The marketing problem of life extension technologies

If “Science has a really serious marketing problem” as Larry Page observed, then life extension technologies face even bigger marketing problems. I am definitely not a marketing expert but realized the problem early on when thinking about the lag-phase period of a robust life extension technology.  So I made a short email interview with Dave Gobel, the marketing and business mind/strategist behind the Methuselah Foundation (official title: Chief Executive Officer) following our meeting and chat at the SENS3 conference in Cambridge, UK, 2007.

1. What is the biggest marketing problem of any future (or present) healthy life extension technology?

The biggest marketing problem today is the time it takes for a beneficial effect to present itself. For instance, a product such as resveratrol may take months to present beneficial results, or it may never show up clinically. People who are scientifically sophisticated can appreciate the value of reduced circulating fats or glucose, but to the typical individual, there are much sexier things to spend money on that give immediate gratification and clear utility. The proof of this is illustrated by a counter example – how ridiculously easy it would be to sell a product that biologically reversed grey hair. The effect might be seen gradually but incontrovertably by all and in the mirror directly.

It seems to me that the best way to proceed from a business standpoint therefore is from the outside in. Create legitimate products that improve a person’s visual image and therefore social standing and they will flock for the result. Try to engineer those products to have globally beneficial effects, and marketing becomes easy.

So, for the present, the problem is delayed, and difficult to pinpoint results in exchange for expensive pills/treatments and never ending taking of pills. What about the future? The problem of marketing will evaporate as tissue engineering provides an immediate benefit by eliminating hip, knee and similar pains while restoring or even improving base functionality. When biologically matched teeth can be implanted and grown anew in gums, marketing will be easy.

2. How to market life extension for different generations (teenagers, college students, young adults, mature adults, grandpas and grandmas) and what are the main differences here? Continue reading

Life extension people & session at SciFoo 2008, Googleplex!

Last year I was probably the only SciFoo Camper with an explicit life extension commitment. I suggested & held a session which was related a bit to partial immortalization but was rather about the systems biology perspective in general, illustrated with some examples. So throughout the terrific SciFoo Camp 2007 life extension as a conversation topic remained rather implicit (ok, close to zero) and there was not much room to discuss it in the lack of other fellow life extensionists.

In my opinion the whole point of unconferences is to form the good aggregate of people with a common interest & similar/complementer message to join forces in order to draw enough (intellectual) attention for their topic. In this context, an unconference is about topics at the first place, not just about people. Idea networking is as important as social networking.

And if something fits 100% with the idea of SciFoo it is life extension/aging just as handling terrantic scientific datasets, open science or climate change as all these topics are utterly complicated and quite urgent screaming for the attention of the smartest people.

So I emailed Timo Hannay, SciFoo organizer:

“One thing I’ve noticed is that it would be very good to organize a session on scientific life extension technologies and consequences, because the SciFoo people are ideal to see and discuss all angles of this really important topic.”

And…..here is a session suggestion for SciFoo Camp 2008: Continue reading

Hourglass, a blog carnival devoted to the biology of aging

Finally Chris over at Ouroboros came up with the idea and the quick implementation of Hourglass, a blog carnival devoted to the biology of aging/biogerontology.  For some reason I am not an explicit supporter of blog carnivals – many of my posts were chosen by carnival editors but I never hosted one -, but Hourglass will be the big exception in which I participate, submit posts and host it later. The reason: first it presents aging/biogerontology related posts, which fits my profile and second it was instigated by Chris Patil, whose work is a guarantee for keeping all this in the good direction. So if you want to read on the evolution of longevity and aging, calorie restricition, stem cells/tissue engineering/regenerative medicine, or on the association of long life and intelligence at once, Hourglass is for you.

Understanding Aging Conference on FriendFeed!

The “Understanding Aging: Biomedical and Bioengineering Approaches” conference will be held from June 27-29, 2008 at UCLA organized by Aubrey de Grey, Irina Conboy and Amy Wagers. I like to call it UndertsEnding Aging in myself and I am excited to go to LA and meet new people also people from SENS3.

Yesterday I created a FriendFeed room for the conference as it seems to be a perfect place of live microblogging the conference, sharing any kind of links, videos, comments, feeds and feedbacks. Working on aging and the postponement of it (you can bravely say life extension) is always a pioneering work so it’s time to use pioneering web apps for that purpose, just like FriendFeed.

Aubrey de Grey, Kevin Perrott and Kevin Dewalt have already joined the room. What about you? See you on FriendFeed, see you on LA!

80 is the new 50 so Carl Icahn has a blog without content.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn (72) recently made the bloglines with his energetic position on the Microsoft – Yahoo deal. He has a blog too or at least it is coming soon since 01/31. /Having a blog for more than 3 months without any content is kinda equivalent with planning to sign up for Twitter but actually not doing it./

Daniel Gross, Newsweek: Eighty Is the New Fifty

“Carl Icahn has a blog (though it doesn’t contain any content)”….

“In time, it’s likely that prejudices toward older workers will be eroded less by the exploits of eternally youthful financiers, and more from a longstanding demographic trend. As they’ve moved through life, the baby boomers have altered societal attitudes on everything from smoking marijuana to Botox. As boomers coast into their golden years, it’s likely the acceptance of older workers at every rung of the corporate ladder will grow. In the 1960s, the boomers’ mantra was: don’t trust anyone over 30. In the 2010s, it’ll probably be: don’t trust anyone under 70.”

The Biogerontology Research Foundation receives charitable status, UK

Just landed in my mailbox, emphasis added by me:

Dear Attila,

I would like to provide you with a copy of the press release to be distributed via press release distribution sites on Wednesday. We will also put it on our site within a few hours after this email so you can confirm its authenticity. Please help us distribute this press release.

