Aubrey de Grey Argues We May Live Forever

February 26 2008 / by Venessa Posavec / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: Beyond   Rating: 22

From mice to men, research in the next few decades may lead to therapies that will dramatically extend our lifespans.

Biologist Aubrey de Grey is developing therapies designed to postpone aging. His test subjects may still be mice, but he argues “there are no absolutely fundamental breakthroughs that we still need” in order to make the jump to humans.

So how long can you and I expect to live?

“At this point I think it’s fair to say there’s a good chance that people who are alive today, and are still young, children today, there’s a good chance that they have no upper limit on their lifespan,” asserts de Grey in a recent MemeBox interview

His roadmap to longevity starts in the mind:

“I think in the next 5 years we have a very good chance of seeing a complete phase change in people’s attitude to what aging is. In other words, to the distinction, or lack of it, between aging and age-related diseases.”

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10 Reasons You Will Live to 1000

May 07 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future
Category: Business & Work   Year: Beyond   Rating: 16 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from

The signs are all around us and yet, rather surprisingly, there is very little public discussion of an issue that is going to have profound moral, ethical, and political ramifications for all of society.

The issue of which I speak is the possibility of immortality. In just the past few days, however, the New York Times has run an informative article on how advances in genomics are improving the treatment of disease; the Economist has discussed the impressive progress being made in the field of gene therapy, and Technology Review covered the extraordinary advances that researchers at the University of Minnesota are making in growing a human heart.

Last week, I discussed why the future is accelerating and before that, I encouraged readers when thinking about the future to “think 10X, not 10%”; and the more I think about health care and human longeveity, the more I think both of these lines of thought apply to this field in particular. (cont.)

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Interview: Aubrey de Grey 12/14/07

February 26 2008 / by memebox / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: General   Rating: 14

This interview was conducted by Venessa Posavec on Dec. 14, 2007

V: What do you do and how is that related to the future?

A: I’m a biologist, mainly, and I’m focused on the development of future therapies that will be able to postpone human aging a very great deal. By postpone, what I really mean is, repair the accumulating molecular and cellular damage that causes aging, and really is aging. The various things that happen, the side effects of our normal metabolic operations, so to speak, throughout our lives that will eventually cause things to go wrong with us.

V: And what is the Methuselah Foundation?

A: The Methuselah Foundation is the main vehicle through which I pursue these goals. It’s a 501©(3) nonprofit registered in Virginia and it was founded by me and a businessman called Dave Gobel who has a very distinguished career in a variety of different high tech industries over the years, so it’s very complimentary so to speak since I’m on the science side. We have been able to build up the foundation into a very prominent organization that both promotes the general merits of seriously combating aging, and also directly fund research in universities around the world to actually make that happen. We obtain the money for that research from the general public, and from wealthy individuals.

V: Where do you see the foundation heading in the future?

A: The main thing that it really has to do is to grow. At the moment we’re not nearly big enough. There’s masses of research that needs to be done, that isn’t being funded by anybody else, because people think it’s too ambitious or they don’t understand the goals or whatever, and it’s not being funded by us because we don’t have the money yet. My my main purpose, my main focus at the moment is to expand the foundation, to get more money in so that we can put more money out.

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A candle that burns twice as bright and twice as long: the PEPCK-Cmus transgenic mouse

April 28 2008 / by mycophage / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: 2008   Rating: 9 Hot

(Cross-posted from Ouroboros: Research in the biology of aging.)

A transgenic mouse that lives twice as long as controls is also stronger and faster, arguing against the idea of inherent negative tradeoffs associated with lifespan extension.

Increased expression of a metabolic enzyme, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK, an enzyme that most of us learned about in freshman biology and then promptly forgot, reasoning that the descriptive name and the ability to look it up if necessary would suffice if it ever came up again) results in mice that are muscular, have lower body fat than a runway model, and able to run 25 times farther than a wildtype control.

Even more interesting, according to proud parents Hanson and Hakimi, the females of the PEPCK-Cmus strain mate and have normal-sized litters at 35 months, an age when the blood of wildtype mice has cooled substantially (and, indeed, the mice themselves are starting to check out). The implication is that aging is slowed, and longevity extended, as a result of the transgene.

It’s become reflexive to ask whether a long-lived mutant is living longer because it’s calorie-restricted for some reason, incidental to the main phenotype conferred by the mutation, but this is not the case here: In order to preserve their enviable bods, PEPCK-Cmus mice eat 60% more than controls — so they’re not extending their lifespan by dieting. If anything, they’re anti-dieting: their increased metabolic efficiency means they’re harvesting more calories per gram of carb or fat than normal animals. No word yet on what happens if you do try to calorie-restrict them; I can imagine it going either way but am holding out hope for tiny explosions. (cont.)

