist Party campaign may one day be revealed to have a dark side. By peddling theatrics under the guise of a pro-science platform, Istvan risks marginalizing the same people that many legitimate research institutions would like to attract.

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Regenerative medicine to get boost from deregulation in Japanhttp://lifemag.org/article/regenerative-medicine-to-get-boost-from-deregulation-in-japanAfter getting a boost from new policies promoted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who pushed liberalization of rules to make Japan one of the world’s quickest places to get regenerative therapy on the market, Japanese corporations spanning the pharmaceutical and industrial sectors have regenerative medicine on their agendas, and industry groups estimate the domestic market for these therapies could top ¥3 trillion by 2050.Read more @ The Japan TimesThe link between sleep and mortalityhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-link-between-sleep-and-mortality

We all know the consequences of a bad night’s sleep: tiredness, fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness. These consequences are not only uncomfortable, but they can also be detrimental to our health in the long term. In particular, sleep deprivation – defined as an average of less than 5 hours of sleep a night – has been linked to multiple health problems. The list includes changes in metabolic, endocrine or immune function, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, dementia and cognitive and memory problems. Most significantly, sleep deprivation has been directly linked to early death.But how much is enough? Sleeping is a way to boost major restorative functions in the body such as tissue repair, muscle growth and protein synthesis. Typically, the right amount of sleep has been considered to be eight hours. However, a careful balancing act is required, since sleeping too much has also been reported to be harmful. In 2002, a study suggested a link between sleeping for more than seven hours a night and shortened lifespan. After publication, Dr. Kripke, one its authors, went further by claiming that the traditional recommendation of eight hours of sleep a night may have been influenced by the drug companies who produce sleeping pills and who typically fund research on this topic. But the 2002 study was not the only one pointing out the relationship between too much sleep and early death. Another study undertaken by researchers at the University of Warwick, UK in 2010 further highlighted the importance of striking a balance between too much and too little sleep. Consisting of a review of 16 previous studies on the relationship between sleep duration and mortality, this study also found both a shorter and longer duration of sleep to be significant predictors of death. Yet a significant difference lies between the two studies, as in the latter, an excessive amount of sleep was defined as more than eight hours. The results of the 2010 study, where a total of 1,382,999 participants were monitored over a period of between 4 and 25 years, indicated that sleeping for less than six hours increased the likelihood of dying prematurely by 12 per cent compared to the recommended six to eight hours. On the other hand, sleeping too much — for more than eight hours — was associated with a 30 per cent greater risk of death. This means that the participants sleeping for longer were actually the most likely to die prematurely. Namely 30% more likely, in contrast to an increased risk of 12% among those who slept less than six hours.Other factors to take into considerationSo what does this all mean? Are we doomed to increase our risk of an early death by sleeping for a lesser or greater number of hours than that which is strictly delimited by these studies? Actually, there are a few other circumstances to consider.First of all, it is important to remember that each of us need different amounts of sleep. The amount we need can be influenced by a range of factors such as our age or lifestyle. For example, we would not expect teenagers to sleep for as long as newborn babies, who require up to 16 hours a day. Moreover, as we get older we need less sleep; making it normal for someone over the age of 70 to sleep less than six hours a night.But perhaps, the most important point to take into consideration is the fact that sleeping for longer is not only a cause of reduced lifespan, but can also be an indicator of other diseases which ultimately cut down life expectancy. Certain medical conditions and emotional health problems such as depression or stress, which increase sleep duration, also affect mortality. This may be the real underlying factor that is causing both changes in sleep and an increased mortality risk. A public health epidemicLooking at the statistics, it’s no wonder that in some countries sleep deprivation has even acquired the status of a public health epidemic. The problem is especially acute in countries in the developed world, thanks to the ever-present glare of LED lights being emitted by plethora technological devices and the constant distraction of round-the-clock internet access. For example, a study conducted in the UK last year revealed that over 28 million people —that is to say, 59% of British adults— sleep less than seven hours a night. Up to 15 percent of the European population suffers from excessive daytime sleepiness, whilst the figure stands at 19.5 percent in the U.S. It seems that, just like their smartphones, people are finding it increasingly difficult to switch off. Thus, the fact that both sleep deprivation and excessive sleeping are increasingly being linked to mortality indicates that this is an issue which we should certainly be paying more attention to. The technologies being developed to increase our battery life may be rendered useless if we continue to neglect our body’s natural way of recharging itself.

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3D printing cells with DNA velcrohttp://lifemag.org/article/3d-printing-cells-with-dna-velcroOne of the Holy Grails of stem cell research is growing body parts to replace those damaged by disease or injury. Now a team at UCSF headed by Zev Gartner has come up with an ingenious new method - taking advantage of DNA\'s Velcro-like chemistry to build layers of different cells in a specified pattern. Find out more @ The Stem CellarFewer perks of calorie restriction when humans try it http://lifemag.org/article/fewer-perks-of-calorie-restriction-when-humans-try-itSeverely cutting calorie intake appears to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and make people more sensitive to insulin, according to the largest study to date of sustained calorie reduction in adults.The results do not, however, show the metabolic effects associated with longevity that past calorie-reduction studies have found in animals.Read more @ FuturityGM embryos: time for ethics debate, say scientistshttp://lifemag.org/article/gm-embryos-time-for-ethics-debate-say-scientistsLeading UK research funders are calling for an urgent national debate on the ethics of genetically modifying human embryos and other tissues to prevent serious diseases.Read more @ the GuardianGoogle Life Sciences makes diabetes its first big targethttp://lifemag.org/article/google-life-sciences-makes-diabetes-its-first-big-target

Google Life Sciences has its first big mission: developing new ways to treat and manage diabetes. But in a sign that the company is serious about making real progress, it’s not diving into diabetes research alone. It is working with French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.Read more @ Wired

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Buck Institute joins researchers in Chile to jumpstart research on aging in South Americahttp://lifemag.org/article/buck-institute-joins-researchers-in-chile-to-jumpstart-research-on-aging-in-south-americaThe Chilean government has awarded $6.5 million to fund the Center for Geroscience, Brain Health and Metabolism in Santiago, in partnership with the Buck Institute. Read more @ Eurekalert'Lego-stacking' technique could help scientists grow human organshttp://lifemag.org/article/lego-stacking-technique-could-help-scientists-grow-human-organsBy stacking human cells together like Lego blocks, scientists have found a way to create tiny, 3D models of human tissue.The advance may enable scientists to test customized medicines before injecting them into a patient and, ultimately, to grow whole human organs, the scientists say.Read more @ LiveScienceBuck Institute opens world's largest public stem cell bankhttp://lifemag.org/article/buck-institute-opens-worlds-largest-public-stem-cell-bankThe largest publicly available stem cell bank in the world has opened for business at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato.Read more @ Mercury NewsAnti-ageing properties appear to stem from stem cell injections.http://lifemag.org/article/anti-ageing-properties-appear-to-stem-from-stem-cell-injectionsThe findings from a study recently conducted by a team of researchers in Korea indicate that replenishing stem cells injections could possibly have an anti-ageing effect. In their experiments, stem cell injections appeared to help rats live for almost a third longer than usual, as well as prolong their physical and mental activity. Read more @ Life Sciences Index MitoSENS is engineering a way to fight mitochondrial aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/mitosens-is-engineering-a-way-to-fight-mitochondrial-agingWith 85 backers and 56 days to go, the MitoSENS Mitochondrial Repair Project has amassed $11,500 towards its crowdfunding goal of $30,000. This vehicle allows you to directly participate in reversing and/or preventing damage to mitochondrial DNA, a key factor in slowing the aging process.Find out more hereNanotechnology extends our liveshttp://lifemag.org/article/nanotechnology-extends-our-lives

Futurists claim nanotechnology will change our lives forever. It could repair our bodies at the cellular level and eradicate killer diseases such as cancer, thus extending the average lifespan. Find out more @ Nanocomputer

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50 is the new 42: technology is making brains of middle-aged youngerhttp://lifemag.org/article/50-is-the-new-42-technology-is-making-brains-of-middle-aged-youngerThe increasing mental demands of technology is making older people smarter than previous generations, scientists have shown.Read more @ the TelegraphEvents announced for International Longevity Dayhttp://lifemag.org/article/events-announced-for-international-longevity-dayEvents and promotions for International Longevity Day (October 1) have now been announced. Initiatives designed to increase education on biological and biomedical research of aging and longevity, are now planned in over 30 countries, on 5 continents. The support ranges from small, emerging local grassroots groups of longevity research activists to scientific societies.Read the full press release hereThreading the CRISPR needle with DNA nanoclewshttp://lifemag.org/article/threading-the-crispr-needle-with-dna-nanoclewsA team of researchers from North Carolina State University (NC State) and the University of North Carolina have created and utilized a nanoscale vehicle composed of DNA to deliver theCRISPR-Cas9 gene editing complex into cells both in vitro and in vivo. Read more @ GENThere won’t be a Calico IPOhttp://lifemag.org/article/there-won-t-be-a-calico-ipo

According to Nanalyze.com, a company that analyzes investments in disruptive technologies, there will not be an initial public offering (IPO) of Calico. The Internet behemoth Google\'s anti-aging startup named Calico which has been recruiting the world\'s top scientific minds and partnering with organizations like AbbVie, Buck Institute, AncestryDNA and others, will not be available to the public for investment purposes. According to the Nanalyze.com website: \"In the absence of an IPO, the only other way to get exposure to Calico is to buy Google stock.\"Read more @ Nanalyze

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Steadier gene networks mean longer lifespanshttp://lifemag.org/article/steadier-gene-networks-mean-longer-lifespansAge-defying species—the giant red sea urchin, the painted turtle, the naked mole rat—may begin teaching us how to extend our own lives. All these species stand out because they exhibit negligible senescence, the ability to grow older without suffering functional declines or any age-related increase in mortality. Apparently, these species have something we lack. This something, according to a new study, is gene network stability.Read more @ GENGoogle reveals gigantic ambitions to fight cancer, diabetes, parkinson's, heart problemshttp://lifemag.org/article/google-reveals-gigantic-ambitions-to-fight-cancer-diabetes-parkinsons-heart-problemsGoogle is pumping vast amounts of cash into its cutting-edge life sciences plans, turning a secretive unit based on smart contact lenses into a high powered, expert company.Read more @ ForbesNow Trending: CRISPRhttp://lifemag.org/article/now-trending-crispr

Nearly everyone has heard references to the “genetic code,” a metaphor for the series of nucleotide bases that makes each of us unique. Many diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anemia, are caused by point mutations, single digit errors in a series of roughly three billion. Although we have made great progress in understanding these diseases, as of yet there exists no cure. But what if it were as easy for scientists to edit a patient’s genome as it is for programmers to edit computer code? Thanks to technology developed over the past three years, this may soon be possible. Enter CRISPR. This new, powerful technology has been in the media a lot recently for its potential to cure everything from hemophilia to sickle-cell to cystic fibrosis. It is being tested for its potential to prevent the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases and to counteract the molecular pathways involved in aging. CRISPR has been lauded as a way to improve agriculture and even bring woolly mammoths back from the dead. What is this new technology, which promises so much for the future of humanity?A faster and easier method of editing the human genome CRISPR is shaking up gene therapy by providing a faster and easier method of editing the human genome. For as little as $30 and with minimal specialized training, scientists can remove or insert sequences of bases, potentially ridding a patient of a pre-existing genetic condition. The powerful and highly democratic nature of this technology is a huge leap forward for biomedical research, and has understandably generated a great deal of excitement. CRISPR’s potential is so wide-ranging, in fact, that many leading biologists are calling for researchers to slow down in their use of this software until its implications are fully understood. The acronym CRISPR stands for “Clustered, Regularly-Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats” and describes segments originally discovered in bacterial DNA in 1987. These repeats allow bacteria to defend themselves against viruses. They are separated by non-repeating spacers, which are copies of segments of DNA from viruses that a bacterium or its ancestors has encountered before. When the bacterium comes in contact with a recognized virus, the part of its DNA corresponding to that virus is converted to RNA, which, along with a protein called Cas9 (CRISPR-associated protein 9) and another strand of RNA, forms a complex that cuts the viral DNA, disabling it. Three years ago, scientists realized that they could utilize this defense mechanism by using synthetic RNA to cut a desired DNA sequence. The cut portion can either be removed and disabled or replaced with a newly inserted sequence. This has huge implications for gene therapy, which deals with diseases caused by errors in the genetic code. CRISPR is replacing slower and more expensive gene therapy techniques, such as zinc fingers and TALENs, which are currently undergoing clinical trials in the US. If enough cells can be edited using one of these techniques, the patient will be cured. CRISPR sequences can be injected directly into tissues, or tissues can be removed, edited, and then replaced in the body, as with the blood-forming stem cells related to sickle-cell disease. The CRISPR platform was first tested on an adult animal to correct tyrosinemia in mice last year, and clinical trials for humans are expected to begin in the next one to two years. 2014 also saw a steep rise in NIH funding for CRISPR studies, an indication of advances to come.The next breakthrough There are several start-ups feverishly raising money to fund the next big CRISPR-related breakthrough. Caribou Biosciences, founded by Jennifer Doudna in Berkeley, CA, in 2011, has raised $11 million so far. Last year, Doudna co-founded Intellia Therapeutics, which has raised $15 million to “discover, develop, and commercialize human gene and cell therapies,” according to their website. Doudna is one of the pioneers of CRISPR technology and has granted Intellia exclusive license to use the platform she developed with French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier. In 2014, Doudna and Charpentier each received a $3 million Breakthrough Prize, an award funded by internet entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner. Charpentier founded her own Swiss-based startup, CRISPR Therapeutics, and has raised $89 million towards related medical research. In 2013, Harvard geneticist George Church and Dr. Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute and MIT founded Editas Medicine. They have since raised $43 million for therapeutics research. Dr. Zhang and Dr. Doudna are currently embroiled in a patent scuffle – although Dr. Doudna and Dr. Charpentier first published on the CRISPR-Cas9 DNA-cutting technique in 2012, Dr. Zhang claims to have taken innovative steps to apply the technique to complex cells. Dr. Zhang’s institutions have been granted all patents thus far, although the dispute rages on. While the conflict has mitigated some of the fervor surrounding the industry, investors do not seem deterred: as Jim Flynn of Deerfield Capital Management told Forbes, “Your worst case scenario if you’re first to the market with something that is going to create a survival benefit in a population is maybe you have to pay a royalty, maybe there is a cross-license.” For now, Editas appears to be the one to watch. At present, most research is focusing on disorders caused by point mutations, such as sickle-cell anemia. In the future, CRISPR will most likely be used to tackle a wide array of genetic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain neurological conditions. The platform can be used to further the understanding of more complicated conditions by allowing researchers to quickly develop animal models with multiple mutations, a process that would previously have taken years. Dr. Zhang, who studies the genetic causes behind mental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, has cut this time down to three weeks. CRISPR also offers encouraging news for carriers of Huntington’s disease, a devastating genetic illness characterized by the buildup of a poisonous protein in the brain. Before CRISPR, scientists could only add in a healthy copy of the gene in question, which had no effect on the amount of neurotoxin produced by harmful genes. Now scientists are able to delete the gene, and hopefully slow or even stop progression of the illness. Although it will be years before this potential could be realized, it does offer some uplifting news for the future. The dangersBecause this is the real world, however, technology of great promise comes with a caveat. Such a powerful tool made available so cheaply to so many people will necessitate strict parameters surrounding when and how it may be used. The technology is still in the exploration stage, and is not yet one hundred percent accurate. CRISPR has been known to create edits in places other than where researchers intended, and those errors could give birth to new diseases. While the frequency of such errors varies greatly among cell types, even a low error frequency could be dangerous if the cell is cancer-causing. Changes made to genomes of reproductive cells are heritable, which means they will be passed on to future generations. If CRISPR is used on plants or animals in the wild, this could mean the irreversible disruption of ecosystems. It is impossible to anticipate every consequence of this interference due to the complexity of the environment. At the forefront of many people’s minds is the question of what happens when we turn CRISPR on ourselves – not on present, but future, humans. Depending on who you are, the idea of “designer babies” is either fascinating or repugnant. Some of the world’s top biologists met in Napa, CA, this January to discuss this issue, concluding in Science that “at present, the potential safety and efficacy issues arising from the use of this technology must be thoroughly investigated and understood before any attempts at human engineering are sanctioned, if ever, for clinical testing.” Just months later, researchers led by Junjiu Huang at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, reported having done just that. Investigating β-thalassemia in human embryos they deemed “non-viable,” researchers injected 86 embryos with CRISPR segments. Of the 71 that survived, only a small percentage incorporated the new version of the gene as planned. Still, the experiment laid the groundwork for similar trials in the future. The Sun Yat-sen findings were rejected from Science and Nature—in part for ethical violations—and were later published in Protein & Cell. Multiple problems sprang up in the study, including erroneous cutting. As Dr. Doudna told Carl Zimmer, “Although it has attracted a lot of attention, the [Chinese] study simply underscores the point that the technology is not ready for clinical application in the human germline. And that application of the technology needs to be on hold pending a broader societal discussion of the scientific and ethical issues surrounding such use.”The future CRISPR’s trajectory in the future remains unknown. Gene therapy itself has a rocky history: the practice suffered a major blow when a young man died from an aggravated immune response in a clinical trial in 2000, and the field is only now beginning to recover. CRISPR is still young, and it may be decades before its full potential is realized. As Katrine Bosley, CEO of Editas, pointed out in Nature News & Comment, “There’s so much excitement and support, but we have to be realistic about what it takes to get there.” It is essential that the platform’s precision increase with its efficiency and accessibility. Time will tell if the excitement generated by CRISPR’s promise has been well placed. Many expect nothing short of a revolution.

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Korean researchers find the possibility that adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may extend lifespanhttp://lifemag.org/article/korean-researchers-find-the-possibility-that-adult-mesenchymal-stem-cells-mscs-may-extend-lifespanResearchers in Korea have determined the possibility that adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may extend healthy life and lifespan by intravenous injections.Read more @ PR NewswirePhysics meets biology to defeat aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/physics-meets-biology-to-defeat-agingThe scientific team of a new biotech company Gero has published its scientific work on how to switch off aging Read more @ EurekalertA scientific stem cell comic bookhttp://lifemag.org/article/a-scientific-stem-cell-comic-bookStem cells are a major topic of current research in regenerative medicine. Scientists from the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the University of Coimbra, Portugal created an educational comic book titled \"A Stem Cell Adventure\" using an online flipbook format. Although originally designed for students ages 15-22, most will find this work both entertaining and informative.See it here There’s more religious support for radical life extension than you might thinkhttp://lifemag.org/article/there-s-more-religious-support-for-radical-life-extension-than-you-might-think

A common perception is that the ethical debate on radical life extension pits the religious against the irreligious. But one does not have to be an atheist to be in favour of a longer, healthier life. Equally, it is possible to believe simultaneously in God, and in the possibility of using technology to radically extend the human lifespan. This point is supported by recent studies. The Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project conducted a survey of opinions on radical life extension in March/April 2013. The results revealed that “majorities of all large U.S. religious groups consider medical advances that prolong life as generally good.” In addition, between January 2012 and January 2013, an online survey carried out among 326 university students, exploring the relationship between cultural values and opinions on radical life extension, concluded that there was no correlation between degree of support for radical life extension and strength of religious belief. In fact, as will be explored below, many theological arguments can be made in favour of radical life extension; be they from a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish or Islamic perspective. ChristianityChristianity is arguably the religion which is the most vocal on the subject. In fact there have been complaints that the other religions have kept too quiet; allowing their followers to be influenced by Christian opinions on the matter, rather than someone from their own faith. However, although Christianity is the religion which is the most vocal on the subject of radical life extension, opinions among its followers are some of the most divided. And it’s not simply a case of Catholicism vs. Protestantism. What’s more, the dividing lines of opinion cannot simply be drawn between the different Christian denominations. On the one hand, the previous Pope, Benedict XVI, voiced concerns that significantly increasing lifespan could strip life of its richest experiences – including the search for the transcendent and the need to have children as a hedge against mortality. In a homily on Holy Saturday in 2010, Benedict warned against the prospect of immortality on the grounds that “humanity would become extraordinarily old, there would be no more room for youth. Capacity for innovation would die, and endless life would be no paradise.” Furthermore, he cited baptism, rather than scientific innovations, as the true means of extending lifespan: “...this cure for death, this true medicine of immortality, does exist. It has been found. It is within our reach. In baptism, this medicine is given to us. A new life begins in us, a life that matures in faith and is not extinguished by the death of the old life, but is only then fully revealed.” On the other hand, some Catholic scholars believe the church might support some life-extension therapies if they were part of a general attempt to cure disease. Father Nicanor Austriaco, an academic at Providence College, Rhode Island, claims that the Catholic calling to alleviate suffering and illness can explain why the church has supported some scientific research in the past and why it might support future efforts to modestly extend lifespan. In addition, the Christian Transhumanist Association feels that Christians should embrace the concept of radical life extension. In an article for The Christian Post, Christopher Benek argued that Christians have a moral responsibility to ensure that life-extending technology is used for the betterment of humanity and the world: “Disease (Cancer, AIDS, Ebola, Alzheimer\'s, Malaria etc.) and death are humanity\'s enemies and, in and through Christ, using the technological gifts that we have been given, Christians should continue to work diligently to better humanity by overcoming them. Transhumanism shares all of these technological goals, and as such, Christians should embrace it”BuddhismAccording to James Hughes, a former Buddhist monk and executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Buddhists are likely to support life extension. One of the core tenets of Buddhist belief is that each person is responsible for his or her own karma – the idea that the good and bad things that happen to people in life are the result of what they did in the past. Hughes thinks that Buddhists would become even more motivated to stop creating bad karma if they knew that they would have to endure the consequences for a longer period of time. A longer lifespan would also give each person more time to learn wisdom and compassion and to achieve nirvana - freedom from suffering. HinduismArvind Sharma, a professor of comparative religion at McGill University, claims that Hindus are unlikely to object to life extension: “The normal blessing in Hinduism is ‘Live long.’ So why not live longer?” In addition, he draws attention to the fact that Hindu scriptures describe a “golden age” in the deep past when people lived for 400 years. Modern day research into life extension offers the potential for a revival of this golden age.IslamSeveral theological scholars see no reason why Muslims would take issue with the concept of life extension. Muslims believe that Allah decides the exact lifespan, of each person, which is referred to in the Quran as their ‘term appointed.’ Therefore those making use of life-extending technologies are doing so because it is part of Allah’s plan for them. Furthermore, since Allah has an influence over all human activity, these technologies came into existence in the first place as a result of Allah’s will. However, Islam does not advocate the indefinite extension of lifespan. Death is still viewed as a blessing; the moment when Muslims are finally admitted to heaven. If humans were to become immortal, then adherents to the Islamic faith would be prevented from entering heaven. JudaismAccording to Rabbi Barry Freundel, scholar and leader of an Orthodox Jewish congregation in Washington, D.C., “Judaism has a very positive view of life … so the more of it, the better.” He also believes that most Jews would see an extended lifespan as an extended opportunity to better serve God and mankind; to achieve the Jewish goal of making the world a better place. The Transhumanist issueSo, if none of the major religions are entirely opposed, where does this misconception come from? It seems to be the issue that every advocate of radical life extension is wrongly perceived as being huddled under the umbrella of Transhumanism. Whilst Transhumanism is not a religious movement, it has been likened to one. Some perceive it as an extreme form of atheism, directly opposed to religions which put their faith in the spiritual rather than the scientific. Since they are the most visible group within the overall life extension community, it is commonly assumed that everyone within the community is a transhumanist and, by implication, anti-religious. Such a misperception is reflected in the views of William S Bainbridge, a scholar renowned for his work on the sociology of religion. He has produced a theory as to why religions would generally be expected to oppose to the concept of radical life extension: “The power of traditional religions is directly threatened by transhumanism so the sacred monopolies can be predicted to suppress it… Humans could become like gods, and in so doing may put conventional religion out of business.” Yet, as is clear from the positions of the major religions, this is far from the case. Dispelling the mythTherein, it’s time to dispel the myth about the life extension community being a pernicious transhumanist/atheist-members-only club. As has been demonstrated above, advocacy of longevity is compatible with a variety of religious beliefs.This community is not in direct competition for followers with the major world religions. Furthermore religious beliefs should not be conceived hurdles which need to be overcome in order to gain greater advocacy for radical life extension. Religious opposition to life extension is actually far smaller than you might think.

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What are the economic consequences of rapidly ageing populations?http://lifemag.org/article/what-are-the-economic-consequences-of-rapidly-ageing-populationsThe aging of our societies is one of the greatest success stories of the twentieth century. More than three decades have been added to the lives of hundreds of millions of people over the last hundred years. This is an accomplishment well worth celebrating; but we must also bear in mind that with increased longevity come significant long-term economic consequences – and that many societies are aging at a record speed.Read more @ World Economic ForumAubrey de Grey: Fountain of youthhttp://lifemag.org/article/aubrey-de-grey-fountain-of-youth

Speaking to Insight, Aubrey de Grey strongly believes there is a cure for ageing in sight and that \"trivial\" questions, such as \"Where would we put all the people?\", are merely a \"painful\" distraction to the real discourse.Read the full interview here

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Global study finds 6 year rise in life expectancy since 1990http://lifemag.org/article/global-study-finds-6-year-rise-in-life-expectancy-since-1990

The \'global burden of disease\' study, carried out by an international consortium of researchers and led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, found that life expectancy across the globe rose by 6 years between 1990-2013. However, in spite of better worldwide longevity, general health remains constant, meaning that pressure on health systems caused by an \'unhealthy\' aged population will persist as a key global issue. Read the full study @ Lancet (registration required)

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New statistics reveal that longevity progress in America is slowing downhttp://lifemag.org/article/new-statistics-reveal-that-longevity-progress-in-america-is-slowing-downStaticians at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington have calculated new figures for life expectancy at birth for Americans. These figures reveal that the rate of increase in life expectancy is beginning to stagnate, in spite of the huge amounts of money being spent on medical care in order to keep people alive for as long as possible. Read more @ the Economist (registration required)Life Extension Advocacy Foundation launches LifeSpan.iohttp://lifemag.org/article/life-extension-advocacy-foundation-launches-lifespan-ioLife Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) has officially launched an online platform - www.LifeSpan.io in order to increase public awareness of longevity research. Lifespan.io houses today\'s most promising life extension projects and invites people to contribute financially to the ones they wish to support. Read the full press release hereDesigner babies may soon be in voguehttp://lifemag.org/article/designer-babies-may-soon-be-in-vogueWe already have genetically modified food, but soon we may also have genetically modified embryos.In April 2015 researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in China published a research paper in Cell and Protein showing how they had managed to edit the genome of human embryos in order to block a gene that causes a rare blood disease. Currently, the technology which was used to re-write the DNA (CRISPR) is not yet reliable enough for widespread use in human embryos, but this study certainly shows that scientists are getting ever closer to achieving this goal. Read more @ Business InsiderJapan has so many people turning 100, it can't afford to give them all giftshttp://lifemag.org/article/japan-has-so-many-people-turning-100-it-cant-afford-to-give-them-all-giftsSince 1963, Japan has been gifting its new centenarians with a silver sakazuki, a saucer-like dish, to honor them. But when the tradition started, Japan had only 153 centenarians in total. Fast forward to today when there are more than 58,000, and the government can no longer keep up with the tradition. Read more @ Huffington PostNature's anti-aging pill is your pillowhttp://lifemag.org/article/natures-anti-aging-pill-is-your-pillow

How important is sleep? It turns out your very life may depend on it, at least the quantity and quality.Find out why @ Huffington Post

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Scientists get one step closer to a universal flu vaccinehttp://lifemag.org/article/scientists-get-one-step-closer-to-a-universal-flu-vaccineFlu - an illness which persists as a blight upon human health worldwide, may be living on borrowed time. Find out more @ WiredBrian Kennedy and Aubrey de Grey on their converging approaches to aging research http://lifemag.org/article/brian-kennedy-and-aubrey-de-grey-on-their-converging-approaches-to-aging-researchListen to an exclusive interview with two of the aging field’s visionary leaders @ Mendelspod Human Longevity, Inc. hires life sciences leader, Mark Winham, as Chief Operating Officerhttp://lifemag.org/article/human-longevity-inc-hires-life-sciences-leader-mark-winham-as-chief-operating-officerHuman Longevity, Inc. (HLI), the genomics-based, technology-driven company, announced today that Mark A. Winham has joined the company as Chief Operating Officer. Winham, who brings more than 25 years of life sciences, medical operations and technical experience, will report directly to HLI’s CEO, J. Craig Venter, Ph.D.Read the full press release hereGadgets for a longer lifehttp://lifemag.org/article/gadgets-for-a-longer-life

Good health used to be associated with three simple concepts: eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and drink plenty of water. Not any more. In a world where our lives seem to revolve around technology, there are now thousands of gadgets and apps designed to help us lead a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the most widespread and popular: Gadgets and apps to monitor your workoutsGadgets which monitor your workout have become extremely popular. With such technology, it is possible for people of all fitness levels to individualize their exercise plans; replacing the need for expensive human personal trainers. They are a means of motivation and can help you to set achievable exercise goals. Recent studies have also shown that, in the modern era, apps and gadgets may be a more effective medium of conveying messages about the health benefits of exercise than more traditional sources. Furthermore, there are particular benefits to monitoring your heart rate during exercise. Getting to know your maximum heart rate will enable you to pace yourself properly during workouts. You can see how hard you’re pushing yourself, but also make sure that you don’t overdo it. All in all, thanks to technology, increasing numbers of people are putting on their running shoes! The Motorola Motoactv is designed to provide sporty types with valuable data about their workout, such as distance covered, time taken, calories burnt etc. Wearing this watch-like device is like having your very own personal trainer strapped to your wrist. The Square One from Pear Sports not only quantifies your workouts but also gives you advice on how to run smarter and get the most out of your porting activities. Roughly the size of an iPod Nano, this gadget can be connected wirelessly to external devices such as an ECG monitor. An added bonus is that the device complements a training plan which has been devised by a group of world renowned professional coaches (including Jenny Hadfield) in order to help you stay on track to achieve an effective and efficient workout. The Reebok Intouch Heart Rate Monitor is far more convenient than conventional heart-rate monitoring devices, which are generally wrapped around the chest or placed in other awkward, movement-restricting positions. Instead this device can be worn on the wrist, with its main purpose being to monitor your heart rate, as well as calories burnt and distance covered. Furthermore, it’s super user-friendly since it doesn’t feature a multitude of intimidating buttons which can distract the wearer whilst running. Garmin Fit is an app which can be installed either on iPhone or Android devices in order to record data from your workout activities. Users have the option to export this data to Garmin Connect for detailed analysis, or simply for storage purposes. Moreover, the app has an additional feature which is exclusively available to iPhone devices. ANT+ allows for the wireless transmission of data from sensors monitoring heart rate, bike pedaling cadence and so on. Another feature of Garmin Fit is the option to compare your results to data from your previous workouts in order to see whether you have improved your performance. Gadgets to improve your sleepA decent night’s sleep has numerous health benefits: improved concentration and memory, reduced stress, better mood, reduced inflammation, healthy heart...the list goes on! Therefore, technology which can potentially improve your sleeping habits, or at least get a better understanding of them, is in high demand. Sleep Talk Recorder does exactly what its name suggests. Talking whilst asleep is one of the many sleep-related mysteries which scientists have yet to solve, but this app allows the general public to conduct their own research in the field. It proved to be an instant hit when it was launched in Sweden in 2010 and quickly made its way across to the USA. Many people, it would seem, are curious to discover what they are talking about after hitting the hay. Another in-vogue gadget is the Sleep-Inducing Vanity Set, which is designed to combat the effect that technology has had upon our sleeping habits. Indeed, for many people, the notion of days and nights have become synonymous, and this has the negative consequence of disturbing our natural sleeping rhythms. This gadget takes the form of a circadian sleep mask. Its chronos compact filters out blue spectrum colours, allowing the eyes to produce melatonin, the chemical that is thought to trigger sleep. When it is time to wake up, the mask’s role is reversed and it filters in the blue spectrum colours. Wearable gadgets There is now even clothing which can monitor your health whilst you are wearing it. The garments which make up the Modwells System incorporate a set of input and output sensors, which track your body’s daily activities and then offer guidance and alerts based on the data collected. This is a great tool which has the potential to improve people’s health of people by giving them real and specific feedback on their wellbeing. Research in the field is still underway, with the aim of delivering even more productive and accurate health monitoring clothing. Those bodysuits which we normally see in science fiction movies - capable of attending to every one of our body’s needs - could be coming to a store near you in the not too distant future. Another wearable device, with a more specific purpose, is the Mobilysis Portable Dialysis Machine. This has the power to give kidney patients more control by reducing the number of hours they have to spend in hospital during the course of dialysis treatment. The device, which won a distinction award in the 2011 Austrian National Prize for Design, allows them to lead a more normal life whilst receiving the treatment necessary in order to keep them safe and sound. The belt contains an infrared cleansing unit which can be configured and controlled via a smartphone application; making life easier for Dialysis patients. And one final piece of technology... FoodSwitch UK is designed to help you make healthier food choices in the supermarket. Simply scan the barcode on the food packaging with your handheld device in order to receive instant information about the nutritional content of the food in question. However, this app does have its shortcomings, since it cannot be used on fast-food (when was the last time you saw a barcode on a takeaway pizza box?) and it is not yet able to offer detailed information for every single food item available on the supermarket shelves. That said, the database of food items is constantly expanding and becoming more comprehensive. Currently, none of the plethora of devices and applications that we come across work in a perfect way. Rather, each one has its strengths and weaknesses and they are all circumstance-specific, since they can’t be used everywhere and in every situation. However, one thing that is globally agreed is that as the quantity of these devices is increasing, and so too is the quality of the services which they provide.