The Biogerontology Research Foundation, which has been started with the help of worlds’ most prominent scientists and businessmen received the charitable status from the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

The fact, which is not mentioned in the press release is that the chief scientific officer of the foundation is Dr. Michael Rose of UCI, who is famous for extending life of fruit flies threefold. Continue reading

The Science of Longevity at The World Science Festival, June 1, NYC

90 is the New 50: The Science of Longevity
via Brandon Keim, Wired Science:
Sunday, June 1, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM,NYU – Kimmel Center for University Life

Will it one day be possible to take a pill to stay young? How will an average life expectancy of beyond a hundred years affect society and the planet? Join leading longevity researchers Robert Butler, David Sinclair and Richard Weindruch to investigate the facts and implications surrounding scientific developments — emerging technologies, novel therapies, and innovative medical practices — that forecast a radical extension of a healthy human life. Featuring a special performance by acclaimed singer, Marilyn Maye.

Tickets: $25.00
Student Tickets: $12.00

Short Twitter/FriendFeed chat on life extension

I asked the following question on Twitter recently:

“A question for all of you Twitterers: Are you for, against, or just neutral on healthy life extension? How long would you like to live? Why?”

I have to tell you it’s hard to give good links to the whole chat without noise. Maybe on FriendFeed.

To my big surprise, many people were neutral about life extension using different arguments & beliefs and those are all smart, well informed geeky persons, many of them biologists.

On the other hand it’s hard to formulate an exact question in 140 characters and to give a good specification on exactly what type of healthy lifespan extension is addressed.

But nevertheless the conclusion for me is that life extensionists should pay a bigger attention to all the ‘neutral’ – ‘pseudo neutral’ arguments. A pseudo neutral argument could turned out to be a for- or anti- life extension argument after a thorough analysis.

Michael Kingsley on competitive, bitter, boomer longevity

mineislongerthanyoursnewyorkerMichael Kingsley – diagnosed with Parkinson disease at the age 42 – wrote an utterly fatalist, sad&straight and death conscious essay entitled Mine Is Longer than Yours on the last boomer game he calls competitive longevity published in the New Yorker. This piece is the dark counterpart of the recent Wired Kurzweil coverage on Mr. K.’s enormous efforts of being prospectively healthy as long as to reach next generation life extension technologies.

In contrast to that, Mr Kingsley, who underwent deep brain stimulation and lives with wires in the brain and batteries in the chest, seems to be somewhat restricted in the age of web to “switching your subscription from Newsweek to Time”. Still, “longevity is not a zero-sum game” – he admits.

Mr. Kingsley is pretty ignorant about any non-selfish motivation behind life extension (he is a political journalist by profession): Continue reading

Kurzweil follow-up in life extension exhausted Wired

Last year I approached a powerful Wired editor with the following story pitch: “A full and deep but cool report on the current (scientific) life extension technologies, persons, battles, camps, grants, problems, perspectives.”
His reply was a diplomatic and definite naysaying:

“Thanks for the idea. Alas, we’ve done *way* too many stories on life-extension over the years, from profiles of the singularity guys and Aubrey De Gray (sic) to shorter takes on various startups and stuff. There may be cool stuff out there, but I’m afraid we’ve exhausted our appetite on the subject.”

kurzweilwiredHowever the life extension appetite is not something that could be exhausted until the problem is solved systematically and the Wired guys’ appetite seems to be restored and healthy again as in the April Wired issue (not online yet) there is a full story (or rather follow up) on the No.1 singularity guy and baby boomer escapist artist Ray Kurzweil called Stayin’ Alive by senior Wired contributing editor Gary Wolf (whose book Wired – A Romance is a good reading).

What is interesting in Kurzweil for experimental scientists/robust life extension supporters is not his meditations on singularity, accelerating change and mind uploading (see the counterarguments by Mark Anderson in the same Wired issue), but his experimental, futuristic, life extensionist lifyestyle:

Kurzweil takes 180 to 210 vitamin and mineral supplements a day, so many that doesn’t have time to organize them all himself. So he’s hired a pill wrangler, who takes them out of their bottles and sorts them into daily doses. K. also spends one day a week at a medical clinic, receiving intravenous longevity treatments. The reason for his focus on optimal health should be obvious: If the singularity is going to render humans immortal by the middle of this century, it would be a shame to die in the interim.

Kurzweil’s physician and coauthor is Terry Grossman (also a SENS3 conference attendee) with an interesting clientele. Continue reading

The $20 life extension blogging challenge and change

Scott Wainner – an old timer, professional internet revenue generator and recent maximum healthy life extension advocate (the ideal target group) – wants you (in this case, me) to blog about life extension for $20 (first 100 bloggers only) and thereby also boosts his site’s traffic (I am sure there is a special marketing term for this type of activity): Living Well, Indefinitely + $20 Blogging Challenge. Continue reading

Very well informed Stanley Bing on life extension

Huffington Post, Fortune’s Stanley Bing: The Next Big Thing? Please pay extra attention to the language here (especially transmogrification).

stanleybingHuman genome schmutz: Nobody wants to get old or worse, appear old. And forget about dying. That’s the ultimate bummer. Genetic research has been held back recently by a series of disasters too terrible to mention in this venue, or even look up right now, since we’re very busy. But the three-headed midget sheep problem will be solved by 2014 and recombinant DNA, stem-cell and mitochondrial transmogrification technology will begin making inroads into the problem of aging, extending human life to its ultimate limit and even beyond, particularly for really rich people who are on everybody’s nerves already. Another enormous opportunity for confabulators here.