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Living Longer - A World of Wisdom?

August 14 2008 / by StuartDobson / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

Crossposted on Super Concepts

Any race that cures death will end up with a very old, wise and experienced society. Who knows what sort of implications this could have on their world.

The implications of more time alone would dramatically enhance one’s ability to contribute. For example, time to specialise in many fields would bring about more knowledgeable scientists, more skillful musicians and sports people, and more flexible artists. Centuries of honing and refinement would give birth to unseen talent. Throw wisdom into the mix too and you have yourself an extremely enlightened society, making today’s most gifted look like incapable children.

Imagine an artist who masters psychology, quantum physics and child care, and is able to integrate it into their art in a way never before achieved, using skills refined over millennia. The boundaries of magnificence would continue to be pushed to extraordinary levels. This is a world of wonder the likes of which we have never seen.

With vast and varied knowledge, many would be able to integrate obscure connections in their knowledge, much like I was talking about in my blog Time to Improve on Accidental Science. New discoveries and solutions would be found at an ever increasing rate as more and more people learnt to see relationships between seemingly unrelated concepts.

High efficiency achieved by centuries of practice and trial and error would lead to yet another boom, in productivity. Prices would drop and profits would soar, further speeding up the eradication of poverty.

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Biogerontology rising: Recent progress in yeast aging research

July 22 2008 / by mycophage / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: General   Rating: 5

(cross-posted from Ouroboros: Research in the biology of aging)

Our understanding of aging in animals owes a great debt to a large body of careful work in a single-celled organism, the brewer’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Indeed, as I’ve argued before, yeast is one of the two organisms with the strongest credible claim to have started modern biogerontology. An unusually large crop of yeast aging papers have appeared over the last few months, and I thought it would be appropriate to spend a few paragraphs describing them — in honor of this humble organism that rises our bread, ferments our beer, and has done so much to open our eyes to the fundamental mechanisms of aging.

For those unfamiliar with the yeast field or simply wishing a clearly written and nearly comprehensive summary, Steinkraus et al. provide the historical perspective. The piece thoroughly reviews the development of yeast as a model system in aging, as well as the arguments in favor of a connection between results in yeast and well-established (but sometimes hard-to-test) hypotheses in animals.

Based on the influence that yeast has already had on biogerontology as a whole, it seems fair to claim that it will continue to reveal fundamentals of aging that are conserved across evolution. (cont.)

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Will I Die?

September 25 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future
Category: Biotechnology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 3

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve

I ask this question from neither a deep-seated fear of dying nor an egotistical desire to live forever. I simply ask it from the perspective of someone who is deeply interested in the accelerating pace of change and is concerned we are heading into a future for which few of us are really prepared.

Let me begin by sharing a couple of recent news items which speak to the astounding progress being made in the field of health care.

To begin, if I am in need of surgery sometime within the next few years, it is likely that that surgery will be conducted with the assistance of a robot. Given that these robots are already better than many human surgeons, this suggest I will not only get out of the hospital faster but that I will be in better condition when I do so. Continued advances in robotics will only improve surgical outcomes over the coming years.

Next, say, I am in an accident. There is now a very good chance – due to advances in the Nationwide Health Information Network, personal electronic records and the ever-improving capability of the Internet – that my providers will be able to rapidly access a growing wealth of medical knowledge in order to keep me alive.

Much of this knowledge will likely be genetic in nature and it is not unreasonable to believe – given the extraordinary advances in genomics as well as the possibility that I will within a few years be able to sequence my own genome for less than $1000 dollars - that I will soon be able to avail myself to a growing category of drugs individually tailored to treat me for everything from heart disease and diabetes to a wide variety of cancers.

Assuming then that I dodge some of these pesky middle-age risks, there is a very real chance, according to this article, that I’ll soon be able to “grow replacement body parts.” We can already replace our aging hips and knees, but what happens when I can replace my lungs and, eventually, my heart?

The question is a serious one because society is closer to this future than most people realize.

Alas, these advances – which I remind you are only from the past few days – are just the beginning. I am now 44 years and it is not unreasonable to think, given recent medical progress, that I will live to 100.

But even this is the wrong way to think about this issue. The question I – and all of us, really – need to ask is what further advances will be made in the next 56 years of my life and how might they extend my life past 100 years of age?

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