Longevity Month is behind us, and the holiday season lies ahead; to set the mood, what could be better than sitting down comfortably with your favorite hot drink and reading the latest updates from the world of rejuvenation? Let’s get started.
Highlight: the NAD+ Mouse Project campaign
The NAD+ Mouse Project, which is due to conclude on November 3rd, successfully reached its second stretch goal on October 29, reaching an astounding 237% of the initial goal! The donation meter currently stands at over $70,000, which will allow Dr. Sinclair and his team to run the world’s first long-term longevity study with NMN. Without the amazing support of the life extension community—you!—this would never have happened. Thank you so much for helping us build a world free of age-related diseases!
Given the popular interest in this project, the researchers have decided to add a third stretch goal of $75,000, and Dr. Sinclair had offered a second funding match for $5,000 in donations; if we hit the new goal, Dr. Sinclair’s team will be able to run end-of-life pathology tests and MRI diagnostics as well, maximizing the amount of information that we can get out of this study. There’s only one day left before the campaign is over, but we know that we can count on our supporters!
Team and activities
More videos from our NYC conference. Last month, we published a number of very interesting videos of panels and talks from the conference we held in New York City last July. We had a panel about translating aging research and another about rejuvenation start-ups; for the talks, Dr. Mike West discussed the reversibility of human aging, while Dr. Alvaro Macieira-Coelho presented aging as a consequence of entropy. Intervene Immune CEO Bobby Brooke talked about a crucial aspect of any solid rejuvenation platform, the rejuvenation of the thymus; Dr. Sudhir Paul from Covalent Bioscience had a speech about catalytic antibodies against amyloid diseases; Dr. James Peyer from Apollo Ventures talked about strategies to bring longevity therapies to the market as quickly as possible; and Joe Betts Lacroix of Y Combinator talked about the different approaches that entrepreneurs can take to help to overcome the diseases of aging.
Podcast. Ryan O’Shea returns for another superb Rejuvenation Roundup Podcast, the accompanying podcast, and companion to this monthly article series.
Ask LEAF Anything video. On October 16, we hosted a livestreamed event on our Facebook page in celebration of Longevity Month; President Keith Comito, Vice President Oliver Medvedik, and board directors Steve Hill and Elena Milova answered various questions from our followers, ranging from rejuvenation science to personal motivations for their involvement in the cause to…their favorite pizza toppings. If you missed the livestream, you can watch it here.
LEAF at TransVision 2018. LEAF board members Elena Milova and Paul Spiegel spoke at the transhumanist conference TransVision hosted in Madrid by one of the oldest transhumanist organizations in the world, Humanity+. While Paul’s talk was dedicated to cryonics and the effective ways to explain the advantages of cryonics compared to traditional funeral, Elena Milova’s talk was focused on the outreach experience of LEAF that can be reproduced by any local group of activists to accelerate public education about rejuvenation biotechnology.
LEAF at Frontiers in Aging. On October 24, Elena Milova attended the international conference Frontiers in Aging, which was organized by Vadim Gladyshev and Sergey Dmitriev in Moscow State University. Among the key speakers, there were Brian Kennedy (National University of Singapore), Dario Valenzano (Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing), Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov (University of Rochester), Alexey Moskalev (Institute of Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences), Alexey Golubev (Petrov Institute of Oncology). Several rejuvenation biotechnology companies, such as Youth Laboratories and GERO, also reported on their work. Vera Gorbunova kindly agreed to an interview with LEAF, and you can watch it on our blog.
Death Cafe in Moscow on October 26. Elena keeps exploring the possibilities of interaction with the community of Death Cafes. The main topics of this meeting were euthanasia and the path to accepting one’s mortality in childhood and adulthood. Because many participants admitted that the idea of mortality terrified them at whatever age they have to face it, it was quite appropriate for Elena to mention the advancements of aging research and the spreading idea that aging can be brought under medical control in our lifetime. We asked Elena about the outcome, and she said, “I need to order more business cards.”
Journal Club. The October episode of our Journal Club featured a discussion on a paper showing how clearance of senescent glial cells prevents tau-dependent pathology and cognitive decline; you can watch it here.
Advocacy on LEAF. Have you ever been asked how long you want to live? If you have, did you answer that something like 80 years would be enough for you? It turns out that a lot of people do that, but do they really think that way? Did they ponder the question thoroughly and come to the conclusion that, indeed, they do not wish to live longer than 80 years, or is it just a set phrase that they are repeating? This is something that we talked about in a recent article.
There are people who seek to act as rationally as possible, and many of these rationalists engage in effective altruism, doing the things that they believe will benefit humanity the most. This article explains why promoting rejuvenation biotechnology is one of those things.
Hesitations and justifications for aging can be largely ascribed to the pro-aging trance, which, up until this point in history, has served the purpose of taking mortality out of our minds; just how powerful it is can be seen when you notice how it pushes us to reason in absurd ways when it comes to aging, even though we’d never reason in the same ways about other things.
