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Better Understanding Cytomegalovirus

Posted: April 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the reasons our immune systems decay with aging: too many immune cells become specialized to deal with CMV, leaving too few to deal with everything else. New research “explains how a virus that has already infected up to 80 percent of the American population can repeatedly re-infect individuals despite the presence of a strong and long-lasting immune response. The research involves cytomegalovirus (CMV), which infects 50 percent to 80 percent of the U.S. population before age 40. … For most people, CMV infection goes undetected and they do not become seriously ill. … When most viruses infect a host, the immune system remembers the disease and protects against re-infection. This is the case with smallpox, seasonal strains of flu and several other viruses. This immune system reaction is also the reason why vaccines made with weakened or dead viruses work against these pathogens. In the case of CMV, the body’s immune system is continuously stimulated by ongoing, low-level persistent infection, but yet CMV is still able to re-infect. This research explains how CMV is able to overcome this immune response so that re-infection occurs. … The results of this study primarily illustrate the significant barriers to creating a vaccine that will prevent CMV infection.” But a vaccine won’t do much for people already burdened by an CMV-focused immune system. What we want is a way to use targeted cell killing strategies to destroy CMV-related immune cells and free up space for more useful immune cells.

View the Article Under Discussion: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-04/ohs-ore033010.php

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

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Rapamycin and Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted: April 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

Rapamycin recently showed promise as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, and here more researchers are working on that: “A few weeks after a report that rapamycin, a drug that extends lifespan in mice and that is currently used in transplant patients, curbed the effects of Alzheimer’s disease in mice, a second group is announcing similar results in an entirely different mouse model of early Alzheimer’s. … The second report [showed] that administration of rapamycin improved learning and memory in a strain of mice engineered to develop Alzheimer’s. The improvements in learning and memory were detected in a water maze activity test that is designed to measure learning and spatial memory. The improvements in learning and memory correlated with lower damage in brain tissue. … Strikingly, the Alzheimer’s mice treated with rapamycin displayed improved performance on the maze, even reaching levels that were indistinguishable from their normal littermates. Levels of amyloid-beta-42 were also reduced in these mice after treatment, and we are seeing preserved numbers of synaptic elements in the brain areas of Alzheimer’s disease mice that are ravaged by the disease process.”

View the Article Under Discussion: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-04/uoth-adt040110.php

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

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

More on DAF-16 and Longevity in Nematodes

Posted: April 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

The DAF-16 gene in nematode worms such as C. elegans is thought to be the fulcrum of a metabolic feedback loop that switches between long-lived stress resistant and short-lived reproduction focused states. “Ageing is a process that all organisms experience, but at very different rates. We know that, even between closely related species, average lifespans can vary enormously. We wanted to find out how normal ageing is being governed by genes and what effect these genes have on other traits, such as immunity. To do that, we looked at a gene that we already knew to be involved in the ageing process, called DAF-16, to see how it may determine the different rates of ageing in different species. … Researchers compared longevity, stress resistance and immunity in four related species of worm. … They also looked for differences in the activity of DAF-16 in each of the four species and found that they were all quite distinct in this respect. And, importantly, the differences in DAF-16 corresponded to differences in longevity, stress resistance and immunity between the four species – in general higher levels of DAF-16 activity correlated with longer life, increased stress resistance and better immunity against some infections.”

View the Article Under Discussion: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/media/releases/2010/100401-ageing-gene-found-to-govern-lifespan.aspx

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

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

The Long Road Towards Prosthetic Nerves

Posted: April 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

One day, it will be possible to replace nerves with entirely artificial conduits. This is a branch of medical technology that will compete with regenerative medicine, and ultimately lead to more effective and resilient body parts. But today, the foundations are still being designed. A long road lies ahead. Here, the New Scientist looks at early work: “Schiefer is describing an experiment in which pulses of electricity are used to control the muscles of an unconscious patient, as if they were a marionette. It represents the beginnings of a new generation of devices that he hopes will allow people with paralysed legs to regain control of their muscles and so be able to stand, or even walk again. His is one of a raft of gadgets being developed that plug into the network of nerves that normally relay commands from the spinal cord to the muscles, but fall silent when a spinal injury breaks the chain. New ways to connect wires to nerves [allow] artificial messages to be injected to selectively control muscles just as if the signal had originated in the brain. Limbs that might otherwise never again be controlled by their owners can be brought back to life. … Nerves contain tens of thousands of axons, each capable of being controlled by the ultimate puppeteer: the brain. Learning to pull even a few of those strings, though, could restore partial function to a person’s limb, restoring some control to an arm or leg that was previously paralysed.”

View the Article Under Discussion: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627546.200-paralysed-limbs-revived-by-hacking-into-nerves.html?full=true

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

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Longevity and the End of Empire

Posted: April 9, 2010 at 8:43 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 Fredricko

Dual Action Antibodies Versus Cancer

Posted: April 9, 2010 at 8:43 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 Fredricko


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