Longevity Meme Newsletter, April 05 2004

Discussion in 'Health and medical' started by Reason, Apr 5, 2004.

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    The Longevity Meme Newsletter is a biweekly e-mail
    containing news, opinions and happenings for people
    interested in healthy life extension: making use of diet,
    lifestyle choices, technology and proven medical advances to
    live healthy, longer lives. To subscribe or unsubscribe from
    the Longevity Meme Newsletter, please visit



    - Update on the Alcor Cryonics Legislation
    - Interesting Items From Fight Aging!
    - Help To Make Your Future Healthier and Longer
    - Discussion
    - Latest Healthy Life Extension News Headlines


    It seems that victory was declared a little prematurely in
    the matter of cryonics legislation in Arizona. As you will
    recall from a few newsletters back, this bill would have
    forced Alcor out of their business, but community support
    made all the difference:

    ?newsletter_id=51 http://www.longevitymeme.org/newsletter/v-

    Why is cryonics important to a healthy life extension
    community that is primarily focused on the future of
    regenerative medicine? The short answer is that cryonics is
    a form of insurance against your health giving out before
    medical progress can save your life. Cryonics is also an
    ethical necessity. No matter how fast medical science
    advances towards longer, healthier lives, there will always
    be some people who will not make it. We should not leave
    them behind:


    The Arizona cryonics bill - a "solution without a problem" -
    was abruptly put up to vote by the sponsor despite
    assurances that this would not happen, and despite agreement
    by all the stakeholders as to the undesirable nature of this
    legislation (including the funeral directors who supposedly
    called for it in the first place!) Considerable - and
    justified - outrage was heard from the community, followed
    by public and private discussions on the part of Alcor, the
    Funeral Directors Association, Organ Procurement
    organizations, their lobbyists and Arizona politicians. The
    organ procurement folks were dragged into this because the
    legislation as written would cause chaos in their medical
    circles. Speed in politics tends to cause collateral damage
    due to poorly worded or poorly thought out laws.

    Fortunately, the bill has now been withdrawn - without much
    in the way of useful explanation from its sponsor. This
    local media article gives a few clues as to what the various
    parties are thinking:


    You can read the timeline of events and an explanation by
    Alcor CEO Joe Waynick at the following pages:


    The motivations behind this unfortunate bill are unclear for
    those of us on the outside, so it is hard to predict where
    this matter will go from here. It is possible that the bill
    will resurface as an attachment to some popular item of
    legislation in an attempt to pass it by stealth. I suspect
    that the Funeral Directors Association is starting to
    realize that bringing the government into your house in
    order to get your own way is not the smartest of ideas.

    As a last note on the topic, your voices did make a
    difference. This story would have had an unpleasant ending
    if not for the outpouring of community support. We should
    get up and apply the same treatment to the next anti-
    research bill that tries to curb stem cell research and
    regenerative medicine!


    We haven't been idle since I last mentioned our new weblog.
    If you enjoy this newsletter, you should also enjoy the
    daily updates over at Fight Aging! Here are a few samples
    that you might find interesting:

    Robert Bradbury's Grand Unified Theory of Aging
    http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000071.php Robert
    Bradbury of the Aeiveos Research Library has been working on
    a grand unified theory of aging of late. He was kind enough
    to post a summary to the extropy-chat list, which is
    reproduced here with permission.

    Healthy Life Extension and Boredom
    http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000064.php The world
    seems divided into two camps on this topic. For one side,
    it seems self-evident that longer life means boredom. To
    the other side - my side - this is a very strange
    attitude indeed.

    The Ubiquity of the Tithonus Error
    http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000058.php This is an
    interesting experiment: find any random person you know and
    ask them what the downside would be to using better medicine
    to live for 150 years.

    The Wave Is Rising
    http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000053.php Events and
    news of the past year have left me convinced that now is a
    good time to set forth on ventures related to healthy life
    extension, be they volunteer, individual, profit or non-
    profit. A wave is slowly rising and gaining strength:
    efforts by diverse groups to advocate, promote and educate
    are beginning to noticeably influence mainstream culture and
    media. This in turn leads to more such efforts.

