On the stage sits an all-star panel including Aubrey de Grey , Jeff Karp , Caleb Finch, Stephen Minger and Richard Baker, discussing the idea that diseases of aging may stem from molecular and cellular damage that accrues with age. I am trying to not think about the sheer brainpower and knowledge that sits just a few feet away.
|Aubrey de Grey|
First up, Aubrey discusses how he first came about delineating the seven different research areas of aging, and mentions the approach of linking the “damage repair” philosophy versus the medical community approach, which separates the effects of aging into different disease categories, instead of looking at aging and its effects as a whole. Utilizing biotechnological advances and therapies for disease prevention, as well as an adjunct therapy for those already affected he feels would serve to eventually serve to solve the underlying problems. Thing is, change is hard, and paradigm shifts rarely happen without a major impetus facilitated by game changers and philanthropists.
Jeff Karp presents next, discussing one of my favorite biotech topics- stem cells! Replacing damaged stem cells, specifically. As we age, the number of stem cells decrease and experience loss of functionality, including increased degeneration, decreased regeneration, decreased ability to maintain homeostasis. Can we correct decreased functionality with ability to populate with young stem cells? As we age, stem cells tend to work overtime, due to decreased ability to regenerate. Is there a chance to engineer cells to specifically deliver them to sites of the body to fill vacant niches and repair damaged cells using your stem cells?
Caleb Finch’s perspective is that from an environmental context. Did you know that people who live in highly polluted areas experience cognitive decline 2-4 times faster than individuals who do not? Additionally, air pollution accelerates aging of arteries and brain amyloid.
Did you know that GE Healthcare includes work researching the applications of stem cells? Stephen Minger manager a portfolio of human cell-based assays, expected to help the pharmaceutical industry reduce the cost of drug development. Additionally, this is expected to help them bring more effective, safer drugs to market. Stephen also talked about developing new tools for imaging living cells at the molecular level.