An ambitious plan to sequence 100 genes in 1,000 healthy old people could shed light on genetic variations that insulate some people from the ailments of aging, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, allowing them to live a healthy life into their eighties and beyond. Rather than focusing on genetic variations that increase risk for disease, scientists plan to focus on genes that have previously been linked to health and longevity.
UPDATE: Melanie Swan, Hedge fund manager and futurist, believes that the next big venture capital market could be the life extension industry
Researchers are collecting blood samples from 1,000 people age 80 or older who have never suffered any serious illnesses and do not take medication.
Topol and his collaborators will compare the gene sequences from the healthy volunteers with DNA samples collected from people who died from age-related diseases before they reached their eighties. The scientists have already found that the healthy people had only a slightly lower probability of carrying disease-linked variations. That supports the idea that protective genes are playing a major role in people’s successful aging.
Scientists hope that identifying the molecular basis for this protective effect will enable them to mimic it with drugs.
Success could mean that everyone who received the right treatments could live healthy lives into their eighties. Life expectancy could approach or exceed 100 when combined with new detection and treatments for cancer and calorie restriction mimicking drugs
Gene therapy was used to improve the function of genetically damaged vision, which shows that it is possible protective life extension genes could also be modified in adults.
Gene silencing is getting more effective and gene therapy is getting cheaper, safer and more effective
A Russian antihistamine drug, Dimebon, reverses cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients over a 12 month period in early human testing This is huge because other drugs just slow the decline to varying degrees. It is also big because they believe the medication works by stabilizing mitochondria which is an important factor in aging (One of the seven aging damage targets of SENS).
Another drug Enbrel, an drug approved for arthritis treatment, had clinical trials that showed 22% improvement over 6 months. So Dimebon and Enbrel are two promising new treatments for Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s effects 4 million americans now and 20 million or more americans will get Alzheimer’s based on current trends and statisitics.
“What we saw in the clinical trial is that people on the medication continued to improve over time,” Doody said. “Those on placebo continued to decline.”
Researchers believe the medication works by stabilizing mitochondria, the cellular components that produce energy, and possibly by inhibiting brain cell death. Researchers evaluated patients’ thinking and memory ability, overall function, psychiatric and behavioral symptoms, and ability to perform daily activities.
“Usually at this point in a drug’s development, we are happy to see improvement in one of the outcome measures,” Doody said. “We saw improvement in all five.”
Some participants complained of occasional dry mouth, but no one opted out of the study because of the side effects.
“As we continue research, we hope to replicate these results,” Doody said. “My belief is that this drug will turn out to be useful for Alzheimer’s disease, regardless of the stage of the disease.”
The positive effects of maintaining and improving mitochondria function shows the validity of the SENS approach to life extension.
Mitosens is one of the seven parts of the SENS approach.
Success in all seven parts of SENS to repair the damage of aging before they become disease. This repair is applying rejuvenation to a body.
The full alzheimer’s paper on Dimebon is online and requires free registration to access at the Lancet.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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