Well, why exactly am I working with human mitochondria and stem cells at the bench? Maybe it’s time again to recall.

Understanding Aging Conference in L.A.: de Grey, Conboy, Wagers and many others…

UABBA conference, 2008

Looks like the scientist coalition behind healthy life extension is widening. In line with that the question Why was life extension ruled out of the 14 Grand Engineering Challenges? is fading away.

Here is an Aubrey de Grey message from my mailbox:

All details, including forms for abstract submission and
online registration, are at the conference website:

http://www.mfoundation.org/UABBA/

The preliminary program already has over two dozen confirmed
speakers, all of them world leaders in their field. As for previous
conferences I have [co-]organised, the emphasis of this meeting is on
“applied biogerontology” — the design and implementation of
biomedical interventions that may, jointly, constitute a
comprehensive panel of rejuvenation therapies, sufficient to restore
middle-aged or older laboratory animals (and, in due course, humans)
to a youthful degree of physiological robustness. The list of
scientific sessions and confirmed speakers is as follows:

DNA damage, telomeres, cancer
Adam Arkin, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Jan Vijg, Buck
Institute for Age Research; Jerry Shay, U. Texas Southwestern;
Claudia Gravekamp, Pacific Medical Center Research Institute; Zheng
Cui, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Rita Effros, UCLA

The cell niche
Irina Conboy, U. California Berkeley; Judith Campisi, Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory and Buck Institute; Leanne Jones, Salk
Institute; Ken Muneoka, Tulane University; Kevin Healy, Stanford
University
Continue reading

Why was life extension ruled out of the 14 Grand Engineering Challenges?

questionmark1I emailed some of my life extension supporter friends because I think we have a ‘future’ situation:

Healthy life extension is not 1 out of the 14 Grand Engineering Challenges…that can be realistically met, most of them early in this century according to the Committee on Grand Challenges for Engineering with members such as Larry Page, Dean Kamen, Craig Venter, Robert Langer and …lifestyle life extensionist, nanovisionary Ray Kurzweil. There is a challenge though called Engineer better medicines and the essay behind looks as if it had been hacked together by Kurzweil and Venter themselves during a sunny Californian Soy Beer Baby Boomer Beach Party. It is about personalized medicine in large and the only hint – I was able to find – to a recent discipline named regenerative medicine is a paragraph, not on, say the challenge of systemic regmed, but on synthetic biology.

It is a big challenge to learn how could healthy lifespan extension as a big and realistic challenge have been left out? Why did Kurzweil (author of the book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever) not stand up for it? Why nobody out of the luminaries thought that regenerative medicine and stem cells worth discussing more than a tiny side note? And what about Venter, whom I still like to be interview as there are many points in his activity suggesting a life extension connection. Somebody in the committee was clearly against it?

One friend told me that he is not surprised by this, because it was announced at the AAAS meeting, which is very conservative. Out of the committee members Ray Kurzweil, Daniel Hillis, and maybe Dean Kamen would have been supporters of including LE as a challenge.

But. Continue reading

Aubrey de Grey on Colbert Report (video) and the housing market in heaven

Thanks to Kevin, you can now watch the video too:

Colbert: “But if people lived to be a 1000 years old won’t that kill any ability for humans to take risks cause if I’ve known I lived to be a 1000 I am not going to cross the street because you can’t cure being hit by a bus.”

Aubrey: “Well, you’ll be able to get your grandmother to help you to cross the street.”

That is a witty (and the same time, deep) answer indeed: People usually help their grandmother to cross the street but in a many generational “rejuvenated” world people will be able to take care of their descendants to the same extent as they are able to take care of their ascendants today. Moreover, it has something to do with the philosophical question of intergenerational justice: Continue reading

Aubrey de Grey on the Colbert report tonight?

I just got the alert from Kevin Dewalt: Aubrey is scheduled to be on Colbert tonight in case anyone is watching.” Remember the recent case when Good Morning America cancelled the scheduled airtime for Aubrey de Grey saying the whole life extension subject was “too sciencey“.

Update: Aubrey de Grey on Colbert Report (video) and the housing market in heaven

Craig Venter and the life extension drive: blogterview questions

venterpimmOne strategy (call it Life Extension Gets Personal) to raise awareness for the idea and technology of healthy life extension is to publicly encourage life extension “coming outs” on behalf of mainstream celebrities. In order to get an academic legitimacy for LE (which is one of the most important aim of Pimm) I am interested specially mainstream or at least well established scientific celebrities. To accomplish this project a man needs to identify target persons to interview (finding hints that the person is positive about LE), contacting these persons and publish the final piece somewhere.

As a first target Craig Venter, the genomics pioneer seemed unconventional and free minded enough to approach with the idea of a LE blogterview. On the other hand I found definite signs of his interest in longevity and life extension suggesting that if Craig Venter had been given a technological-medical chance to extend his healthy lifespan significantly he would definitely not like to die due to accumulating functional declines associated with aging within the next, say hundred years. Maybe I am wrong here, maybe I am not but to figure this situation out I translated these signs into the following blogterview questions and tried to contact him in early December, 2007. So far I reached only his nice and diplomatic PR agent, who said that maybe we have a chance to get the blogterview done in the near future. Till we get there below please find my targeted questions to Craig Venter:

1. Once I’ve read somewhere but was unable to recall later that one particular motivation behind the sequencing of your own genome was your serious life extension commitment and the belief that genomics has something to say about life expectancy. Is it true? If yes, what is the story of your life extension commitment? Is it a commitment for moderate or maximum life extension? In A Life Decoded I’ve found only one paragraph in your molecular biography explicitly on Long Life about the I405V of the CETP gene but no more hint on this important topic.

