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Longevity and the End of Empire

Posted: April 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

Empires end when an entrenched elite can spend from the public purse and take on debt without immediate consequence or forethought, destroying the value of their currency in the process. Assuming (perhaps optimistically) that present economic empires survive the next couple of decades, a combination of foolish promises and increasing human longevity will be the rock that sinks them. From Reuters: “Like the subprime crisis faced by banks in 2008, the risk of people living for up to 20 years after retirement seems to have crept up on an industry based on using historical data to calculate people’s chances of an early death. Now, pension funds and insurers say the mounting burden of protracted pensions payments is increasingly concentrated on a small group of providers: them. … Nowhere better can the process be seen than in Britain, which is facing a crisis resulting from a combination of pension reforms and increased life expectancy. … The many arguments in favor of a sovereign bond linked to longevity rest on one fundamental expectation: if pension providers can’t pay, or become insolvent, governments will have to. Longevity bonds could make the process neater, and more politically palatable, than the collapse of a pension provider.” The problem is not that some groups made bad bets, or that many people relied upon those bets being good. The problem is that these groups and their supporters can conspire with governments to bail themselves out with public funds and debt heedless of consequences.

View the Article Under Discussion: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE6360LP20100407

Read More Longevity Meme Commentary: http://www.longevitymeme.org/news/

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Dual Action Antibodies Versus Cancer

Posted: April 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

From the MIT Technology Review, a look at another form of first generation immune therapy aimed at cancer: “Last year marked a first for engineered antibodies – the European Commission approved a new cancer drug called Removab (catumaxomab), an antibody specially designed to grab both cancer cells and immune cells in such a way that the immune cell can kill the cancer cell. (The drug is undergoing testing for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.) Now a handful of similarly complex molecules, dubbed ‘bispecific antibodies’ for their ability to target two things at once, are in clinical trials. The two arms of these antibodies work together in different ways to treat cancer or other diseases, by bringing together two types of cells, as with Removab, by targeting two different types of receptors on the surface of a cell, or even using one arm to deliver drugs to specific cells targeted by the other. … While the concept of bispecific antibodies has been around for decades, the approach has only recently shown clinical success. The field has been driven forward by new ways of designing and making the antibodies, which take advantage of advances in protein engineering, as well as the success of single-target antibodies, such as herceptin, that are already on the market.” This is an example of the way in which targeting technologies and new strategies from the biotechnology labs are slowly filtering into the old school drug development pipeline.

View the Article Under Discussion: http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=24970

Read More Longevity Meme Commentary: http://www.longevitymeme.org/news/

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

The Contributions of Mitochondria to Longevity

Posted: April 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

Manipulating the machinery of mitochondria – the respiratory chain that turns food into the chemical ATP that is used to power cellular biochemistry – can extend healthy life in a variety of species. Here, researchers dig deeper into the mechanisms by which this happens, finding that there are more than one: “In Caenorhabditis elegans longevity is increased by a partial loss-of-function mutation in the mitochondrial complex III subunit gene isp-1. Longevity is also increased by RNAi against the expression of a variety of mitochondrial respiratory chain genes, including isp-1, but it is unknown whether the isp-1(qm150) mutation and the RNAi treatments trigger the same underlying mechanisms of longevity. We have identified nuo-6(qm200), a mutation [that] reduces the function of complex I and, like isp-1(qm150), results in low oxygen consumption, slow growth, slow behavior, and increased lifespan. We [compared] nuo-6(qm200) [to] nuo-6(RNAi) and found them to be distinct in crucial ways, including patterns of growth and fertility, behavioral rates, oxygen consumption, ATP levels, autophagy, [as] well as expression of superoxide dismutases, mitochondrial heat shock proteins, and other gene expression markers. RNAi treatments appear to generate a stress and autophagy response, while the genomic mutation alters electron transport and reactive oxygen species metabolism. … Most importantly, we found that [the] lifespan increase induced by nuo-6(RNAi) is fully additive to that induced by isp-1(qm150), and the increase induced by isp-1(RNAi) is fully additive to that induced by nuo-6(qm200). Our results demonstrate that distinct and separable aspects of mitochondrial biology affect lifespan independently.”