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A new $100 million company could transform the way we interact with our own DNA http://lifemag.org/article/a-new-100-million-company-could-transform-the-way-we-interact-with-our-own-dna

A new company called Helix, launched August 18 with $100 million in investments by partners including Illumina — one of the world-leaders in genome-sequencing — wants to unlock the potential of the human genome. .Read more @ Business Insider

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Cancer cells programmed back to normal by US scientistshttp://lifemag.org/article/cancer-cells-programmed-back-to-normal-by-us-scientistsScientists have turned cancerous cells back to normal by switching back on the process which stops normal cells from replicating too quickly.Read more @ the TelegraphWeak doses of radiation prolong life of female flies, scientists findhttp://lifemag.org/article/weak-doses-of-radiation-prolong-life-of-female-flies-scientists-findScientists at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology found that weak doses of radiation prolong the life of female fruit flies. These findings could reveal the genes that enable the prolongation of life and in the future lead to the means of preventing aging in humans. Read more @ Medical XpressConsumer Reports: With anti-aging treatment claims, promises and science often collidehttp://lifemag.org/article/consumer-reports-with-anti-aging-treatment-claims-promises-and-science-often-collide

A powerful brain, a happier sex life, reducing body fat, increase of energy - promises a growing number of over-the-counter and prescription products are claiming to offer us. But are your investments worth the side effects and risks?Read more @ Richmond Times

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Editing humanityhttp://lifemag.org/article/editing-humanityA new technique for manipulating genes holds great promise—but rules are needed to govern its use.Read more @ the EconomistHighlights from the RB2015 -  Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conferencehttp://lifemag.org/article/highlights-from-the-rb2015-rejuvenation-biotechnology-conferenceDan Dascalescu provides his personal highlights from the SENS Research Foundation Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference — the leading event on anti-aging biotech. Read more @ MediumSame day cancer treatment by 2020? Data scientists think sohttp://lifemag.org/article/same-day-cancer-treatment-by-2020-data-scientists-think-soIt has long been the goal for cancer doctors to analyze patients’ specific problems and begin a course of targeted treatment the same day.With big data, scientists believe this could be a reality by 2020 , at least if institutions are able to compute and securely share information successfully (currently not a strength in many healthcare scenarios). It sounds like a difficult goal line, but progress is being made.Read more @ ForbesThe emergent rejuvenation biotech industryhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-emergent-rejuvenation-biotech-industry

Odds are, if you live in the developed world, you will live into your 70s or 80s. Increasing numbers of us are even making it into our 90s. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, in 2010 there were 53,364 people over the age of 100 or 0.0173% of the population; they are one of the fastest-growing demographic groups. Nonetheless, there are only a handful of people that live to be super-centenarians (more than 110 years).Truth be told, extreme longevity is not uncommon in nature. Bristlecone pine is a good example. Some of these North American trees live 5000 years. Pando lives to an estimated 80,000 years, placing it among the oldest known living organisms. Indeed there are animals that do not age. They may die of disease, predation or environmental toxins, but they do not seem to age or die of old age.However, for mankind, ageing and death has been a vexing problem over the centuries. One of the earliest works of literature, the 22nd century B.C.E. Epic of Gilgamesh focuses on a hero’s quest for immortality. Around the 13th century, philosopher Roger Bacon wrote \'The Cure of Old Age and the Preservation of Youth\' and argued that ageing is essentially a trouble that can be corrected. In the late 1700s, Scotsman James Graham claimed Londoners could live 150 years by visiting his clinic where he persuaded them to rub themselves with balsam and wash their genitals in champagne. All throughout history, there have been many who like Ponce de Leon sought a way to stay young and vibrant.To some, radically extending human lifespan is a no-brainer, but unfortunately, aging and death is so horrible that most of humanity have insulated their psyches from the gruesome facts and even to the point of constructing elaborate myths, stories and psychological defences to deal with the grim reality: you will grow old, get sick and die.Regardless of how we may delude ourselves to avoid the thought of it, by not attacking the problem of ageing head-on we only condemn ourselves more certainly to gradual decrepitude and eventual death. Do we want to live long and healthy lives to enjoy the infinite number of enjoyable experiences that life has to offer? If so, we must abandon superstitious thinking, stop making excuses, quit burying our heads in the sand and once and for all put an end to ageing! What can we do about ageing and death? The 21st century is a time of epic advances in science and technology as evidenced by the exponentially increasing numbers of scientific papers posted to PubMed and myriad amazing technological accomplishments: functioning artificial hearts, 3D printing of living tissue and machine learning algorithms creating scientific hypotheses; a common smartphone can be cheaply converted into a microscope to identify pathogens; computers can do forensics with accuracy far superior to that of a trained human pathologist. The list goes on and on and the time is right for us to take on the biggest scientific/technological challenge of all - the scientific conquest of ageing and death.The charismatic leader of an emerging Rejuvenation Industry is one Dr. Aubrey D.N.J. de Grey, a British biogerontologist who is spearheading a global effort to end ageing ASAP. His credentials are too numerous to list here, but two of his significant efforts are editing Rejuvenation Research and creating the SENS Research Foundation.The crux of Dr. de Grey’s human rejuvenation program is SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) which outlines his 7 point plan to end ageing. As I write this article, there is a conference organized by the SENS Research Foundation taking place in San Francisco called Rejuvenation Biotech 2015. Here is an excerpt from the welcome letter:This past year has seen explosive growth in research into the underlying causes of the diseases of aging. With this growth comes the opportunity to continue to accelerate the construction of the Rejuvenation Biotechnology industry. Throughout the next three days we call upon all of you to help in the creation of this industry and to inspire each other as clinicians, researchers, regulators, venture capitalists, patient advocates and industry leaders to work together to make this happen.The Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference has been designed to offer something for everyone: the latest research on diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as the latest developments in gene therapy, tissue engineering and stem cells. One full track is entitled Translation to Treatment and includes Economics, Investment, Industry, Regulatory issues and the impact of Digitization on Healthcare.More developments will be reported after the conference concludes and all the wealth of new insights and information presented there has been digested.The Rejuvenation Industry may be embryonic, but there are major players entering into the war on ageing.The gargantuan Google joined the fray in late 2013 with a $1.5 billion war chest and it’s “moonshot” company called Calico. Calico is still in stealth, but they have been recruiting top scientific minds and are already partnering with major biotechnology organizations. They have joined forces with the Buck Institute, a leader in ageing research. In addition, drug maker AbbVie and Calico recently formed an alliance to research and bring to market novel drugs and treatments for everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, J. Craig Venter, the famous scientist credited with solving the human genome puzzle and whose organization created a new living organism, has also joined the fight with his new company named Human Longevity, Inc.Alas, despite all the knowledge, wealth and industrial might that civilization could focus on ageing, the greatest obstacle to achieving a life of 150 healthy years or more is still the attitude of the public.Two noted experts, Drs. Gavrilov and Gavrilova, state in their book, The Biology of Life Span: A Quantitative Approach, that according to their research there is no limit to how long we can live. But, now consider this: when asked whether they would want to have new medical treatments that could slow the ageing process and allow people to live decades longer, to at least 120 years old, a survey by the Pew Research Center finds that most Americans (56%) say “no” — they, personally, would not want treatments to enable dramatically longer lives.All the while, 100,000 people die of ageing daily and there exists a quarter of a trillion dollar per year “anti-aging” industry of supplements, wrinkle creams, Botox treatments, bogus scams and such. What if that kind of money could be spent on real cures for the diseases of ageing instead?There is no doubt that real rejuvenation therapies and healthy lifespans in the 100s of years will become a reality at some point in the future. It is just a matter of time. The question to ask yourself is: do you want it soon or a 100 years from now?I know there are questions and possibly some objections. All this needs to be hashed out ASAP in order to bring about a change in thinking that unleashes a vigorous rejuvenation industry providing regenerative therapies for us all in the coming decades.

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Guinness World Records recognizes 112-year-old Japanese as world's oldest manhttp://lifemag.org/article/guinness-world-records-recognizes-112-year-old-japanese-as-worlds-oldest-man

The secret to a long, happy life? Yasutaro Koide, a 112-year-old living in the central Japanese city of Nagoya who was officially recognized by Guinness World Records on Friday as the world\'s oldest man, says to \"not overdo.\" Read more here

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Science says working long hours is seriously bad for your healthhttp://lifemag.org/article/science-says-working-long-hours-is-seriously-bad-for-your-healthA new study of 600,000 individuals in Australia, the United States, and Europe published in the Lancet, a United Kingdom-based medical journal, found that people who more more than 55 hours per week or more have a 33% greater risk of stroke and a 13% greater risk of coronary heart disease.Read more @ TimeAn age-old dilemma: how to live for longer?http://lifemag.org/article/an-age-old-dilemma-how-to-live-for-longerAccording to William Reville of the Irish Times, about 80 per cent of factors which influence aging are not genetic, and we can exercise control over them. Read more hereLife-extending potential of a cancer drughttp://lifemag.org/article/life-extending-potential-of-a-cancer-drugResearchers at University College London observed an 8% rise in life expectancy when administering the cancer drug Trametinib to fruit flies. Read more @ World HealthFujifilm makes move into anti-aging lotions and stem cell researchhttp://lifemag.org/article/fujifilm-makes-move-into-anti-aging-lotions-and-stem-cell-researchFujifilm, Japanese photography and imaging company, shifts away from photo-film to new science and technology markets: Ebola drugs, anti-aging lotions and stem cell research. By 2018 the company is planning to double health care revenue to 1 trillion yen and Japan is becoming one of the world’s fastest places to get a regenerative medical product on the market.Read more @ The Star BusinessThis scientist is working on an anti-aging pill — and taking it himselfhttp://lifemag.org/article/this-scientist-is-working-on-an-anti-aging-pill-and-taking-it-himself

David Sinclair, Molecular Biologist, and Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, talks about a controversial pill that could simultaneously combat Alzheimer\'s disease, cancer, diabetes and heart disease to ensure that people live longer, healthier lives. Not only he is testing the pill on himself, his family members are involved too.Read more @ Washington Post

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The role of nutrition in healthy aging researchhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-role-of-nutrition-in-healthy-aging-researchQ&A with Simin Nikbin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph.D., senior scientist, professor of nutrition and immunology, and director, The USDA Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.See more @ Healthspan Campaign'Exercise hormone' Irisin really does existhttp://lifemag.org/article/exercise-hormone-irisin-really-does-existThe \"exercise hormone\" irisin has generated controversy among scientists — some say it\'s produced when humans work up a sweat, and holds promise as a weight-loss treatment, but others contend that irisin doesn\'t even really exist in people. Now, one research team says it has proven the existence of irisin in humans once and for all, using a technique that is more precise than those used in the past to identify the protein.Read more @ Live ScienceThe quest to document the world's oldest living things in striking photoshttp://lifemag.org/article/the-quest-to-document-the-worlds-oldest-living-things-in-striking-photosFor the past nine years, Sussman has been on a quest to document the world’s oldest living things before they’re gone. \"I was absolutely floored that nobody had done this work before,\" she says. \"There isn\'t an area in the sciences that deals with longevity across species.\"See the pictures @ Fast CompanyHow you can rewire your aging brainhttp://lifemag.org/article/how-you-can-rewire-your-aging-brain

Memory is so important for our sense of self. The science shows that physical activity doesn’t just make us feel better, it also helps halt the mental decline. Together with good sleep, relaxation, and socializing we can rewire our ageing brain.Read more @ National Post

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World population to cross over 11 billion by 2100: Are we ready? http://lifemag.org/article/world-population-to-cross-over-11-billion-by-2100-are-we-readyThe world’s population could be in excess of 11 billion people by the end of this century, with experts warning the number could have serious implications for global health. With the current world population standing at around 7.3 billion and expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, a United Nations study says the year 2100 could see 11.2 billion people living on the Earth.Read more @ The Market BusinessLet older Americans keep workinghttp://lifemag.org/article/let-older-americans-keep-workingEvery day, 10,000 baby boomers — Americans born from 1946 to 1964 — leave the work force. Most of them have not saved enough for retirement; at least one-fifth have basically no retirement savings. The American economy has a shortage of skilled workers. Keeping older Americans on the job therefore benefits everyone: It is crucial to maintaining economic growth, and it will help the boomers to preserve and increase their savings if longevity continues to rise.Read more @ New York Times'About dying': The side of death we don't seehttp://lifemag.org/article/about-dying-the-side-of-death-we-dont-seeIn the spring and summer of 2012, Danish photographer Catherine Ertmann set out to document death and what happens to people after they die. Her project called \'About Dying\' aimed to break the taboo about death by viewing it up close. See more @ CNNA daily 15-minute walk will 'make you live longer' study sayshttp://lifemag.org/article/a-daily-15-minute-walk-will-make-you-live-longer-study-says

Walking for just 15 minutes a day is enough to extend life expectancy for the over 60s, experts say.Read more @ Daily Mail

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Could testosterone therapy help men live longer?http://lifemag.org/article/could-testosterone-therapy-help-men-live-longerWhen it comes to men\'s bodies, testosterone is a marker of youth. Levels of the sex hormone tend to peak during the teen years through early adulthood and then decline gradually as men age. The consequences of this loss can be harsh: sleep disturbances, physical changes from increased body fat and reduced muscles to hair loss, reduced sexual desire.Now a study on 83,000 veterans provides some evidence that avoiding such symptoms of aging by replacing testosterone can work. In a study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers found that patients with low testosterone levels who received testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) could be at lower risk for heart attack or stroke.Read more @ Washington PostNutrition supplements add weight, not longevity for many seniorshttp://lifemag.org/article/nutrition-supplements-add-weight-not-longevity-for-many-seniorsWhile taking nutritional supplements helps older adults in the general population gain weight, they don\'t necessarily live longer or function better than those who don\'t take supplements, according to a research review article by Saint Louis University geriatricians.Read more @ Science DailySolving the mystery of Calicohttp://lifemag.org/article/solving-the-mystery-of-calico

The name \'calico\' is given to many things: a type of cotton cloth, a multi-coloured cat, a ghost town in San Bernardino County, California, a type of gun, a rare species of lobster. It is also short for California Life Company, a Google-funded enterprise which conducts research into anti-ageing. However, due to its super-secretive nature, the latter is all too easily lost in a crowd of feline and fabric-related Google search results. Whilst Calico may be on a mission to ‘tackle one of life’s greatest mysteries’, we at LIFEMAG decided that it was time to tackle the mystery surrounding the company itself. What exactly are they doing? We’re going to don our detective hats and examine the evidence. Surely, the easiest thing to do would be to approach Calico and ask them directly? Well, the following statement on the company’s website is basically just a polite way of telling nosy journalists that, whilst they’re welcome to try this method, they really ought to mind their own business:“As we make early progress on our research and goals, our capacity for handling press inquiries is limited. We\'ll do our best to be in touch: press@calicolabs.com”Having ruled out that option, all we can really do is analyse the information which has been made available to the public. Can we figure out what they are doing based on what was said about the company when it was announced?Plans to launch Calico were announced by Google in September 2013 and Arthur Levinson was put in charge. At the time, Google’s CEO, Larry Page stated that: “Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives.” A few months later, Page said something quite similar about Calico in Google’s 2013 Founder’s Letter: “we continue to invest for the long term, in our next generation of big bets. In healthcare we have Calico—a new company led by the former CEO of Genentech, Art Levinson, that’s focused on health, wellbeing and longevity”Based on Page’s words, Calico was interpreted as being the embodiment of a grand vision borne by Google to extend the human lifespan. It seemed that Google, the master of internet search engines, was set on becoming the master of life and death. However, the phrases ‘longer term’ and ‘next generation’ also implied that progress towards this ambitious goal was likely to be slow. Some sceptics took this to mean that Calico didn’t really have much of an idea about how to achieve its aims. Can we figure out what they are doing based on who works there?Calico’s team is a constellation of scientific superstars. Its employees are experts from the fields of medicine, drug development, molecular biology, and genetics. Although Calico is reluctant to be more specific about its activities, the company certainly doesn’t shy away from lauding the achievements of its small but select team. Arthur D. Levinson, the Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple is Calico’s Chief Executive Officer. Notably, Levinson received the American Association for Cancer Research Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research in 2011. Therefore it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Calico produced innovations to combat cancer. Another Calico employee who specialises in cancer research is Robert L. Cohen. After joining Genentech in 1994, he made important contributions to the research and development of several ground-breaking cancer drugs, before switching to the business development side of the company full-time in 2004. His role as a Calico Fellow is described as one which ‘spans R&D and business development.’ If Calico were to make any ground-breaking discoveries to improve the treatment of cancer, Cohen would be the one to take responsibility for making them commercially viable. In November 2013, Hal V. Barron, made a shocking move by leaving his post as Chief Medical Officer at Roche (the Swiss health care giant) in order to become Calico’s President of Research and Development. Personal connections definitely played a role in Barron’s decision, since he served under Levinson for many years as a chief medical officer at Genentech. Barron specialises in cardiovascular research and speciality therapeutics. He has already been issued with several patents for his work in thrombosis and angiogenesis. In the future Calico could take advantage of its exclusive access to Barron’s expertise in these fields. Between them, two members of Calico’s team have got the genetics research area covered. David Botstein, Chief Scientific Officer, was involved in establishing one of the founding theories of the science of genomics, namely a way to map human disease genes with DNA polymorphisms called restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs). Cynthia Kenyon, Vice President of Ageing Research, has undertaken equally pioneering work in the field of genetics, but with more of a focus on the molecular biology of aging. In 1993, she discovered that a single-gene mutation could double the lifespan of healthy, fertile C. elegans roundworms. This proved that the rate of ageing was subject to genetic control, both in humans and animals. Jonathan W. Lewis, Vice President of Business Development, is responsible for supporting Calico’s growth through partnerships and collaborations (more details about those later). Take a wild guess as to which company he worked at for nearly 10 years! It’s possible to see how he would have become acquainted with some of his fellow Calico team members during his time at Genentech, since he was the Head of Oncology Business Development. Immediately before joining Calico’s ranks, however, he was employed as the Vice President of Global Business Development for UCB Pharma in Brussels.The final member of the Calico crew is Senior Staff Scientist Nick van Bruggen. By now, it’s probably self-evident that he worked for Genentech; as a Director and Staff Scientist. During his time there he established a world renowned biomedical imaging department that pioneered the use of novel technologies, from magnetic resonance to positron emission and optical imaging. These techniques provided unique insight into the pharmacological treatment of disease. Throw the fact that he holds multiple patents into the bargain, and he’s another prize catch for Calico. So apart from Genentech, another common theme in Calico’s recruitment strategy seems to have been to secure exclusive rights to the knowledge and expertise held by renowned anti-ageing scientists. Can we figure out what they are doing based on the deals they are making?For the first year of its existence, all we knew about Calico was that the company had ‘moonshot goals’ and a team of scientific superstars. However, in September 2014 it finally sprang into action by announcing two research collaborations. The first was with AbbVie (a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company) and aimed to ‘accelerate the discovery, development and commercialization of new therapies.’ The two companies then immediately invested in the creation of a new research and development facility in San Francisco focused on aging and age-related diseases. Initially, AbbVie and Calico provided $250 million each to fund this project, and it was agreed that both sides would potentially contribute an additional $500 million in the future. The two also agreed to share the costs and profits equally. The second collaboration was with the UT Southwestern Medical Center and 2M, to advance research and drug development for neurodegenerative disorders caused by the aging and death of nerve cells. Basically, Calico managed to muscle in on a deal which already been made between UT Southwestern and 2M concerning the licensing of P7C3 compounds (which had the potential to combat neurodegeneration). 2M and Calico entered into a new license agreement under which Calico took chief responsibility for developing and commercializing the compounds resulting from the research program. Calico no doubt persuaded 2M to agree to the new deal by promising to fund research laboratories in the Dallas area (where 2M is based) and elsewhere to support the program.All went quiet again until March 2015, when The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard entered into a partnership with Calico, concerning the genetics of aging and early-stage drug discovery. The partnership aimed to support several efforts at the Broad to advance the understanding of age-related diseases and to propel the translation of these findings into new therapeutics. The Institute agreed to use its genetics expertise and novel drug-discovery tools in pursuit of goals shared with Calico. In the same month Calico formed a partnership with QB3, a University of California institute specialising in the advancement of biotechnological innovation. The purpose of this partnership was to conduct research into longevity and age-related diseases and, in the process of doing so, foster an interdisciplinary community of scientists in the relevant fields. Funding from Calico was to support QB3 research projects focused on aging; some in collaboration with Calico, others led solely by QB3. In exchange for providing the funds, Calico acquired the option to claim exclusive rights to discoveries made under the sponsored research agreement.The third partnership made in March was with UC San Francisco (UCSF) (a University of California health sciences campus), on a project to develop potential therapies for cognitive decline. Under the agreement, Calico received an exclusive license to technology discovered in the laboratory of Peter Walter, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF. This technology could potentially address the damage to cells caused by the Integrated Stress Response (ISR) mechanism. For an an undisclosed up-front fee, UCSF allowed Calico to take responsibility for further research, development and commercialization of the resulting therapeutics.By April 2015 it was clear that Calico was splashing the cash in order to facilitate the formation of partnerships. For this reason, Calico started to become more tight-lipped about the financial aspect of its deals. In fact, they categorically refused to disclose the financial terms of a new partnership with the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. This partnership was to support research into longevity and age-related diseases. Calico was permitted to cherry-pick innovative research projects at the Institute and, in exchange for funding, obtain exclusive rights to the discoveries made. Calico’s most recent partnership was announced in July 2015 with AncestryDNA (an industry leader in consumer genetics). This partnership aimed to investigate the heredity of human lifespan. The two companies planned to evaluate anonymized data from millions of public family trees, as well as AncestryDNA’s database of over one million genetic samples. Calico would then use the findings from the analysis to develop and commercialize potential therapeutics. Again, Calico refused to disclose just how much it had parted with in order to get its hands on AncestryDNA’s data. Looking at Calico’s impressive array of employees and collaborations, it would seem, at the moment, that Calico is merely trying to make money using other people’s knowledge. However, Chief Science Officer at SENS, Aubrey de Grey, claims that this is just a facade: “they are doing a bunch of highly lucrative irrelevant short-term stuff that lets them get on with unlucrative critical long-term stuff without distraction.” Can we figure out what they might do in the future based on the announcement of Alphabet?This week, Google reorganized itself into a new conglomerate called Alphabet. The companies forming this conglomerate include Google Inc., YouTube, Android, Google Ventures, Google Capital, Google X and, importantly, Calico. Such a move has generated a great deal of speculation over the future of Calico. The opinions are divided into two camps. On the one hand, one of the main reasons which the big-shots at Google gave for the creation of Alphabet was the need for greater clarity in how the mothership is choosing to invest in its various ventures, thus enabling its investors to better see how their money is being spent. On Alphabet’s website, Larry Page promised to “rigorously handle capital allocation and work to make sure each business is executing well.” Yet, as mentioned above, back in 2013, Page implied that Calico was not something designed to make a quick buck; it was a longer-term project. Up until now, the company has also benefitted from an undisclosed research budget. Under the Alphabet conglomerate, Calico could come under pressure to stop daydreaming about ‘moonshot goals’ and start generating profits. More importantly, obligations of greater transparency could mean that Calico is finally forced to spill the beans on what it is doing in order to justify the funding of its research. On the other hand, Larry Page also stated: “fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.” This could imply that Calico will be given the freedom to pursue its ‘moonshot goals’ in even greater privacy. Levinson certainly seems to think that this will be the case. In an email to Matthew Herper at Forbes magazine, he wrote: “we expect no change to Calico’s mission, directions or goals (either near or long-term) as a result of today’s developments. Everyone involved understands the long-term nature of this business, as I know you too appreciate.” So can the mystery be solved?Whilst we don’t know exactly what is happening down at Calico HQ, we know that something is happening. And that it’s something big. Why else would Calico be so secretive? Those whose curiosity remains unsatisfied, and who have the relevant qualifications, could apply for a job at Calico. Based on the considerable number of job adverts on the careers section of the company’s website, it looks like its super-skilled, superstar team is in need of some extra pairs of hands. This suggests that, with the funding, core team and research collaborations in place, Calico is now settling down to some serious work. What’s more, the Alphabet announcement means that the company will be able to carry out this work on its own terms; safe from the prying eyes of Wall Street. All in all, if there are going to be any scientific breakthroughs in the field of anti-ageing, then Calico is likely to be the one making them. Watch this space.