2. What do you think about Aubrey de Grey’s SENS approach? You’ve been one of the judges on the The SENS Challenge Prize organized by the Technology Review in 2005 for those “who could prove that SENS was “so wrong that it is unworthy of learned debate.” ? Who got the point there?

3. What do you think about the mitochondrial theory of aging? I was a little surprised when I’ve found that your circa 16.5kb mitochondrial DNA sequence was not published in the PLOS Biology paper: The Diploid Genome Sequence of an Individual Human Obviously it is not part of the diploid genome but I expected it at least as an appendix as those 37 genes and D-loop region can give important genetic information. Have your mitochondrial genome been sequenced already?

4. In a recent Rolling Stone interview you are saying that “There is probably nothing more important to study about human biology than stem cells.” What do you think about regenerative medicine’s role in a robust and healthy life extension technology? Continue reading

Partial immortalisation goes mainstream with an ‘s’ – thanks to the Economist!

economisthowtoliveThe Economist print edition (Jan 3rd) has a summary article on the current healthy and scientific life extension scene starting with Aubrey De Grey’s engineering, umbrella SENS approach and talking about anti-oxidants, mitochondria, sirtuin activators and stem cell based regenerative medicine amongst others.

To my positive surprise the unknown writer of the article (do you know who wrote it?) is using the term partial immortalisation when talking about regmed’s chance to extend healthy lifespan with a link to Pimm saying “Pimm is a blog focussing partial immortalistaion” in the web version:

Stemming time’s tide

One way that might let people outlive the limit imposed by disposable somas is to accept the machine analogy literally. When you take your car to be serviced or repaired, you expect the mechanic to replace any worn or damaged parts with new ones. That, roughly, is what those proposing an idea called partial immortalisation are suggesting. And they will make the new parts with stem cells….

Some partial immortalisers seek to abolish the Hayflick limit altogether in the hope that tissue that has become senescent will start to renew itself once more. (The clock that controls it is understood, so this is possible in principle.) Most, though, fear that this would simply open the door to cancer. Instead, they propose what is known as regenerative medicine—using stem cells to grow replacements for tissues and organs that have worn out. The most visionary of them contemplate the routine renewal of the body’s organs in a Lincoln’s axish sort of way.

pimmgooglefightThe term Pimm – Partial immortalization was introduced by me in this blog referring the idea, gradual and continuous replacement process and future technology of systemic regenerative medicine aiming indefinite life extension. There is a compelling logic behind I explained it many times here. The difference is in the letters, the sense is the same: ‘immortalisation’ is a British English ‘s’ version while ‘immortalization’ with a ‘z’ is rather American English (see the Google Fight graph on the right). Enough said, it is an ad hoc translation from the Hungarian “részleges immortalizáció” by me.

The source and short history of the term: For my MA thesis in philosophy (in Hungarian) I chose the term “weak immortalization” to address the philosophical problems of a though experiment of an unlimited healthy life extension technology through regenerative medicine which would eliminate problems concerning ageing (ageing related physiological problems), while strong and (technologically impossible) immortalization would eliminate death related problems. Later I replaced the weak – strong opposition to the more proper partial – whole opposition and the credit here goes to János Kis philosopher who suggested the term “partial immortalization” for me instead of the more metaphorical ‘weak’ and the modified version of my thesis was published in a book using ‘partial’. You can download the pdf here.

Since then I totally switched back to science and today I am more inclined to use the term systemic regenerative medicine (I adopted this ‘term’ used first by Maximum Life CEO David Kekich in a life extension blogterview for Pimm) which denotes the future branch of regenerative medicine focusing on otherwise ‘healthy’, aged, ‘normal’, ‘physiologic’ people instead of the characteristically and FDA approved diesased and catches the technology that is needed to reach reversible unlimited healthy lifespan, that is partial immortalization. Systemic regmed is a rather immature from a scientific point of view without an established experimental basis, I admit and more of a theoretical frame of my thoughts on the science I am practicing right now. Nevertheless it gives a fruitful, heuristic and holistic angle on regmed.

Here is the whole text referring to Pimm in the Economist piece: Continue reading

The life extension bonus effect of personal genome services: +10 years?

After all, what customers can really expect of personal genome services that companies like 23andMe can offer beyond knowing whether they have a perfect pitch or not? If the service can really help in minimizing the risk of life threatening diseases, than the real expectation is to live longer by using those personalized/commercialized genome data. The future will answer this question, but it seems pretty sure that robust life extension (more than, say 100 extra productive and healthy years) is not within range just by knowing your predisposed genetic makeup in details. At the present moment the life extension bonus effect for using those services cold be around a decade and this guess is coming from Thomas Goetz‘s article in Wired on 23AndMe Will Decode Your DNA for $1,000. Welcome to the Age of Genomics:

And, yes, we will know whether our children are predisposed to certain traits or talents — athletics or music or languages — and encourage them to pursue certain paths. In short, life will become a little more like a game of strategy, where we’re always playing the percentages, trying to optimize our outcomes. “These are enormously large calculations,” says Leroy Hood, a pioneer of genomic sequencing and cofounder of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, who suggests that if we pay attention and get the math right, “it’s not a stretch to say that we could increase our productive lifespans by at least a decade.”

Biomarkers of aging conference in New York City

In order to slow the progress of aging and prevent age-related disease (which is not the same as figuring out a robust engineering plan for unlimited healthy life extension) biological measures (biomarkers) of aging or disease mechanisms are needed that anticipate clinical disease and are sensitive to functional organism aging.