View the Article Under Discussion: http://pmid.us/20346072

Read More Longevity Meme Commentary: http://www.longevitymeme.org/news/

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Methuselah Foundation Launches NewOrgan Prize

Posted: April 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

Via the Methuselah Foundation blog: “Today Methuselah Foundation launched the NewOrgan Prize, the Foundation’s new longevity prize specifically focused on advancing the development of replacement tissues and organs for humans. Its goal is to accelerate advances in regenerative medicine, which will become the standard of care for replacing all tissue and organ systems in the body within 20 years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The first research team to construct a whole new complex organ (heart, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas) made from a person’s own cells – one that is functionally equivalent and successfully transplanted – will be awarded the NewOrgan Prize. The goal of the Methuselah Foundation NewOrgan Prize is to achieve this medical breakthrough within the next 10 years. Today’s launch is a call to action for competitors, candidates and contributors who want to participate in this crucial medical challenge aimed at extending healthy human life. … Based on our success in spurring medical advances with incentives provided by the original Methuselah Mouse prize, we anticipate that over $10 million will be raised by the time the NewOrgan Prize criteria is met – and the prize presented – to the leading medical R&D team. At minimum, $1 million will be awarded to the research team that develops a whole new human organ that is functional and successfully transplanted.”

View the Article Under Discussion: http://blog.methuselahfoundation.org/2010/04/methuselah_foundation_launches_neworgan_prize.html

Read More Longevity Meme Commentary: http://www.longevitymeme.org/news/

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

A Trial of Giving Stem Cells Orders

Posted: April 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

One approach to stem cell therapy is to try to order existing stem cells to do more work, accomplished by introducing signaling molecules into the body – a drug, in other words. This methodology has reached the point of early clinical trials, as indicated in this press release: “Clinical-stage regenerative medicine company Juventas Therapeutics Inc. [has] started enrolling patients in a Phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of its leading stem cell factor for treating heart failure. In preclinical studies of heart failure in pigs, JVS-100, as the factor is known, significantly increased cardiac function by promoting cell survival and increasing blood vessel formation in damaged hearts. JVS-100 works by encoding Stromal Cell-derived Factor-1 (SDF-1), a growth factor that in adults recruits stem cells from the bone marrow to create new blood vessels. The JVS-100-treated pigs showed significant improvements in cardiac function. … We’ve led with heart failure because that’s where our preliminary data was, and it’s a great clinical opportunity. We also have strong data in the area of peripheral vascular disease and cosmetic wound healing. … The factor can increase blood flow for patients who have peripheral vascular disease and accelerate wound closure and prevent scarring for patients who have had cosmetic surgery [so] we’re looking to move both those toward clinic in the near future.”

View the Article Under Discussion: http://www.medcitynews.com/2010/04/juventas-therapeutics-starts-phase-1-trial-for-heart-failure-therapy/

Read More Longevity Meme Commentary: http://www.longevitymeme.org/news/

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

On Mitophagy and Aging

Posted: April 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

A good review paper: “Our understanding of autophagy has expanded greatly in recent years, largely due to the identification of the many genes involved in the process, and to the development of better methods to monitor the process, such as GFP-LC3 to visualize autophagosomes in vivo. A number of groups have demonstrated a tight connection between autophagy and mitochondrial turnover. Mitochondrial quality control is the process whereby mitochondria undergo successive rounds of fusion and fission with a dynamic exchange of components in order to segregate functional and damaged elements. Removal of the mitochondrion that contains damaged components is accomplished via autophagy (mitophagy). Mitophagy also serves to eliminate the subset of mitochondria producing the most reactive oxygen species, and episodic removal of mitochondria will reduce the oxidative burden, thus linking the mitochondrial free radical theory of aging with longevity achieved through caloric restriction. Mitophagy must be balanced by biogenesis to meet tissue energy needs, but the system is tunable and highly dynamic. This process is of greatest importance in long-lived cells such as cardiomyocytes, neurons, and memory T cells. Autophagy is known to decrease with age, and the failure to maintain mitochondrial quality control through mitophagy may explain why the heart, brain, and components of the immune system are most vulnerable to dysfunction as organisms age.”

View the Article Under Discussion: http://pmid.us/20357180

Read More Longevity Meme Commentary: http://www.longevitymeme.org/news/

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith


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