    The Meaning of Anti-Aging
    http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000045.php There is a war
    being fought over the meaning of "anti-aging" and (to a
    lesser extent) "life extension." It's fought with words and
    funding between and within a number of different factions
    within the business and scientific community.


    As Gandhi said, "you must be the change you wish to see in
    the world." If you like our efforts, add us to your
    favorites or link to us from your sites or blogs. Tell a
    friend. Every little action like this helps to spread the
    concepts of healthy life extension, making them more widely
    known, accepted, and supported. More support ultimately
    means more research funding for advanced medicine and a less
    anti-research legislation.

    Keep up to date with our action items at the Longevity Meme
    and see how you can take a few minutes to help:



    That would be all for this issue of the newsletter. The
    highlights and headlines from the past two weeks follow
    below. If you have comments for us, please do send e-mail to
    [email protected]

    Remember - if you like this newsletter, the chances are that
    your friends will find it useful too. Forward the newsletter
    on, or post a copy to your favorite online communities.
    Encourage the people you know to pitch in and make a
    difference to the future of health and longevity!

    Reason [email protected] Founder, Longevity Meme



    Stem Cells From Baby Teeth? (April 04 2004) http://www.news-
    As reported by news.com.au, Australian scientists are in the
    early stages of exploring discarded baby teeth as a source
    of useful stem cells. The article is short on details
    regarding the type of stem cells used, but the researchers
    expect to be able to culture tissue from them. From the
    article: "Stem cells from teeth can be influenced to grow
    into tissue other than teeth. We have some evidence that
    some cells may have the potential to develop into neural
    cells. We now have a project injecting human cells into the
    brains of rats in the hope they can replace networks damaged
    by stroke or degenerative neural diseases."

    More On Withdrawn Cryonics Legislation (April 04 2004)
    http://www.aztrib.com/index.php?sty=19562 The East Valley
    Tribune has more on the demise of bill HB2637, including the
    promise that it will likely be back in 2005. It's hard to
    say why Representative Stump withdrew the bill for the
    moment; there are a lot of conflicting stories and no-one
    has much in the way of motivation to provide an accurate
    insider viewpoint at this time. One possibility for the
    future is that the bill - in its current disagreeable form -
    will be quietly attached to some other well-backed
    legislation in order to push it through while nobody is
    looking. Politics, as a rule, isn't pretty or fair. The
    power in the hands of legislators is easily abused or
    misdirected by special interests, and there are few checks
    on the system these days.

    End The Stem Cell Research Ban (April 03 2004)eatures/Columns/Forward_Thinking/column.aspx?articleID=2004-
    04-02-4 Simon Smith at Betterhumans tells us that "Bush's
    flimsy funding policy is hurting promising research and real
    people. All the ban has really done is slowed research,
    reduced government oversight, given private companies a nice
    gift, diminished information sharing and transparency and
    all but guaranteed that the US won't be a leader in stem
    cell treatments." While Simon is mostly right, I have to
    disagree with his anti-corporate sentiments: most research
    is not publicly funded. Private sector research has suffered
    greatly, as uncertainty and threatened criminalization have
    scared away investors and philanthropists. This is what is
    truly holding back stem cell medicine.

    Interesting Snippit On Calorie Restriction (April 03 2004)
    http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/504065/ (From
    Newswise). A recent study demonstrates that calorie
    (CR) improves longevity in ways unrelated to accompanying
    weight loss. This is not unexpected, as CR causes gene
    expression changes, but some scientists have assumed
    beneficial effects stem only from weight loss. You will
    recall that excess weight is reliably linked to a
    greatly increased risk of just about every horrible age-
    related condition known to man. Extra weight means a
    shorter, less healthy life - it's as simple as that.
    This study means that groups like BioMarker will
    probably turn up more interesting CR science in the
    near future.

