Archive for the ‘Y is for Yasasin’ Category

Eat Less Protein, Live Longer?

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Photo via flickr by abolotnov

A new “dietary restriction” (not just calorie restriction) theory about how diet affects aging suggests that the drop in calories is not solely responsible for lifespan extension — in some species at least, perhaps it is also the accompanying drop in dietary protein.

Protein restriction is much less difficult to maintain than calorie restriction and may be more powerful in reducing insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in humans (a promoter of aging), says Luigi Fontana, a professor of medicine at Washington University and head of the Division of Nutrition and Aging at the Italian National Institute of Health. Earlier findings from School of Medicine researchers had suggested that eating less protein may help protect against certain cancers that are not directly associated with obesity.

Fontana draws his conclusions from his studies of people who are practicing calorie restriction (“CRONies” —short for Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition). Fontana and colleagues previously have found that people on the very low-calorie diet have low blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure scores equivalent to those of much younger individuals, a lower risk of developing diabetes and reduced body fat. These markers indicate less secondary aging.

Vegans and vegetarians have another advantage: proteins in meat and other animal products have high levels of methionine; studies show that cutting methionine lengthens life to a similar degree as calorie restriction.

via Kurzweil AI

‘Scaffolds’ Regenerate Bones, Stop Aging

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Illustrations for BODY / SPACE / FRAME by artist Antony Gormley and research engineer Sean Hanna via 3T RPD Ltd

Implantable organ and tissue “scaffolds” are currently in the spotlight for regenerative medicine, and may allow for the replacement of most body parts that flounder with age within 30-50 years, according to a report from BBC.

That means future centenarians born today could have a “physical” age of 50 at a calendar age of 100.

A “scaffolding” technique developed at Leeds University allows for transplantable tissues, and eventually organs, that the body can make its own. Once the scaffold has been transplanted, the body takes over and repopulates it with cells without any fear of rejection—the main reason why normal transplants wear out and fail.

Using this technique, a research team at Leeds has managed to make fully functioning heart valves, which involves taking a healthy donor heart valve—from a human or a suitable animal, such as a pig—and gently stripping away its cells using a cocktail of enzymes and detergents. The inert scaffold left can be transplanted into the patient, writes the BBC. According to Eileen Ingha, a professor at the university’s Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, trials in animals and on 40 patients in Brazil have shown promising results.

Across the continent, another approach to scaffolding is underway at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. There, professor Meital Zilberman has developed an artificial biologically active scaffold made from soluble fibers, which may help humans replace lost or missing bone.

via BBC

In a conversation with Sputnik Observatory, biologist Donald Ingber explains that our cells and proteins within the body are scaffold-based.

About five years ago, people began to discover that there is a cytoskeleton in bacteria and actually bacteria are not filled with floating little enzymes. They’re about as dense as a catalytic converter. It’s like the mitochondria in our cells people think came from primordial bacteria that essentially inhabited the first cells – like two cells coming together to join to create a more complex cell.

So in my work on the origin of life, I started at the atom, and I go up to molecules being synthesized off of clay, and these molecules folding up like tensegrity and having some shape stability and grouping together and forming complexes. And some key ideas that are involved in this are that when you form a complex over time, if you had enough stability in the complex, you might evolve complexes that can produce themselves and you have replicated complexes of proteins. It’s not so bizarre because there are proteins, like prions, which cause brain diseases. Essentially, they’re proteins that replicate by inducing shape changes in other proteins. This is like mad cow disease, prion disease. In any case, once you get scaffolds that have certain functionalities, in millions of years and you might have lots of different functionalities and they may come together and form more complex structures. But what came out of this discussion, and referring to the literature about what people have actually seen, began to describe the emergence of the first cells which essentially would, based on this paradigm, would start with structures that can maybe use RNA to make their own scaffolds and maybe, over time, convert into proteins that can make their own protein so that you have protein-synthesis scaffolds. And then, on top of that, you would then emerge structures that replicate: can induce, synthesize nucleic acids, like other RNAs or DNAs. Essentially, when you look at the literature and you look at how bacteria are structured, they have machineries that essentially match very much the idea of sort of coupling the DNA synthesis machinery and the protein-synthesis machinery and the cortical membrane of the cell, actually using scaffolds. It’s all scaffold-based. It’s almost the solid structural system, that structure and catalyst as one. The idea of tensegrity hasn’t been explored in a great way, but it’s certainly a system that has different sorts of cytoskeletal elements and is undoubtedly prestressed because it only has attractive forces between the different elements.

The Methuselah Manifesto

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Photo via flickr by Pete Reed

Extreme human life extension will become a possibility within a couple of decades according to Maximum Life Foundation president David Kekich and a group of scientists, entrepreneurs and visionaries who convened to develop a scientific and business strategy to make longevity possible—an effort dubbed the Manhattan Beach Project.

Tech entrepreneur and futurist Ray Kurzweil opened the conference with a virtual presentation on exponential technology trends that are bringing the prospect of achieving longevity escape velocity ever closer. Kurzweil asserts that “We are about 15 years away from adding more than one year of longevity per year to remaining life expectancy.” This has been labeled by life-extension expert Aubrey de Grey as ‘longevity escape velocity.’

Several science advancements are underway. William Andrews, head of Sierra Sciences (motto “Cure Aging or Die Trying”), disclosed his company’s project to identify compounds that lengthen telomeres. Telomeres are repeated sequences of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes to keep them from unraveling and to keep them from binding to other chromosomes. At conception, telomeres are about 15,000 repeats long. Each time a cell divides it loses about 100 repeats, growing ever shorter. When the repeats get short enough, cells generally receive a signal that tells them to die. Andrews argues that telomeres control aging in cells and thus control aging in us.

via KurzweilAI.net and Reason.com

Y is for Yasasin

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

If there is one man on Earth who is immortal, it’s surely David Bowie. And when he sang the lyrics to Yassassin, “I don’t want to leave or drift away,” he must have known the Turkish translation: “may he or she live forever.” As we venture into the oncoming posthuman era where aging is considered a disease and death old-fashioned, viewing immortality as a myth is ancient fanfare. The reality is that society desires to live longer, healthier and more energetic lives, and even the most alluring promises sold by beauty companies are no longer believable without results and solutions. As we move towards personalized medicine, where we’ll be treating our bodies like personal computers, knowing what our own DNA looks like, and using real-time information for monitoring and measuring our state of health, inevitably people will begin to feel more in control of their bodies and, ultimately, their destiny. The standard viewpoint on aging is that it’s the inevitable wear and tear of the body: toxins, free-radicals, disease and stress. And while new research suggests that caloric restriction is the answer, others advocate the ongoing study of centenarians in Okinawa, Japan and around the globe. With the decoding of the human genome and epigenetic research underway, the possibility of radical life extension is now being seriously entertained as well. Fantastic voyager Ray Kurzweil suggests, that if we can live long enough to experience the oncoming benefits of biotechnology and nanotechnology, we will be able to rebuild our bodies at the molecular level and live forever. Provocative researcher, Aubrey de Grey, even predicts that many people alive today will live up to 1,000 years of age and, miraculously, avoid all age-related health problems. The secret: gene therapy, as it’s suspected that damage to our cellular mitochondria is the culprit, and by re-inserting modified mitochondrial DNA into the cell’s chromosomes, we can actually reverse aging, leaving us biologically young into a forever future. Although the thought of life everlasting may seem like science fiction or religious conviction, the pursuit of a never-ending forever is causing posthumans, transhumans and yasasins everywhere to celebrate. Onwards and upwards comrades.