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Is cancer a stem cell disease?http://lifemag.org/article/is-cancer-a-stem-cell-diseaseHow stem cells talk to each other may partly explain why genes mutate and cause cancer, new research suggests.Read more @ FuturityCan alcohol really boost longevity?http://lifemag.org/article/can-alcohol-really-boost-longevity

As is unfortunately the case with many of the things that most people enjoy doing, drinking alcohol isn’t exactly considered a healthy pursuit. But in recent months we’ve seen a range of articles reporting that ‘booze’ can actually be quite good for you. Can this really be true? Well yes, sort of. Numerous studies have shown that acids found in beer and wine in fact offer a range of health benefits that can lower blood pressure, have anti-inflammatory effects, and even reduce the risk of certain cancers. In short, alcohol can genuinely have a positive impact on longevity, but only if consumed in moderation. WineIn terms of significant health benefits, by far the most advantageous tipple is red wine, which is literally teeming with “healthy acids” like polyphenols and flavonoids. Flavonoids, or tannins, are the naturally occurring colouring agents found in red wine, fruits, vegetables and flowers which when consumed can lower blood pressure and act as anti-inflammatories. The grape skin yields the majority of wine’s healthy nutrients. As white wine is fermented without the grape skins it has fewer health properties than its darker counterpart.This study conducted in 2012 on the effects of wine and beer on cardiovascular disease, suggests that polyphenols found in red wine can indeed increase longevity for those suffering from this and other ailments. These micronutrients are said to reduce “cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension, diabetes, and certain types of cancer,” and help to boost antioxidant capacity with “regular and moderate wine consumption.”Alcohol consumed directly after a meal can increase HDL, or “good cholesterol”, which in turn increases metabolism rate. This means that red wine during or after a meal can keep the risk of diabetes down, along with weight gain.BeerBeer is also shown to contain healthy acids that can boost the body’s defence against certain cancers. This study conducted in 2007 found that lupulones, healthy acids found in hops, could drastically reduce tumours in colon cancer patients. In the study rats were administered lupulones over a period of 7 months, the result was an 80% reduction in the number of tumours. Beer can also reduce the risk of kidney stones, as shown in this 2013 study. Here beer drinkers were 41% less likely to contract kidney stones than those who drank sweetened sodas, while wine drinking participants were 31-33% less likely to develop kidney stones over the 8 year study. Rich in silicon, beer can also help create strong healthy bones. This element is essential for bone growth and development as it helps new bones to form and mature bones to strengthen. IPAs are brewed with plenty of hops which means they are full of colon cancer fighting lupulones. Barley based brews, such as stouts, are also high in silicon which help calcium absorption in the body. While these studies do not address the effects of the alcohol in the beer; IPAs, stouts and other dark beers certainly contain nutrients and acids that help promote a healthy body.But how much is good for you? But what exactly is regular and moderate alcohol consumption? The UK’s National Health Service terms regular drinking as everyday or most days of the week. For men the recommended daily allowance of alcohol is 3-4 units whereas for women it is 2-3. One pint of beer translates to 3 units, one medium glass of red/white/rosé wine (175ml) contains 2 units, and a shot of spirit (25ml) is just 1 unit. These are only recommendations, and alcohol units will vary depending on the brand and beverage. Cardiologist Steve Georgeson suggests that moderate alcohol consumption may also increase longevity in healthy people. In his article Georgeson says that rather than acting as a medicine, alcohol may help prevent heart deterioration from occurring. In large studies looking at cardiac mortality rates for drinkers and non-drinkers, the figures showed a “16 percent reduction in deaths for men and 12 percent reduction for women compared to non-drinkers.” Georgeson attributes this to a phenomenon known as the “French Paradox”. In the 1980s epidemiologists coined the term “French Paradox” when they found that France had a remarkably low coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rate, despite French men and women consuming large amounts of saturated fats. This trend is echoed across the Mediterranean and is believed to be caused by the high level of red wine consumption in these countries. Evidently red wine has some medicinal benefits, although more research is needed to explain the precise effects and reasons for this. Everything in moderationIn spite of these studies, the positive effects of alcohol is still a widely debated topic in the medical field. Some medics are not convinced, and accredit findings related to the benefits of alcohol as arising mainly due to the healthy lifestyles that moderate drinkers tend to have. Cynics state that drinkers also tend to be wealthier than abstainers, which means they have access to better healthcare. Arguably individuals who drink just a glass or two of wine per evening also engage in other healthy activities like regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. The human tendency to abuse alcohol also explains the concerns some may have about proclaiming alcohol as beneficial to health and longevity. Mainly in the sense that medical professionals are aware that some drinkers may interpret the merits of alcohol as a justification to drink in excess. Although red wine and beer are shown to have several positive effects on the body, consumers should be cautious about their alcohol intake and always exercise a healthy lifestyle. Drinkers should be aware that alcohol abuse and binge drinking have extremely detrimental effects on the body. Excessive consumption above the recommended daily allowance can lead in the short term to alcohol poisoning, and in the long term to highblood pressure, weight gain, cirrhosis of the liver and increased risk of cancer. So overall, there may be enough evidence out there to suggest that moderate consumption of beer and red wine particularly can potentially prolong the lives of healthy people. Wine and beer can also help to increase longevity in individuals suffering from cancer, diabetes, hypertension and blood sugar related diseases. But only if, and it is a big ‘if’ combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Like anything, the key is to stick to the recommended amounts, and make responsible alcohol consumption a small facet of an overall healthy lifestyle, not as a means towards increasing lifespan in itself.

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6 technologies that could stop aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/6-technologies-that-could-stop-aging

Only the most arrogant mind could honestly think that death could ever be abolished for good – but it’s those same arrogant minds who have begun to make incredible progress towards this goal, and they’re approaching it from every angle imaginable. Is it possible that one of those attempts might succeed? One breakthrough could change the human condition forever, and these are the technologies that may make it happen sooner rather than later.Read more @ Future Tech

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Longevity: Mapping the path to a longer lifehttp://lifemag.org/article/longevity-mapping-the-path-to-a-longer-lifeInhibiting the PI3K branch of the cell signalling induced by insulin and insulin-like growth factor can extend lifespan. The finding that inhibiting the RAS branch also extends lifespan in flies suggests a new target for anti-ageing drugs.Read more @ Nature (Subscription required)Study reveals cell-signalling pathway can stimulate rejuvenation in aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/study-reveals-cell-signalling-pathway-can-stimulate-rejuvenation-in-agingScientists from The John Hopkins University published an article in the journal Cell Stem Cell revealing that activating a certain cell-signaling pathway in all mammals not only promotes skin healing, but also has the potential to stimulate rejuvenation in aging. When skin tissue is damaged it releases double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) which activates this pathway to promote skin regeneration. This process is a rare example of organogenesis in mammals and dsRNA may also have the possibility to be directly used for rejuvenation therapy.Read more @ Cell Stem CellSmart people live longer — here's whyhttp://lifemag.org/article/smart-people-live-longer-heres-whySmarter people tend to live longer than those with less luck in the intelligence department. Now, a new study hints at why: It\'s (almost) all about good genes.Read more @ Live ScienceGlucosamine increases lifespan 10 per cent by mimicking low-carb diet in mouse studyhttp://lifemag.org/article/glucosamine-increases-lifespan-10-per-cent-by-mimicking-low-carb-diet-in-mouse-studyA recent study published by scientists from ETH Zurich, in collaboration with four German research institutions, has revealed that feeding glucosamine supplements to elderly mice increased their lifespan by almost 10%. In addition, the glucosamine supplements were found to increase protection against diabetes, since they improved the metabolization of glucose. This study represents an important step towards proving the effectiveness of glucosamine in humans.Read more @ Nutrition ReviewWhat does Google's corporate shuffle mean for its biotech ambitions?http://lifemag.org/article/what-does-googles-corporate-shuffle-mean-for-its-biotech-ambitionsGoogle is divvying up its composite parts, becoming, depending on whom you ask, the new Berkshire Hathaway, the next General Electric or something heretofore never seen. But the move could have mixed implications for Google\'s nascent but growing life sciences empire--including the high-profile, secretive biotech Calico - as shuffling things around could expose such moonshot projects to the pitchforks of profit-hungry investors.Read more @ Fierce BiotechGoogle announces Calico to sit under new Alphabet holding companyhttp://lifemag.org/article/google-announces-calico-to-sit-under-new-alphabet-holding-company

As announced today, Calico, formerly Google\'s foray into longevity research and development will now sit (slightly) more independently under the corporation\'s newly formed holding company, Alphabet.In explaining the move, joint-founder and CEO Larry Page explained that Google companies \'far afield\' of their main internet products will now be contained under Alphabet instead. The idea - to make Google as a whole \'cleaner and more accountable,\' and allow for \'more management scale,\' as ventures which aren\'t particularly related can be \'run independently.\'What this means for Calico itself, we\'ll have to wait and see, but in terms of \'accountability\', perhaps we\'ll see a more transparent and forthcoming Calico once it begins to operate outside of the Google umbrella. Read the full press release here

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Could this liver drug slow down Parkinson's disease? http://lifemag.org/article/could-this-liver-drug-slow-down-parkinsons-disease

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have discovered that a drug normally used to treat liver disease has the potential to slow down the progress of Parkinson’s disease. Since tests on fruit flies yielded beneficial results, there are now plans to conduct a clinical trial of the drug ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) on real live Parkinson’s patients. Read more @ Futurity

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Clearance of key alzheimer’s protein dramatically slows with agehttp://lifemag.org/article/clearance-of-key-alzheimer-s-protein-dramatically-slows-with-ageResearchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have been able to identify some important changes within aging brains that they believe contributes significantly to the increased risk of developing AD.Find out more @ GEN100 wonderful ways to live to 100http://lifemag.org/article/100-wonderful-ways-to-live-to-100Much of making it to your 100th birthday is beyond your control, as longevity is partly dictated by genetics and the medical history and health habits of your parents and grandparents. But there are also a handful of lifespan-enhancing practices that you can adopt today.Read more @ Huffington PostAnti-aging researchers develop new algorithm that provides precision medicine for cancer patientshttp://lifemag.org/article/anti-aging-researchers-develop-new-algorithm-that-provides-precision-medicine-for-cancer-patientsMethod predicting targeted drug efficiency to be showcased at basel life science week.Find out more @ EurekalertYoung fatherhood linked to midlife mortalityhttp://lifemag.org/article/young-fatherhood-linked-to-midlife-mortalityThe Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health recently published evidence that young fatherhood elevated mortality in middle age. The study involved 30,500 Finnish men born between 1940 and 1950 and the findings suggest a need for better support of young fathers in their family lives to promote good health behaviours.Read the full study hereHigh altitude pods and a stint in the deep freeze: my quest for immortalityhttp://lifemag.org/article/high-altitude-pods-and-a-stint-in-the-deep-freeze-my-quest-for-immortalitySome of us are ageing far faster than others, according to scientists, but help is at hand if you have the cash to spend, says Celia Walden..Read more @ the TelegraphBiological markers that can shed light on longevityhttp://lifemag.org/article/biological-markers-that-can-shed-light-on-longevityModern medicine has managed to extend life expectancy greatly, but that statistic has been achieved largely thanks to fewer deaths during childbirth, municipal sanitation, safe drinking water and the arrival of antibiotics. Science has not yet cracked the secret to living beyond 90...Read more @ Financial TimesNew scientific evidence supports the free radical theory of aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/new-scientific-evidence-supports-the-free-radical-theory-of-agingThe thymus, an organ critical to the bodies immune system, atrophies rapidly with age putting older persons at increasing risk for lethal infections. In an open access study published August 6 in Cell Reports, scientists show that thymus atrophy may stem from a decline in its ability to protect against DNA damage from free radicals. This downward spiral of the thymus can be attributed to a deficiency in catalase, and the researchers indicated that their findings also suggest dietary antioxidants could inhibit this dysfunction.Read more @ Science Daily10 things we learned from Aubrey de Grey’s Reddit AMAhttp://lifemag.org/article/10-things-we-learned-from-aubrey-de-grey-s-reddit-ama

Call him the ‘lord of longevity’, ‘godfather of gerontology’, or simply the Chief Science Officer at SENS, Aubrey de Grey is without a doubt the most public and instantly recognisable face of life extension. As a result, his recent Reddit AMA attracted rather a lot of attention - so much so that the ‘session’ lasted a whole 7 hours. Going through everything can then be quite a strain on your mouse’s scroll button. However, we at LIFEMAG have saved you from going to such trouble, by breaking the marathon Q&A session down into the ten main points. Here are the 10 things we learned from Aubrey de Grey’s Reddit AMA.1. A 10 year old living today is 90% certain of achieving ‘practical immortality’De Grey is characteristically confident that radical life extension can be achieved in the relatively near future. In fact he is confident enough to offer a percentage chance of achieving ‘practical immortality’ for people of a current age. For people currently 40 years old, expect a 60% chance, 30 - 70%, 20 - 80%, and 10 - 90%. 2. Life extension technology for everyone is an absolute certaintyA big concern about when life extension treatments become available is that they will only be affordable for the most well-off. As a consequence we may see a proliferation of designer bourgeoisie super-babies and the gap between the haves and the have-nots transforming into one between mortals and immortals. De Grey though is less concerned about such things. His belief is that treatments to prolong healthy lifespan are likely to be cost-effective ‘standard’ rather than hugely expensive ‘personalised’ processes, which will in effect ‘pay for themselves.’ He is ‘absolutely certain’ that life extension technology will be available to everyone, and there will be ‘no such split.’3. You can put your faith in democracy to make radical life extension happen It is not only a key issue for advocates of life extension that governments are currently not investing enough in aging research, but also that radical life extension is not even a part of public debate. De Grey explains this as due to ‘the fear of getting people’s hopes up.’ Nonetheless, he still believes that we can put our faith in democracy to ensure that radical life extension will eventually happen. Why? Because “Democracy works rather poorly for issues that few people have as their #1 issue. But it works very well indeed for the #1 issue. Once we reach robust mouse rejuvenation and the war on aging is truly waged, this will be the #1 issue by far.”4. Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction have no effect on health and longevity.Calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, and a whole host of other diets are linked to increasing health and longevity. For calorie restriction specifically, several studies suggest that this may indeed increase lifespan. For de Grey however, such processes are dismissed as capable of having any significant impact on either health or longevity. When asked about the effect of calorie restriction and intermittent fasting upon longevity, his response - “not much at all.” 5. But injecting blood might just workThe possibility of injecting new blood into old people to increase lifespan has been very much in the news this week. So inevitably De Grey was asked his thoughts on the process as a potential means of radically increasing lifespan. Quite typically, he’s cautious about the potential of such a practice, but concedes that “it may just work.”6. Becoming cyborgs isn’t the answerAddressing the question of whether ‘singularity’ or ‘methuselarity’ offers the best hope for radically increasing human lifespan, De Grey is firm in his belief that methuselarity will get there first. In response to the contention that ‘replacing our bodies with interchangeable mechanised parts while preserving the brain’ would be more cost effective than ‘manipulating our cells’ he contends that “the brain has basically the same problems (types of accumulating damage) as the rest of the body. The reduction in difficulty would be outweighed by the difficulty in building the interface with the non-bio parts.”7. Blame Hollywood for the poor public perception of cryonicsCryonics, essentially the freezing of our heads or whole body after death in the hope that technology will later be developed to bring us back to life is gaining popularity. But for most, a concept inextricably linked with science fiction, and perceived as, well, rather weird. De Grey himself is currently signed up with Alcor to have his head frozen, and in defence of the practice blames Hollywood features on the topic such as ‘Vanilla Sky’ for fuelling this perception. On the best way of gaining a more positive public outlook on cryonics he suggests: “fewer high-budget films ridiculing it.”8. He’s ‘cautious’ about Calico Arguably the most high-profile company investing in life extension research and development, Google-backed Calico is for many, the best bet for making significant breakthroughs in the near future. But de Grey is cautious: “They are structured perfectly: they are doing a bunch of highly lucrative irrelevant short-term stuff that lets them get on with unlucrative critical long-term stuff without distraction. But the latter may be getting too curiosity-driven and insufficiently translational. We\'ll see.”9. He’s no Ray Kurzweil when it comes to personal choicesThroughout the AMA de Grey is asked numerous questions about his own life style. How much does he drink? Does he take supplements? How much fitness does he do? But essentially, when it comes to his personal choices towards longevity he admits that he rides his ‘considerable luck’. Claiming that he is unusually well-built, and drinks what works for him, de Grey admits that he doesn’t subscribe to the same superfood, supplement dietary regime as other prominent figures such as Ray Kurzweil and Peter Thiel, preferring instead to focus on his research at SENS for the cause of saving ‘many, many lives’ rather than his own. 10. Don’t mock the beardFinally, for a movement so desperate to be taken seriously, some within the life extension community are concerned that de Grey’s ‘mad scientist’ look may prove counterproductive to the cause. However, when asked whether his ‘crazy’ appearance will ‘turn people off his work’, he remains defiant: “looking bohemian has many advantages. Not least, it reassures people that I\'m not in this business for personal financial gain.”The full AMA is available here

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Want to live longer? Add chilli peppers to your diethttp://lifemag.org/article/want-to-live-longer-add-chilli-peppers-to-your-diet

A study published in the British Medical Journal finds that their may just be a positive relationship between longevity and spicy food. Read more here

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Dinner with longevity expert Dan Buettnerhttp://lifemag.org/article/dinner-with-longevity-expert-dan-buettnerJeff Gordinier of the New York Times gains an insight into the daily diet of bluezones nutrition expert Dan Buettner.Read more @ New York TimesDespite research breakthroughs, an anti-aging pill is still a long way offhttp://lifemag.org/article/despite-research-breakthroughs-an-anti-aging-pill-is-still-a-long-way-offThe very idea of a quick-fix pill for stopping, and perhaps even reversing, nature’s intricate biologic clock thus far has proven to be a hubristic notion. There is much we need to learn about how the aging process works. And while some drugs have shown promise as anti-aging treatments in the lab, we don’t know how well, or even if, they will work in humans.Read more @ the ConversationThe God quest: why humans long for immortalityhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-god-quest-why-humans-long-for-immortalityWe can’t stop craving eternity, which is why many religions have found “life everlasting” such a powerful recruiting tool. This irreconcilable conflict – experiencing the sadness, frustration and ­discomfort of the ageing process, yet knowing the folly of wishing it away indefinitely – is precisely why we need myths. Yet myths may be fed, not banished, by science.Read more @ New StatesmanCan we reverse the ageing process by putting young blood into older people?http://lifemag.org/article/can-we-reverse-the-ageing-process-by-putting-young-blood-into-older-peopleA series of experiments has produced incredible results by giving young blood to old mice. Now the findings are being tested on humans. Ian Sample meets the scientists whose research could transform our lives....Read more @ the GuardianThe world’s longest-living creatures http://lifemag.org/article/the-world-s-longest-living-creatures

While death may not currently be malleable, age certainly is. In the animal kingdom, there are many species that live a life longer than humans. Through genetic quirks, survival mechanisms, or biological abilities, certain animals can live for many decades, even centuries. Bowhead WhaleThe Bowhead Whale is proven to be the longest living mammal in the world. In 2007, a bowhead whale killed by Alaskan fisherman, was discovered to have an exploding harpoon embedded in its blubber, with hallmarks showing it to be from around 1890. From its size, scientists then estimated the whale was born in 1877, making it 130 at its time of death. Comparing this to the oldest human in history, Jeanne Calment, who died at age 122, the whale’s lifespan may not seem to differ so far from that of a human, however another bowhead whale killed later in Alaska, was estimated to be in fact 211 years old. Scientists have discovered mutations in bowhead genes that suggest a much greater ability in repairing DNA and discarding abnormal cells than is found in humans.Ming the ClamAt 507 years old, Ming was the oldest living non–colonial animal to have lived. In other words, it was the oldest living individual animal ever known, as longer living corals and sponges grow in colonies rather than separately. To form a greater understanding of Ming, and hoping to gain some insight into the biological process of its advanced age, scientists decided to open its shell, which then unfortunately killed it. While Ming was 133 years older than the next oldest clam, it is unknown how much longer it would have lived had it never been interfered with. Noted marine biologist Doris Abele has said that the long life of a clam may be due to its metabolism, which operates as though the creature is in slow motion.Hexactinelled/Glass SpongeWith an approximate lifespan of around 15,000 years, a specimen of the Hexactinelled species is agreed upon as the world\'s longest living organism. Older than the pyramids or even human human civilization, the ‘Glass Sponge’ dwarfs almost all other living organisms in age. The recent population explosion of the species in the Antarctic Peninsula has renewed interest in them, as due to their ability to store carbon, the glass sponge may have an integral part to play in the future of climate change. Their composition is one of the most unique in their species, as due to the structure of its soft tissues, the majority of its cells are fused into a single multi–nucleated mega cell, which is wrapped around its mineral skeleton. This is used to propagate electrical impulses which regulate their filtering activity - operating similarly to the nervous system in humans. This gives the glass sponge a huge jump in reaction time compared to others of its species.Tortoises and TurtlesWhile it is well known that both turtles and tortoises have an extraordinarily long lifespan, few are aware of the possibility that they could live indefinitely. This is due to the fact that the organs of a juvenile turtle and of a turtle over a century old are virtually indistinguishable. This phenomenon is known as negligible senescence, as the process of aging and cellular degradation has come to a halt - a phenomenon observed in both species. It has since been found that a turtle\'s heart does not always respond to nerve impulses or external stimuli, to the extent that they have been known to simply switch off their heart when they feel it isn\'t required. The longest-lived tortoise recorded is thought to have been 255 when he passed away in 2006. The cause of death was nothing related to his age, or even a disease, he instead died of liver failure, which was complicated by a crack in his shell. It is entirely plausible that he would be alive today had he gotten a transplant in time, and there\'s no reason, scientific or otherwise, to believe he would have died due to age related causes.LobstersContrary to popular opinion, the lobster is actually not immortal. This claim was widely debunked in 2013 by Zen Faulkes, the resident Invertebrate Neureothologist at the University of Texas-Pan American. Instead of immortality, lobsters have indeterminate growth – they essentially increase in size from birth to death constantly. At no point will growth taper off or reverse itself, though it will begin to slow with time. However, while able to determine lobsters will inevitably die of age- related causes, there has not yet been found a way to definitively calculate an individual lobster\'s age. Suggestions range from chemicals that build up in a lobster\'s brain over time, to residues that accumulate in eyestalks, but at the time of writing, no certain method has been found.Turritopsis dohrniiYou may be familiar with the turritopsis dohrnii, even if its name isn\'t instantly recognisable. Better known as the immortal jellyfish, it perfectly lives up to its given moniker. It is the only known animal in all of creation to have the ability to completely revert back to its sexually immature phase after having reached sexual maturity. It literally reverses its age, from an adult back to a child, and can do so indefinitely, giving it functional biological immortality. This process has only ever been observed in laboratory studies however, and has never been seen in the wild. There have been attempts to alter the organism\'s abilities for use to repair human cells, although with little success so far.

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Half of heart disease deaths may be due to preventable factorshttp://lifemag.org/article/half-of-heart-disease-deaths-may-be-due-to-preventable-factorsA new study undertaken by Emory University, USA has revealed that almost half of deaths from heart disease are due to entirely preventable factors.Find out more @ Reuters3D brain map reveals connections between cells in nano-scalehttp://lifemag.org/article/3d-brain-map-reveals-connections-between-cells-in-nano-scale

Scientists have created an unprecedented high-resolution map of the brain that reveals structures as small as those found in individual nerve cells.Researchers hope the uprecedented images will allow study of abnormal connections and lead to potential treatments for neurological disorders such as schizophrenia and depression.Read more @ the Guardian

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Surprising results cast new light on the free radical theory of aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/surprising-results-cast-new-light-on-the-free-radical-theory-of-agingWhen scientists in the Campisi lab at the Buck Institute bred mice that produced excess free radicals that damaged the mitochondria in their skin, they expected to see accelerated aging across the mouse lifespan - additional proof of the free radical theory of aging. Instead, they saw a surprising benefit in young animals: accelerated wound healing due to increased epidermal differentiation and re-epithelialization.Read more @ EurekalertWeight at 21 the 'key to longevity'http://lifemag.org/article/weight-at-21-the-key-to-longevityPeople who achieve their ideal weight at the age of 21 are more likely to enjoy a long life, scientists believe. Find out more @ Mail OnlineHuman Longevity Inc. plans to ramp up sequencing capacity as more pharma deals near fruitionhttp://lifemag.org/article/human-longevity-inc-plans-to-ramp-up-sequencing-capacity-as-more-pharma-deals-near-fruitionJ. Craig Venter\'s Human Longevity, Inc., is working toward new deals with biopharma companies. And the completion of the agreements could lead to a ramping up of HLI\'s already massive sequencing capacity.Read more @ Fierce BiotechThe age of the centenarianshttp://lifemag.org/article/the-age-of-the-centenariansThe elderly population over 100 years is set to increase ten fold by 2035.Read more @ ZME Science Epigenetic modification slows aging in yeasthttp://lifemag.org/article/epigenetic-modification-slows-aging-in-yeastAging in Saccharomyces cerevisiae can be modulated by regulating epigenetic histones that control gene expression. Scientists at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania showed that abnormal transcription in aging cells that is mediated by chemical modifications on histones leads to shortened lifespan. Furthermore, reduction of this type of abnormal transcription leads to longevity in yeast.Read more @ NanowerkMajor mouse study reveals the role of genes in diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/major-mouse-study-reveals-the-role-of-genes-in-disease

The functions of around 150 genes have been discovered by scientists across Europe studying mice, in a major initiative to try to understand the part they play in disease and biology.Read more @ Nature Genetics

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Fats from fish and vegetables may increase longevityhttp://lifemag.org/article/fats-from-fish-and-vegetables-may-increase-longevityA recent study published in the medical journal Circulation shows that high levels of polyunsaturated fats in the blood are linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and increased longevity. Read More @medicalxpress.comHow long will it be until you can get an anti-aging pill?http://lifemag.org/article/how-long-will-it-be-until-you-can-get-an-anti-aging-pill

Many scientists believe that designing an anti-ageing medication is a matter of “when,” not “if.”Find out why @ Gizmodo

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How stem cells may save your lifehttp://lifemag.org/article/how-stem-cells-may-save-your-lifeAccording to Peter Diamandis, stem cells will soon be able to to change medicine forever, extend life, and save our lives in the years ahead. Read More @singularityhub.comThe science of aging http://lifemag.org/article/the-science-of-agingAnn Wycoff enumerates ways symptoms of ageing can be prevented, and how digestive health and immunity can be maintained. Find out more @marinmagazine.comWhy are all the tech billionaires chasing ‘immortality’?http://lifemag.org/article/why-are-all-the-tech-billionaires-chasing-immortality

With the regenerative medicine market currently estimated at being worth $1.6 billion, and showing chances of reaching $20 billion by 2025, we are seeing a boom of investments in the field of ‘immortality.’ Internet giants who are making substantial biotech investments are convinced that 10 years from now we will have a better understanding of what causes the aging process and how to stop it. They are willing to put up with government bureaucracy, skeptics and prejudice, and persist to overcome political issues. All for the common purpose of fighting death. The ‘godfather’ of tech billionaires Bill Gates has gone on record to call such pursuits by his peers as ‘egocentric’, but is it really ego that motivates prominent entrepreneurs such as Peter Thiel, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Bill Maris and Mark Zuckerberg to invest in start-up biotech companies and promote the idea that aging can be curable? Or is it something else?A good investment?Pouring money into the longevity sector can be explained firstly, and quite simply as due to it being a good investment. Many of the biggest biotech companies have recently seen some of their biggest financial returns, and as a result of what is being termed a ‘biotech boom’, the anti-aging market is expected to hit $345.8 billion a year by 2018.PayPal co-founder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel, lauded as one of the world’s most successful ever investors, was able to successfully anticipate this revolution in digital health. He has poured significant sums into innovations like 3D printing, virtualization, and human genomics, and overall holds stakes in 14 health and biotech companies - most concerned specifically with solving the problems associated with aging. Likewise, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have followed this same path. Initiators of the long-term Calico project, which focuses on ageing research and associated diseases, each partner has donated an initial $250 million, with the plan to add an additional $500 million in funding as the project develops. The two billionaires have also invested millions in numerous other biotech start-ups, such as Genentech and 23AndMe, a company co-founded by Brin’s wife. But arguably the individual making the biggest foray into life sciences is Google Ventures’ Bill Maris. Not exactly a billionaire himself, but with $1.6bn of Google money under his management, he started turning his attention to investing in this area as far back as 2009, and a big part of the $425 million Maris has in his investment budget this year will be invested in longevity-based health. Last year Google Ventures already set a new record for its own level of investment in the industry - as out of the $1.6 billion Google Ventures budget, 35% was allocated for investments in health tech. All in all, investment in aging research just seems to make more sense than any other area of healthcare. According to the popular investment website moneymorning.com, investment in healthcare is drastically moving towards anti-aging research in anticipation of technological advances, and a long-term movement towards preventative medicine. With the likelihood that this will lead to even greater investment opportunities and financial rewards in the future, these high-profile investors hope to address many of the issues healthcare systems face by solving the problem of why we get sick in the first place. As a result, such a movement towards preventative medicine would not only lighten the load upon struggling healthcare systems throughout the world, but also offer huge financial rewards for those developing these treatments. Personal Desire to live longer?Although undoubtedly motivated by financial reward, for some investors who have proclaimed their wish to radically extend human lifespan there are also personal factors which can explain each individual’s contributions. In this regard, those investing in radical life extension of course want to see the benefits of it themselves.Peter Thiel makes no secret of his plan to live until he is at least 120. He confessed in an interview with the Washington Post that he has been disturbed by the idea of death since childhood: \"I’ve always had this really strong sense that death was a terrible, terrible thing. I think that’s somewhat unusual. Most people end up compartmentalizing, and they are in some weird mode of denial and acceptance about death, but they both have the result of making you very passive.\"But while Thiel’s outspokenness on the subject of ending death is a manifestation of his personal ambition to live indefinitely, for the two Google co-founders the topic is a more delicate one. Sergey Brin discovered he was a carrier of a genetic mutation in 2008, which exposes him to the danger of developing Parkinson’s disease, whilst Larry Page’s interest could have stemmed from his own personal medical condition - in 2003 he was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis disease, which has impacted his voice, and can be dangerous if untreated. Ventures such as Calico and partnerships with the Buck Institute emphasize Page’s and Brin’s eagerness to focus on anti-aging studies, even if it is likely to take time before these ideas become reality. Page recently told TIME that his current aim is to “shoot for the things that are really, really important so ten or 20 years from now we have those things done.” With all being from a scientific background, Page, Brin and Maris particularly are clear in their belief that science holds the key to radically improving both the human condition and the world we live in - the pinnacle of this being radically prolonging human lifespan. In a recent Bloomberg interview Maris points out we live in an era where science can make all the tools available for any audacious vision out there. He admits: “I just hope to live long enough not to die.” Philanthropy?But is it so hard to believe that billionaires really seek to do good with their money? Perhaps these investments can actually be explained as a desire to genuinely improve society by leading the cause of prolonging healthy lifespan. When Page and Brin formed Google Calico, Missy Krasner, a Google Health employee declared: “Larry and Sergey have always had this grand vision about how to help society and improve public health.” For Sergey Brin this mission has so far manifested itself in over $150 million of personal investments, given primarily to companies that use data to understand DNA. Together with Mark Zuckerberg, he also co-sponsors the $33 million Breakthrough Prize for Life Sciences, awarded to scientists engaged in curing age-related diseases. Thiel is also driven by the desire to improve public health in the US, a system which he is openly critical of, and one which is increasingly burdened by an aging population. In a Reddit AMA Peter Thiel declared: “We would never design a system like this if we were to start from scratch.” As a result, through his $2 billion capital Founders Fund, Thiel regularly provides money for biotechnology companies and researchers looking at different ways to slow down or stop aging. He has provided Aubrey de Grey’s Methuselah Foundation with over $6 million to help with their mission to find drugs to cure age-related damage. Similarly Maris has long insisted on a more meaningful purpose for Google Ventures’ investments, and moving into the field of healthcare represents a chance for Google money to be used towards developing a more optimistic scenario where people are given the chance to live longer healthier lives. In exclaiming “medicine needs to come out of the dark ages”, he plans to use Google Ventures as a primary vehicle for making this happen. For the newest tech billionaire to enter the arena, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg the intentions particularly appear to be altruistic and humanitarian. To Stephen Hawking’s question in a recent Facebook Q&A on which of the biggest mysteries in science he would like to have an answer to, Zuckerberg wrote an entire list, including “how to cure all diseases” and “what could enable us to live forever?” Also, in 2013, in a status update, the Facebook chief executive wrote: \"Our society needs more heroes who are scientists, researchers, and engineers,\" and \"we need to celebrate and reward the people who cure diseases, expand our understanding of humanity, and work to improve people\'s lives.\" Thus, judging by the amounts of money and time these investors are devoting to supporting a range of innovations designed to improve both the human condition and healthcare, one can easily determine that there is genuine interest in making a positive impact on society.Investing in a better futureSo overall, pouring money into longevity-based business seems a pretty sound investment, particularly when some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and investors are right at the forefront of the industry’s development. But is it ego? Well, no. Although these expenditures may indeed be seen as pretentious, in the grand scheme of things, they represent a significant contribution to society’s advancement. To these tech billionaires, evolution is meant to be transcended, and the resources put into organ regeneration, drugs that control ageing, or reprogramming DNA reflects their conviction that people have the right to lead better lives. Although some of their philanthropic ideas have been criticised, all stand by their principles, and as a result life extension will continue to be one of the main areas being invested in by the great and good of Silicon Valley. And why? Because they have a clear idea of the society they want to live in and how it should function, and above all else hold the financial resources to make it happen.