    Towards Cultured Blood Vessels (April 02 2004)
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/20040331wo71.htm The Daily
    Yomiuri reports that Japanese researchers have succeeded in
    growing correctly-structured capillary blood vessels from
    embryonic stem cells. All advances in the techniques of
    tissue engineering relating to growing blood vessels are
    important at this time, as they are required for efforts to
    grow large scale tissue structures - like replacement organs
    - on demand. When matched with existing tissue engineering
    techniques involving scaffolds, it's clear that we should be
    seeing rapid advances in this field in the next year or two.
    Few advances will happen in the US while politicians are
    trying to ban this form of medical research, however.

    ...And There Was Much Rejoicing (April 02 2004)
    Alcor, the leading US cryonics provider has announced that
    the "solution without a problem" regulatory bill is now
    withdrawn. This is great news, and shows that the healthy
    life extension community is now sizeable and organized to
    the point of being able to win legislative battles at the
    state level. As Joe Waynick puts it: "Any organization with
    such a vocal and active membership is worthy of serious
    consideration by government." It's a pity that we have to be
    loud and vocal to prevent damaging legislation from being
    passed at the behest of special interests by politicians
    unfamiliar with the topics under consideration, but that's
    part and parcel of living in an age of big government.

    The Importance of Saving Money (April 01 2004)
    http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000057.php This post to
    Fight Aging! is worth reading. We all have certain
    expectations regarding financial plans for later life, but
    do plans based on the experience of past generations serve
    us well? How should we plan for a future that involves
    greatly extended healthy life spans and expenses related to
    regenerative medicine? Predicting the future is a mug's
    game, but I do my best to provide some guidance,
    guesstimates and ideas. The winds of change are gusting, and
    people who don't take note will be in for a series of rude
    awakenings down the line. You might also be interested to
    read related posts on the ubiquity of the Tithonus Error and
    why longer lives won't be boring.

    Kass To Be Interviewed At SAGE Crossroads (April 01 2004)
    http://www.sagecrossroads.net/public/webcasts/next.cfm The
    next SAGE Crossroads webcast, scheduled for April 12th, is
    to be an interview with Leon Kass, chair of the President's
    Council on Bioethics. Given that most webcasts to date have
    been debates, it's a shame that this one is just an
    interview. Leon Kass holds a set of highly unethical views
    on medicine and I'd like to see them challenged more often.
    Kass is openly in favor of banning attempts to increase the
    healthy human life span, and in favor of blocking stem cell
    research and therapeutic cloning. In other words, he would
    cheerfully enforce suffering and death on all the rest of us
    if given the chance. Given his position as a human rubber
    stamp for US administration policies, Kass' views should
    give us all pause for thought.

    Sweden To Half-Way Back Stem Cell Research (March 31 2004)
    p/sweden_biotech_cloning_040325163839 As reported by Yahoo!
    News, the Swedish government is poised to permit embryonic
    stem cell research, but ban any medical applications of this
    research. This is the sort of nonsense compromise that we
    humans produce in our attempts at politics, but I suppose
    that this is still far better than the alternatives. This
    legislation, unlike that passed by many European
    governments, at least allows research to proceed. As the
    benefits of stem cell medicine become tangible in years to
    come, it will be increasingly hard for politicians to ban
    progress towards better therapies and cures for the

    Separation Of Church And Bioethics (March 31 2004)eatures/Columns/Transitory_Human/column.aspx?articleID=2004-
    03-31-1 George Dvorsky expresses strong opinions on the
    influence of certain religious views on bioethics and
    politics in his latest column at Betterhumans. Research
    towards cures and life-saving therapies are being held back
    and banned in countries around the world, including the US.
    Technologies necessary for regenerative medicine, such as
    therapeutic cloning, are treated as targets rather than the
    vital medical advances they are. If we want a future of
    better medicine and longer, healthier lives, then we must
    support researchers and speak out against anti-research