The American Federation for Aging Research is the organizer of a one-day conference on October 2 in Manhattan focusing on current and future status of biomarkers as identifiers of rates of biological aging, predictors of longevity and predictors of susceptibility to disease.

biomarkersofagingconf

/Thanks for the tip, Jim Craig./

SENS3 conference videos online on a personal website

Similarly to the Edmonton Aging Symposium which reportedly “was a WORLD FIRST! in being streamed live onto the internet” (Kevin Perrott) amongst conferences, a selection of the presentations of the SENS3 conference are now available at the personal website of Richard Schueler. Richard is a big mouthed, cowboy hat geek with a serious life extension commitment who orchestrated the Kurzweil distance video talk on his sony tx and logitech webcam at the conference.

(I’ll definitely watch the presentations of Arne Akbar, Edward Mocarski and Jason Emsley again because of the science content and see Chris Phoenix’s talk too as it was so entertaining.)

sens3videos

Link source: Do What You’ve Always Been Talking About

“Mitochondrial Oasis Effect”: fasting => NAD+ up in mitos => cell survival

Quick storytelling through citations (alert from Jim Hardy, thanks):

Cell: Nutrient-Sensitive Mitochondrial NAD+ Levels Dictate Cell Survival

A major cause of cell death caused by genotoxic stress is thought to be due to the depletion of NAD+ from the nucleus and the cytoplasm. Here we show that NAD+ levels in mitochondria remain at physiological levels following genotoxic stress and can maintain cell viability even when nuclear and cytoplasmic pools of NAD+ are depleted. Rodents fasted for 48 hr show increased levels of the NAD+ biosynthetic enzyme Nampt and a concomitant increase in mitochondrial NAD+. Increased Nampt provides protection against cell death and requires an intact mitochondrial NAD+ salvage pathway as well as the mitochondrial NAD+-dependent deacetylases SIRT3 and SIRT4. We discuss the relevance of these findings to understanding how nutrition modulates physiology and to the evolution of apoptosis.

Scientific American: Eat (Less) to Live (Longer)

Researchers report in the journal Cell that the phenom is likely linked to two enzymes—SIRT3 and SIRT4—in mitochondria (the cell’s powerhouse that, among other tasks, converts nutrients to energy). They found that a cascade of reactions triggered by lower caloric intake raises the levels of these enzymes, leading to an increase in the strength and efficiency of the cellular batteries. By invigorating the mitochondria, SIRT3 and SIRT4 extend the life of cells, by preventing flagging mitochondria from developing tiny holes (or pores) in their membranes that allow proteins that trigger apoptosis, or cell death, to seep out into the rest of the cell.

“We didn’t expect that the most important part of this pathway was in the mitochondria,” says David Sinclair, an assistant professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and a study co-author. “We think that we’ve possibly found regulators of aging.”

And last, the interesting personal background of the principal investigator David A. Sinclair (see also: Resveratrol goes to the clinic: a Pulitzer for David Stipp!) from the recent Technology Review portrait, The Enthusiast:

Sinclair says his bravado and drive come from his grandmother Vera, who fled to Australia in the wake of the failed 1956 revolution in her native Hungary. Her son, David’s father, changed the family name from Szigeti. “My grandmother is the black-sheep rebel of the family,” he says. “She gave birth to my dad at age 15 in 1939 – imagine the scandal then – and has lived with natives in New Guinea and eaten human flesh,among other things. She once got in trouble with the police for being the first person to wear a bikini on a Sydney beach. She’s a 60s bohemian who helped raise me and taught me how to think differently and question dogma.”

Michael Rose, evolutionary SENS and aging as a loss of adaptation (slides)

Embedded on the slideshow below 9 slides of Michael Rose‘s presentation called Slowing and then stopping aging on the SENS3 conference on the 9th of September. (Photos made by me with the iPhone.) Rose’s argument was: Aubrey de Grey’s original SENS proposal is based on the non-evolutionary assumption that aging is a process of accumulating damage, while according to the evolutionary SENS version of Rose aging should be interpreted as a loss of adaption. The script is: breed mice with delayed reproduction over multiple generations (let evolution by natural selection give us the answer of how to build a long-lived animal), and then reverse engineer this answer to develop anti-aging therapies for genetically unaltered humans. The experimental basis of this proposal: Rose’s own ancient experiments with fruit flies (sorry, no reference yet, that’s what I’ve heard) showed that there is a plateau in mortality rates after many generations of breeded Drosophilas with delayed reproduction time which leads to the cessation of the aging process.

Does this method sound as one that gives us a complete engineering toolkit to achieve robust healthy life extension for early generations of humans under the reverse engineered treatment?

Hit art illustrations for scientific slides: Fountain of youth by Cranach

Help me to collect the list of art illustrations that are frequently used and overused by scientists on their slides either as background or as an analogy for some biological or other scientific phenomenon! The first one is the “Fons Juventutis” (“Fountain of Youth“) and now quickly switch to wikipedian composed by Cranach, executed by his son, a picture in which hags are seen entering a Renaissance fountain, and are received as they issue from it with all the charms of youth by knights and pages. Scientists are used to illustrate their stem cell and regmed related presentation with the Fountain of Youth and I guess the concept they have in mind in doing so is rejuvenation, or on the cellular level, dedifferentiation.

jungbrunnen1

Thanks, Ulf Krause for the introduction.

Aubrey de Grey’s Google TechTalk on Prospects for extending healthy life – a lot

Aubrey de Grey‘s presentation in Google Tech Talk series at the Googleplex, Mountain View, May 29, 2007 (Thanks, Russell Whitaker).

