Today, we launch a new series on LEAF: the monthly roundup where we briefly discuss the latest news and articles about aging and rejuvenation from a number of different sources. We hope these roundups will be a great way to keep our readers in the loop.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at the highlights of the last month.
SENS Research Foundation and Spiegel Lab team up against glucosepane
This piece of news is a just a little bit older than one month, but I find it’s important enough to have a look at anyway. Cellular crosslinks are one of the factors driving human aging; they’re unwanted, accidental links between otherwise independently moving proteins, caused by the reaction of blood sugar and other molecules with the proteins themselves.
This binding causes the stiffening of the tissues of which crosslinked proteins are a part, which is really bad news, as this causes systolic blood pressure to rise and increases the risk of strokes with age, among other less-than-desirable ailments.
One of the most common crosslinks is glucosepane, a rather complex molecule that can be isolated only in very small amounts from the human body (and not even in a pure form). This limitation has made it hard for researchers to find ways to break glucosepane crosslinks because there was no easy way to test potential crosslink breaking molecules.
However, the Spiegel lab has managed to fully synthesize glucosepane and is using some of its derivatives in an attempt to create monoclonal antibodies that can seek and destroy glucosepane in the body. We’re looking forward to hearing more about it!
The arsenal against cellular senescence
Cellular senescence is a well-known hallmark of aging; while moderate amounts of senescent cells have a positive role in the body, their life-long accumulation eventually contributes to a number of age-related pathologies. Thankfully, senolytic drugs to selectively eliminate excess senescent cells are all the rage lately, and as Fight Aging! discusses in this article, several clearance methods are currently in development, while many others are to be expected, as initial successes for pioneers in this field will encourage further efforts from others. It’s certainly good to know that we might be spoiled for choice!
Dr. James Kirkland confirmed as a speaker at Undoing Aging 2018
As you might already know, Undoing Aging 2018, a conference on rejuvenation biotechnologies organized by Forever Healthy Foundation and SENS Research Foundation, will take place in March 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Early in October this year, Dr. James Kirkland has been confirmed as a speaker.
Dr. Kirkland is the director of the Kogod Center on Aging at Mayo Clinic, and he was the first researcher to publish a paper on senolytics. It goes without saying that he’ll be discussing cellular senescence, among a number of other interesting topics. LEAF representatives are also going to attend the conference and will hopefully get back with a set of interviews with the renowned researchers of aging!
Machine learning in tumor recognition
Machine learning is an important tool in research these days, as it allows researchers to quickly carry out extensive data analyses that would take months for humans. An exciting application of this technology, discussed in a previous article, is tumor recognition in magnetic resonance imagery of patients’ brains.
Professor George Biros of the ICES Parallel Algorithms for Data Analysis and Simulation Group recently presented the results of a decade’s worth of work on a machine learning system that can identify gliomas with impressive accuracy in a much shorter time it would take for human professionals.
Early and accurate detection of tumors, especially aggressive ones such as gliomas, is crucial for successful therapeutic interventions, and this kind of technology might well pave the way to a future where most, if not all, cancers can be busted before they have a chance to wreak havoc.
The Hallmarks of aging
Telomeres are probably the first things that pop into people’s heads when thinking about aging. The fact that telomeres shorten with age is well-known, while the existence of the enzyme telomerase and its role in replenishing telomeres is possibly a bit less known by the general public. If you’d like to learn a bit more about this particular hallmark of aging, it might be worth taking a look at this concise but clear article on Geroscience.
Since we are on the topic of hallmarks, let’s have a look at Steve Hill’s summary of the genomic instability hallmark. In a nutshell, this is essentially an accumulation of DNA damage that can occur in several ways—exposure to radiation or chemicals, for example, or even during normal cell replication. The results of genomic instability are many and not too pleasant; it can lead to cell dysfunction, cellular senescence, or even cancer. Thus, to fully address age-related diseases, we will need means of DNA repair that solve this problem, and while we’re not there yet, some potential solutions are in the works.
FA! announces the 2017 winter fundraiser for SENS
There are two downsides to scientific research: it isn’t super cheap, and it won’t carry itself out. This is why ensuring sufficient funding is crucial to the development of rejuvenation biotechnologies, and crowdfunding initiatives are a big part of this. Like every year for a while now, FightAging! is running a winter matching fund for SENS Research Foundation.
Together with other generous folks, FA! has put together a $36,000 fund to match SENS patrons’ donations for the next year in an attempt to help SENS reach the goal of $250,000 to finance several ongoing research projects at the Buck Institute and other laboratories. This is good news if you’re a SENS patron because your donations will be matched; if you aren’t, I guess this is a moment as good as any to consider becoming one!
Life Extension discussed by popular YouTubers
Life extension and rejuvenation biotechnologies need the support of a large community to really take off; a first, important step to reaching a wider public has been taken in the second half of October this year, when some of the big guns of advocacy have been fired for the first time: popular YouTube channels Kurzgesagt, CGP Grey, and Thunk have all published videos discussing and advocating for the possibility of putting an end to aging.
Combined, these three channels have over 8 million subscribers, and chances are good that other famous channels will follow suit and publish their own videos on the topic, reaching an even wider audience. In particular, I’m pleased to say that the Kurzgesagt’s video was created with the help of LEAF president Keith Comito, and I’m sure I speak for everyone here at LEAF when I say that we are all looking forward to further collaborations with Kurzgesagt!
Conference “Motivation to life extension” and other events in Moscow
On October 14 LEAF Director Elena Milova gave a talk at the conference “Motivation for life extension” co-hosted by the Foundation Science for Life Extension and Singularity University Moscow Chapter. Elena shared with the audience her views regarding the evidence-based approaches to increase adherence to healthy lifestyle and high compliance. One of the best systems to effectively change one’s behavior to a more longevity-friendly is described in the book Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change that Elena is recommending you to read.
MouseAge is funded!
Finally, we are delighted to announce that the MouseAge project at Lifespan.io reached its initial fundraising goal, and is now moving forward to the stretch goal.
Thanks to the devotion of the team, the work on the creating the application has already begun. Soon, a beta version of the application will be made available to backers via the Apple Store, allowing them to start using it in the lab and contributing to scientific progress.
We would like to thank everyone in the community who has supported the project and a special thank-you to investment mogul Jim Mellon and Bill Gelpi from Rocket games for their donations.
Coming up in November
The Lifespan Extension Advocacy Foundation, in collaboration with the Moscow Chapter of Singularity University, and consulting group Deloitte, is hosting an expert discussion in Moscow on how to inform the public about the potential of rejuvenation biotechnology. These experts believe that by raising awareness of new medical technologies to prevent aging, it could help to increase support for defeating age-related diseases and increasing the healthy period of life.
The panel discussion “6 ways to talk to people about ending aging” will bring together famous futurists, scientists, science popularizers and public figures who foster the dissemination of the idea to prevent aging in Russia and other countries, such as Jose Cordeiro (director of Humanity Plus), Valerija Udalova (director of Russian cryonics company KrioRus), Eugeny Kuznetsov (ambassador of Singularity University in Russia) and others.
Elena Milova will be moderating this discussion together with Jin Kolesnikov, co-founder of Singularity University Moscow Chapter. If you happen to be in Moscow on November 4, you are welcome to attend this event – please don’t forget to register and bring an ID with you.