    How Investors Think About Stem Cell Science (March 30 2004)
    083.htm Contining the money theme for the day, here is a
    piece from the Miami Herald. It provides a good insight into
    the way in which venture capitalists and other investors
    currently look at stem cell science. Stem cell research is a
    gold mine in waiting, but legislative uncertainty and the
    nature of early stage medical research is scaring investors
    away. "Investors in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology
    industries aren't committing billions of dollars, largely
    because society hasn't clearly decided whether the research
    is moral." In other words, we won't see major progress until
    politicians stop trying to ban this research. I, for one,
    think that deliberately blocking research into cures that
    will save millions of lives is a terrible, terrible act.

    Philanthropic Funding Turns The Wheels Of Progress (March 30
    2004) http://www.sagecrossroads.net/public/news/index.cfm An
    article by Mary Beckman at SAGE Crossroads examines the way
    in which scientific progress in medicine is enabled by
    philanthropy. Funding that would otherwise be unavailable is
    sometimes provided by determined private groups and
    individuals. John Sperling, for example, or the Methuselah
    Foundation. If you look back at times of great change in
    science, you'll see that the early funding often comes from
    wealthy visionaries, advocates, and the organizations they
    create. The mainstream funding establishment - private and
    public - is necessarily risk-averse, yet making advances in
    medical science towards real anti-aging therapies requires
    risk and uncertainty.

    Read The Longevity Meme For The Articles (March 29 2004)
    http://www.longevitymeme.org/articles/ If you're one of our
    newer readers, or reading our news through an aggregator,
    you should certainly take the time to look through the
    Longevity Meme articles. We reprint helpful introductions,
    explanations and companion pieces to healthy life extension:
    all the better to help you get started on a longer life and
    make the most of the community. You might want to take a
    look at "Winning the War Against Aging" by Joao Magalhaes
    and "Death is an Outrage" by Robert Freitas, excellent
    essays that tackle some of the core issues in healthy life
    extension. If you like what we have to say, by all means
    read more.

    Stem Cell Based Cancer Cure In The Works (March 29 2004) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-03/uotm-
    psc032604.php EurekAlert reports on a novel way of combining
    gene therapy with stem cells to cure cancer. Tissue repair
    stem cells (mesenchymal progenitor cells or MSC) migrate to
    tumors in the body in order to build tissue, but researchers
    altered them to attack cancerous cells instead. In effect,
    stem cells become the delivery mechanism for the gene
    therapy. From the article: "Andreeff will present animal
    data suggesting that gene modified MSC can inhibit the
    growth of leukemias, lung metastases of melanomas and breast
    cancer, ovarian and brain tumors. For example, MSC gene
    therapy cured 70 percent of mice implanted with one kind of
    human ovarian cancer."

    Bioinformatics Will Help Us Live Longer (March 28 2004)
    http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/002018.html Randall
    Parker at FuturePundit offers a good example of the way in
    which progress in bioinformatics is making medical science
    faster and better. If computer simulations allow us to
    understand proteins a thousand times faster, then progress
    towards real anti-aging therapies (and cures for many
    currently incurable conditions) based on this knowledge will
    be correspondingly faster. We will see new and exciting
    medicine technology in a decade rather than never. I have
    opined at Fight Aging! on the relationship between speed of
    research and the time it takes to make new medicine
    available - you should take a look.

    How Much Money To Save? (March 28 2004) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-03/esr-
    sno032204.php A EurekAlert article on saving for retirement
    - and the economic pressures on retirement and social
    security system in most countries - reminds me that we have
    to plan for a future in which real anti-aging medicine
    exists. I examined how much money we should look at saving
    in a post at the Fight Aging! blog, and conclude that your
    plans should be very different from those of your parents.
    The difference between a good plan and a bad plan is an
    early death, because you can't afford to pay for healthy
    life extension medicine and government programs have broken
    down. Have you thought about the future of your health and
    life span today?