More on Aubrey on Pimm:

Content of Ending Aging, Aubrey de Grey’s coming life extension book

3 Edmonton Aging (Life Extension) Symposium videos

Blogterview with Aubrey de Grey: life extension stories

Everything Technorati knows about life extension

As you might know Technorati, the premiere blog search engine was redesigned about a week ago, and now it is intended to be a more universal search engine which is mirrored in the current subtitle on the page: “Zillions of photos, videos, blogs and more.”

Here is what you can find after typing the term “life extension” into the search field:

technoratilifeextension

The question is whether it is enough or not enough for the users desperately seeking relevant information (see blog post 1) and desperately avoiding irrelevant information (see blog post 2)?

Content of Ending Aging, Aubrey de Grey’s coming life extension book

You can now pre-order Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Biotechnologies That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime at Amazon written by Aubrey de Grey and Michael Rae which is the most detailed, although popular exposition of the SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) plan to defeat aging.

Aubrey was kind enough to mail me the content of the book, so you can find out which SENS point is fitted with the chapters of Part II (little help: Edmonton Aging Symposium: full video, audio and presentation access)

endage

Aubrey’s first big move in science was a monograph on mitochondria called The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging.

Edmonton Aging Symposium: full video, audio and presentation access

According to the organizers the Edmonton Aging Symposium “was a WORLD FIRST! in being streamed live onto the internet.” Now you can download where possible, the video, powerpoint and audio MP3 recordings of the streaming split up by speaker in alphabetical order. I think this is really webhistorical and good news for all open access friends of the life (extension) sciences. One critical point: Why Windows Media Video format? The following slide is from Judith Campisi‘s presentation (excellent aging blogger Chris Patil of Ouroboros is working with Campisi as a postdoc) called The double-edged sword of cellular senescence: Link

campisi slide

Life extension: body hack and/or life hack?

memento life hackIn recent culture, technological life extension is considered to be a form of hacking, as 2Dolphins says a “hacker is someone who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations — someone who makes things work beyond perceived limits through unconventional means or skills.” In hacking there is also a DIY element too.
There are now 2 broader hacking terms applied for physical life extension technologies: body hacking and life hacking. For first, see my previous post about Bodies in the Making book which handles a diverse range of practices that aren’t usually linked: tattooing, cosmetic surgery, body-building, life extension technologies, self-cutting as exemplars of the body hacking concept. Body hack in that context is something extreme, something very experimental. How extreme form it will take, that depends on the chosen technology. In the old school permalink-free blog Notes from Classy’s Kitchen it is said for instance in the November 26, 2005 post: “What Aubrey de Grey was proposing was the ultimate bodyhack, engineered immortality (or 1000 year life span at least).” Body hack also includes a form a DIY, for instance Nikolaj Nyholm of O’Reilly Radar blogged on the “protocol for “isolat[ing] stem cells from your baby’s placenta in a rent lab or at home” for the upcoming EuroOSCON Make Fest, which also plays well with one emerging theme at this year’s FOO Camp, body hacking — engineers and copper wire paired with doctors, psychologists and neurologists.”

On the other hand there is the emerging life hack movement popularized by blogs as Lifehacker or 43 Folders or Lifehack.org. According to Wikipedia “the term life hack refers to productivity tricks that programmers devise and employ to cut through information overload and organize their data.” And it is also Nikolaj Nyholm, who calls Aubrey de Grey an extraordinary life-hacker concerning his SENS-esque plan to defeat aging. Why life extension counts as a life hack? Long story short: it’s all about hacking time. The narrowest bottleneck of productivity is time, and indefinite life extension’s main ambition is to abandon this final limiting factor, to make time pressure out of time. But can indefinite or maximum life extension (and especially the here supported continuous regeneration treatment through systemic regenerative medicine called Pimm) really be interpreted as a life hack? I think yes. Indefinite life extension is the biggest scale life hack as it amplifies human capacities indefinitely, because it is the only possibility for a human and mortal individual to fully explore his/her own individuality, to develop his/her own abilities let it be mental, physical, or moral.

There is also the term biohacking, which refers mostly to synthetic biology or creating public awareness of human genetic information and in this context biohacker is a synonym for biopunk, and the term is not applied recently to life extension, although in the future it could considering the broad semantic field of the bio prefix.

To sum up: life extension is a form of extreme body hack which is the most extended life hack, although a body hack is rarely a life hack and vice versa. (In the movie Memento Guy Pearce (picture), who lacks short-term memory, uses tattoos on his body as fact memos, which is also a body and life hack, although most tattoos are just ornamental.)

3 Edmonton Aging (Life Extension) Symposium videos

Following Reason’s links at Fight Aging here is a little conference webcasting from the Edmonton Aging Symposium. You also can read a Conference Report at Ouroboros.

There was a Symposium Live Streaming where for the very nominal fee of $5 CAD per connection to cover bandwidth costs people could watch the majority of presentations in a Windows Media Format. If anybody participated in this trial please share with us the information on it.

Debate between Gregory Stock and Daniel Callahan, which was moderated by Aubrey de Grey

Aubrey de Grey: Damage Accumulation and Age-Related Degeneration

Ronald Bailey: Estimating Your Future’s Options

Extension of life in green

go greenUpon a discussion with Anna 1 month ago, the question arised whether life extension might be interpreted as a green idea. She offered, that if people have the opportunity to extend their life significantly, paralell with this situation they find themselves in a more or less environmentalist position. Now back 2 steps: the question of environmentalism concerning life extension emerges 3fold:

1. the very technology of life extension is green enough,

2. the consequences of grand scale life extension are pro or antigreen (the overemphasized overpopulation topic), and

3. attitudes, mentality, psyhce of would be life extended people

I guess Anna thought of the latter, mentality tpye environmentalism: if we are extended, we take care of our environment more since its value will multiply with the bigger scale.