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Why smart people tend to live longerhttp://lifemag.org/article/why-smart-people-tend-to-live-longer

The tendency of more intelligent people to live longer has been shown, for the first time, to be mainly down to their genes by new research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.Read more @ Neuroscience News

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Scientists win $1.5 million to study new strategies for Parkinson's disease and other disordershttp://lifemag.org/article/scientists-win-1-5-million-to-study-new-strategies-for-parkinsons-disease-and-other-disordersScientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been awarded nearly $1.5 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health to explore the therapeutic potential of a class of proteins that play essential roles in the regulation and maintenance of human health.Read more @ EurekalertNew technology to dramatically enhance personalised medicinehttp://lifemag.org/article/new-technology-to-dramatically-enhance-personalised-medicineA new technology that will dramatically enhance investigations of epigenomes, the machinery that turns on and off genes and a very prominent field of study in diseases such as stem cell differentiation, inflammation and cancer, is reported on today in the research journal Nature Methods.Read more here The companies competing to help you beat deathhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-companies-competing-to-help-you-beat-deathMany a diet and drug company has promised it has the secret to longevity, but now businesses with access to people’s DNA are trying to uncover the path to longer living. There’s a handful of companies getting into this space in recent years as Silicon Valley sets its sights on mortality as the next big problem that needs solving.Read more @ FusionWorld's first successful bionic eye implant http://lifemag.org/article/worlds-first-successful-bionic-eye-implantA British man, Ray Flynn, aged 80, has become the first person in the world to receive a bionic eye implant for macular degeneration - the most common cause of vision loss in adults. The operation was carried out at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.Read More @ arstechnica.com New chemo delivery system minimizes impact on healthy cellshttp://lifemag.org/article/new-chemo-delivery-system-minimizes-impact-on-healthy-cellsIn an open access article published in Nature\'s Scientific Reports, Dr. Naga Puvvada of Dalhousie Medical School shows a novel way to deliver nano-particles that release chemo within breast cancer cells. The benefit of his delivery technique is that it concentrates the chemo inside the tumor in order to mitigate damage to nearby healthy tissue.Find out more @ Medical XpressNew antibody drugs show promise in slowing the advance of Alzheimer’s disease.http://lifemag.org/article/new-antibody-drugs-show-promise-in-slowing-the-advance-of-alzheimer-s-disease

Yesterday in Washington, both Eli Lilly and Biogen presented new data suggesting that antibodies designed to break up or clear the beta-amyloid plaques can slow the advancement of Alzheimer’s, particularly in patients with the mildest form of the disease.Find out more @ MIT Technology Review

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Biotech investing hits an all-time high - but is it a bubble?http://lifemag.org/article/biotech-investing-hits-an-all-time-high-but-is-it-a-bubbleThe biotechnology industry hauled in $2.3 billion worth of venture capital investments during the second quarter of this year—a 32% increase over the prior quarter, according to the newest MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Is this a biotech bubble or are the gains sustainable?Read more @ ForbesUsing low-dose irradiation, researchers can now edit human geneshttp://lifemag.org/article/using-low-dose-irradiation-researchers-can-now-edit-human-genesFor the first time, researchers have employed a gene-editing technique involving low-dose irradiation to repair patient cells, according to a study published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.Find out more @ EurekalertCan science offer us immortality? Should it?http://lifemag.org/article/can-science-offer-us-immortality-should-it

At a recent Los Angeles screening of the new science fiction thriller Self/Less, USC Stem Cell researcher Michael Bonaguidi and University of Arizona researcher Wolfgang Fink tackled this and other provocative questions during a panel discussion.Read the transcript here

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New eyedrops could shrink cataracts without surgeryhttp://lifemag.org/article/new-eyedrops-could-shrink-cataracts-without-surgeryCataracts are a common disease of aging. A preliminary study published in the journal Nature shows we can treat cataracts in animals and human lens cells with lanosterol eyedrops, instead of surgery.Read more @ LiveScienceCalico and AncestryDNA to study genetics of human lifespan http://lifemag.org/article/calico-and-ancestrydna-to-study-genetics-of-human-lifespanGoogle Calico has announced a partnership with AncestryDNA, a consumer genetics company, to investigate the human heredity of lifespan. The two companies will evaluate anonymised data of millions of public family trees and a database of over one million genetic samples. Read more @ GEN News'Longevity for all' film contesthttp://lifemag.org/article/longevity-for-all-film-contestInternational Longevity Alliance has announced a competition for the best (very) short film concerning life extension. The prize is €3000 and the deadline for submissions is September 21, 2015. Find out more here Researchers discover way to drastically improve biotech drugshttp://lifemag.org/article/researchers-discover-way-to-drastically-improve-biotech-drugsResearchers from the University of Copenhagen have discovered a way of improving biotech drugs. Better, cheaper and more effective drugs to combat cancer, arthritis and many other disorders.Read more @ Nature BiotechnologyAltering our RNA to increase lifespanhttp://lifemag.org/article/altering-our-rna-to-increase-lifespanAltering RNA helicases in roundworms doubles their lifespan. A similar technique could be used on human cells.Read more @ Neuroscience NewsWhat we learned at the White House aging conferencehttp://lifemag.org/article/what-we-learned-at-the-white-house-aging-conference

Six hours, 700 watch parties and thousands of Tweets later, what did we learn from the White House Conference on Aging?Read more @ Next Avenue

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Chinese seek modern elixirs for health and longevityhttp://lifemag.org/article/chinese-seek-modern-elixirs-for-health-and-longevityOnce it was exotic derivatives of traditional medicine – such as liquid extracts of chicken or snake, or medicinal wines – that the Chinese sought as elixirs to health and longevity. Now Chinese consumers have turned their hopes to vitamins and protein powders, thereby creating the world’s second-largest market for dietary supplements, after the United States.Read more @ ForbesExercise benefits brains of older peoplehttp://lifemag.org/article/exercise-benefits-brains-of-older-people

Older adults can improve their brain function by exercising more, a new study has found.Read the full press release here

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Counting all the DNA on earthhttp://lifemag.org/article/counting-all-the-dna-on-earth

Researchers at Edinburgh University have found a unique method of calculating all the DNA that exists on earth - a development considered significant in revealing \'gaps in knowledge about various aspects of the biosphere that we need to fill.\'Find out more @ New York Times

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If it becomes possible to safely genetically increase babies’ IQ, it will become inevitablehttp://lifemag.org/article/if-it-becomes-possible-to-safely-genetically-increase-babies-iq-it-will-become-inevitable

Eugene Volokh\'s opinion piece in the Washington Post explores the likelihood of gene-editing to make us smarter becoming a reality.Read more here

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'Immortality' sought through Canadian supreme court lawsuithttp://lifemag.org/article/immortality-sought-through-canadian-supreme-court-lawsuitCanadian man files civil claim in British Columbia Supreme Court in a bid to overturn a provincial law preventing him from preserving his body after death in the hopes he can later be resuscitated.Read more @ CBC NewsStem cells move one step closer to cure for genetic diseaseshttp://lifemag.org/article/stem-cells-move-one-step-closer-to-cure-for-genetic-diseases

Healthy brain, muscle, eye and heart cells would improve the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world with debilitating mitochondrial diseases. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute have gotten one step closer to making such cures a reality: they\'ve turned cells from patients into healthy, mutation-free stem cells that can then become any cell type.Find out more @ Science Daily

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Unique ageing study shapes understanding of human healthhttp://lifemag.org/article/unique-ageing-study-shapes-understanding-of-human-healthIn an extraordinary piece of medical research that has been going on for nearly seven decades, scientists have been monitoring the health of a group of people who were all born in the same week in March 1946.Find our more @ BBCWhat happened at the White House conference on aging?http://lifemag.org/article/what-happened-at-the-white-house-conference-on-aging

The White House Conference on Aging, held Monday, brought together 200 experts from around the US to explore the challenges and opportunities of the coming elder boom.Find out more @ Forbes

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German party for health researchhttp://lifemag.org/article/german-party-for-health-research

In our new LIFEMAG community series, we interview activists throughout the world looking to take life extension ideas from the radical to the mainstream. In this first instalment, Valentina Lencautan speaks to Felix Werth, a biochemistry student at Potsdam University, who has founded Germany’s first and only life extension focused political party - the Partei für Gesundheitsforschung (Party for Health Research). At the party\'s weekly meeting, Felix explains how the party was formed six months ago in the hope of attracting enough members to spread the word about life extension, and increase the German government’s investment in aging research. What made you get into life extension activism?It was seeing the work of SENS and interviews with Aubrey de Grey among others. I was inspired so much that I decided to study to become a biochemist myself. And why start a political party?I was thinking about what I could do for the cause of life extension, and thought starting a political party was a good way to raise awareness, and also encourage the German government to invest more in aging research. The current budget of the German government is over €300bn, so if just one per cent of that was invested in aging research, that would be €3bn.Is there a big support base for life extension in Berlin? I am afraid we are still a very small group, but I hope that will change. To be able to participate in the elections, the party needs about 400 members, and we’re still some way off achieving that. What do you do to promote the party?I try to tell people that this matter concerns their lives, that it’s not just about living a healthy lifestyle. Nowadays people are flooded with information about what they should eat and the exercise we should do. Many perceive us as yet another health advisor who is trying to tell them how they should live. Many find it difficult to understand what the SENS concept is, that it is about repairing the body and rejuvenation. Others just do not believe it is possible. It is a matter of convincing people that it can be a reality. How prepared are you for the next election?The election in Berlin is next year, whereas in Germany it starts in 2017. I hope there will be a point where people will promote the party as heavily as I do. It takes a lot of time to do promotion work. We often get negative responses such as “what about overpopulation?” or “how would we pay the pensions?” or “wouldn’t the rich be the only ones to benefit from it?”, you have to address all these questions. Although I have good replies to these questions, it requires a lot of time. I expect longevity believers to do the same - be engaged in promoting this cause. If you aren’t successful this time, would you go for the next Berlin election?Yes, sure.If we would become part of the government we would build more research institutes and educate more researchers. This way we would have a better chance to develop these therapies faster and save a lot of lives.So you are campaigning not for just more funding, but also for the SENS method in research as well? The SENS method is the best one there is at the moment, but I would leave this kind of decision to the scientists. The party’s main purpose is to find the money to be invested into research. It is all about finding therapies for the diseases of old age. If we were to receive more funding, research would evolve so much faster. It is simple logic. Click here to learn more about the party, or become a member (in German).

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The silver tsunamihttp://lifemag.org/article/the-silver-tsunamiThe stakes are high as boomers retire and put greater demands on the health-care system. In 2017, the U.S. population will hit a tipping point. For the first time, people aged 65 and older will outnumber those under 18, according to the National Institute on Aging. This shift is known as “The Silver Tsunami.”Read more @ SynergiesWhat to eat if you want to live foreverhttp://lifemag.org/article/what-to-eat-if-you-want-to-live-forever

For many scientists, a lifelong love of learning is just that—lifelong. But for Russian biologist Maria Konovalenko, the average human lifetime isn\'t enough. That’s why she’s writing a cookbook for people who want to live forever.Find out more @ Vice

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Americans are living longer. What if that's a disaster?http://lifemag.org/article/americans-are-living-longer-what-if-thats-a-disasterA \'catastrophist\' says longevity poses huge risks we aren\'t dealing with.Read more @ PoliticoWorms’ glimmer of hope for human longevity http://lifemag.org/article/worms-glimmer-of-hope-for-human-longevity

Buck Institute researchers look to the genes of Caenorhabditis elegans, a 1 millimeter-long, soil-dwelling roundworm for a glimpse of the aging process.Read more at @ North Bay Business Journal

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The ‘indispensable soma’ theory of ageinghttp://lifemag.org/article/the-indispensable-soma-theory-of-ageingFor the past several decades, the Disposable Soma theory of ageing has been enjoying good publicity and a lively interest from both academics and the public alike. But what is it?Find out @ ScienceblogTaking control of operational genomics http://lifemag.org/article/taking-control-of-operational-genomicsThe potential offered by genomic testing is growing, but a new generation of information technology needs to be developed to answer many of the outstanding questions regarding the storage and analysis of data.Read more @ GEN10 foods that make you look youngerhttp://lifemag.org/article/10-foods-that-make-you-look-younger

Which 10 foods can not only boost your health and strengthen your immune system, but also pack the building blocks of healthy hair and skin? Find out @ Time

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First drug to help you live longer could go on trial next yearhttp://lifemag.org/article/first-drug-to-help-you-live-longer-could-go-on-trial-next-yearMetformin has been used to treat type 2 diabetes for decades. Now researchers are undertaking the first largescale trial to test whether the drug could also delay death and age-related conditions such as heart disease, cancer and mental decline.Read more @ New ScientistNew technique could repair the human body like we've never been able to before http://lifemag.org/article/new-technique-could-repair-the-human-body-like-weve-never-been-able-to-beforeScientists are working on a way to take healthy cells of one type, reprogram them so they transform into the type of cell needed, and then replace damaged cells with the repurposed ones.The procedure, called \'direct reprogramming,\' would make it possible to redirect cell fate.Read more @ Business Insider Less education may mean shorter lifespan, study suggestshttp://lifemag.org/article/less-education-may-mean-shorter-lifespan-study-suggestsA low level of education may be hazardous to your long-term well-being, a new study suggests.Read more @ HealthAn ageing population could boost economic growth – if we adapthttp://lifemag.org/article/an-ageing-population-could-boost-economic-growth-if-we-adapt

As the post-war baby boomers grow older, and people live longer, the number of over-65s in many developed Western countries is expected to nearly double by 2050. This is often seen as a problem for society, leading to higher health care and social costs, and increasing demands on the public purse to pay pensions. But there can also be positive benefits for the economy.See why @ City Am

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TPUSA to tour America in 40ft mobile coffinhttp://lifemag.org/article/tpusa-to-tour-america-in-40ft-mobile-coffinHardly one for taking the subtle approach to raising awareness of transhumanism, Zoltan Istvan, leader of the Transhumanist Party USA (TPUSA) has today announced plans for an \'immortality bus\' - essentially a mobile 40ft coffin which will be driven across America as a \'pro-science symbol of resistance against aging and death.\'The TPUSA are looking to raise $25,000 via Indiegogo for the bus, modifications and a range of other gimmicks such as \'fully-functioning robots\', \'drones\', merchandise, a \'biohacking lab\' and of course, flowers for the top of the casket. The plan is for a four month tour, putting on rallies, events, and educational conferences, as well as \'crashing\' numerous international events along the way. As Istvan puts it, \'you can expect us to park ourselves right in the middle of historical national action.\'Although over $1000 has been raised already, the initiative is likely to divide opinion among transhumanists, as well as irk those within the overall life extension movement already concerned by the impact Istvan\'s overtly radical approach is having upon public perceptions. See the campaign @ IndiegogoA historical look at why men died earlier than womenhttp://lifemag.org/article/a-historical-look-at-why-men-died-earlier-than-womenHistorical data shows that women have been living longer than men for more than a century.A new study of people born between 1800 and 1935 shows that once infectious diseases were brought under control, men between 50 and 70 years old died twice as often as women - and their rates of death were higher at any age. But why?Find out more @ CBS NewsNew protein-blocking drug could halt age-related memory losshttp://lifemag.org/article/new-protein-blocking-drug-could-halt-age-related-memory-loss

A blood protein that increases in abundance as we age and has been linked to cognitive decline and memory loss, and researchers suspect that by blocking its activity, we could halt the kind of mental degeneration that leads to dementia.Read more @ Science Alert

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Digitizing surgery: how new technologies will transform old medical practiceshttp://lifemag.org/article/digitizing-surgery-how-new-technologies-will-transform-old-medical-practicesFrom one point of view, surgery is a fairly barbaric means of improving your health. After all, your body is cut open, organs are moved around or removed, and doctors probe with their fingers and use instruments to repair damaged tissues. But these practices are in the midst of significant change.See the video hereQuantification of biological aging in young adultshttp://lifemag.org/article/quantification-of-biological-aging-in-young-adultsA new study has found that anti-ageing research should be performed on healthy younger humans, rather than the current most popular method of running tests on older people who already suffer from chronic diseases. The findings indicate that aging processes can be quantified in people still young enough for prevention of age-related disease, opening a new door for anti-aging therapiesRead the study @ US National Academy of Sciences The Buck Institute and the quest to redefine aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/the-buck-institute-and-the-quest-to-redefine-aging

North Bay Business Journal profiles the Buck Institute and it\'s seminal work on aging researchRead more here

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Why transhumanists should aim to inform decision-makers, not become themhttp://lifemag.org/article/why-transhumanists-should-aim-to-inform-decision-makers-not-become-them

In May’s UK General Election, Alexander Karran, the sole candidate for the UK Transhumanist Party (TPUK), received just 56 votes in the constituency of Liverpool Walton. Less than 0.1% of the local electorate had been enthused enough by the idea of a transhumanist representing their needs in parliament to consider his candidature. To put this into perspective, elsewhere in England, Al Murray, a comedian most famous for his TV portrayal of a fictional pub landlord received 318 votes in South Thanet, whilst even ‘Mad Max’ Bobetsky of the Monster Raving Loony Party gained the support of 384 people in North East Hampshire. Essentially, even for a nation where small parties barely register, transhumanism’s first foray into British politics had made barely a hint of a blip on the political radar. This initial campaign in the UK pales in comparison to the far more high-profile Transhumanist Party USA, and leader Zoltan Istvan’s running for US President in 2016. With a membership of around 25,000, and budget apparently large enough to accommodate a bus tour of California complete with ‘six-foot tall robots’, the non-affiliated US counterpart may hope to make greater waves. But in a country with over 300 million inhabitants the US campaign is likely to have just as minimal an impact on overall results.So if transhumanists have no hope of winning, then why take part in the first place?Raising Awareness Going back the to the UK, of course the TPUK wasn’t expecting to win. Neither the party, Karran nor his supporters would have been so naive as to think this even a minute possibility. In fact, considering that the party was only formed a few months before the UK General Election, and that of the 200 people Karran canvassed not one had even heard of transhumanism, perhaps 56 votes wasn’t so bad after all. Instead, taking transhumanist ideas to the British electorate represented at the very least another innovative means of raising awareness of the cause. If Karran hadn’t knocked on 200 doors in Liverpool, then those 200 people still wouldn’t be aware of the concept. At least, now they are. Similarly, in the US, Istvan admits that at least this time around, he has no chance of becoming US President. Although, he does hope to build enough support during the campaign to have a better crack at the whip in 2024. Nonetheless, the greatest hope for the US transhumanist party, just like its UK counterpart, is to raise awareness, and in gaining relatively decent exposure in press and media worldwide they can quite legitimately claim to be doing so. But if we take a step back, and think not just in terms of votes or gaining exposure, but rather, actually encouraging governments to greater invest in technology, science and medicine to achieve radical life extension, does engaging in politics actually work?Bad publicity is bad publicity When it comes to politics, the well-worn phrase that ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ does not actually apply. In fact, when it comes to coverage of political campaigns bad publicity really is bad publicity. In a recent study in Denmark, researchers found that for politicians and political parties, less than favourable publicity actually leads directly to a decline in support, particularly for small or formative political movements. Thus, for transhumanists worldwide, putting yourself at the mercy of the media by entering the political arena is by no means the safest way of reaching a wide audience, particularly when core concepts such as immortality and artificial intelligence are not exactly met with open arms by the press or public, yet. The issue here is that coverage of Istvan’s campaign thus far has not necessarily been negative, but overwhelmingly focuses on the more radical elements of transhumanism, particularly the preference for seeking immortality rather than specifically combating age-related disease. Articles related to the TPUSA and interviews with Istvan are strewn with headlines pointing to the notions of living forever or ‘becoming cyborgs.’ (See the English Telegraph ‘Want to Live Forever? Vote for Me’ or Esquire ‘Can this Man and his Massive Robot Network Save America.’) These are concepts which catch the reader’s eye, but not necessarily in a way conducive to actually gaining support for the movement. If anything this kind of media coverage makes transhumanism seem more radical than it actually is, and for a movement so desperate to be taken seriously, is unlikely to be beneficial in taking life extension ideas into the mainstream. Science fact or fictionIn this regard, in spite of a clear switch to a more rational and accessible approach in recent months, for the majority of the American population the TPUSA still appear far too ‘out there’ to gain wide support. Istvan’s overarching policy of investing one trillion dollars in life extension research over ten years paid for by reducing funding for ‘wars, defence and violent activities’ has at least a grain of common sense in it. Among left-leaning Americans jaded by decades of conflict this may well even gain some support. However, it is simply a fact that transhumanist concepts such as ‘personality pills, robotic hearts, brain implants, artificial limbs and exoskeleton suits’ fail to capture the public imagination. Furthermore, in making the concept of life extension appear more science fiction than a pragmatic attainable goal, this may even prove damaging rather than helpful to the overall movement itself.In contrast, the TPUK may be deemed somewhat more pragmatic in their approach, and understanding of the fact that extreme sci-fi concepts and living forever are not the best way to connect with voters. The head of TPUK Amon Twyman, cites the way forward as to view transhumanism as a kind of political vector, rather than a single party or philosophy, and describes his own stance as a much more focused on managing the social consequences of technological change. However, for both parties, the core principle of ‘improving the human condition’ to the point of immortality, is highly unlikely to be seen as a pressing concern for the majority of the electorate. For voters concerned with immediate issues such as jobs, taxation and welfare, a vote for living forever hardly seems fitting when many may struggle to get through the day. Informing decision-makersSo if transhumanist politicians are so unlikely to gain media or public support, what political role can transhumanists play? The answer is an important one.The relationship between technology and humanity is increasingly becoming a major part of political debate, and in this regard, transhumanists are well placed to perform a sound advisory role to those who have the power to make decisions. By forming transhumanist think tanks and organisations, the movement would be able to directly engage with and inform decision makers on subjects which align with their expertise.This is the exact approach taken by the UK transhumanist think tank, Transpolitica. With the maxim ‘Anticipating Tomorrow’s Politics’, Transpolitica aim to provide material and services of use for politicians worldwide. The purpose is to encourage politicians from all political parties to engage in transhumanist debate, and at least convey the benefits that transhumanist policies may have. We spoke to David Wood, consultant for Transpolitica, as well as co-founder of TPUK, about how to best engage with politicians to promote life-extension. He said there were two key aspects: “First, by emphasising the financial case for healthy life-extension. This argument is also known as the \"Longevity Dividend\"... By switching to the preventive treatments of bio-rejuvenation, the major health costs of treating age-related diseases can be postponed and reduced. Second, by pointing out the potential for the UK to have leading roles in the industries that will develop and deliver rejuvenation therapies.”As an approach, there are obvious merits of transhumanists providing information to decision-makers rather than seeking to become decision-makers themselves, particularly when selling these ideas by making rational economic arguments. Think tanks and lobbyists have an overwhelming level of influence on political structures, and if grown into well-resourced and supported organisations such transhumanist lobbyist groups may well have the capacity to exert significant influence too. Transhumanists as a driving force for changeThus, from the sole perspective of increasing the rate of life extension research and development, it is whether the transhumanist ‘brand’ taking all the headlines is actually beneficial in gaining the support of press, public and policymakers that causes concern. This is not to say that there is opposition to transhumanism itself, far from it. Transhumanist movements and initiatives are an integral driving force behind the developing life extension community, with individuals such as Zoltan Istvan well-respected and even seen as courageous within many quarters. However, if these political campaigns are intended to reach out and gain the support of the wider population, particularly in the political sphere, the transhumanist ‘brand’ and policies are far less likely to resonate with the general public than movements which focus on curing specific age-related diseases such as cancer, heart-disease and Alzheimer’s. With the media focus on notions such as ‘immortality”, “indefinite life extension”, “mind uploading” and the like, the general public perception of transhumanism, and by association - the overall life extension movement could easily sway towards it being regarded as eccentric folly, and far more aligned with science fiction than reality. This could have potentially dire consequences for advancing the cause.It is for this reason that promoting transhumanism as a political ideology is currently far less successful than using transhumanist ideas to address specific problems affecting society now or in the near future could be. This is why transhumanists can and should look to find ways to inform decision-makers, not become them.

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Here's why you may be aging faster than your friendshttp://lifemag.org/article/heres-why-you-may-be-aging-faster-than-your-friendsResearchers at Duke University claim to have found more than a dozen factors that can predict how fast you\'re aging - and have some ideas about what makes people age more slowly.Read more @ TimeLessons of the world's most unique supercentenarianshttp://lifemag.org/article/lessons-of-the-worlds-most-unique-supercentenarians

There are a handful of people left on Earth who have been alive in three separate centuries. What can they – and those of a similarly extreme age – teach us?Read more @ BBC Future

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Latent virus and life expectancyhttp://lifemag.org/article/latent-virus-and-life-expectancyStudy finds that molecular, cellular and clinical changes that arise from an infection with a latent virus can result in a decrease in longevity.Read more @ Science DailyThe death of aging: will we soon be living forever?http://lifemag.org/article/the-death-of-aging-will-we-soon-be-living-forever

Is the secret to living forever about to be found? Dateline explores the secretive research centres trying to cheat death and asks what is the real price of this possibility?See the video here

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How Peter Thiel is trying to save the worldhttp://lifemag.org/article/how-peter-thiel-is-trying-to-save-the-world

These startups are trying to beat Alzheimer\'s, cure viral diseases, and kill tumors with gold. One common thread: funding from Peter Thiel.Read more @ Inc.