    OSHU To Open Stem Cell Research Center (March 27 2004)
    http://www.tdn.com/articles/2004/03/27/oregon/news01.txt The
    Daily News reports that the Oregon Health and Science
    University will be opening a stem cell research center with
    a mix of state and private funding from The Oregon
    Opportunity. The director of the new center notes that "one
    of the things we have to be aware of in the stem cell field
    is to avoid promising too much. My prediction is it will be,
    not five, but 10 years before this is going to pay off." For
    my part, I think five years is long enough for us to see the
    first widespread application of comparatively simple
    treatments for heart disease - assuming that US politicians
    stop trying to halt this research.

    It's Not Rocket Science (March 27 2004)
    http://www.dailymail.com/news/News/2004032340/ Making the
    best of your natural longevity isn't rocket science, despite
    the many people who are happy to take your money to tell you
    otherwise. As this Charleston Daily Mail article points out,
    the benefits of exercise, supplementation and a good
    relationship with your physician are well known and well
    documented. The detrimental effects of smoking and being
    overweight are similarly well known. You can't yet do
    anything about the effect your genes have on your longevity,
    but you certainly can work on the rest of it! Stay healthy
    and you'll live longer. Live longer, and you'll be around to
    benefit from the real anti-aging medicine of the future.

    Put Your Name To "Facing Cryonics" (March 26 2004) http://w-
    ww.imminst.org/forum/index.php?act=ST&f=61&t=3311&hl=&s= In
    response to recent legislative attacks on cryonics, the
    Immortality Institute is managing an initiative called
    "Facing Cryonics." By associating individual names, faces
    and messages with the cryonics industry, we are better able
    to communicate with legislators. It is far easier for
    politicians to pass bad laws when they are not being engaged
    on a person-to-person basis. The Facing Cryonics initiative
    is a great way for you to show solidarity with cryonics
    supporters and advocates in the healthy life extension
    community. This sort of program will also serve well for
    other causes as it is expanded, such as the political battle
    over regenerative medicine and vital stem cell research.

    Biotech Will Bring Great Benefits (March 26 2004)
    http://www.techcentralstation.com/032604B.html Michael
    Fumento examines the promise of biotech - including cures
    for the incurable and greatly extended healthy life spans -
    at Tech Central Station. Relieving suffering, saving lives
    and fixing flaws in the human condition are just a fraction
    of what could be achieved in the near future with the right
    level of funding and public support. The naysayers and the
    anti-biotech crowd (like Leon Kass, for example) ignore
    these benefits in their attempts to block change and
    progress. To my mind, it is deeply immoral to hold back the
    development of new cures and better medicine. To do so costs
    lives and creates suffering.

    Elsewhere In South America... (March 25 2004)
    http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2004/3/emw112934.htm This
    press release notes success in a human trial of a heart
    therapy that "involves taking the patient's own bone marrow
    and purifying it to obtain the type of stem cells which will
    hopefully give rise to new blood vessels and muscle so the
    heart can get more oxygen and function better." The trial
    took place in Uruguay and was administered by a team of
    Argentinian researchers. Meanwhile, the FDA has been
    preventing US researchers from performing this sort of trial
    until very recently. Approximately 50,000 people worldwide
    die every day due to some form of heart disease. Political
    delays in research have horrific human consequences.

    Brazilian Government To Ban Therapeutic Cloning (March 25
    2004) http://www.scidev.net/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=readn-
    ews&itemid=1289&language=1 SciDev.net reports that the
    Brazilian government is poised to pass a broad biotechnology
    bill that will prohibit therapeutic cloning, and thus also
    ban most promising stem cell research. There seems to be
    some hope that pro-research groups will have that part of
    the bill removed, but religious lobbying organizations are
    fighting hard to keep it in. A good quote: "The total
    prohibition [of research on human embryos] is reminiscent of
    the age of Gailileo, and could delay research that may lead
    to an improvement in the quality of human life." This is
    almost certainly understated.