What do you think?

Unlimited Life Extension Petition to U.S. Congress and President: a good address?

The Coalition to Extend Life launched today an online petition to U.S. Congress and President in order to make the technological possibility of Indefinite Life Extension a national priority and public policy goal of the United States. They ask the power people to create the 4 main conditions that will make it possible.

petition coalition1. a National Institute for Life Extension be created with sufficient revenues to fund research in this area.
2. the Food and Drug Administration classify aging as a disease.
3. a National Commission be organized to study the social and economic impacts of this new reality.
4. a “Manhattan Project” to cure the terminal disease of aging.

What’s new here? Indefinite life extension could be addressed as an independent political issue with a bunch of supporters. If you are pro, sign the petition, if you are not, never mind but do not oppose – says the background assumption. Well, I am definitely pro, so at first I felt tempted to sign the petition, because I liked point 2 and 4 from a technological point of view. But I don’t think that at this point the address is right and it should be a mail to the U.S. Congress and President with this subject. If I were the sender of a letter with a similar content like that I would write the names of tech savvy power people, Silicon Valley big guns and venture capitalists in the address field and try to motivate them in an economical fashion. On the other hand I agree with Reason in that the right for indefinite life extension falls into the category of positive rights so it is not the best move to put it into the government’s hands. Even if this positive right can be derived from our strongest, universal, concrete human and negative right, the right for life.

To sum up: If you feel yourself tempted to sign, I encourage you to do that, although I am reluctant in this respect. The idea of this online petition can become a very useful PR tool for our very niche Issue, if a critical mass of people is reached.

My favourite signature and comment from the list: Amos Avon Cooper: “I’m almost 86 years old. I’m thankful to hear your message.”

An argument supporting systemic regenerative medicine as a life extension tool

The incentive of this argument is a comment on a post over at fellow life extension blog Fight Aging! titled You Can’t Row the Whole Distance With Oars Made of Stem Cells.

1. Currently the biggest grants in life sciences are in regenerative medicine and stem cell biology.
2. The rate of progress is very fast (if not the fastest) in stem cell biology, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine comparing to the other branches of life sciences due to the growing number of researchers and grants in the field.
3. Early disruptor candidate stem cell therapies will make regenerative medicine economically and generally acceptable in society.
4. Systemic regenerative medicine is a coherent and inclusive engineering approach to eliminate all aging related problems indefinitely.
Definiton: Systemic regenerative medicine theoretically means the continuous, gradual and consecutive regeneration of every tissue and organ of the human body n times by combined regenerative medicine approaches, i.e. tissue engineering (in vitro grown organs and tissues implants or parts of them), systemic (via circulation) and locally targeted stem and progenitor cell transplantation, and endogenous stem cell niche activation with proper growth factor delivery aiming to maintain the physiological turnover and condition of the human body.

5. Taking the above premises into consideration it is very rational to assume that systemic regenerative medicine has a real chance to reach its goal in itself within the next decades.
/If the current rate of progress will remain stable and will be focused throughout these decades/

Grailsearch.org: aging information from a systems biology perspective

grailsearchCheck out Grailsearch.org, which was started at the end of January and is hosted by software engineer Jim Craig with a deep interest in aging and bioinformatics. Grailsearch is a “community web portal intended for use by biogerontologists, students of biogerontology, software engineers, biochemists or anyone else interested in working towards the search for systems solutions to the diseases of aging.” Jim was interviewed at Pimm in November, 2006, and said that: “I have adopted life extension as a hobby. I now study microbiology, proteomics and molecular design about 20 hours per week and plan to guide the next 20-40 years of my career through bioinformatics and eventually into de novo drug design with an emphasis on aging solutions.”
The initial set of blog posts on the site seems really exciting for the multi-disciplined systems biologists of the future. As my point of view on indefinite life extension technology is systemic regenerative medicine, I am strongly committed to all the computational based large scale model approaches and quantitative aspects of the human body on which I had an interesting correspondence with Jim last year.

With Grailsearch the geeky IT side of aging research and life extension has at last got a quality representative on the web!

Biosingularity’s Derya Unutmaz: a T cell expert on life extension

deryaAs many other heavyweight bloggers Derya Unutmaz has an A life and a B life. His A life is focusing on the molecular machinery of T cell activation, differentiation, survival and its explotation by HIV as he is an Associate Professor at Department of Microbiology at New York School of Medicine. Briefly, he is an immunologist researcher. In his B life he edits Biosingularity, which – according to the subtitle – is a weblog on advances in biological systems. It gives an uptodate and detailed review of the current biological research from a very broad range on a quality level rare in the blogosphere. As in the case of lucky science bloggers, Unutmaz’s A life motivates his B life and vice versa. I am now pleased to report that he was kind enough to answer some life extension questions as he is really supportive of that topic (emphasis added by me). Fortunately the degrees of freedom in the blog genre is higher than in mainstream journalism, so although I realized that my old questions (they were sent in last October) are not enough, the answers were so deep, that I publish them now, and set some other questions later. I am really happy to share my point of view with Professor Unutmaz concerning the role of systemic regenerative medicine in indefinite or big-scale life extension. I’d like offer his words for every life extensionist:The most important thing to remember though is to filter the hype from truth and solid science while both raising the awareness about the possibility of human life extension and also brain storming about the ideas on how to do this best.”

1. What is the story of your life extension commitment? The story of my commitment to life extension began as I became passionate about biology and science while I was still a kid. I realized then, (about 25-30 years ago) the technology was going to keep advancing and started to think why we could not come to a point when we have the knowledge to treat all diseases, and then why not stop aging? During medical school as I learned more about the physiology and pathology I realized the complexity of biological systems. It seemed intractable but at the same time biology followed rules, it wasn’t something magical that we can not conquer. I decided my life long commitment was going to be try to figure out how biological systems worked and how we can eventually master them to a point where we can reprogram our biology.