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The sum of our partshttp://lifemag.org/article/the-sum-of-our-partsPutting the microbiome front and center in health care, in preventive strategies, and in health-risk assessments could stem the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases.Read more @ the ScientistWhy China won’t listen to Western scientists about genetically modifying the human embryohttp://lifemag.org/article/why-china-won-t-listen-to-western-scientists-about-genetically-modifying-the-human-embryo

In March, a group of US scientists requested scientists around the world to not genetically modify human embryos. They argue that the technology is not ready yet, but, less than a month later, a group of researchers in China did just that.The philosophical clash of cultures may prove to be a problem. Read more @ Quartz

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Aging populations are good for the old and the younghttp://lifemag.org/article/aging-populations-are-good-for-the-old-and-the-young\"With the world rapidly aging, the generational blame game has gone global, heating up particularly in countries with public benefits for retirees and plenty of unemployed and underemployed youth.\" But is it scary? Well actually not reallyRead more @ ForbesThe detox dilemmahttp://lifemag.org/article/the-detox-dilemma

Detox diets, promising to recharge our systems and start anew are becoming increasingly popular. But do they work and most importantly are they safe?Holistic Vs. ScientificThe human body is in constant interaction with the environment, we expose ourselves and change in response to our settings, a process which shapes our defense mechanisms when they start affecting our inner balance. Those seeking to understand this interplay and face the damaging side of our complex habitat can be divided into two camps, the ‘holistic’ and the ‘traditional.’ We are told by a certain group of holistic specialists that excess toxin intake, production and over-working toxin elimination processes are the cause of many chronic diseases. To them, toxins, meaning substances which create harmful effects like airborne pollutants, inflammatory food substances such as sugar and caffeine, food allergens, and synthetic household cleaners are causing disbalance in the body. Furthermore, combinations of overexposures to toxins caused by years of consuming processed foods, or experiencing chronic stress can lead to some fatal diseases. On the other hand, there are the scientists at the British Dietetic Association who agree on the fact that toxins we are exposed to, or those residing in our bodies do not necessarily present an immediate danger to our health. For this reason conventional medicine deals with toxicity in emergency cases only. This is justified by the fact that the human body already possesses an exceptional self-protective mechanism to face unwanted toxic elements we deal with on a daily basis. This defense system consists of our skin, kidneys, and lymphatic and gastrointestinal system, all working together to make our bodies immune to a large number of pathogens. Our kidneys and liver alone are effective at filtering out most toxins from our bodies.Dealing with Toxins But experts with an integrative, holistic background assure us that persistent exposure to toxins leads our organs to be under constant overload and stress, meaning that there is the need to strengthen and support the natural systems of detoxification our bodies possess. Due to the risk that our bodies can reach a point where the capacity to self-cleanse is exceeded, we need extra help with eliminating toxins. This is where the detox programs come in. The holistic point of view is that detoxifying the body is all about regaining vitality and energy. The different types of diets, which include detox eliminating allergenic foods, heavy metal and colon cleansing, invite one to reflect on becoming closer to nature and on the substances that are supposed to replace the ones being gotten rid of. Naturopathic doctors and nutrition professionals offer programs that claim to make a visible difference in how you feel and look. The true detox experience, according to holistic doctors, implies careful medical examination which establishes whether one should even consider an intensive supervised toxin detox. That would be the proper way to handle it, with individualised adequate nutrition and hydration indications. Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that most of these programs require a lot of patience and effort to obtain the healing effect on the body. Attitude is crucial in taking up this kind of challenge, meaning that a successful treatment can only be accomplished if done with healthy intentions.However, conventional medicine believers warn that the use of “detoxification” as a term is incorrect, and that it has been deceivingly employed for marketing reasons. A conventional detoxification procedure is performed in cases of overdose of drugs, high levels of alcohol or poisonous substances. Provided by hospitals in strictly life-threatening situations, a science-based detoxification has very little to do with the popular detox kit you can get at almost any pharmacy. According to traditional medical views, detox diets and their reliability, not to mention their claiming to promote health and well-being should be re-examined. The few clinical studies carried out so far, most of them on animals, and the lacking of proper tests on humans, seem to support doubts that detox dieting strategies are safe or even necessary. Detox - a marketing strategy or efficient treatment?Arguing that the accumulation of toxins presents a danger to our wellbeing and leads to possible fatal illness, detox marketeers attribute a number of symptoms to incorrect eating habits, and ingesting illness provoking substances. The solution, according to them is to undertake dietary plans or detox diets, These promise to remove the toxins that have built up over time, consisting of liver and intestine cleansing fruit or vegetable juices, and unprocessed or raw food, designed to aid our own natural cleansing system in doing its job. Nonetheless, practitioners characteristically fail to make clear which specific chemicals are responsible for the symptoms and diseases which detox programs are supposed to combat. Essentially detox programs blame toxins per se for our vulnerable state of health, without actually providing clear evidence of which toxins are harmful, and how detox relieves the symptoms. This leaves holistic doctors with a weak case. It is for this reason conventional doctors advise against detox programs, especially when it comes to extreme ones such as fasting, unless monitored by a specialist. Instead, in order to avoid harming the metabolism, they recommend more moderate, whole-food-based detox programs, using doctor approved nutritional supplements. After conducting a review of studies on detox diets, researchers Prof. Hosen Kiat, head of Cardiology at Macquarie University Hospital and Dr. Alice Klein from the Cardiac Health Institute have reached the following conclusion: “To the best of our knowledge, no randomised controlled trials have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of commercial detox diets in humans. This is an area that deserves attention so that consumers can be informed of the potential benefits and risks of detox programmes.”So to detox or not?Thus, although holistic doctors believe that if done properly, detox programs lead to significant improvement in health and raise vitality levels, it is clear that mainstream medicine views the detox practice as a dubious industry, particularly when diets that restrict proteins and require fasting may come with fatigue and vitamin and mineral loss. So if the evidence is weak, and the practice is potentially dangerous, why do so many people claim to feel better and full of life after following a detox cure? Testimonies of patients who undertook detox programs and saw positive results healthwise may be better explained by the fact that detoxing involved them dropping all kinds of processed foods, which contain solid fats and added sugar. Simply not coming into contact with what we know to be harmful, and adding more fruit and vegetables to our diet, can provide obvious benefits to our bodies. This is something that all doctors would agree upon. In this regard, although a detox diet may be beneficial in encouraging people to change or adjust their eating habits on a permanent basis, simply keeping a balanced diet at all times without the need to detox at all would seem a better course of action than undergoing periodic extreme fasting-based programs.

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Older athletes have a strikingly young fitness agehttp://lifemag.org/article/older-athletes-have-a-strikingly-young-fitness-ageOlder athletes can be much younger, physically, than they are in real life, according to a new study of participants in the coming Senior Olympics. The study found that the athletes’ fitness age is typically 20 years or more younger than their chronological age. Read more @ the New York TimesWhat happens when we all live to 100?http://lifemag.org/article/what-happens-when-we-all-live-to-100

If life-expectancy trends continue, that future may be near, transforming society in surprising and far-reaching ways.Read more @ the Atlantic

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Should babies have their genomes sequenced?http://lifemag.org/article/should-babies-have-their-genomes-sequencedThe BabySeq project in Boston has begun collecting data to quantify the risks and benefits of DNA sequencing at birth.Read more @ MIT Technology ReviewActivists around the world plan events for International Longevity Day on October 1http://lifemag.org/article/activists-around-the-world-plan-events-for-international-longevity-day-on-october-1

Life extension advocates around the world are planning events for International longevity Day, taking place on October 1. Since 2013, activists have undertaken a range of initiatives to promote the cause of longevity, taking place on the official UN International Day of Older Persons. Ranging from \'small meetings of friends to seminars and large conferences, special publications, distributions of outreach materials and media appearances,\' such initiatives were held in over 30 countries in 2013, and a further 20 countries in 2014.In a recent interview with Dr. Ilia Stambler, an author, scholar and active life extension advocate, he stressed the importance of such initiatives in \'popularising the culture of longevity.\' \"Inviting people to reflect on the consequences of ignoring the problem and on the advantages of becoming knowledgeable, would speed up the process of popularising the cause of longevity. The Longevity Movement must make it clear that if we do not take action, including civic action, many people will die unnecessarily. This should be our motivation to make healthy longevity for all a real public and political priority around the world.\"With this year\'s campaigning already underway on social media, it is hoped that 2015 will mark the most successful longevity day yet.Find out about International Longevity Day @ Longevity for All

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UK health service plans world's first artificial blood transfusions by 2017http://lifemag.org/article/uk-health-service-plans-worlds-first-artificial-blood-transfusions-by-2017The UK\'s National Health Service (NHS) says it may be only two years away from developing the world\'s first artificial blood transfusions, which could potentially revolutionize treatment for seriously ill people with complex blood types.\"Scientists across the globe have been investigating for a number of years how to manufacture red blood cells to offer an alternative to donated blood to treat patients,\" says Dr Nick Watkins, NHS Blood and Transplant Director. \"We are confident that by 2017 our team will be ready to carry out the first early phase clinical trials in human volunteers.\"Read more @ the IndependentExperts call for 'all hands on deck' to tackle global burden of non-communicable disease http://lifemag.org/article/experts-call-for-all-hands-on-deck-to-tackle-global-burden-of-non-communicable-diseaseA group of the world\'s top cardiology and preventive medicine doctors and scientists have issued a call to action to tackle the global problem of deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart problems, diabetes and cancer. Authorities have been called upon to implement healthy lifestyle initiatives, by creating a non-hierarchical model, which would involve all stake-holders equally and improve healthcare programs. Read more @ Eurekalert The case for transhumanismhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-case-for-transhumanism

In a video interview for the Financial Times, Transhumanist Party USA leader Zoltan Istvan makes the case for transhumanism, and explains his vision of a \'technologically enhanced human species.\' See it here

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White House aging conference to take place on July 13http://lifemag.org/article/white-house-aging-conference-to-take-place-on-july-13After much speculation on whether, when and how the White House Conference on Aging would take place, details on the July 13 event are finally starting to emerge.Read more @ ForbesPeter Thiel and N.T. Wright on technology, hope, and the end of deathhttp://lifemag.org/article/peter-thiel-and-n-t-wright-on-technology-hope-and-the-end-of-death

High-profile longevity investor Peter Thiel discusses \'death and God\' with one of the world’s leading Christian theologians N.T Wright. Read more @ Forbes

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Pathway of premature aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/pathway-of-premature-agingResearchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that blocking the interferon pathway improves lifespan, body condition and fertility, in a lab animal model.See the full study hereThe leading mind behind how to stay young foreverhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-leading-mind-behind-how-to-stay-young-foreverMoney Morning profiles leading life extension advocate Aubrey de Grey and his \'quest to determine how to stay young forever.\'Read more @ Money MorningNew species of Hawaii black coral can live beyond 4,000 yearshttp://lifemag.org/article/new-species-of-hawaii-black-coral-can-live-beyond-4-000-yearsA new species of deep-water black coral has been found in the Hawaiian Islands that can live more than 4,000 years, making it the \'longest-lived marine organism known to date.Read more hereThe animals and plants that can live foreverhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-animals-and-plants-that-can-live-foreverMost animals eventually get old and die. But a few lucky species don\'t seem to feel the weight of time, and just keep going and going.....Read more @ BBC EarthWill radical life extension be the abortion politics of 2050?http://lifemag.org/article/will-radical-life-extension-be-the-abortion-politics-of-2050\"What conservatives see as God\'s work, the secular left views as a matter of personal choice. But these familiar positions may soon be upended as scientists unlock the secrets of aging and push the limits of the human lifespan.\"Greg Jones looks at the differing attitudes towards radical life extension among America\'s main political parties.Read more @ The WeekMaria Konovalenko Reddit AMAhttp://lifemag.org/article/maria-konovalenko-reddit-ama\'Thought leader\' on longevity Maria Konovalenko recently took part in a Reddit AMA answering questions on a host of topics related to life extension. See the full stream hereGlenn Foundation donates $2 million to MIT to establish aging research centerhttp://lifemag.org/article/glenn-foundation-donates-2-million-to-mit-to-establish-aging-research-centerThe Glenn Foundation for Medical Research has donated $2million to MIT to create a new research center for the study of ageing. Researchers hope to discover mechanisms which control the ageing process and treatments which can prevent neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.According to Mark R. Collins, president and director of the Glenn Foundation the goal is “to prevent or delay the onset of age-related disease and decline, thereby extending human healthspan”.Read the full press release hereGoogle unveils health-tracking wristbandhttp://lifemag.org/article/google-unveils-health-tracking-wristbandGoogle Inc.’s life sciences group has created a health-tracking wristband intended for use in clinical trials and drug tests, giving researchers or physicians minute-by-minute data on how patients are faring.The experimental device can measure pulse, heart rhythm and skin temperature, and also environmental information like light exposure and noise levels. Read more @ BloombergThe future of growing oldhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-future-of-growing-oldHumans have always dreamed of longevity, but how do you live a fulfilling longer life? Expert Ken Dychtwald talks about the future of aging and a world where 100+ year old people is the norm.See the video hereHow you are not your agehttp://lifemag.org/article/how-you-are-not-your-age

When asked our age, the answer given will almost certainly be our chronological age; the time we have lived since birth, measured in years and months. So, for example, when someone says they are 35 years old, they ultimately mean a number determined by the amount of complete revolutions the earth has made around the sun in their lifetime. Technically they are somewhere in between 35 and 36 years old. Nonetheless, this age measure is what’s used to determine things like when we should vote, get a driver’s license, marry, retire, and so on. Does this arguably arbitrary number, that has been more or less universally established as the measure of life, the best metric to determine physical and mental well-being? Could our social expectations for certain age groups pull people into an age they may not necessarily be ready or capable for? Aging researchers are faced with the difficult task of distinguishing between what is a result from age versus what is a result from time. Such as, for example, the respective health found in a specific population cohort coming from a combination of cultural shifts in behavior, natural biological occurrences and medical improvements. A 35 year old may perform better than a 50 year old in an experiment, but that performance could be a result of other factors besides age. This age-time dilemma is so tightly fused together that it makes separating the two variables from each other a somewhat daunting task. However, doing so could have major positive health implications, since by creating new, respectful attitudes toward aging, we as a species would be more better adept at handling our age.Methods of assessing ageThere are currently many different proposed methods to assess quality of life, with some more precise than others. There’s subjective age, which is found by answering the question ‘how old do you feel’. While this method seems rather inaccurate, there’s a lot to be said for the state of a culture when a 25 year old feels like a 45 year old. Subjective age changes with mood, so it’s possible to take an average over a course of several days to find out what age is most predominant.Biological age is measured through an individual’s development of biomarkers. Given the complex nature behind the mechanisms of the human body, so far there are no reliable physiological markers that can be used to predict age; a study by Pollock et al. suggests that ‘the relationship between human aging and physiological function is highly individualistic and modified by inactivity’. Currently, doctors use stress tests to measure cardiorespiratory fitness. This involves the costly and expensive processes involved in taking someone’s blood pressure, kidney excretion rates, muscle mass, heart rate & oxygen absorption rates when pushed to exhaustion on a treadmill.Taking biological age a step further, norwegian researchers led by Bjarne M.Nes have developed a test to determine fitness age; an accurate estimation of cardiorespiratory fitness by simply using data based on age, sex, body mass index, resting heart rate and how often an individual exercises. This gives a good insight into a person’s overall state of health, meaning an active 60 year old could have a better fitness age then a sedentary 30 year old.Psychological age focuses more an individual’s life experience, logic level, and emotional maturity and is generally broken down into two parts: mental age and emotional age. Mental age refers to cognitive function, essentially one’s ability for learning and memory. It is a strongly held belief that when someone walks into a room and forgets what they were looking for, it’s a sign they are getting older and losing their memory. The ability to remember is affected by how much cognitive load the brain has to cope with, so it could be that too much stress and anxiety would lead to occasional bouts of forgetfulness, especially when that information is not so important. Also, since the brain needs oxygen to function, exercise can also help against premature memory deterioration by improving aerobic capacity (a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen taken in during exercise).Emotional age refers to how well an individual manages their emotions. This is something that tends to improve with age, as with time people\'s ability how to control negative emotions becomes more adept. According to an article by Susan Whitbourne, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, “We know from extensive studies in the psychology of aging that older adults are truly ‘wiser’, in that they can better control their temper, take negative situations and spin them in a positive light, and get along more easily with other people, even people they don’t particularly like.” Hence, making it possible for some younger people to have a higher psychological age than that of some older people. Instead of chronological age it has been proposed to use Functional age, which is something of a cross between biological age and psychological age. This is, however, a rather hard measure to use, as it determines to measure an individual in terms of their functioning. Despite it’s high credibility, due to the consecutive, extensive testing involved, this measure is currently rather impractical for widespread use.Healthy Life ExtensionConcentrating attention on chronological age can be rather limiting and discouraging. However, when looking at age, not as years completed from birth, but as potential time still left available, it’s literally possible to ‘become younger’ when efforts to improve health extend lifespan. This can be seen to take a lot of the negative focus away from ageing, and instead allows for a more positive outlook by essentially focusing on improving the quality of and extending the years to come. This in turn holds high societal implications since chronological age can no longer limit an individual\'s potential by defining what they should be doing at what age. As a consequence, it would no longer make sense to call people ‘old’ when they can still lead productive, fulfilling, and impactful lives. By shifting perspectives on ageing, it would pave the way for more encouraging and appreciative attitudes towards prolonging healthy lifespan.

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The Longevity dividend from an aging populationhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-longevity-dividend-from-an-aging-populationIn line with rising life expectancy, Michael Hodin of the Fiscal Times looks at how to drive economic growth as aging demographics shape productivity, labor participation and financial planning. Read more @ Fiscal TimesGoogle's Larry Page and Sergey Brin Plan to Cure Aging with Biotech Venturehttp://lifemag.org/article/googles-larry-page-and-sergey-brin-plan-to-cure-aging-with-biotech-ventureInvestment site \'Money Morning\' looks at Google\'s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and their investment in life extension technology through Calico.Read More @ Money MorningINN profiles top longevity stockshttp://lifemag.org/article/inn-profiles-top-longevity-stocksInvestor News Network looks at the current top stock options for companies investing in longevity.Profiling Alkahest, Calico, Elysium Health, Human Longevity Inc. and Navitor Pharmaceuticals, Morag McGreevey provides a rundown of the \'five new companies that promise to make major headlines in the longevity investing space.\'Read more @ INNIs extending lifespan the next stage of evolution?http://lifemag.org/article/is-extending-lifespan-the-next-stage-of-evolution

A new study: “Programmed death is favoured by natural selection in spatial systems” asks the question why do lifespans of different organisms vary so much? The aim being to determine whether humans can and perhaps even should be reprogrammed to live longer.Initiated by head of NECSI Yaneer-Bar-Yam and Donald Ingber, director of Harvard Wyss Institute, the study applied a spatial evolutionary algorithm to show that short lifespans can be of greater advantage to the lineage of the species, in direct contradiction to the old theory that a species\' short lifespan is beneficial. The aim of the study is to prove that life expectancy is determined by the evolutionary processes we are all subjected to.According to standard evolutionary theory, “intrinsic mortality” is the result of either mutation accumulation or genes that predispose species to reproductive success in the initial stages of life, which comes with late detrimental effects. These factors account for species\' senescence, also known as ageing and ultimate death. But findings show that there are registered cases of genetic modification which lead to changes in lifespan expectations, unusual longevity and senescence patterns and phenomena of programmed death, making traditional aging theories and medicine appear inexact.To demonstrate the mechanism for adaptive limitations of lifespan, researchers also aim to turnover the old interpretations of the ageing process. They argue that if evolution truly is responsible for our lifespan, we have the power to execute modifications in the mechanisms employed in regulating our lifespan. Evidence that ageing is genetic and that previous theories may be false is shown by including local context into the theory. Local context creates a bond between organism and environment, with the environment being directly affected by the organism.What is interesting is that these new assumptions are not a novelty in the field of research: “The idea that shorter lifespans can be and are selected for directly goes back to at least 1870. It was later rejected based on theoretical arguments that evolution of such a trait opposed to individual self-interest, like other altruistic behaviors, must require group selection, whose applicability should be accepted only as a last resort.”Regarding humans, the model shows that we can significantly extend our lifespan as ageing is not inherent, but rather genetic. In fact, researchers feel that we should not only consider the idea, but expect scientific discoveries to lead to an increase in average life expectancy. As stated in the conclusion of the study, “If aging is programmed, rather than a collection of secondary break-downs or genetic tradeoffs, then effective health and life extensions through dietary, pharmacological, or genetic interventions are likely to be possible, with potential for significant impact.” Although still a relatively formative concept, and one which largely stems from long-held assumptions, if the results of the ongoing tests prove to be accurate, it could lead to a new understanding of aging - legitimising the notion that we are not programmed to lead short lives. In turn, this may translate to greater advocacy for life extension, and accelerate the rate of research and development of treatments designed to prolong lifespan.

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To restrict calories or not to restrict calories, that is the questionhttp://lifemag.org/article/to-restrict-calories-or-not-to-restrict-calories-that-is-the-question

Before contemporary, come-and-go diet fads became all the rage, previous cultures have long revered another form of diet control: fasting. In and among remarkably differing places and beliefs, from Tibet to Japan to religious observations such as Islamic Ramadan, fasting practitioners can be found. This type of behaviour calls into question whether it actually does bring about any actual health benefits. Are they onto something or not?Scientists have been studying the effects of calorie restriction, the reduction of calorie intake, for quite some time now. The earliest study on the topic was published by McCay et al. in 1935 and found for the first time, that when compared to ad libitum feeding, rats whose diet was calorie restricted (without reaching malnutrition) had a longer mean and maximal lifespan. Calorie restriction (CR) usually refers to an approximate 10%-40% reduction of ad libitum feeding whilst maintaining adequate nutritional intake. There are many variations of CR, such as: CE, which means calorie expenditure (CR plus exercise); ADF, which is alternate day fasting; and DR, dietary restriction, which restricts one or more specific components of usual daily intake without changing the total calorie intake. CR (and its alternatives) is so far the only demonstrated non-genetic method shown to prolong lifespan and delay age-related functional decline, and has arguably contributed more to the overall understanding of the aging process than any other model.Since McCay et al. released their seminal study, many CR studies have since been conducted, with most being done on rodents and primates. A 20 year long research project by the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center in 2009 established that CR delayed disease onset and mortality in rhesus monkeys. A follow up study published in 2014 by the WNPRC further backed up this claim. Another longitudinal study conducted by the National Institute on Aging in 2012 did not find that CR improved survival outcome when implemented on younger and older rhesus monkeys, but did find beneficial health effects. A 2014 study on mice and a phase 1 trial on humans by Cheng et al., found that prolonged cycles of fasting cleared out old, damaged cells and triggered immune system stem cells from a dormant state to an active one.The possibility that CR does not universally exercise the same longevity benefits has been raised. In 2009 Liao et al. found in a study of 41 different mice strains, DR actually shortened more lifespans than it lengthened, suggesting that the effects of CR may be influenced by genetic background (and possible other contributing factors). Further research by Schleit et al. has used yeast to further study the relationship between CR and genotype, with some strains experiencing an increase in lifespan and others not.In order to include as much of the CR benefits while minimizing as many adverse effects as possible, a recent study by Brandhorst et al. developed a \'fast mimicking diet\' (FMD), which induced low glucose levels and high levels of ketone bodies that are associated with prolonged fasting. This low-protein, high in healthy-fat diet not only boosted better overall health and extended lifespan in the mice undergoing the treatment diet, but they also experienced fat loss (without losing mean body mass), increased better learning and memory levels, and lowered rates of cancer incidence. The FMD was also tested on a human sample, who also saw a reduction in associated age-related risk factors. The researchers are planning on a future clinical-use release of the diet.Any form of CR is not recommended to be undertaken by pregnant mothers, children, and young adults under 21, as CR may possibly interfere with mental and physical development. It is also advisable against older people as well as women attempting to become pregnant, since CR might affect reproductive function.Despite the fact that research into CR has been around for over 80 years, the mechanisms behind why CR would impact lifespan still remain unclear and need further investigation. There are so many different variables involved with each individual person, that CR is not something that should be attempted without first consulting a medical expert. When done incorrectly CR could lead to near-starvation and malnutrition, which would completely undermine any potential benefits. Ultimately CR holds a lot of potential health benefits that one day might be widely made available for human application, but at present, research has still not reached a point where we can conclusively say that such practices are certain to extend healthy lifespan. So to answer the question of whether we should follow a calorie-restrictive diet, well, at best it’s a maybe.

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New link between stress, depression and longevity in womenhttp://lifemag.org/article/new-link-between-stress-depression-and-longevity-in-women

A new study published in Translational Psychiatry has discovered a new possible connection between state of mind and bodily well-being. The theory that chronic psychological stress may determine premature ageing is supported by the presence of the recently found pleiotropic hormone klotho (a potential marker of biological ageing). Working as an aging regulator, klotho has the ability to prolong lifespan when over expressed, and enable aging phenotypes when its production by kidneys and choroid plexus of the brain is stopped. Also, those who posses a genetic variant in the Klotho gene are less predisposed to age-related disease, whilst high levels of serum klotho also ensure better daily functioning and cognitive activity. The test/study consisted of collecting blood samples from 178 women, aged 30-40, out of which 90 were high-stress maternal caregivers for autistic children, and 88 were low-stressed mothers of typically developing children. Results show that unlike women who suffer lower degrees of stress, mothers subjected to high chronic stress registered lower levels of the longevity hormone klotho. More than that, researchers found that age-related decline occurs significantly in the category of women who are affected by moderate and severe depression. This suggests that the psychosocial environment can be an influential factor in brain activity, general health and human lifespan. It is possible that lower levels of klotho are among causes of stress and depression, a finding which would help design treatments by supplementing the hormone and ameliorate mental health. According to assistant professor Dubal of the USCF Department of Neurology \"It will be important to figure out if higher levels of klotho can benefit mind and body health as we age. If so, therapeutics or lifestyle interventions that increase the longevity hormone could have a big impact on people\'s lives.\"Read the full study here

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Wide array of health benefits found in a nutshellhttp://lifemag.org/article/wide-array-of-health-benefits-found-in-a-nutshell

A recent study, by Piet A. van den Brandt and Leo J. Schouten, on nuts (and peanuts) has been making headlines, as it links nut and peanut consumption to lower mortality rates.The study examined the reported nut and peanut intake within the Netherlands Cohort Study, comprised of 120,852 men and women aged 55-69 in 1986, and compared that against mortality follow up until 1996. They found protective effects against overall and cause-specific mortality in both men and women who consumed at least 10g. of nuts and/or peanuts a day, about the equivalent of half a handful. Respiratory disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease exhibited the greatest reduction in mortality due to nut consumption; cancer and cardiovascular disease also showed lowered mortality rate. Another study by researchers at Vanderbilt University and the Shanghai Cancer Institute concurs with these findings, by finding lowered total mortality among diverse financial and racial groups, as well as an earlier meta-analysis on the topic.This should come as no surprise, as health benefits associated with nuts and peanuts have been around for a while. For example:As looked into by the NYS Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, walnuts have shown promising results on protecting against, delaying the onset of, or slowing the progression of the degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s disease, such as reducing oxidative stress. This could be due to the fact that compared to other nuts, walnuts contain the highest quality amount of antioxidants. Pistachios may lower the overall postprandial glycemic response and have insulin-sparing properties, as found by Kendall et al., which could potentially be beneficial for those dealing with diabetes and metabolic syndrome. They get their trademark green color from lutein, an antioxidant that play an important role in eye and skin health.Eating an estimated 2 Brazil nuts is enough to fill recommended selenium dietary needs, a mineral that plays a critical role in the production of thyroid hormones. It is not recommended to eat more than 3 Brazil nuts daily, in order to avoid an excess accumulation of the mineral in body tissue.All in all, whilst the consumption of nuts may not have a huge impact upon lifespan, with all the nutritional advantages offered, it would nonetheless seem rather beneficial to longevity to incorporate at least a small handful of nuts and peanuts whenever possible into one’s diet.

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Protein Restriction: The Key to a Longer Life?http://lifemag.org/article/protein-restriction-the-key-to-a-longer-life

Standing before a vessel of simmering water, Dr. William “Bill” Ja, of The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, carefully follows a recipe. To the steaming water he adds cornmeal, yeast, sugar, and a little agar then stirs for awhile until the mixture thickens. With steady, quick movements, he scoops the hot meal into clear glass bottles where it cools. At this point, for most of us, any invasive fly would be quickly shooed away, but in Bill Ja\'s lab, flies are invited into the bottles. The sweet, yeasty meal has been made for them.Bill Ja studies fruit flies to research the effects of diet on aging and longevity. He believes that “flies have long served as good models for mammals.” His recent research on flies has shown that a high protein diet can actually shorten their lives. Similar research findings have been found independently through Kwang Pum Lee, a professor at The University of Sydney, Australia; Stephen J. Simpson, also a professor at The University of Sydney, Australia; and Valter D. Longo, a professor from The Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California. These scientists agree: the length of an organism\'s life can be shortened by eating too much protein.It seems ironic that we can eat too much protein when our bodies are composed mostly of protein. Hair, skin, muscles, organs are all basically protein-based parts of our biological machines. So like any machine, it wears down through constant use. To counter this wear, we need to consume protein to rebuild and restore any loss. However, it appears that we don\'t need a lot of protein for restoration.According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a complete restoration for most of us can be achieved by eating as little as 10% of our daily caloric intake in the form of protein, which, for the average adult, consuming around 2000 calories per day, is about 50 grams per day (50 grams of animal-derived protein is about 2 eggs and a 4 ounce chicken breast, while 50 grams of plant-based protein is about 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 cup of soy milk, 2 slices Whole Wheat Bread, 1 cup of vegan baked beans, 1 cup of broccoli, 1 cup of brown rice, 2 Tbsp of almonds, 2 Tbsp of peanut butter and 6 crackers). So, if we eat more protein than we need, we create excess protein, and through a complicated process, excess protein can cause a wave of cell damaging free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that carry an imbalance in their atomic structures: specifically they need an electron to regain a balanced state. To get this missing electron, free radicals will tear it from any molecule nearby, including protein molecules. When free radicals attack protein, it becomes oxidized protein. Oxidized protein is damaged protein.Because your cells and DNA are made of protein, they too can become damaged through oxidation, the results of which may lead to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. According to all of these studies, if we constantly ingest more protein than we need, a lifespan shortened by disease may be in store for us.Kwang Pum Lee, reporting his research results in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, fed fruit flies a variety of meals with different ratios of proteins and carbohydrates, namely 1:2, 1:4, and 1:16, (the 1s on the left side of the colon represent 1 calorie of protein, while the 2, 4, and 16 on the right side of the colon represent calories of carbohydrates). When Lee fed two groups of his fruit flies high protein diets, the 1:2 and 1:4 ratios, the median life span per group (the average of their life spans) was 25.5 days and 35.9 days, respectively. When Lee fed a third group a low protein, 1:16 diet, the flies achieved a median life span of 56.7 days.Bill Ja, reporting in the journal Experimental Gerontology, repeated close variations of Lee\'s experiments with similar results. Bill also found that a low protein, 1:16 diet, achieved the longest lifespan. According to Bill Ja, “the high carb ratio diet is indeed better” for longevity.Stephen Simpson, publishing in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Metabolism, arrived at similar results, but with mice. He methodically researched 858 mice, feeding them each one of 25 diets that differed in their ratios of protein, carbohydrate, and fat content. The interactions between the nutrients were complicated. To help penetrate the complexity, Stephen utilized Geometric Framework (GF) – a statistical tool that made it possible “to disentangle the individual and interactive influences of multiple nutrients.”By applying GF to the interactions between proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, Stephen discovered that: “the longest median survival occurred in cohorts of mice on the lowest ratio diets, and there was a clear correlation between the ratio and lifespan. Median lifespan increased from about 95 to 125 weeks (approximately 30%) as the protein-to-carbohydrate ratio decreased.” Stephen concluded that “lifespan was greatest for animals whose intakes were low in protein and high in carbohydrate.” The results obtained by the researcher, Valter D. Longo, who also published in Cell Metabolism,agreed with the preceding studies, except this time humans were the focus. Valter studied the diets of 6,381 adults ages 50 and over. All participants were part of the largest nutrition survey in the United States, the NHANES III. The size and scope of the survey gave Valter the analytical power to confidently say that people “aged 50–65 reporting high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a 4-fold increase in cancer death risk.” Dr. Longo defined a high protein diet as a diet that consisted of eating 20% or more of one\'s daily caloric intake in the form of protein.To demonstrate the complexity of nutrition, Valter also found that people over the age of 65 actually do better on a high protein diet as more protein seems to help counter the natural frailty that occurs with older bodies. By eating extra protein, an elderly person can build bodily reserves to help weather the storms of age-related diseases. For adults 65 and younger, eating 20% or more of daily caloric consumption in protein appears, however, to stress bodies that are already fine tuned for optimal health by virtue of being youthful and in the prime of life.It\'s actually pretty easy to eat over 20% of daily caloric consumption in protein, especially with protein rich animal-based proteins. 20% of daily caloric consumption in protein for the average diet that would be over 100 grams of protein per day. 100 grams of protein in a day would look like this: 2 eggs (25g) for breakfast, 4 ounces of chicken breast for lunch (25g), and a 6 ounce steak (50g) for dinner. Even if we switched out the steak for 4 ounces of turkey or fish for dinner, we would still be at 95 grams of protein for the day. Throw in a cup of ice cream (because we were so good) to add another 5 grams would again make an even 100 grams for a high protein day.According to these researchers a high protein diet, for most of us, appears to be too much of a good thing. So, what can we do about it? The simplest thing would be to eat less meat. According to the American Heart Association, nuts, greens, and beans and many other plant-based based protein sources can adequately fill our daily protein needs and, according to Valter Longo, plant-based protein actually appears to be healthier than meat-based protein. When controlling for the effect of plant-based protein, he found there was no change in the association between plant-based protein intake and mortality, which indicated to him “that high levels of animal proteins promote mortality.” Valter goes on to conclude that “a diet in which plant-based nutrients represent the majority of the food intake is likely to maximize health benefits in all age groups.”So while most of us aren\'t ready to chuck our ground chuck to pursue a vegan diet, it may be worth our time to pay attention to the latest discoveries in nutrition research. It\'s also worth mentioning that the presented researchers are part of the same broad intellectual query which started as early as 1917 with T. Osborne’s study ‘The effect of retardation of growth upon the breeding period and duration of life of rats,’ when it was observed that by eating a minimal amount of calories per day, lab rats lived longer. Recent refinements to the theory have pointed to protein restriction as the life extending factor, not calorie or even carbohydrate restriction. Indeed, they agree more years will probably be granted to those rebellious folks who eschew high protein, low carbohydrate diets for low protein, high carbohydrate options, at least until they\'re 65 and older.