Lifespan.io Interviews. In October, we brought our readers more interesting interviews. We interviewed the founders of Repair Biotechnologies, Reason and Bill Cherman, to ask them about investments in the rejuvenation sector and to share their tips with any of our readers who might want to become investors themselves; Dr. Sam Palmer from Heriot-Watt University discussed the possibility that the primary driver behind the increased cancer risk associated with age might be the decline of the immune system rather than the accumulation of mutations; and, finally, we have a video interview with Dr. Vera Gorbunova about the longevity of the naked mole rat.
News from the rejuvenation world
Reimagine aging with SRF. The traditional end-of-year SENS fundraiser campaign began in mid-October, and this year, it has an ambitious final goal of $500,000; the first $54,000 donated by people who sign up as SRF patrons will be matched by the matching fund put together by Reason, Josh Triplett, and Christophe and Dominique Cornuejols. If you wish to help SRF carry out its mission to end age-related diseases, you can do so here.
Aubrey de Grey on Mind & Machine. SRF’s CSO Dr. de Grey was featured in a one-hour interview on the future-focused YouTube channel Mind & Machine, where he discussed the damage repair approach to aging as well as longevity escape velocity and the pro-aging trance.
UA2019 seeks abstracts for poster session. The SENS Research Foundation and the Forever Healthy Foundation are seeking abstracts for the 2019 Undoing Aging Conference poster sessions. Undoing Aging will take place on March 28-30, 2019 at the Umspannwerk Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany. Submission information and guidelines can be found at https://www.undoing-aging.org/abstracts.html. The deadline for consideration is January 31, 2019.The Undoing Aging conference series is focused on the cellular and molecular repair of age-related damage as the basis of therapies to bring aging under full medical control. The series, a joint effort of the SENS Research Foundation and the Forever Healthy Foundation, provides a platform for the existing scientific community that already works on damage repair and, at the same time, offers interested scientists and students a first-hand understanding of the current state of this exciting new field of biomedical research.The conference sessions will cover a range of topics across the damage-repair spectrum, including speakers from the SENS Research Foundation, Oxford University, the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Stanford University, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.All details, including regular speaker announcements, can be found at www.undoing-aging.org. Conference Early Bird pricing remains in effect until January 24, 2019.
A review of senolytics and the senolytic industry. Senescent cells are one of the hallmarks of aging, and their accumulation contributes to the emergence of age-related pathologies; this happens because of the SASP, which is a cocktail of harmful chemicals that these cells secrete and whose composition was characterized by the work of Dr. Judy Campisi. Compounds capable of eliminating senescent cells, known as senolytics, are extremely promising as treatments against aging. In mice, senolytics have worked wonders, and human safety trials by Unity Biotechnology are currently ongoing; a number of other companies are working on their own senolytic approaches. More information on senescent cells, senolytics, and the nascent senolytic industry can be found in our recent review.
Nonclassical monocytes undergo senescence. Monocytes, a type of immune cell, are highly pro-inflammatory despite expressing high levels of an anti-inflammatory molecule. This led scientists from the Singapore Immunology Network to the discovery that these cells, contrary to previous belief, undergo senescence.
Senolytic effects of fisetin. Fisetin, a compound present in a variety of vegetables and fruits, has shown remarkable senolytic properties not only in vitro but also in vivo in mice; it might be possible to further study its properties in human clinical trials.
Invariant natural killer T cells against cancer. Scientists at the Imperial College in London have shown that immunotherapy based on invariant natural killer T cells is more effective than immunotherapies based on regular T cells, obtaining a 90% rate of long-term remission in mice. Human trials haven’t been done yet, but the researchers are exploring the option.
A connection between skin aging and cancer. According to two studies published in the journal Cancer Discovery, the same types of age-related changes that cause our skin to wrinkle also favor a higher melanoma incidence, and the loss of integrity of lymphatic vessels with age may allow cancer cells to migrate more easily from their initial site to other tissues.
Scientists at work to reduce need for traditional cancer therapies. A technique combining nanoparticles, laser illumination, and ultrasound might be employed for head and neck cancers, potentially reducing the need for chemotherapy or radiotherapy and related side effects.
A common mechanism in lung and prostate cancers. According to a study from UCLA, gene expression patterns in lung and prostate cancers are nearly identical, despite being very different when the same tissues are healthy. The study suggests this might be true in other small-cell tumors in different organs; the discovery might offer a new way of targeting many deadly cancer types.
The many survival tricks of cancer. Cancer is uncontrolled cell growth, and, as such, it requires a lot of energy to keep going. Where does cancer get so much energy? The disease has many ways to prevent healthy cells from taking up glucose so that it remains available for cancer cells themselves, and one of these involves hijacking gut bacteria.
Loss of proteostasis
A look at GAIM. Misfolded proteins are implicated in several age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Clearing these proteins may, therefore, represent an important step forward in the treatment of these diseases, and GAIM—an approach based on a protein coming from a bacteriophage—might be the way to do it as discussed here.