Continue reading

Resveratrol goes to the clinic: a Pulitzer for David Stipp!

Truth to be told I am not really interested in the Resveratrol story neither as a researcher nor as a life extension supporter. First, it is about classical pharmacology, seeking the molecular targets of a relatively simple molecule back and forth, testing its effect on different animals with standard setups, no hint at a new type of research seeking for new methods, like stem cell biology, or tissue engineering. Secondly, it’s potential effect on healthy lifespan (more years to live, more tens of years?) is minuscule compared to a technological possibility, like systemic regenerative medicine which aims indefinite life extension via a continuous regenerative treatment, that fixes the physiological age. At least I was not interested in the story till David Stipp’s article in Fortune (19th of January), had not been published. Now I am interested in its science, its effect on life extension, its commercial consequences (Sirtris) and in the people behind that, like David Sinclair and Christoph Westphal. Stipp’s piece is a perfect coverage of the whole story through the details with an easily comprehensible and ingenious language. After reading the report I knew the author is not just a simply professional journalist.

Here are some exciting parts out of it (emphasis added): “You have to go back to the advent of antibiotics in the first half of the 20th century to find such broad therapeutic potential. …Most biotechs pioneering new science take years before testing drugs on people; Sirtris’s drug reached the clinic less than 18 months after the company’s launch….Westphal’s colleagues are accustomed to his daily barrage of e-mails, which begins around 5:30 a.m. “I must get 50 e-mails a day from him,” says Boston hedge fund manager Richard Aldrich, one of Sirtris’s founding investors. “He probably over communicates.” (Westphal says that over communication is a nonissue because “nobody reads my e-mails.”)… Continue reading

Steve Jobs style partial immortalization keynote: the iPimm

Now we are after the Steve Jobs Keynote introducing the iPhone at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. I don’t know if the iPhone line will be the ultimate portable digital device everybody is dreaming about, but I do know, that when partial immortalization as a technology will be first introduced it will be by definition the ultimate one concerning the end result, an adult human being indefinitely fixed by continuous regeneration treatment in a constant physiological age. Of course the technology will be under perpetual improvement, but this end goal never changes, preventing and fixing all the aging related bugs, set the overall cellular turnover. This is the deepest PR problem of any healthy maximum life extension technology: even if it has worked on a human being, ie. there is a man, whose all organ and tissue were regenerated at least one time via systemic regmed, even if it is the case how do you present it to the public??? Because all they will see is a healthy adult human being standing on the stage and appears to be in a common chronological age, say 40.

So Ladies and Gentleman, let me show you how iPimm or indefinite partial immortalization works on one man….

All the apps you need are integrated into one complete regeneration treatment completed in every 25 years, for example a new tissue engineered liver and kidney made from the artificial protein scaffold XYZ and predifferentiated amniotic stem cells with the revolutionary iVitro technology:

jobspinch

Incredible and supercool, the first immortalized man ever and as easy to make another leg module with the 3D live printer as make a steak. You can upgrade and gradually replace your cerebellum with 150 million hematopoietic turned neural stem cells just within half year with the iBrain drag and drop transplantation technology. Continue reading

2007 Edge Optimistic Question: systemic regenerative medicine

art_veinThe Edge Annual Question — 2007 for science and technology driven people is: What are you optimistic about? Why? In my opinion it seems rational to be optimistic about things which are in my range or at least I can do something for them. So being a stem cell biologist I am really optimistic about the prospects in front of stem cell research and regenerative medicine and specially the future possibility of systemic regenerative medicine which theoretically means the continuous, gradual and consecutive regeneration of every tissue and organ of the human body n times by combined regmed approaches, i.e. tissue engineering (in vitro grown organs and tissues implants or parts of them), systemic (via circulation) and locally targeted stem and progenitor cell transplantation, and endogenous stem cell niche activation with proper growth factor delivery aiming to maintain the physiological turnover and condition of the human body. For that we do not need gene therapy or nanotechnology, just to develop the existing and aforementioned branches, methods and technologies of regmed. Systemic regenerative medicine applied to one patient indefinitely is partial immortalization. It follows from the very concept of regenerative medicine and is just the logical extrapolation of it. Although scientists and technologists in stem cell research and regenerative medicine do not realize this, they implicitly do it and every dollar supporting this science is also (partly) going for extending healthy human lifespan indefinitely. It would be good to know how the systemic repair approach works on animal models, but for that we need to overcome a whole lot of difficulties, the most problematic part will be the proper control of transplanted cell fate and the exclusion of tumorigenic transformation. Of course 2007 won’t give us the answer whether it is feasible, but it’s time to think about it and by that I mean think about experiments and set up computer models.

Image source

Life extension blogterviews in 2006

What can/will You do for life extension? Answer these questions first.

Interviews in a temporal order: Reason, Chris Patil, Jim Craig, Aubrey de Grey, John Cumbers, Kevin Dewalt, Nick Bostrom, James Clement, David Kekich, Huber Warner, Mark Hamalainen, John Schloendorn.

For me it is important to introduce here people with different professional background who are life extensionists, but being a biotech blogger I would like to focus more on life scientists, stem cell researchers, biologists, biotechnologists, medical doctors, since they (we) are the ones who have a chance to realize any little piece of life extension technologically. In my opinion this is the stable way to make life extension acceptable in front of decision makers and the public. So I’ll continue the interviews, try to evoke mature scientists, and try to be more and more disciplinal except when I am not. :)