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New anti-aging drug to be tested in patients with diabeteshttp://lifemag.org/article/new-anti-aging-drug-to-be-tested-in-patients-with-diabetes

In an article published in nature.com, Erika C. Hayden looks at one of the most promising age delaying drugs, rapamycin, and metmorfin, the legitimacy of which will be discussed in the future meeting between scientists and US Food and Drug Administration on June 24. Physicians conducting the research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York argue it is time for life-extending drugs and treatments that could prolong a person\'s healthy years to be approved by the government. Dr. Nir Barzilai sustains this can be done by slowing down the process of ageing: “What we want to show is that if we delay ageing, that\'s the best way to delay disease.” A new trial called TAME (Targeting Ageing with Metformin) will be carried out over 5-7 years, in which thousands of patients who suffer from conditions such as cancer, heart disease and cognitive impairment will be given metformin. If successful in proving that the drug can forestall ageing, the trial would prove ageing to be a disorder and would accelerate raising funds for further research. A significant development. A similar test, sponsored by the NIA, titled Interventions Testing Program, discovered that drug rapamycin not only prolonged life in mice, but also, in the form of an influenza vaccination, managed to strengthen the immune system of elderly people. Metmorfin, a drug that has been in use for 60 years, known to regulate glucose by the liver and increase sensitivity to insulin, already has a history in prolonging lifespan in worms and mouse strains. The test, combined with data processing hopes to demonstrate metmorfin can have a significant impact upon the ageing process in people and the development of treatments to increase healthy lifespan. Read the full article here

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Zoning in on blue zoneshttp://lifemag.org/article/zoning-in-on-blue-zones

Does there exist, somewhere in the world, a mythical list containing the miraculous secrets to longevity? A ‘fountain of youth’ composed not of water but of knowledge as to how one should properly live in order to ensure, not only a long life, but vitality in those later years? How much control can be taken over one’s genetic fate? As it turns out, there are in fact people living in the world who have been unknowingly adding meaningful years to their lives simply by following the outlines defined by their society. So far, 5 areas in the world have been designated as so-called ‘Blue Zones’. These are basically longevity hot-spots, where the local population lives not only measurably longer lives, but healthier lives. According to lead expert on the topic, Dan Buettner, these ‘longevity pockets’ are: Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. Together they hold the highest concentration of living centenarians in the world. Whilst Blue Zones have been in the news since 2005, specific research into what causes such extended lifespan has continued to grow as interest into what makes these populations so robust has only increased. Ever since a group of researchers began the search to find and identify geographic regions that are characterised by extreme longevity, with the first Blue Zone found through the AKEA study in the mountainous region of Barbagia in Sardinia, Italy, a comprehensive look has gone into these distinct cultures to figure out what similarities in lifestyle are shared that may contribute to life extension. The cumulation of research done on the Blue Zones has as of yet identified 9 specific lifestyle factors which are believed to be connected to longevity. These are characteristics which all 5 of the distinct Blue Zone cultures share among themselves. The list highlights some of the typical aspects of these peoples, such as natural movement and attention given to de-stressing activities. Ideally, adopting even just a few of these habits could potentially aid in achieving an optimized lifespan. Blue Zones DietIn Buettner’s most recent study, in which over 150 dietary studies conducted in the Blue Zones over the past century were analyzed, he proposed the top 15 dietary habits exhibited which are believed to increase longevity. What he found includes maintaining a diet composed primarily from plants, getting essential amino acids from legumes, beans, and nuts, and drinking plenty of water. Whilst keeping a semi-vegetarian lifestyle and cutting back on sugar won’t come as a surprise to most, it turns out that lowering dairy consumption, particularly cow’s milk, is actually very beneficial to one\'s health. Instead of milk and cheese, it’s better to fulfill the body’s daily calcium needs from plants, such as Kale. However, if dairy is a must, just like it is for the Ikarians and the Sardinians, then like them, it’s preferable to go for goat dairy products as it is already naturally homogenized and is easier on the human digestion system. As for soy, a staple in the Okinawan and Loma Linda diets, despite some concerns of soy’s ability to act as estrogen in the human body, it has been found that the isoflavones found in soy also have anti-estrogen properties which can work to reduce cancer growth.Buettner’s study also accords with the growing perception of red wine as a source of longevity, in this case citing the benefits of 1-3 glasses per day as helping to absorb plant-based antioxidants, as well as helping to keep stress levels down.This study also falls in line with many recent findings, such as nuts and peanuts possibly being linked to lower mortality rates and the benefits found to be in a low-glycemic diet. Most importantly however, is that the study opposes many contemporary dietary theories, finding that it is better to eat food simply as it is. In this regard, there is seen to be very little benefit in health food ‘short-cuts’ such as taking extra supplements, juicing the pulp out of fruits, removing the yolks from eggs, and especially, calorie counting.Blue Zones Lifestyle & Values Food alone is only one piece of the puzzle, as the effects of eating better can only be magnified in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. Before the 5 Blue Zones were established, in a separate study conducted on only 3 of the Blue Zones, 6 major lifestyle-factors were identified that are shared within those cultures. This includes placing family as a priority, reduced levels of smoking, diets being mostly plant-based, specifically consuming lots of legumes, and not only being physically active but also holding an active social role within the community.The Blue Zone populations practice constant, low-intensity physical activity. For example, the Sardinians and Ikarians live in mountainous terrain, and many of them prefer to walk to the places they need to go to, like the local market or a friend’s house. In Okinawa it’s common to see the elderly practising tai-chi and kendo. Basically, in all 5 cultures it is common for people to create a lifestyle that requires movement, like having their own gardens or taking care of livestock. Not only does keeping active help burn off stress and improve circulation, but all activity is done with a reason. No one here can be found running on a treadmill to nowhere. In terms of social engagement, people tend to look after each other in the Blue Zones, neighbors know each other by name and whole communities form supportive links. Families keep their elderly at home and friendships are invested in. Okinawans even go so far as to create ‘moais’, which are a group of 5 friends who commit to each other for life. There appears to be benefits in keeping close contact with other people who also practise similar healthy habits, not to mention the safety created in having and giving support. Buettner has dubbed this as forming the ‘right tribe’, with a clear example given by the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda. By surrounding themselves with other like-minded people in their faith, which also happens to exercise many of the above outlined practices, the Adventists have created a society that lives up to 10 years longer than the average US-American. What is arguably one of the more powerful tools for longevity, is knowing your purpose. The reasons that motivate you to continue are important factors in maintaining a healthy and stable mental state. Okinawa has low rates of dementia, which could possibly be contributed to their ‘ikigai’, or reason for getting up in the morning. They hold responsibilities and feel needed.Essentially, Blue Zone inhabitants have their hobbies interconnected with their social networks, causing everything they do to have purpose. This in turn lends in giving their lives a grander sense of meaning, and connects them not only to their environments but also their community. source: 2006. Quest Network Blue Zones - Longevity Secrets.ImplicationsBuettner and his team of researchers even went one step further, by seeing what effects would occur by applying some Blue Zone principles to a selected US town. In January 2009 the city of Albert Lea, Minnesota launched a 10-month long campaign, called the AARP/ Blue Zones Vitality Project, with the goal of adding 2 years of added life expectancy to those who participated. The town placed in more sidewalks and encouraged businesses to make work environments more health conscience. Several programs were created, such as ‘walking moais’, in which small groups of people met in order to walk to set destinations, and ‘walking school bus’, where elementary school students were walked together to school. Also new garden plots and cooking classes were made available to the community.At the end of the successful city-wide experiment, it was estimated that participants ended up adding 3.1 extra years to their life expectancy. Many claimed to have made new friends and find renewed purpose besides just ‘living through their kids lives’. The true success of the project, however, was simply getting people to naturally choose the healthier, more community building options that are available to them.A closer lookBuettner’s whole premise with the Blue Zones is based on a renowned study known as the Danish Twin Study, in which through the research done on the lives of twins, it was determined that only about 25% of variance in longevity can be attributed to genetic factors. This leaves the remaining 75% to environmental factors. Further studies give slightly different percentages, but the overall genetic-to-lifestyle ratio doesn’t vary by much. Also, Buettner’s 9 factors are not the only prescribed lifestyle list available, there already exists within scientific literature an earlier and similar study conducted in Alameda, California in the mid 1960’s. In this case over 6,500 people were observed over a course of up to 20 years in order to come up with the Alameda 7, or the 7 most important health habits deemed to prolong life. This list included regular exercise, limited alcohol intake, and no smoking. It was found that by following 6 of the Alameda 7, life expectancy increased by 11 years more than that of a person who only followed 3 or fewer. The Alameda 7, although not entirely mirroring what’s found in Buettner’s list, does follow the same research direction. As far as the aging debate is concerned, both place more weight on one’s environment/ lifestyle choices rather than on one’s genetics.If that argument is ultimately true, then that begs the question: where does that leave genetics? Although it would be comforting to consider that by eating right and being socially active, that one’s history of family illnesses would not be a possible health issue, that may not be the case. Seeing as there are some issues with Buettner’s claims, that have not been officially addressed.The first comes from the fact that in the Danish Twin Study, the average age of participating twins was 70 years old. This could imply that the genetic material inherited by most of those twins were not ‘protective’ enough in nature. The New England Centenarian Study found that siblings to centenarians had a higher chance of reaching 100 then those who did not have such similar familiar dispositions, with males being 17 times more likely and females being 8 times more likely. This provides some evidence to the theory that when surviving to extreme old age, having a preferable genetic pedigree seems to help out.This leads onto something that was not readily mentioned in the Blue Zone studies known as the founder effect, in which isolated populations that splintered off from a larger population experience reduced genetic variation. In the case of the Blue Zones it seems as though their ‘founder effect’ kept or selected for genetic traits that maximised longevity effects.Another point to consider with the Blue Zones lies also in what\'s lacking there . Yes, they eat more vegetables, but they also happen to be consuming less white flour. Could it be the the positive results attributed to one thing could just be the effect of something simply not being there. Also, could the lifestyle benefits hold over in the presence of say, white flour, in the diet?Hopefully more perspective could be added to the Blue Zone findings with the results of the currently ongoing Supercentenarian Study. It would also be worth looking into why other areas of the world that also happen to abide by Buettner’s 9 factors are not themselves Blue Zones. A combination of these factorsWhether reaching an extended age just comes from winning the genetic lottery or not, for those who would like to believe that lifestyle can hold its own weight in scientific discussion and taking everything to be known about the Blue Zones population, these studies suggest that, ultimately, what is keeping them so effectively alive is their ability to take the sharp edges out of life and do what so many of us find difficult to do: lead more relaxed, natural and fulfilling lives. In this sense, people within these blue zones seem to prioritize and value family, food, work, rest, and so on. Even if lifestyle is not in the end the most important aspect towards radical life extension, it appears there is nothing to lose from living a more enjoyable and easier-going life. No matter which point of view is held, the Blue Zone studies are trying to show if anything, what healthier, older populations do that the rest of the world could learn from.

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What can we learn about longevity from the bowhead whale? http://lifemag.org/article/what-can-we-learn-about-longevity-from-the-bowhead-whale

Results from a study conducted by scientists at the University of Liverpool suggest that the genes of the bowhead whale may just hold the clue to longevity. Here, Lena Carlson looks at why this robust sea animal is drawing such attention from scientists looking to increase healthy human lifespan.What makes the bowhead whale special?The Bowhead Whale is innately fascinating. Not only can it grow up to an extraordinary 20m in length, weighing an average of 75-100 tonnes, but it has also been estimated to live to over 200 years of age, making it the longest-lived mammal in existence. It has also proven to be exceptionally disease-resistant, a fact that scientists are particularly interested in. The bowhead has about 1000 times as many cells as humans, yet the whale’s probability of developing cancer and other age-related diseases is significantly lower than ours. Curious to learn more about this species’ incredible ageing prevention mechanisms, a team of researchers from the Integrative Genomics of Ageing Group at the University of Liverpool sequenced and analysed the bowhead whale’s genome for the first time. They also compared the resulting sequence to other whales - including that of the Minke and Orca, to identify genetic mutations specific to the Bowhead. Pedro de Magalhães, geneticist and lead author of the study: ‘Insights into the Evolution of the Bowhead Whale Genome,’ recently published in Cell Reports, believes that “different species evolved different ‘tricks’ to have a long lifespan, and by discovering those used by the bowhead whale we may be able to apply these findings to humans in order to fight age-related diseases.”What have scientists discovered?Specifically, the study identified as many as 80 gene mutations in the bowhead whale’s DNA, associated with DNA repair and cell cycle regulation, that may be responsible for minimising the chance of cancer and other diseases. Researchers also discovered that whale cells have a much lower metabolic rate than those of smaller mammals, which is a possible cause the whale’s endurance. This suggests that, in order to live so long, the bowhead whale possesses natural preventative mechanisms against an array of age related diseases including cancer, immunosenescence, and neurodegenerative, cardiovascular and metabolic disease. So what does this mean for us?Scientists may now be able to apply the findings from the whale genome study to improve human health and preserve human life. Magalhães explains that “DNA damage and mutation are important for cancer. So when we find genes related to DNA repair and damage responses, we think that this could be involved in longevity and disease resistance.” Thus the bowhead genes gives scientists a “promising lead” in the search for an anti-aging mechanism. With funding and support from the wider community, the genome sequences will allow scientists to study molecular processes and identify maintenance mechanisms that help preserve life, avoid entropy and repair molecular damage. The findings from the study also provide novel candidate genes for future studies that could even lead to new drug therapies. What’s next?Magalhães and his team of researchers now hope to use this information to create mice with bowhead whale genes. Magalhães believes that this \"would be ideal to determine if these genes emerging from the bowhead genome can protect against age-related diseases or even promote longevity\".Whilst more research certainly needs to take place, this is a clear breakthrough for the scientific community and the data from the bowhead whale study provides key information for future studies that may play a greater role in the discovery of the key to exceptional longevity and disease resistance. Learn more about the project here: http://www.bowhead-whale.org/about/

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Could naked mole rats expose the truth about longevity?http://lifemag.org/article/could-naked-mole-rats-expose-the-truth-about-longevity

Unique structure found in naked mole rat cells, could potentially unlock secrets for longevity.It has been theorised in previous research, that when cells produce damaged or poorly-built proteins, these impaired proteins will accumulate in the cell and lead to early cell death. Oddly enough, it turns out that these curious creatures have extremely accurately protein translation, which in turn could explain why they live so long. Naked mole rats have been found to exceed up to 30 years, that’s eight times more than other small mammals of comparable size, making them the longest-lived rodent on earth.Thanks to their groundbreaking research on the animals, Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov may have discovered the reason behind the naked mole rat’s impressive protein production: a unique fragmented ribosomal RNA structure consisting of 3 rRNA pieces instead of the usual 2 that’s found in almost all other multicellular organism. Compared to mice, the naked mole rat makes between 4 to 40 fewer errors during the translation process. It is still not certain, however, how this does indeed affect their lifespan, but it does suggest how important protein translation may be for longevity.Interestingly, naked mole rats not only live longer from this unique cellular structure, they also show a resistance to tumorigenesis by producing a one-of-a-kind mechanism that seems to prevent them from getting cancer.Future research plans on attempting to introduce some of the naked mole rat’s special mechanisms into mouse cells, to see whether it would still hold the same effect. If so, that could lead to potential treatments in humans. Find out more @ smithsonianmag.com

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Tissue regeneration in mice opens new possibilities for human tissue regrowth http://lifemag.org/article/tissue-regeneration-in-mice-opens-new-possibilities-for-human-tissue-regrowth

A recent study carried out by Ellen Heber-Katz, PhD, of the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) has demonstrated that spontaneous tissue regeneration can be achieved in mice, without using additional stem cells. As reported in the Science Translational Medicine, this is possible thanks to a form of energy production present in mammals. The discovery of the central driver of healthy regeneration of lost tisse, the HIF-1, will offer opportunities to design therapies and treatments for healthy tissue regeneration in humans. Scientists discovered that the oxygen regulatory HIF-1a pathway, employed also in embryonic development, can activate a regrowth process of tissue in mice, thus creating similar prospects for mammalian tissues. In Dr. Heber-Katz\' investigations MRL mice have shown to be quite an exceptional species among the mammals for their ability to regenerate cartilage and other types of tissues. Experiments consisted of down-regulating HIF-1a in MRL mice who received an ear hole punch, selecting a non regenerative strain and injecting a PHD inhibitor into the mice. 30 days later researchers were able to register ear healing and regrowth of cartilage and hair follicles. According to Dr. Heber-Katz the study “shows the possibility of taking mature cells and, with addition of HIF-1a, causing dedifferentiation to a highly immature state where the cells can proliferate, followed by redifferentiation upon withdrawal of HIF-1a\".Read more @ Medicalxpress

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Current aging research trendshttp://lifemag.org/article/current-aging-research-trends

Cell Stem Cell recently published a special review issue focusing on what’s currently happening in the field of aging research, of which Medicalnewstoday highlighted 3 current trends and directions research is heading. They are:Being a femaleIt has long been observed that females on average live longer. In fact over 95% of supercentenarians are female. However, there still lacks a fixed explanation as to why this is. New research on the topic focuses on the differences in regenerative decline between the two sexes. This includes the impact gender hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, have on lifespan. It has already been established that estrogen is somehow connected to healthspan, as estrogen supplements given to male mice have been found to increase their lifespan, and that human eunuchs live on average 14 years longer than their fully male counterparts. Nonetheless, more work needs to be done in this regard, as it is not fully understood how genetic differences between males and females impact upon aging.Modeling aging in a dishAn important step to combating age-related, genetic diseases lies in how they are studied. A major problem science faces when modeling these diseases in a dish with stem cells, is that those cells are not the same age as the cells present in the patient who has the disease being studied. The reprogrammed stem cells (also known as iPSCs) taken from the diseased patient will not be damaged in the same way as found in the patient. Hence making what’s in the dish an inaccurate representation of what’s actually present in the patient. In order to fully understand the mechanisms of the disease, researchers must be able to model the late-onset conditions associated with the disease. New methods for cell maturation are being studied solely for this purpose. Current methods being tested include stressing iPSCs by exposing them to toxins and expressing genes known to cause diseases of premature aging. Once science holds the key to programming cellular age on demand, they will be able to model human disorders with stunning precision and possibly decode the mystery of aging. A theory behind why germ cells don’t seem to ageGerm cells (the cells used in reproduction, such as sperm and egg cells) obtain their energy from mitochondrial respiration, whereas stem cells instead use the more inefficient and more prone-to-mutations method of breaking down sugars. This difference in metabolism could possibly explain why the cells that make up our bodies are more prone to aging, versus our seemingly immortal germ cells. It has been postulated that the evolutionary purpose behind the cells are what contributes to maintenance in stem cells and selection in germ cells. This reflects on previous findings, in that longevity is connected to how a cell gets its nutrients. Read more @ medicalnewstoday

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Longevity Online: Data shows rapidly developing social media presencehttp://lifemag.org/article/longevity-online-data-shows-rapidly-developing-social-media-presence

As a follow up to last week’s article ‘Longevity Online: Can Social Media Take Life Extension Ideas from the Radical to the Mainstream’, the following data on the reach of life extension groups and pages on Facebook gives a clear insight into the size and scope of life extension advocacy groups on social media. Figure 1: Reach of Life Extension Groups (by Members) on Facebook, shows all groups with a membership of over 100, and gives the exact number of members each one has. The 46 largest groups shown have a combined membership of 42,620, whilst a further 56 smaller groups not shown account for another 3,071. These figures are purely for life extension and longevity focused groups, and don’t take into account other groups which encompass life extension ideas, such as transhumanism. Figure 2: Reach of Life Extension Facebook Pages on Facebook (by Likes), shows all of the most relevant pages focused on life extension, and the number of individual users to have liked that page. The combined total of this is a further 47, 580. This also doesn’t account for commercial interest pages related to life extension treatments and supplements such as Life Extension which has over 100,000 likes. All data are correct as of 04.06.15. However, so rapid is the development of life extension advocacy on facebook, it is likely that these figures will have risen significantly in the coming weeks. What the data shows above all else is that at this initial stage, advocacy is quite widely distributed among numerous niche groups, rather than represented by a few large concentrated organisations. We will continue this analysis on a quarterly basis to chart the movements’ development.

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Incredible discovery could revolutionise treatment of neurological diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/incredible-discovery-could-revolutionise-treatment-of-neurological-disease

A team of researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered lymphatic vessels lining the dural sinuses, which links the brain to the immune system. This incredible, text-book altering finding changes the way neurological diseases are approached and studied, including those associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By physically connecting the brain to the peripheral immune system through meningeal lymphatic vessels, it gives researchers the ability to actually look at the potential mechanisms behind diseases. This removes the blanket of obscurity and mystery previously attached to the study of neuro-immune interaction.Armed with this new information, Jonathan Kipnis, a professor at the UVA’s neuroscience department, noted that when looking at diseases such as Alzheimer’s, in which accumulations of large chunks of protein are usually found in the brain, this could be potentially explained by improper drainage from these vessels. Ultimately, this new revelation will massively benefit the study of many diseases, ranging from autism to multiple sclerosis. The findings of the study will be published in the journal Nature’s upcoming print edition, and can already be found online on Nature’s website. Find out more @ UVA press release

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New discoveries in regenerative medicine with the potential to increase lifespanhttp://lifemag.org/article/new-discoveries-in-regenerative-medicine-with-the-potential-to-increase-lifespan

In the Wall Street Journal, Diane Cole looks at the progress science has made thus far in the field of regenerative medicine, exploring new discoveries in stem cell research, bio-engineering and 3-D printing, and the possibility of using these to treat age-related and degenerative diseases. Read the full article here

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Purpose and productivity in old agehttp://lifemag.org/article/purpose-and-productivity-in-old-age

Now that more and more people are living longer, the increasing flood of people reaching retirement age enter with the question, “what now?” After a lifetime of work, how exactly should life continue and how exactly should all this new free time be filled? As increased average lifespan has translated to greater levels of investment in aging research, many contend that the social aspect of aging, is largely put to the side. If radical life extension is to be achieved, then inevitably this is an area that will warrant far greater attention. However, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, there are people already at work trying to find solutions for the future surge of senior-societal issues. Here is a short list of 6 strategies they propose for keeping purpose and productivity in old age: The life-stage between midlife and old age, specifically 55-75, should get a distinct name for itself. Doing so not only allows for social researchers and policymakers, for example, the ability to categorize, study, and focus on the group by name, but also implants in our minds the appreciation and deserved recognition this age group needs.A cultural rite of passage should be associated with reaching this age group in order to mark the transition and pave the way for people in this stage of life. This would allow them the chance to prepare emotionally and mentally for embarking into this new life-chapter.New skills and careers should be generated. Continuing education, specifically schools and school programs, should be made available and tailored for those in this second half of life. These programs should not just provide a kind of mental distraction, but actually help advance individuals during that age period, and provide them with new skills for their encore success and changing life purpose.A new sort of financial plan needs to be generated in order to fully support the new activities and lifestyles this second half of life will require.Old and young should not constantly be kept separate. It has already been shown that older people who keep connections with younger generations maintain higher levels of happiness. All generations could benefit from living in a more integrated setting.Increased investment and importance should be given to social strategies and innovations such as those presented above. The U.K., for example, has already invested £50 million from the Big Lottery Fund in order to improve living conditions for its senior citizens by supporting work initiatives and social engagements.Continue reading @ Wall Street Journal

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Beginners' guide to life extensionhttp://lifemag.org/article/beginners-guide-to-life-extension

Since we have more and more readers who are perhaps new to the life extension community, this short article from one of our newest contributors Lena Carlson, offers a beginners’ guide, and all you need to know about the concept and current state of life extension research and development……...Since the beginning of the 20th century, global average life expectancy has more than doubled, thanks to antibiotics, better nutrition and cleaner water. This change was mostly in average life span. Now, a growing number of scientists believe that even more dramatic life extension may be possible with the advent of new biotechnologies - and not only in regards to average lifespan but in maximum life expectancy as well. The implications of successfully extending the human lifespan well past 100 years would be significant. However relatively few people outside of the scientific world are even aware of this burgeoning Human Life Extension (HLE) movement. According to a survey undertaken by Pew Research Center in 2013, only 7% of people had heard or read “a lot” about the possibility that new medical treatment could in the future allow people to live much longer. And about half of those surveyed (54%) had heard nothing about radical life extension prior to participating in the study.So why should you care about HLE? At present, there is no proven method of slowing down the aging process. However research and development of interventions that may be able to extend human life expectancy are well underway. Scientists are optimistic and believe that radical changes in medical capabilities are only years to a few decades away. Some are more optimistic than others. Aubrey de Grey, a prominent biomedical gerontologist and advocate of HLE believes that the first person to live to 1000 might be 60 already. While there are no guarantees that such extraordinary human longevity can be achieved, Donald Louria, a medical internist, argues that it is no longer a question of whether life expectancy will increase to 100 or 120 years, but when. This will undoubtedly have a huge effect on society and may affect you in your lifetime, so it’s time to get informed. Aging as the enemy? Scientifically speaking, aging is the set of accumulated side effects from metabolism and/or genetic programming that eventually kill us. As we grow older, the way our cells, organs and systems function changes, leaving us susceptible to a plethora of illnesses – cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia. Biogerontologists are now seeking to understand and intervene in the aging process, to prevent not only frailty and disease but to learn how to repair and reverse the root causes of aging. At the SENS Research Foundation, Aubrey de Grey has identified 7 causes of aging, all of which he thinks can be dealt with. By considering “age” as a physical phenomenon that happens to our bodies, De Grey believes that, at some point in the future, as medicine becomes more powerful, we will inevitably be able to address aging just as effectively as we address many other diseases today.So how do we “fix” aging and achieve life extension?Stop Damaging Your HealthIf you consider that aging is nothing more (nor less) than the accumulation of damage, then the most obvious step towards life extension is to avoid activities that are already known to put your health at risk. Research proves time and time again that drinking alcohol in excess, smoking and taking drugs, eating junk food, and not exercising will take years off your life. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 found that long-term smokers could expect to lose about 10 years of life expectancy. In conjunction with other damaging habits this can significantly reduce your lifespan. Thus, the first and most obvious way to live longer is by quitting such habits.Adopt a Better Diet and LifestyleBesides avoiding damaging lifestyle habits, many scientists believe that we can extend our life through specific diet and exercise regimes. Currently, there is unabated interest in the life extending effects of a caloric restriction diet. An extensive review on caloric restriction, aging and longevity, published by Springer Science + Business Media in 2010 showed that a 20% reduction in food or caloric intake over 2-6 years in healthy adult humans slowed many indices of normal and disease related aging. Thus, it is widely believed that adhering to a low-calorie diet over the long-term could delay the onset of age related diseases and so prolong life. Other scientists are more concerned with how exercise may influence the aging process. An article published in the medical journal Maturitas in 2012 highlights the positive effect that physical activity, in addition to a healthy diet and psychosocial well-being can have on our lifespan. Studies show that maintaining a minimum quantity and quality of exercise can decrease the risk of death, prevent the development of certain cancers, lower the risk of osteoporosis and increase longevity. Whilst it is highly debated which kind of exercise is most effective, most experts agree that training programs should include exercises aimed at improving cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle function, as well as flexibility and balance. Of course, extensive research is still required in this area, but there are clear benefits to be obtained from adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle regime. Support Progress in Longevity ScienceLiving a healthy, active and stressless life will only give us a few extra years. With the current funding situation, life extension research will most likely fall short in providing significant new technologies that will benefit those currently alive. As important as leading a healthy lifestyle is to enhancing your longevity, only with new medical technologies will we be able to radically extend the healthy human lifespan. Thus it is imperative that the scientific research and development of such technologies, as well as other human life extension initiatives are supported. As De Grey states, “If we are to bring about real generative therapies that will benefit not just future generations, but those of us who are alive today, we must encourage scientists to work on the problem of aging.” In order to encourage this, De Grey is leading the SENS project at the SENS Research Foundation. He also founded the Methuselah Foundation, which is responsible for the Methuselah Mouse prize for extending age in mice. Other key longevity initiatives include the Palo Alto Longevity Prize (a $1 million life science competition dedicated to ending aging), Calico (a biotech company established in 2013 by Google Inc.), the 2045 Initiative, International Longevity Alliance, Life Extension Advocacy Foundation and the list goes on. These initiatives are fundamental in creating a greater awareness of the issue of human life extension in the wider community. Supporting them will ensure that longevity science receives the funding it requires to undertake vital research, develop clinical applications, and eventually make rejuvenation biotechnologies available. Educate OthersAs individuals, there are also numerous ways we can help to raise awareness and gain greater support for the life extension movement. Simply by starting the conversation and encouraging debate among family, friends and colleagues we can ensure greater education on the subject within our social and professional spheres. In turn, by supporting and relaying information from high quality and legitimate information sources, we can also ensure that the movement is professional in its scope, and key ideas and goals resonate more with the wider population. This is the key to moving life extension from the radical to the mainstream, and accelerating the rate of development which is required to ensure that life extension treatment and technologies can be made available to all in the not too distant future.