A new marker for Alzheimer’s disease thanks to CRISPR. Researchers at IBPM found that brain cells of patients suffering from non-hereditary Alzheimer’s disease are deficient in a protein called STIM1. To study the effects of this deficiency, they used CRISPR to silence the gene responsible for the production of the protein in vitro.
In vivo imaging of atherosclerotic plaques. Scientists at the University of Tsukuba developed a system to image the development of atherosclerotic plaques in mice, which, in the future, might help to assess how well anti-atherosclerotic drugs work. The scientists’ approach involves the use of macrophages, which are abundant in atherosclerotic plaques, that have been genetically engineered to be fluorescent.
Gene therapy to improve wound healing. In a study by the Salk Institute, discussed here, scientists managed to turn cells in wounds into keratinocytes—that is, cells responsible for the formation of the outer layers of the skin—by employing gene therapy; in mice, this technique successfully patched up a wound in a little less than a month. This research is not ready to be tried in humans, but, someday, it might turn out to be useful; indeed, keratinocyte production declines with age, and in the elderly, this means that wound healing becomes more difficult.
A new radiotracer to image the aging brain. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University tested 18F-XTRA, a new PET radiotracer, to characterise the distribution of the α4β2-nAChR protein in the human brain. This protein is a receptor that has been shown to decrease in the cortices and hippocampi of aging patients and people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. The researchers think that their new tool will be important for monitoring and assessing brain changes in future studies.
Results of the Longevity Film Competition. The Longevity Film Competition, held by the Healthy Life Extension Society, SENS Research Foundation, and the International Longevity Alliance, had concluded on October 1 with the announcement of the three winning films, which you can watch and read about here.
Senolytics in the media. A recent article in the Guardian talks about senescent cells, senolytics, and the companies working on getting the technology into the clinic as fast as possible in the cautiously optimistic and positive light that the topic deserves, finally leaving behind the hypothetical apocalyptic scenarios usually associated with life extension. The topic of senolytics is further discussed in a recent interview of Dr. Judy Campisi by the MIT Technology Review.
First Undoing Aging 2019 speakers announced. The first speakers of the second Undoing Aging conference have been announced: Dr. Jerry W. Shay, the Vice-Chairman of the Department of Cell Biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and Dr. Judy Campisi, a leading expert on cellular senescence from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Abstract and poster submissions are due on January 31, 2019; you can find more information about this conference here.
A viewpoint on aging as a therapeutic target. A paper by Nir Barzilai, Ana Maria Cuervo, and Steve Austad has been published in JAMA; it discusses the threat that age-related ill-health pses to our society as well as the potential of scientific research to slow down biological aging. This article is paywalled, and proponents of open science may choose to use Sci-Hub to access it.
Epigenetics on LLL. Earlier in October, our friends at LongLongLife published the second and third parts of their article series on epigenetics and their involvement in aging. If you missed out on the first part, you can find it here.
Cancer and aging on The Conversation. The authors of a paper about methylation damage published in Blood Journal discussed methylation, DNA damage, and their involvement in the increased cancer risk observed with age in this article on The Conversation.
Coming up in November
Fourth Eurosymposium on Healthy Aging in Brussels. The Healthy Life Extension Society (HEALES) will host the fourth EHA conference in Brussels from November 8 to November 10 in Brussels, Belgium. Speakers will include Dr. Peter de Keizer, Dr. João Pedro de Magalhães, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, TransVision organizer Jose Cordeiro, investor Michael Greve, Anastasia Egorova from the Open Longevity Project, Daria Khaltourina from the International Longevity Alliance, and many other luminaries. LEAF will also be present in the persons of Elena Milova and Nicola Bagalà, who will talk about Lifespan.io’s outreach experience, namely how to reach millions in absence of a large budget and what can be done to increase the popularity of life extension.
The Longevity Forum. On November 5, the inaugural Longevity Forum will be held in London, UK. This initiative, building upon Jim Mellon’s Juvenescence, is meant to bring longevity science and society closer together to help ensure that the whole world can reap the benefits of rejuvenation. According to the Forum’s website, this event:
is a true public and private partnership which will address a host of issues pertaining to the full human life cycle – both from a scientific and a social science perspective. It will bring together key opinion leaders from the worlds of government, business, science and education, to identify immediate and long-term priorities for The Longevity Forum. Specific projects aimed to address immediate priorities will be discussed in individual work streams with participants deciding by vote on the projects that The Longevity Forum will commit to delivering during 2019.
Speakers will include the president of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Eric Verdin; the director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, Laura Carsten; the CEO of AgeX Therapeutics, Mike West; the chairman of Juvenescence Limited, Jim Mellon; and many others.
Longevity Month has treated us well; we look forward to seeing what November has in store for the world of life extension, and if recent trends are any indication, we are confident that it will be something good.