One exciting recent development is that, with an increase in our research budget this year (based on performance last year and a more optimistic financial outlook from many of our donors), we’ve recently approved funding for several quite important and exciting research projects.
Project to tissue engineer a new thymus
The thymus is a gland located near the breast bone, where T-cells (an important immune cell) mature. The thymus shrinks with age, and the tissues on the outer layer of the organ where T-cells mature lose their architectural integrity, leading to a progressive failure to produce new T-cells to fight novel infections. The thymus engineering project, which is underway with SENS Foundation support at the Wake Forest University Institute for Regenerative Medicine by Dr John Jackson and colleagues, is to use a trick that you may have heard of having been used to make a new rat heart using the tissue scaffolding of another’s. The first studies will be done in mice, and if they succeed, they have very good access to sheep to scale the work up into a large mammal.
Fifth SENS Conference Highlights
* restoring cognitive function in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease using a drug that boosted up the ability of their brains’ lysosomes (“garbage disposal systems” as it were) to break down the sticky beta-amyloid protein
* Review of Dr. Jackson’s early work with tissue engineering
* work in the gut by Dr. Graça Almeida-Porada
* a just-begun study on a very bold and ambitious way by which Dr. Jean Hébert of Albert Einstein College of Medicine proposes to restore the loss of cells and degraded circuitry of the aging neocortex (the area of the brain where, arguably, our highest, most ‘human’ cognitive activity occurs).
Other Life Extension comments
Genes account for only about 25% of your chances of reaching an age of about 75, they are a HUGE factor in your odds of becoming a centenarian once you have already lived that long.
Eating well and exercising will greatly reduce your odds of suffering prematurely with many age-associated disabilities and diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers), and because of that, lifestyle factors are major predictors of your odds of reaching what was once old age – 75 years or so – which is now actually below average. However, this has relatively little to do with aging, and a lot to do with killing yourself early with self-abuse.
Governments should be very eager to fund Rejuvenation biotechnologies. The costs of paying for keeping people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other age-related diseases are so high that it’ll be cheaper for them to pay for rejuvenation therapies, not only because it will save them on health care but will also make Social Security unnecessary, reduce the frequency of road accidents, keep productive workers in their national economies, avoid the quite substantial productivity losses associated with today’s “working-age” adults exiting the workforce or taking time off to care for aging parents, etc, etc.
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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