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What good is thinking about death?http://lifemag.org/article/what-good-is-thinking-about-death

Currently, the one greatest truth about life is that without some kind of radical intervention, one day it will certainly end. Accepting this or not marks the difference between an advocate of life extension and pretty much the rest of the general population. For those of us who refuse to go quite so gently into the night, the unwillingness of the majority of humanity to share in the pursuit to extend healthy lifespan can at times be as perplexing as it is frustrating. It seems simply illogical to rationalise aging as a natural process, so in turn, there grows a tendency to dismiss or even resent those whose apathy continues to slow the rate of research and development into combating age-related disease. As a consequence, the sense of enlightenment felt by many within the life extension community can at times manifest itself in ways that are far from beneficial in changing the attitudes of the apathetic or opposed. Initiatives designed to raise awareness of the cause and garner support are often undertaken from such a standpoint of the enlightened preaching to the ignorant. The evident lack of knowledge about life extension worldwide is thus seen as the principal issue affecting development, and the belief is that by extolling our views to a wider audience these attitudes will inevitably be changed and more support gained. The issue herein is that this is done with little attempt to actually understand why others don\'t always share in our point of view, and similarly, without considering the damage that can be done by not addressing this in the right way. People simply don\'t want to be confronted by death. Apathy stems from fear, and acceptance arises from a range of coping strategies which have been developed since childhood, and grow more sophisticated each time we lose a loved one, or a pet, or are faced with large-scale human tragedies. Encouraging, or even forcing people to face their fear of death can therein often serve only to reinforce these mechanisms, and lead them to run even further away from the concept. Julie Beck\'s article \"What good is thinking about death?\" published in the Atlantic, is entirely reflective of such a notion. Within it, she explores the reasons why we avoid the subject of our mortality, and the range of strategies we employ to push our inevitable death to the very back of our consciousness. Her conclusion that \"if we accept death, maybe we can just live\" may represent the very antithesis of the life extension community ethos. But if we consider such a viewpoint as indicative of the attitudes of the majority, then it is essential that we seek to understand exactly why this is the case. Only through understanding why our ideas are not universally shared, can we formulate strategies which really are beneficial in gaining greater advocacy for increasing human longevity. Read the full article @ The Atlantic

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Epigenetic regulation: turning back the hands of timehttp://lifemag.org/article/epigenetic-regulation-turning-back-the-hands-of-time

Exciting and pioneering research, led by Professor Jun-Ichi Hayashi from the University of Tsukuba in Japan, into the role epigenetic regulation plays in aging, has been recently published in the journal Nature\'s Scientific Reports.While initially performing an experiment looking into the mitochondrial theory of aging, by comparing mitochondrial respiration and DNA damage in old versus young human fibroblast cell lines, they found, contrary to expectation, no difference in the amount of DNA damage within the two groups.Since the results did not fall in line with the mitochondrial theory of aging, this drove the researchers to find and propose a theory that could explain their findings: epigenetic regulation.Unlike with the mitochondrial theory of aging, in which abnormal mitochondrial function and defects are the result of an accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations, epigenetic regulation deals with genes being turned on or off by changes to the actual structure of the DNA itself whilst keeping the DNA sequence unaffected. Using this theory, it would then technically be possible to genetically restore cells to an embryonic, ‘undamaged’ state by removing the epigenetic changes to the mitochondrial DNA.By going in the line of thinking that age-related mitochondrial defects are a result of epigenetic regulation,and not through mutations, the researchers were then able to find a way to reverse age-associated mitochondrial defects in both old and young people’s fibroblasts.They did so by reprogramming human fibroblast cell lines derived from both young and elderly people to an embryonic stem cell-like state, then turning them back into fibroblasts and comparing any difference in respiration rates. By doing so they managed to bring the fibroblast respiratory rates back to a level comparable to those of the fetal fibroblast cell line in both the old and young people\'s sample, and essentially reverse the age-related defects.After looking for the epigenetically controlled genes that caused these age-related mitochondrial defects, the researchers found that mitochondrial function could be repaired or damaged by regulating two genes involved with glycine production: CGAT and SHMT2. In further testing, after adding glycine to a 97 year old fibroblast cell line, its respiratory function was restored.This means that with further testing, as this study suggested, glycine supplements might be an available treatment for older populations in the future.Read more at ScienceDaily

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Is aging inevitable?http://lifemag.org/article/is-aging-inevitable

In a TED Radio special broadcast entitled ‘The Fountain of Youth’, a range of prominent figures from the field of longevity have engaged in a debate and discussion on a number of topics related to life extension and how we can live better and longer lives. During the hour long show, longevity expert Dan Buettner discusses what we can learn from supercentenarians and \'Blue Zones\' - communities made of elders who have the longest lifespan on the planet. Aubrey de Grey, chief officer of SENS Research Foundation, argues for greater research into finding the causes of aging and establishing treatments to prolong life. Cynthia Kenyon, vice-president of Google Calico talks about a genetic mutation that can double the life of a worm, a discovery she hopes will be able to extend human lives in the future.Harvey Fineberg, medical ethicist and health policy decision-maker, looks at the way technology will change the way we evolve; anticipating the coming of “neo-evolution”, and analysing the consequences of eliminating disease through gene-therapy. Before Isabel Allende, 70 year old novelist, plays the role of devil’s advocate by asking if aging is really so bad?Listen to the full show here

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Why aging should be classed as a diseasehttp://lifemag.org/article/why-aging-should-be-classed-as-a-disease

In a recent research paper published in Frontiers in Genetics, academics from Belgium, Sweden and the UK have proposed that aging has been mistakenly categorized as a natural process, and should in fact be classified as a disease. In line with the view of advocates of life extension, this means that aging warrants far greater research, and like all other diseases, medical treatment.Using the criteria of diseases as \'abnormal conditions\', the principal contention of the opinion piece is that as aging affects us arbitrarily and has \'no purpose\', it is less a natural biological process than a condition which requires treatment. If the aging process were to be recognized as the main cause of chronic disorders, governments would then inevitably accelerate the development of geroprotective drugs and regenerative medicines and provide increased support to biomedical research in the field. The authors believe that this would rescue inefficient healthcare systems and lead to more investment in treatments to extend healthy lifespan.Read the full article here

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Longevity online: can social media take life extension ideas from the radical to the mainstream?http://lifemag.org/article/longevity-online-can-social-media-take-life-extension-ideas-from-the-radical-to-the-mainstream

To confront death is to face our biggest fear, and unfortunately for advocates of life extension, this is something which the majority of people are not presently inclined to do. Like any industry, the level of investment in life extension technologies and the resultant supply of treatments are directly related to demand. Therefore, for governments, scientific institutions, and venture capitalists to invest within the field, the demand from consumers simply has to be there. Recent big budget ventures spearheaded by some of Silicon Valley’s most high profile companies and individuals go a long way to speeding up the rate of research and development as well as raising awareness of the cause, but for those looking to really accelerate the rate of progress, the question is how to get enough of the population onboard to significantly impact upon the rate of change. In the 21st Century, social media has emerged as by far the most efficient and accessible platform for engagement between like-minded individuals, promoting shared ideas, and ultimately mobilising the general population into action. In fact, in our increasingly globalised world, such is the centrality of social media and its capacity to facilitate instant worldwide communication, one can argue that without it any movement or form of promotion is likely doomed to fail. As a characteristically tech-minded community, it is therefore no surprise that the power of networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, and Reddit as tools for furthering the cause of life extension has not been lost upon its most engaged advocates. One only has to peruse the most popular channels Facebook and Twitter to find literally hundreds of groups and profiles dedicated to life extension and longevity, with thousands of members based all over the world. Such high-levels of activity, one would assume, can only be a good thing for the life extension movement, but in terms of really taking life extension ideas from the radical to the mainstream, how far does social media currently go? A Network of Like-Minded IndividualsTo begin, in terms of sheer numbers, the size of the overall online life extension community is significant and growing rapidly. One of the largest international public Facebook groups, ‘International Longevity Alliance’, boasts over 6,000 members alone, and has national advocacy groups in 57 countries and regions worldwide with a further combined member total of around 7,000. Combine this with myriad other international groups focusing purely on the broader subject of longevity, such as ‘Longevity Party’ which has over 7,000 members, and ‘Longevity Hub’ with a membership of nearly 3,000. As well as countless smaller networks in the UK, Australia, Germany, South Korea, Iran, India, Russia, Brazil, China and a great many other countries and cities, and membership on Facebook alone can be estimated at well over 100,000 strong. A number that rises significantly each day. Elsewhere, hundreds of thousands of Twitter users follow groups and individuals related to life extension. For example, ‘GF2045’ a non-profit organisation and network of the world’s leading scientists in the field of longevity has over 3,000 followers. ‘Longevity Network’ a group for startups and investors in longevity research has over 11,000, and Maria Konovalenko a scientist and head of the Science for Life Extension Foundation has over 10,000 followers on her personal profile alone. Furthermore, combined views of longevity-related videos on Youtube total well over one million, and subreddits in fields which encompass life extension technology and ideas such as longevity, aging research, futurism and transhumanism can be found to have well over three million subscribers. Whether a front for established longevity-based organisations or simply a forum for interested individuals to connect with others in their local communities, it is clear that via the most widely used social media channels there is a significantly large community of individuals either actively engaged in the promotion of life extension ideas, or at least receptive to material on the subject. As a result, these online platforms, if used effectively and responsibly, represent not only an efficient means of connecting the like-minded, but also an important gateway between the enthused and the less inclined.A range of perspectivesThe debate on aging however isn’t black and white. It is in fact a battle between life and death permeated by numerous factors, ethical questions, and means of defeating nature’s biggest and seemingly unstoppable killer - old age. As a result, such diversity within the movement is reflected in the nature of online groups which seek to promote and reflect upon life extension ideas from a number of unique perspectives, with some more likely to strike a chord with the wider population than others. In this sense, for Facebook groups such as ‘Immortality’ and ‘The Evolution of Science and Technological Life Extension’ the focus is very much on technology, with members dedicated to raising awareness of emerging technologies with the potential to increase human lifespan. ‘Egalitarian Transhumanism’, with over 7,000 members looks at life extension from a socio-economic perspective, working to ensure that advanced technologies which stop aging, extend lifespan and eliminate genetic disease are available to everyone and not just ‘wealthy elites’. Whilst ‘Legal Support of Longevity Research’, with a more modest membership of around 200, is an international group with the equally important goal of sharing and discussing information about legal issues which might or currently affect the rate of life extension research.Aside from purely life extension based networks, there are then groups related to transhumanism, futurism, cryonics, and artificial intelligence which focus either directly or indirectly on ways to increase human lifespan through the use of advanced technology. The ‘Transhumanist Party’, its numerous national subsidiaries, and other transhumanist movements account for at least 50,000 people on Facebook. Futurist groups have a combined membership of around 30,000 and cryonics related groups and organisations represent a further 25,000 approximately. With other countless groups, pages, and profiles focusing on technology, diets, supplements, medicine, science, research, ethics, the environment, and even the teachings of ancient Chinese philosophers, the individual scope of networks within the overall life extension community may in many cases diverge, but all are united by the same ultimate goal of extending healthy human lifespan. The overriding issue though is whether the most rational, researched, and legitimate material can make its way through such a vast amount of internet traffic. This is not always the case, particularly when some information sources are motivated by commercial interest, promote theories on longevity neither backed up by quality research nor proven results, or represent a perspective way beyond the realms of most people’s comprehension. Building the CommunityNonetheless, when speaking to some of the community’s most engaged advocates, it is the shared goal of building a cohesive community rather than purely promoting an individual preference which serves as the key motivation for those heavily invested in promoting life extension through social media. Ilia Stambler is an Israeli author, scholar, and life extension advocate, who spends a significant amount of his time engaging with the various groups and forums related to life extension, particularly on facebook. For him, it is not the desire to promote his personal initiatives or ideas, but the importance of building a global community with a voice loud enough to impact upon the rate of development which makes such a pursuit entirely worthwhile: “Only such a community can create the sufficient force of ‘demand and supply’ that would make ‘longevity for all’ a reality. This is why my plan to live longer and help others to live longer is not to advance any particular line of research, or any particular organisation or career choice, but to try to help build the longevity community itself, encouraging pro-longevity goal setting and sharing, knowledge and information exchange, networking and group building.” It is this same goal of building a wider, more engaged community with a sufficient platform to reach out to the less informed which also motivated Ali Yahyaei, a life extension advocate based in Iran to form the Iranian branch of Longevity Alliance: “I think raising awareness and providing valid information are the most important steps towards the goal of extending human lifespan, as if these are done well, the goal will be achievable more easily by attracting greater scientific and financial sources.” In this sense, there are numerous large international or regional online groups and forums which, in being designed to allow members to connect and share the latest developments with a wide audience, align entirely with this aim. Just two examples are: the Humanity Plus Forum ‘H+’ - an online community network ‘dedicated to developing knowledge on science and technology’ which allows transhumanists and longevity activists to share the latest news and events, as well as create their own groups and forums within the platform; and the Singularity Weblog Canada - an open virtual space, that provides tools to facilitate interaction, share information, promote events, and even collect donations for wider projects. If well regulated by responsible administrators, which many are, these online platforms are essential not only to further entrenching ideas among those already interested in the field, but also as a channel for outreach towards those who may have not been so previously, or even opposed. In both cases however, the overall effectiveness depends entirely on what is shared and promoted, and the nature of any direct activity which may materialise as a result of engagement.Mobilising the MassesThe greatest role of social media is then not simply facilitating online chatter, but as a means of mobilising members into action. For those who organise direct initiatives, enlisting the support and participation of the online community has become almost essential to the successful execution of projects which either reach an audience beyond that of the community itself, or provide direct benefits to longevity research and development.For example, numerous projects, such as the ‘Geroprotector’ experiments to extend lifespan in mice led by Russian scientists and life extension activists Elena Milova and Daria Khaltourina, have been facilitated directly by gaining support and participation through social media. In this case, members of the online community were asked to be subjects of the experiments through engagement on facebook, whilst financial contributions were also successfully sourced via several other online platforms. Similarly, the 9,000 member-strong Movement for Indefinite Life Extension (MILE) regularly uses its Facebook and Twitter platforms to mobilise its members for a range of actions. In March an ‘Online Demonstration for Indefinite Life Extension’, to support life extension technologies and awareness, took place in a live Google Hangout broadcast from different locations around the world. Also a recent ‘mixed line-up’ arranged through facebook and twitter included group demonstrations in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington D.C involving singing, speeches, and readings to show support for indefinite lifespan.Another effective large-scale social media campaign was that related to Metchnikoff Day, a series of events taking place worldwide in honour of the founder of Gerontology Elie Metchnikoff. Arranged primarily through Facebook, initiatives were organised by a variety of gerontological research and advocacy organizations, with events taking place in cities such as Kiev, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Larnaca, Oxford and o Ramat Gan, Israel. Alongside further unique social media driven initiatives, such as the ‘Last Generation to die’ film on life extension, which achieved $25k of funding through an online Kickstarter campaign, and the Russian Center of Advanced Technology’s recent ‘Ice Bucket Challenge for Aging Research’ to support the development of a scientific model on human aging, this sophisticated use of social media to facilitate direct action, often with clear quantifiable results, holds perhaps the greatest potential for the online community both to raise awareness and actually drive support and funding towards research in the field. Of course, the benefits of any such individual endeavours arranged through social media can only be judged on their individual merits. Like any form of promotion or protest, some means of doing so can prove to be far more successful than others. Nonetheless, what is clear is that social media allows activists worldwide to connect, conceive and carry out projects either together or simultaneously throughout the world in a way that wouldn’t be possible without it. From the Radical to the MainstreamOverall, it is then clear that social media’s capacity to build networks, grow movements, and mobilise people into action makes its use essential for furthering the cause of human longevity. By offering an environment where worldwide public awareness on longevity issues and possibilities can be raised, the opportunities to change attitudes and gain new active advocates are abundant. However, this is not to say that one shouldn’t exert caution when looking to social media as the principal resource for information on life extension. Whilst the level of membership and activity is extremely encouraging, and those who devote their time to it should be praised, there remains an issue with fact-checking and the trustworthiness of a number of the stories, news, research, and developments shared and promoted by some individuals and organisations across groups and networks. This is exacerbated further by commercial enterprises who exist under the banner of life extension and offer news and research on products, supplements, and treatments which essentially align with their particular business model, and may in fact offer little or no benefit to longevity at all.It is therein of vital importance for the life extension movement that social media channels are used to raise awareness of feasible and proven means of prolonging healthy human lifespan, whilst at the same time reaching out those who are apathetic or opposed by acting in a manner which moves the wider public perception away from the notion of life extension as “crazy, unrealistic, Sci-Fi” towards “trustworthy science and a meaningful goal.” To all intents and purposes this is currently not being achieved to the extent that it can and needs to be. In this regard, the goal should be to use social media to build a larger more visible community, but in a way where the emphasis is on quality and legitimacy. If this can be achieved, and there is no reason why it cannot, this will inevitably move the idea of radical life extension from the radical to the mainstream once more and more people see, trust and share these ideas. In turn, we are then likely to see the far greater rate of development in the near future which is so desperately needed.

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Super-protective heavy fat pill holds potential to slow aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/super-protective-heavy-fat-pill-holds-potential-to-slow-aging

A new super-protective pill discovered by scientists at biotech company Retrotope is being cited as holding the potential to significantly extend healthy human lifespan. The pill, similar in size and consistency to a standard fish-oil supplement, contains strong fats which allow the formation of stronger cells. The hope is that by strengthening membrane and molecule bonds, cell damage caused by \'oxygen free radicals\' - damage-causing cells which are formed when cells metabolise, can be offset. This would in effect significantly slow or even reset the accumulated cell-damage which causes aging and age-related disease.The company will perform a trial treatment starting in June on participants with a rare genetic disorder, Friedreich\'s ataxia, the mechanism of which is similar to the process of ageing. According to Director Mikhail Shchepinov, if treatment is successful and the progression of the disease is slowed down, the same principle can be applied to decelerate the ageing process:\"If you can fix oxidative damage then lifespan will be extended.\" Read more @ New Scientist

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10 ways Google is seeking to improve health and longevityhttp://lifemag.org/article/10-ways-google-is-seeking-to-improve-health-and-longevity

In the New York Observer, David Samadi looks at Google\'s ever-growing investment in healthcare, and focuses on 10 of the most innovative ways the company is seeking to improve health and longevity. Whilst the establishment of Google Calico in September 2014 represents Google\'s most significant investment in longevity specifically, the article shed lights on numerous other developments such as; magnetic nanoparticle pills that could identify certain types of cancers, heart attack and potentially other diseases earlier, the \'Neural Turing Machine\', a computer system that hopes to defy the challenge of neuroscience and improve the efficiency of the human brain, microchip contact lenses able to transmit health data to a mobile device, and plans for the development of Google X, a robotic surgery platform, meant to facilitate image analysis for research into tumors. Continue reading @ New York Observer

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'Hydrogels' boost ability of stem cells to restore eyesight and heal brainshttp://lifemag.org/article/hydrogels-boost-ability-of-stem-cells-to-restore-eyesight-and-heal-brains

University of Toronto scientists have made a breakthrough in cell transplantation using a gel-like biomaterial that keeps cells alive and helps them integrate better into tissue. In two early lab trials, this has already shown to partially reverse blindness and help the brain recover from stroke.The team encased stem cells in a \"hydrogel\" that boosted their healing abilities when transplanted into both the eye and the brain. Because the hydrogel could boost cell survival in two different parts of the nervous system, the eye and the brain, it could potentially be used in transplants across numerous different body sites. The findings are part of an ongoing effort to develop new therapies to repair nerve damage caused by a disease or injury.Read more @ Science Daily

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Human Longevity Inc. announces partnership with Cleveland Clinichttp://lifemag.org/article/human-longevity-inc-announces-partnership-with-cleveland-clinic

Human Longevity Inc. has signed a broad collaboration agreement with the Cleveland Clinic to first sequence and analyse blood samples from Cleveland Clinic’s GeneBank study of de-identified patients. The two organizations will apply whole genome, cancer and microbiome sequencing with the goal of discovering new disease genes and disease pathways associated with heart disease.“Cleveland Clinic is one of the premier clinical health care settings in the world and we are excited to be working with Dr. Cosgrove and his team. Using HLI’s powerful genomic technologies and analysis tools to better understand the biological basis for disease should enable earlier intervention and better treatments,” said CEO J. Craig Venter. Further to January\'s announcement of a multi-year deal to sequence and analyse tens of thousands of genomes for Roche\'s Genentech unit, this latest agreement signifies a further step towards HLI\'s aim of sequencing 1 million genomes by 2020.Read the full press release here

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The role of steroids in anti-aging medicine and the politics preventing ithttp://lifemag.org/article/the-role-of-steroids-in-anti-aging-medicine-and-the-politics-preventing-it

In the New York Observer, Steven Kotler author of Tomorrowland discusses the benefits of testosterone as a means of fighting age-related disease, and the legislation which is preventing its development. Continue reading @ New York Observor

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Drug perks up old muscles and aging brainshttp://lifemag.org/article/drug-perks-up-old-muscles-and-aging-brains

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that a small-molecule drug \'perks up\' old stem cells in the brains and muscles of mice, a finding that could lead to drug interventions for humans that would make aging tissues throughout the body act young again.The new study shows that a drug that blocks TGF-beta1 - a chemical that prevents stem cells from replacing damaged cells - makes brain and muscle tissue more youthful. \"We established that you can use a single small molecule to rescue essential function in not only aged brain tissue but aged muscle,\" said co-author David Schaffer, director of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center and a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. The finding is being cited a significant step towards developing a \'drug cocktail\' able to rejuvenate aging tissue. Continue reading @ Science Daily

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Keeping the aging brain sharp: do tools that claim to fight cognitive decline really work?http://lifemag.org/article/keeping-the-aging-brain-sharp-do-tools-that-claim-to-fight-cognitive-decline-really-work

A New York Times article looking at treatments designed to improve cognitive function in aged individuals, warns consumers to observe caution when investing in products promising to improve mental health. The question is; does simply taking supplements and keeping the brain busy with crossword puzzles, sudoku, memory games, or the like really keep memory loss at bay?Despite the onslaught of commercials in which companies claim their products can boost cognitive function, the article contends that most fail to provide the scientific proof needed to back up those claims, and although some computer games, such as NeuroRacer, have been shown to help with cognitive skills like multi-tasking, the long-term effects and benefits of such games still need to be further studied. The conclusion is that it should not be assumed that just using these products on their own will give you the brain boost you are looking for. If anything, they should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle to fully feel any potential added benefits. Read the full article here

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George Dvorsky: 'I will reap benefits of radical life extension'http://lifemag.org/article/george-dvorsky-i-will-reap-benefits-of-radical-life-extension

In an upcoming documentary \'The Death of Aging\' to be shown on Al Jazeera, contributing editor to the sci-fi publication io9 and chair of the board for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, George Dvorsky tells of his belief that those of us currently under the age of around 55 are likely to see the benefits of life extension treatments and technology within our lifetime. \"I think that over the next 30 years, we’ll start to see some real bona fide life extension therapies\"The film airs on Monday, May 11, at 10 pm Eastern time/7 pm Pacific on Al Jazeera America. Read the transcript here

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Apple makes further forays into digital healthhttp://lifemag.org/article/apple-makes-further-forays-into-digital-health

Alongside Apple\'s development of ResearchKit - a series of applications designed to collect DNA samples from tens of thousands of participants, the company yesterday announced a partnership with IBM in which the two corporations will collect, supply and analyse genetic and clinical data to support treatment of numerous age-related diseases such as cancer and heart disease as well as several genetic birth defects.Both developments signify a clear intention from the technology giant to move into the area of large-scale genetic data collection. In doing so, Apple will become the latest company to use its digital platform to encourage customers tp provide their personal genetic information and make it available to healthcare professionals who in turn can use it to simplify health predictions. The hope is that by building mega-databases of gene information, this data can be used to help uncover clues about the causes of disease. Soon to be introduced at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 8th, Apple\'s ResearchKit aims to look at 100 genetic diseases and create an ecosystem of DNA data share that can be accessed and added to by researchers and individuals worldwide. The IBM partnership will then see data collected from Apple iOS applications used towards IBM\'s \'Watson\' project which will soon be introduced to 14 health care institutions, applying Genomic Analytics to support cancer treatment and make treatment guidelines available to a larger number of people. Read more at MIT Technology Review

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Gene editing: should we really be so afraid?http://lifemag.org/article/gene-editing-should-we-really-be-so-afraid

In his article \'Read this before you freak out about gene-edited super babies\' Nick Stockton of Wired looks at both extremes of the argument surrounding the implications of genetically engineering human embryos. In line with the recent furore surrounding the issue and calls for a moratorium, Stockton asks for time to explore the real risks and real possibilities of human gene editing before the practice falls \'prey to science-deaf legislation.\' Continue reading @ Wired

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Study published in Science reveals heterochromatin alterations as a driver of human aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/study-published-in-science-reveals-heterochromatin-alterations-as-a-driver-of-human-aging

A study published in the highly reputable scientific journal Science has revealed that deterioration of the bundles of DNA responsible for normal cell functioning is actually reversible, and finding out how this process works could lead to new treatments for combating a range of age-related diseases.The Researchers from the Salk Institute in the US and Chinese Academy of Science made the discovery while studying the underlying causes of Werner syndrome - a genetic disorder that causes premature aging.The findings, which are significant both in the sense that the results have been deemed worthy of publication in Science, and that the implications are potentially so far-reaching, have been hailed as one of the most exciting recent discoveries towards extending healthy human lifespan. Read the full study in Science (Subscription Required)

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Calico enters into research partnership with Buck Institute http://lifemag.org/article/calico-enters-into-research-partnership-with-buck-institute

Calico (California Life Company) and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging have agreed a partnership to support research into longevity and age-related diseases. Similar to Calico\'s previous agreements with the Broad Institute and QB3, the Google-backed company will identify, fund and support innovative research, ranging from basic biology to potential therapies for age-related diseases, whilst ultimately having the option to obtain exclusive rights to discoveries made under research it supports. Brian K. Kennedy, Buck Institute President and CEO voiced his hopes for the new collaboration: “We are excited to forge this new partnership with Calico, which represents a unique way for academic researchers focused on aging and the biotech industry to work together. It’s a great partnership between two organizations aimed at helping people live longer healthier lives, and we look forward to collaborating with their team.”Similarly, Hal Barron, President of Research and Development at Calico also spoke of his enthusiasm for the project: “Given the Buck’s exclusive focus on aging, we believe that there’s great potential to increase our understanding of the biology of aging and to accelerate the translation of emerging insights into therapies to help patients with age-related diseases.”See the full press release here

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'Supercharged' Genomicshttp://lifemag.org/article/supercharged-genomics

A \"supercharged\" approach to human genome research could see as many health breakthroughs made in the next decade as in the previous century, according to Brad Perkins, chief medical officer at Human Longevity Inc.Speaking at the recent WIRED Health 2015 event in London, Perkins claimed that the convergence of four trends: \'the reduction in the cost of genome sequencing (from $100m per genome in 2000, to just over $1,000 in 2014), a vast improvement in computational power, the development of large-scale machine learning techniques and the wider movement of health care systems towards ‘value-based’ models\' are making it easier than ever to analyse human genomes on a grand scale.In using the same techniques used to analyse disease in the previous century but on a far larger and faster scale, the belief at HLI is that their research will eventually be able to identify the root causes of aging, and develop treatments able to significantly extend healthy human lifespan. Read more @ Wired

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Study shows interferon restriction decreases DNA damage and slows premature aging in mice. http://lifemag.org/article/study-shows-interferon-restriction-decreases-dna-damage-and-slows-premature-aging-in-mice

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have pinpointed a molecular link between DNA damage, cellular senescence and premature aging.During the study which focused on the chemical messenger interferon, a molecule that is naturally produced by the body in response to invading pathogens such as viruses, researchers discovered that interferon signaling increases in response to DNA damage and that this signaling prompts cells to enter senescence. However, when the researchers blocked the interferon signalling mice were able to not only live longer, but were more fertile, had less grey hair and were more active than regular mice. While the study looked at premature aging and ways to alleviate it, it paves the way for future studies to mitigate the effects of normal aging in healthy individuals. Read more at: Medical News Today

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ISSCR president calls for moratorium on human gene editing. http://lifemag.org/article/isscr-president-calls-for-moratorium-on-human-gene-editing

In response to yesterday’s news that Chinese researchers had modified human embryos, Rudolf Jaenisch, the president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research ISSCR, (a nonprofit group comprised of nearly 4,000 researchers, clinicians and ethicists from over 50 countries) has called for a moratorium on human gene editing. Jaenisch spoke of the need for the scientific community to think about the implications of their work and to start asking the tough questions: “Even if we could safely modify the inheritable DNA in an embryo, egg or sperm, should we? In what scenarios might this be justified? How can we be assured that the technologies will not be abused? How do we maintain an openness with the public such that they understand and support the scientific community in their quest to improve public health?”Calling for increased basic research and understanding of the safety issues associated with human genome editing technologies, Jaenisch does not intend to dampen excitement about the foundational research or clinical applications underway involving the modification of non-reproductive cells - he wants recognition for the important scientific, as well as broad social and ethical considerations that arise. The crux of the issue is as the power and scope of new technologies and techniques increases, are the ethical and moral structures in place to support them? Read more at...Time Magazine

