Monday, February 27, 2012

The Worm Turns--Without Aging

Damien: This is an intriguing discovery, although regrowing one's brain would not be a lot of use if doing so meant abandoning all the connectivity of the failing existing one...

<"Immortal Worms Defy Aging"

February 27, 2012; Researchers from The University of Nottingham have demonstrated how a species of flatworm overcomes the aging process to be potentially immortal.  The discovery, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is part of a project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC) and may shed light on the possibilities of alleviating aging and age-related characteristics in human cells.

         Planarian worms have amazed scientists with their apparently limitless ability to regenerate. Researchers have been studying their ability to replace aged or damaged tissues and cells in a bid to understand the mechanisms underlying their longevity.

         Dr Aziz Aboobaker from the University's School of Biology said, "We've been studying two types of planarian worms; those that reproduce sexually, like us, and those that reproduce asexually, simply dividing in two. Both appear to regenerate indefinitely by growing new muscles, skin, guts and even entire brains over and over again.

         "Usually when stem cells divide -­ to heal wounds, or during reproduction or for growth -­ they start to show signs of aging. This means that the stem cells are no longer able to divide and so become less able to replace exhausted specialized cells in the tissues of our bodies. Our aging skin is perhaps the most visible example of this effect. Planarian worms and their stem cells are somehow able to avoid the aging process and to keep their cells dividing.">

See the link for more.

We're in the Future, Again

Damien: This news isn't life extension, but it surely is quality-of-life enhancement:

<February 15, 2012 12:00 ET
Ekso Bionics Delivers First "Ekso" Exoskeleton

Investigational Studies Completed: All Paraplegic Patients Walked During
First Session

BERKELEY, CA--(Marketwire - Feb 15, 2012) - Ekso Bionics today announced
that the first commercial unit of its Ekso exoskeleton was delivered
yesterday, on February 14, to Craig Hospital in Denver. Ekso is a
wearable robot that powers paraplegics up, enabling them to stand and
walk. In addition -- working together with top rehabilitation centers in
the U.S. -- Ekso Bionics just completed a ten-month Investigational
Study of Ekso that entailed reciprocal information sharing and learning,
training, as well as the definition of clinical protocols. Delivery of
Eksos -- beginning with Ekso Bionics' Charter Rehabilitation Centers --
will take place over the course of the next three months.

Ekso is a ready-to-wear, battery-powered exoskeleton designed for
patients with spinal cord injuries and pathologies that inhibit their
ability to walk. It is strapped over the user's clothing. The patient
doesn't bear the weight, however, as the device transfers its 45 lb.
load directly to the ground. Each Ekso can be adjusted in a few minutes
to fit most people weighing 220 pounds or less, and between 5'2" and
6'2", with at least partial upper body strength, and can be adjusted to
fit one patient and then another in minutes.>

Click the full story for more details.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Finally, something positive in the MSM about defeating aging & death

Here's a rather good brief report by business reporter Eric Markowitz, of Inc. Cheering to see such an informed non-glibly-sarcastic piece at CNBC:
Some samples from this Small Business piece:

<Back in 2006, [Peter] Thiel gave Cambridge anti-aging researcher Aubrey de Grey $3.5 million under the auspices of the Methusaleh Foundation, a non-profit headquartered in Springfield, Virgina, that awards scientists who are working on life-extension therapies. "Probably the most extreme form of inequality is between people who are alive and people who are dead," Thiel told The New Yorker.

In 2010, Thiel and his partners at Founders Fund, a Bay Area venture capital firm, invested $500,000 in Halcyon Molecular, a biotech start-up whose 28-year-old founder has a "dream to create a world free from cancer and aging."

...Equal parts brilliant and idealistic, Singerman is adamant that aging is a problem that can be solved. The fund's portfolio has invested in about 14 health and biotech companies all interested in solving life's ultimate problem: death.

..."We have a company that's charged with curing all viral disease, we have a company that's charged with curing several types of cancer," he says. "These are not things that are incremental approaches. It's all fine and good to have a drug that extends life by a certain amount of months or makes living with a disease easier. That's not what we're looking for. We are not looking for incremental change. We are looking for absolute cures in anything we do."

Singerman, who graduated from Stanford, believes there are two basic elements of curing aging: first, you have to cure the stuff that kills you. The second part, of course, is figuring out the processes by which the body deteriorates. Finding complete, fast, and cheap DNA sequencing methods are a main focus of the fund.

"I'm not going to say we're going to cure aging before next week," he says. "That's just silly. But do I think that within the next 10 years we'll have the cure for several forms of cancer? I absolutely do. Do I think that in the next 10 years all forms of viral disease will be wiped out? Absolutely, we have a shot. Do I think that we're going to stop the aging process within the next 10 years? No, but do I think we'll have a much better understanding of how to get to that point? Absolutely." >