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Scientists successfully genetically modify human embryos, allowing for editing of babies’ geneshttp://lifemag.org/article/scientists-successfully-genetically-modify-human-embryos-allowing-for-editing-of-babies-genes

A report published on the 18th of April has shone new light into the possibility of altering the human genome. Chinese researchers used gene editing to modify human embryos, attempting to correct the gene defect that is responsible for beta-thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder. Genes of more than 80 embryos were edited using a technology called CRISPR-Cas9. While in some cases they were successful, in others the CRISPR technology didn’t work or introduced unexpected mutations. Some of the embryos ended up being mosaics, with a repaired gene in some cells, but not in others. The embryos were taken from an IVF clinic in China, but were non-viable, as “ethical reasons precluded studies of gene editing in normal embryos”.Germline engineering could one day be used to remove disease genes from the gene pool, however the practise of modifying the human genome raises many ethical concerns. Critics fear that this editing could wreak havoc on the human gene pool, as the alterations will be coded into the heritage line and passed down through all future generations. Additionally, there is the fear that gene editing will be used as a science-enabled form of eugenics with parents being able to choose the most desirable traits, including trivial changes like hair and eye colour, to create a designer baby. Read more at: MIT Technology Review

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How Health-Monitoring Technology Can Be the Key to Longevityhttp://lifemag.org/article/how-health-monitoring-technology-can-be-the-key-to-longevity

Scientists believe that using wearable devices to monitor our physical condition can be key to helping prolong healthy lifespan. Easily available health-monitoring technology which already exist such as smart watches and myriad applications on mobile devices ensure that we have access to more information about our health than ever before. Using these devices to regularly monitor our physical condition, as well as new technology currently under development, will, according to several scientists, be key to helping prolong healthy lifespan both now and even more so in the future. The belief is that whilst chronological age and genetic composition remain determinant factors in how long a person will live, technology can motivate us to adopt a healthier lifestyle and thus push the boundaries of our longevity. Dr. Walter M. Bortz, a clinical professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine who teaches a course on the science of longevity, believes that such technology is developing so rapidly that within just a few years we will see developments like step-counters embedded in our shoulders. However, he also warns that regardless of technology, these devices will have little or no impact upon our lifespan unless they are matched with increased physical activity: \"wearing 10 monitors on your body isn’t going to do a thing unless we change our behavior\"Continue reading @Forbes

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Stem Cell Injection May Soon Reverse Age-Related Vision Loss http://lifemag.org/article/stem-cell-injection-may-soon-reverse-age-related-vision-loss

An injection of stem cells into the eye may soon slow or reverse the effects of age-related macular degeneration, according to new research from scientists at Cedars-Sinai - a non-profit hospital and research institution in Los Angeles, USA. Currently, there is no available treatment for age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 65. However, during a study in which a single-injection of adult-derived human cells was administered to rats with the disease, the treatment was found to preserve the subject\'s vision for 130 days; a period that would equate to 16 years in humans. Read the full study in Stem Cells

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The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Lifehttp://lifemag.org/article/the-right-dose-of-exercise-for-a-longer-life

Two recent major studies on the relationship between exercise and mortality have reached the same conclusion; most of us need to exercise more, but not quite as much as we may might think. LIFEmag Summary:The respective studies, summarised in the New York Times, and carried out by the National Cancer Institute, Harvard University, and a team of researchers from Australia sought to solve the \'goldilocks\' problem; a term which refers to the fact that although myriad forms of exercise exist, there is little consensus as to what the right amount of exercise is for prolongong healthy life. From real time evaluation and analysis of medical data going back 14 years, the first study found that, unsurpringly, people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death, but those who exercised a little, although still not meeting the standard recommendation of 150 minutes per week, nevertheless lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent. Those who met the guidelines precisely enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31 percent less risk of dying. However, the most interesting finding arose from the second study, namely that once participants significantly exceeded the recommended amount of exercise, particularly by engaging in occasional \'vigorous\' exercise, there is actually an increase in mortality, meaning that over-exercise can in some cases increase the risk of premature death. Continue reading @ New York Times

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Could Expanding our Senses Aid Longevity?http://lifemag.org/article/could-expanding-our-senses-aid-longevity

In a recent TED Talk neuroscientist David Eagleman explains how expanding our sensory input can allow our brains to know more aspects of reality, which in turn, could provide great benefits for medical science.LIFEmag Summary:Eagleman, who says “our experience of reality is constrained by our biology\" has, from his research into our brain processes, sought to create new interfaces - such as a sensory vest - which allow us to take in previously unseen information about the world around us. According to a spokesperson for the Palo Alto Alto Longevity Prize via social media, this principle could perhaps be used to \"retrain danger signals that are misperceived, ie. allergies, autism, EMF, cell danger responses etc\", highlighting the potential for such developments in sensory technology to assist in combating diseases which negatively impact upon our lifespan.Watch the video here

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Cell Division Research Expected to Lead to Containment of Cancer Cells and Regenerative Medical Treatmentshttp://lifemag.org/article/cell-division-research-expected-to-lead-to-containment-of-cancer-cells-and-regenerative-medical-treatmentsFor the first time, researchers have managed to replicate the contractile ring which is created in the interior wall of a cell membrane during cell division - a development being hailed as of significant importance to biology and medical science, and integral to the pursuit of eradicating age-related disease. LIFEmag Summary:Life is defined by the process in which organisms grow and develop through the regenerative ability of cell division, and thus, researchers at the Waseda Bioscience Research Institute in Singapore claim that if cell division can be fully understood, it will become possible to control this process. As a result, medical treatments can be developed which for example, prevent cancer cells from multiplying and promote the propagation of healthy cells. Read the Full Study @ Nature Cell BiologyThe Cost of Longevity?http://lifemag.org/article/the-cost-of-longevityGoogle futurist Ray Kurzweil has given an insight into his daily routine of superfoods and supplements amounting to an estimated cost of $1000 per day.LIFEmag Summary67 year old Kurzweil believes his daily intake of up to 250 supplements has been key to his apparent biological age of 40. However, he estimates that this costs an eye-watering $1m per year to maintain. Read the full story @ Business InsiderMulti-Millionaire Offers $1m prize to the First Person to Live to 123http://lifemag.org/article/multi-millionaire-offers-1m-prize-to-the-first-person-to-live-to-123

Moldovan oligarch Dmitry Kaminskiy has pledged $1m to the first person to live beyond the current record of 122.5 years. That record held by Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment has remained intact since her death in 1997, and Kaminsky hopes that his prize will encourage others to aspire to become \'supercentenarians.\'Speaking to Transhumanist Party US Presidential Candidate Zoltan Istvan for the UK Daily Mail, Kaminsky stated: \'They may not realise it, but some of the supercentenarians alive today may see the dawn of the next century if they live long enough for transformative technologies to develop. I hope that my prize will help some of them desire longer lifespans and make their approaches to living longer a little more competitive.\'Read the full interview here

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Will Humans Ever Live 200 Years?http://lifemag.org/article/will-humans-ever-live-200-yearsIn light of the recent passing of 116-year old Gertrude Weaver who had held the title of world\'s oldest woman for a brief 5 days, Eric Niiler of Discovery News looks at current progress in the field of longevity and the potential to extend lifespan to 130-200 years and beyond. LIFEmag Summary: Niiler\'s article touches upon many of the main and contentious points surrounding longevity, the most significant being that whilst many scientists believe studying the genes of super agers holds the key to prolonging lifespan, others feel that neither this research nor any amount of investment can \'push the human lifespan beyond its limits.\' Read the full article @ Discovery NewsTech Titans' Latest Project: Defy Deathhttp://lifemag.org/article/tech-titans-latest-project-defy-deathThe Washington Post is the most recent major publication to profile the numerous Silicon Valley entrepreneurs investing heavily in life extension technology. LIFEmag Summary: High-profile investors making significant forays into the longevity industry such as Google, Peter Thiel and Larry Ellison have been a real coup in terms of raising awareness and accelerating the rate of research. However, as highlighted within the Washington Post article, the affordability of any treatments arising from this huge investment is a concern, as it is essential in a societal sense that the divide between rich and poor does not translate to a divide between the \'mortal and immortal\'. Continue reading @ Washington PostWhy Extend Life?http://lifemag.org/article/why-extend-life

Not all of us want to live forever. However, few would pass at the chance of a guaranteed long and healthy life. Seeing our health decline as we grow older, and departing this earth often decades before our 100th birthday is a concept most of us reluctantly accept, but as medical, scientific and technological advances continue to make possible what we had thought impossible just years before, many now see this condition as no longer inevitable. In recent years, a proliferation of individuals, groups, organisations, institutions and corporations have emerged with a stated mission to combat the effects of aging and prolong healthy lifespan. From the simple blogger, to the esteemed research institution, and on to the multi-billion dollar corporation, a huge and growing international network and community of like-minded people are now attempting to either promote the cause or directly find ways to extend healthy life. With the establishment of big-budget longevity research and development corporations such as the Google-backed Calico and J. Craig Venter co-founded Human Longevity Inc., as well as media focus on high-profile investors such as PayPal founder Peter Thiel, the subject of human longevity is finally moving from the radical or even taboo to become both a key point of discussion and multi billion dollar industry. But why extend life?The Myth of Old AgeFirstly, dying of ‘old-age’ is in itself a myth. Instead ‘damage’ to our bodies which accumulates naturally throughout our lifetime leaves us more susceptible to numerous medical conditions such as cancer, heart and lung disease and brain dysfunctions such as parkinson’s and alzheimer’s as we get older. It is the increased inability of the aged body to combat these diseases which results in death, not age itself. If ways can be found to minimise this damage, repair, and negate the effects it has upon us later in life, then there is no reason why the years in which we enjoy a fully mobile healthy existence both physically and mentally cannot be prolonged in a significant way, and extended beyond what is currently possible in even the most long-lived individuals. Man-made advances in science, medicine and technology have already resulted in us living far longer than our ancestors, so why not find ways that we can stay healthy for longer too? The effect this could have upon lifespan, we don’t know, but life extension isn’t just about living longer. It is about finding ways to prolong the time we spend in peak condition. Both advocates of life extension and the institutions which strive to make it a possibility do not always agree on how this can be achieved. For example, the transhumanist view that human abilities should be enhanced through genetic modification, and the posthumanist preference for integrating technology within our biology are by no means shared by everyone. There is also debate as to whether high profile campaigns such as the Transhumanist Party leader Zoltan Istvan’s running for US President in 2016 are beneficial in raising awareness or only strengthen perceptions that the concept of human longevity is too ‘out there’ to be taken seriously. Inevitably, the idea that we can engineer ourselves to function more efficiently and for longer like any man-made machine can seem to stray too far into the realms of science fiction to be palatable for some. However, at the core of the life extension movement the principle is wholly rational and always the same; there is no reason why we should simply accept the consequences of aging as inevitable, and any means which allow us to stay healthy for longer can only be a good thing. The Economic and Social Impact of Aging There are of course concerns over the populational and societal impact which may occur if we can extend life expectancy in a significant way. In an already overpopulated world, reservations as to whether putting off nature’s most natural  means of keeping the numbers down cannot be easily dismissed. However, what is clear is that the current state of affairs is anything but ideal. At present, our increased life expectancy is simply not matched by our ability to stay healthy for longer, meaning that our twilight years are more often than not burdened by numerous ailments and dependency on others. This continues to present serious issues for societies throughout the world. According to the most recent World Health Organisation figures, treating age-related diseases in the over 65s currently accounts for almost half of the estimated $7 trillion spent worldwide on healthcare each year, and most developed nations are already having to come to terms with a shrinking working to non-working population ratio; leading to an inevitable rise in pension and benefit costs, a reduced workforce, and ultimately a stagnation in economic growth. Aging, simply put, is a major societal and economic issue which like any other warrants greater attention on how it can be addressed. A Radical Change in How We Approach DiseaseFor many, the key to extending healthy life is thus using advanced technology to understand what makes us sick and developing ways of fighting these conditions before they actually manifest themselves as serious illness. A movement towards pre-emptive procedures would therein represent a significant overhaul of the current well-established treatment-based medicine model. It is this which ensures that the word ‘radical’ is often suffixed to the term life extension, as in essence, it is indeed a radical change in how we approach disease which is essential to its success. In this regard, one of the frontrunners -  Human Longevity Inc. will already open its first ‘Health Hub’ clinic this year, offering individual DNA screening and personalised treatments as an alternative to conventional medicine. However, the success of the company’s plan to transfer the benefits of its longevity research to the general public as quickly as possible is of course dependent upon whether said public will allow it. Changing AttitudesIn this sense, in accordance with a 2013 Pew Research Centre poll looking at American attitudes towards aging that found 56% of those polled would say “no” to undergoing life extension related procedures, it is our willingness to seek and accept new treatments designed to extend life which will impact most on the rate of development. This point was reiterated by Aubrey de Grey Chief Science Officer of the SENS Research Foundation in a recent interview with London Real in which he stated that: \"We\'ve got to get people more comfortable with undergoing medical treatments while they are still healthy\". Such a view is shared by many within the life extension community who feel that the concept of human longevity is still viewed by too many as an idealist luxury, when in fact it is a very real and in many ways essential possibility. As a consequence, it seems that the greatest impediment to prolonging healthy life may be our attitude towards it, but if as hoped, greater awareness and investment translate to tangible results in the near future, this is likely to become increasingly no longer the case. Beginning this month, LIFEmag will be conducting its own poll and research into worldwide attitudes towards life extension and the treatment of age-related disease. For up to date news and announcements subscribe to our newsletter and follow us via our various social media channels by clicking the links on the Home Page.

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Duke Researchers Believe Lemurs May Provide Clues to Longevityhttp://lifemag.org/article/duke-researchers-believe-lemurs-may-provide-clues-to-longevity

In a recently published study, researchers at Duke University in the United States who analysed the varied lifespan of hundreds of lemurs, found that the animals capacity to survive in a form of \'suspended animation\' sometimes for up to six months, had a direct impact upon its longevity in comparison to similar species. Scientists believe that identifying what exactly allows lemurs to exist in such a state and controls how long for, may eventually help to identify \'anti-aging\' genes in humans beings. LIFEmag Summary:The concept of suspended animation in humans as a means of prolonging life is not a new one, and it is arguably one of the least practical means of doing so. However, key to this study is the attempt to identify how suspended animation prolongs life, or rather, which biological systems are \'boosted\' or even repaired by prolonged periods of suspended animation. If by some means this process can be recreated to generate the same effect without the requirement of months in hibernation, then of course, this can only be a good thing. Continue reading @ Journal of Zoology

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Hacking the Biological Clockhttp://lifemag.org/article/hacking-the-biological-clock

In this Spring\'s issue of Stanford Medicine, Sarah C. P. Williams details how Stanford University researchers are trying to improve health and longevity by manipulating the human biological cycle. Continue reading @ Stanford Medicine

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Calico Adds QB3 to its Lengthening List of Partnershttp://lifemag.org/article/calico-adds-qb3-to-its-lengthening-list-of-partnersFurther to last week\'s announcement of a partnership with Harvard and MIT\'s Broad Institute, Google-backed Calico has now added California-based QB3 (California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences) - a consortium of more than 250 scientists at UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz to its expanding collaborator base. The two companies have announced a four-year partnership in which they will \'jointly explore the science of longevity and age-related diseases.\' According to reports, Calico will provide the funding for the research in return for the right to licence any future discoveries. LIFEmag Summary:Calico hasn\'t been particularly forthcoming thus far with information regarding the company\'s overall strategy, however, recent announcements and partnerships seem to suggest that the focus is very much on funding research into combating specific age-related diseases in return for the right to commercialise any resultant treatments. What Calico plans to do regarding life extension in an overall sense is still unkown, but the level of activity in recent months suggests that a strategy is in place and being acted upon at quite a pace.Read the full announcement hereGoogle Files Patent for Anti-Cancer 'Wristband'http://lifemag.org/article/google-files-patent-for-anti-cancer-wristband

Google has filed a patent application with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for a wrist-worn device that could destroy cancer cells in the blood.The patent application, which has the name \"Nanoparticle Phoresis\", describes a wearable device that \"can automatically modify or destroy one or more targets in the blood that have an adverse health effect\".Continue reading @ the Telegraph

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Broad Institute and Calico announce an extensive collaboration focused on the biology of aging and therapeutic approaches to diseases of aginghttp://lifemag.org/article/broad-institute-and-calico-announce-an-extensive-collaboration-focused-on-the-biology-of-aging-and-therapeutic-approaches-to-diseases-of-agingThe Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has entered into a partnership with Calico around the biology and genetics of aging and early-stage drug discovery. The partnership will support several efforts at the Broad to advance the understanding of age-related diseases and to propel the translation of these findings into new therapeutics.\"We are thrilled to be partnering on discovery and therapeutics projects with the extraordinary scientific team at Calico,\" said Eric Lander, President and Director of the Broad Institute. \"The combination of our genetics, biology and chemistry expertise with Calico\'s therapeutics expertise will accelerate progress on important problems.\"Read the full press release hereTop US Researchers Plan to Test a Pill to Prevent or Delay Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease and other Ailments that Come with Agehttp://lifemag.org/article/top-us-researchers-plan-to-test-a-pill-to-prevent-or-delay-alzheimer-s-heart-disease-and-other-ailments-that-come-with-ageThe trial which aims to test the drug metformin, a common medication often used to treat Type 2 diabetes, and see if it can delay or prevent other chronic diseases will be conducted at multiple research centers over five years, and will involve a randomised, controlled clinical trial using 1,000 elderly participants. “Aging is the major risk factor for all these diseases—heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s,” said Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City who is leading the proposed study. “If you want to make a real impact you have to modulate the risk of aging and by that the risk for all those diseases of aging.”The scientists say that if TAME is a well-designed, large-scale study, the US Food and Drug Administration might be persuaded to consider aging as an indication, or preventable condition, a move that could spur drug makers to target factors that contribute to aging.Continue reading @ Wall Street JournalAubrey de Grey: How to Live Foreverhttp://lifemag.org/article/aubrey-de-grey-how-to-live-forever

Aubrey de Grey, vocal life extension advocate and founder of both the SENS Research Foundation and Methuselah Foundation takes part in an extended interview with London Real.Summarised within his opening quote: \"We\'ve got to get people more comfortable with undergoing medical treatments while they are still healthy\" the interview addresses how de Grey believes the accumulated damage which leads to aging and age-related disease can be combated before it happens, but only if our attitude towards aging will allow it. Watch the full interview @ London Real

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How Peter Thiel is Turning His Investing Skills to Biotechnologyhttp://lifemag.org/article/how-peter-thiel-is-turning-his-investing-skills-to-biotechnology

Peter Thiel is one of, if not the world\'s most successful investor. The fact that the man who founded Paypal and discovered Facebook has now turned his attention towards life extension technology represents a real coup for the industry. Continue reading @ MIT Technology Review

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Sharing Longevity Datahttp://lifemag.org/article/sharing-longevity-data

In this month\'s aging-focused special edition of The Scientist, Matthias Ziehm looks at the current state of longevity data, and how aging research would greatly benefit from making annotated life span data more consistently available.Read the full article @ The Scientist

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Here's What it Actually Means to Die of 'Old Age'http://lifemag.org/article/heres-what-it-actually-means-to-die-of-old-age

Ever ask someone how their family member passed away and hear them say they simply \"died of old age\"? As it turns out, that\'s almost never quite what\'s going on from a medical perspective. Aging — in and of itself — is not a cause of death.When most of us say someone died of old age, what we really mean is that someone died as a result of an illness (like pneumonia) or an event (like a heart attack) that a healthy, stronger person would likely have survived. The goal of the life extension industry is to find new ways of preventing the onset of age-related diseases, prolonging homeostasis and refusing to simply accept death as a way of life. Read more @ Business Insider

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Loneliness and Social Isolation are Just as Much a Threat to Longevity as Obesityhttp://lifemag.org/article/loneliness-and-social-isolation-are-just-as-much-a-threat-to-longevity-as-obesity

Now research from Brigham Young University shows that loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity.The study which analysed data from a variety of health studies, was made from a sample of more than 3 million participants and included data for loneliness, social isolation, and living alone.Controlling for variables such as socioeconomic status, age, gender, and pre-existing health conditions, they found that the effect goes both ways. The lack of social connections presents an added risk, and the existence of relationships provides a positive health effect.Read the full study here

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Human Brains Age Less than Previously Thoughthttp://lifemag.org/article/human-brains-age-less-than-previously-thought

In a new paper published in Human Brain Mapping, researchers at the University of Cambridge and Medical Research Council\'s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit demonstrate that previously reported changes in the ageing brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) may be due to vascular (or blood vessels) changes, rather than changes in neuronal activity itself. Given the large number of fMRI studies used to assess the ageing brain, this has important consequences for understanding how the brain changes with age and challenges current theories of ageing. Continue reading @ BBRSC

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Canada and Japan Setting the World Pace for Innovations in Regenerative Medicinehttp://lifemag.org/article/canada-and-japan-setting-the-world-pace-for-innovations-in-regenerative-medicine

Canada and Japan are taking distinctly different but complementary paths in the development of a regenerative medicine industry within their borders. While their paths may differ, their activities are having a profound impact on the future of a global industry that is poised for exponential growth. Although the Japanese initiatives are in part driven by national economic interests, they are fundamentally about bringing new medicines to a significantly and rapidly aging Japanese demographic, whilst companies such as CCRM are playing a key role in commercializing the wealth of regenerative medicine science and intellectual property available in Canada.Continue reading @ Financial Post

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Mayo Clinic and Collaborators Find New Class of Drugs that Reduces Aging in Micehttp://lifemag.org/article/mayo-clinic-and-collaborators-find-new-class-of-drugs-that-reduces-aging-in-mice

A new class of drugs identified and validated by Mayo Clinic researchers along with collaborators at Scripps Research Institute, clearly reduces health problems in mice by limiting the effect of senescent cells — cells that contribute to frailty and diseases associated with age. James Kirkland, head of the Mayo Clinic Kogod Center on Aging heralded the findings as a first step toward developing similar treatments for aging patients. “If translatable to humans — which makes sense as we were using human cells in many of the tests – this type of therapy could keep the effects of aging at bay and significantly extend the healthspan of patients.\"Read the full press release here

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Superager Brains Yield New Clues for Preventing the Onset of Dementiahttp://lifemag.org/article/superager-brains-yield-new-clues-for-preventing-the-onset-of-dementia

SuperAgers, aged 80 and above, have distinctly different looking brains than those of normal older people, according to new Northwestern Medicine research. Understanding their unique \"brain signature\" will enable scientists to decipher the genetic or molecular source, and may foster the development of strategies to protect the memories of normal aging persons as well as treat dementia.Continue reading @ Northwestern University

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Google Ventures and the Search for Immortalityhttp://lifemag.org/article/google-ventures-and-the-search-for-immortality

Bill Maris, President and Managing Partner of Google Ventures has $425 million to invest this year, and the freedom to invest it however he wants. Like a growing number of Silicon Valley investors, he\'s looking for companies that will slow aging, reverse disease, and extend life.Continue reading @ Bloomberg

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Immunotherapy: Unleashing the Body's Natural Defences to Fight Cancerhttp://lifemag.org/article/immunotherapy-unleashing-the-bodys-natural-defences-to-fight-cancer

Pioneer of immunology James P. Allison discusses his seminal research into \'immunotherapy\': unleashing the immune system to beat cancer. Immunology was declared \'Breakthrough of the Year\' by Science Magazine in 2013, and more recently Dr. Allison was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize - often a precursor to a Nobel. Continue reading @ New York Times

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We Will End Disability by Becoming Cyborgshttp://lifemag.org/article/we-will-end-disability-by-becoming-cyborgs

We are already able to replace parts of our bodies with technology. Some of those prosthetics are even better than the human counterpart. And they are currently evolving. With some of them being connected to our brain, they become more and more part of our body and ourselves. Soon we will be able to augment and improve our bodies beyond our human limitations and thus beyond human lifespan.Continue reading @ IEEE Spectrum

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Building Flesh and Bloodhttp://lifemag.org/article/building-flesh-and-blood

The possibility of engineering transplantable organs and tissues is rapidly approaching. Key to realizing that milestone is understanding how networks of blood vessels form. To be fast adapting within our body and becoming fully functional, it is critical that engineered organs and tissues have prefabricated blood vessels. Researchers are constantly improving and developing new techniques in order to achieve that goal.Continue Reading @ TheScientist

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Twelve Longevity Enhancement Methods Demonstrated in Micehttp://lifemag.org/article/twelve-longevity-enhancement-methods-demonstrated-in-mice

In the last couple of years multiple promising longevity methods have been demonstrated in mice. They cover a wide range from calorie restriction to Telomerase. This article provides an overview of twelve of those published methods. Continue reading @ Fight Aging!

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Ageing: The girls who never grow olderhttp://lifemag.org/article/ageing-the-girls-who-never-grow-olderCan a rare disease, that prevents a handful young people from growing older, be the key to decelerating aging? Being tormented by watching his grandparents physically and psychologically deteriorate, Richard Walker has long been researching the reasons of mortality and the possibilities to prolong life. Find out about his journey, the \"Syndrome X\" and how he believes this could be key to extend our lifespans.Continue reading @ BBC FutureLow Calorie Diet (again) Linked to Longevityhttp://lifemag.org/article/low-calorie-diet-again-linked-to-longevity

Calorie restriction again linked to increased lifespan (in worms). The study was published in the open access peer-reviewed journal PLOS Genetics (Impact Factor 2012: 8.517)Continue reading @ NatureWorldNews or PLOS Genetics

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How to End Aging: Aubrey de Grey at TEDxOxbridgehttp://lifemag.org/article/how-to-end-aging-aubrey-de-grey-at-tedxoxbridge

Most recent talk by biotechnologist Aubrey de Grey who talks about aging as a disease — and how it can be cured.Watch the talk from TEDx Oxbridge @ ted.com

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Aubrey de Grey AMA on reddithttp://lifemag.org/article/aubrey-de-grey-ama-on-reddit

Ask me anything (AMA) with Aubrey de Grey on reddit. Insightful questions and answers that go beyond the standard interview.Continue reading // @reddit

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Harvard Scientists May Have Just Unlocked the Secret to Staying Young Foreverhttp://lifemag.org/article/harvard-scientists-may-have-just-unlocked-the-secret-to-staying-young-forever

This new finding sounds like it\'s straight out of a vampire movie: Scientists have discovered the secret to maintaining youth and health, and it\'s receiving fresh, young blood.Continue reading // @PolicyMic

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3D Printing Organs, Blook Vessels and All, Takes a Big Step Toward Realityhttp://lifemag.org/article/3d-printing-organs-blook-vessels-and-all-takes-a-big-step-toward-reality

There’s something a little creepy-sounding about the phrase “lab-grown organs,” but producing human organs in the lab could have a range of such powerful benefits that, if they became widely available, only the rare patient would get hung up on the creep factor.Continue reading

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Humans will be kept between life and death in the first suspended animation trialshttp://lifemag.org/article/humans-will-be-kept-between-life-and-death-in-the-first-suspended-animation-trials

At a hospital in Pittsburgh, surgeons are now allowed to place patients into a state of suspended animation. If a patient arrives with a traumatic injury, and attempts to restart their heart have failed — if they’re on the doorstep of death — they will have their blood replaced with a cold saline solution, which stops almost all cellular activity. At this point, the patient is clinically dead — but if the doctors can fix the injury within a few hours, they can be returned to life from suspended animation by replacing the saline with blood.Continue reading

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Living without a pulse: Engineering a better artificial hearthttp://lifemag.org/article/living-without-a-pulse-engineering-a-better-artificial-heart

The human heart beats 60 to 100 times a minute, more than 86,000 times a day, 35 million times a year. A single beat pushes about 6 tablespoons of blood through the body.An organ that works that hard is bound to fail, says Dr. Billy Cohn, a heart surgeon at the Texas Heart Institute. And he\'s right. Heart failure is the leading cause of death in men and women, killing more than 600,000 Americans every year.Continue reading

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Researchers rejuvenate stem cell population from elderly mice, enabling muscle recoveryhttp://lifemag.org/article/researchers-rejuvenate-stem-cell-population-from-elderly-mice-enabling-muscle-recoveryResearchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have pinpointed why normal aging is accompanied by a diminished ability to regain strength and mobility after muscle injury: Over time, stem cells within muscle tissues dedicated to repairing damage become less able to generate new muscle fibers and struggle to self-renew.Continue readingSergey Brin about Calico at re/codehttp://lifemag.org/article/sergey-brin-about-calico-at-re-code

What’s going on with Google’s Calico project and the “right to live forever”? Brin: “I know that Art Levinson has been busy building a team and they’re really excited about extending healthful life. … I think it’s great to have that direct mission rather than the less direct incentives people have at pharmaceuticals or biotech companies.”

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Experimental drug prolongs life span in mice (Published in PNAS)http://lifemag.org/article/experimental-drug-prolongs-life-span-in-mice-published-in-pnas

From ScienceDaily: Scientists newly identified a protein\'s key role in cell and physiological aging and have developed an experimental drug that inhibits the protein\'s effect and quadrupled the lifespan in a mouse model of accelerated aging. Their lungs and vascular system were protected from rapid aging. The experimental drug could potentially be used to treat human diseases that cause accelerated aging such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes and HIV infection and even extend someone\'s healthy life. Read more at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501112323.htm

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Immortality: The Next Great Investment Boomhttp://lifemag.org/article/immortality-the-next-great-investment-boom

From inc.com \"As baby boomers age, they\'re looking for ways to turn back the clock. Savvy entrepreneurs, scientists, and venture capitalists are getting in on a burgeoning market that some are calling \"the Internet of healthcare.\" Read more: http://www.inc.com/eric-markowitz/immortality-the-next-great-investment-boom.html

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The tiny keys to immortalityhttp://lifemag.org/article/the-tiny-keys-to-immortalityMAIN STREAM MEDIA: Article from the Telegraph about the impact of telomeres on longevity http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/elderhealth/10809337/The-tiny-keys-to-immortality.html