    Thou Shalt Not Make Scientific Progress (March 25 2004) htt-
    html Salon.com is running a good article that examines US
    administration policy on stem cell research. The author
    covers a fair amount of ground, including the recent
    Bioethics Council controversy, but doesn't make the real
    human costs of these policies clear. Delays in regenerative
    medicine and stem cell research will produce a future that
    includes tens or hundreds of millions of deaths that could
    have been prevented. Years of delay have already happened.
    We all need to speak out and make our voices heard in order
    to bring about a better future for health, advanced medicine
    and longevity.

    FDA Relents, Allows Heart Stem Cell Trials (March 24 2004)
    69 We have been castigating the FDA for blocking an
    effective stem cell therapy for heart disease. As reported
    in the Houston Chronicle, the FDA has relented. Recent
    studies have raised questions about this type of therapy,
    but it seems that there are several similar types of therapy
    under discussion. From the article: "All of the 14 Brazilian
    patients showed some sign of improvement in their heart
    function after receiving stem cell injections, researchers
    said, including the ability of the heart muscle to pump
    blood. Several have even begun jogging. Although it is a
    very small sample of patients, just two have died in the
    nearly two years of monitoring, when, without treatment,
    half or more might have died."

    US Government Blocking Stem Cell Research (March 24 2004)
    3146.htm Articles examining the detrimental effects of US
    government policy - legislation both enacted and threatened
    - on stem cell research have been cropping up more often of
    late, and a good thing too. When considering the cost in
    death and suffering, medical reseach policy is clearly far
    more important than most issues reporters and politicians
    spend time on. Bad legislation has a way of hanging around
    for decades, and decades of delay in developing regenerative
    medicine will impose great suffering and death on hundreds
    of millions worldwide. This article from the Mercury News
    also mentions the ongoing California Stem Cell Research and
    Cures initiative, which aims to put $3 billion dollars in
    state funding towards stem cell research.

    Science is Hard and Fraught With Setbacks (March 23 2004)
    OENH1.DTL&type=science Biomedical research isn't easy,
    even though the current rate of progress often makes it
    seem so. This article from SFGate reminds us that for
    every success we read about, there are a dozen failures
    lurking in the wings. I don't think that the author's
    conclusions are necessarily valid - stem cells are
    notoriously hard to work with at this point in time.
    Reports earlier in the month indicated other side effects
    and difficulties in trials using stem cells to repair
    heart disease. This is all part of the learning process.
    You don't abandon scientific research because you aren't
    getting perfect results right now.

    Start Calorie Restriction At Any Age (March 23 2004) http:/-
    322elin013.html Reuters reports on a study confirming that
    calorie restriction can extend healthy life span in mice
    even if started in old age. Most scientists expect calorie
    restriction results in animals to translate well to humans,
    based on work done to date. This study was funded by
    BioMarker Pharmaceuticals, a company working on medicine to
    reproduce that beneficial effects of calorie restriction
    without the dieting. Scientists understand far more about
    the way in which calorie restriction works these days, so we
    should start to see results in a few years. In particular,
    the work on changes in gene expression that occur with
    calorie restriction is interesting and promising.

    On Healthy Life Extension (March 22 2004) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-
    bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/03/22/BUG4E5OBTG1.DTL (From
    SFGate). David Ewing Duncan writes a good article on the
    state of healthy life extension, covering a fair slice of
    what's hot right now in related genetic and animal studies.
    Cynthia Kenyon gets good mention of course, as does Elixir
    Pharmaceuticals. Demonstrations of radical life extension in
    animals are very encouraging to the public and lead to
    greater support for research into human medicine, as
    realized by the folks running the Methuselah Mouse Prize.
    This said, it is important to note that humans are not like
    worms, and translating successes in mice into successes in
    humans is not always straightforward either.

    Potentially Limitless T Cells (March 22 2004) http://www.nature.com/nsu/040315/040315-
    16.html Nature tells us of yet another reason to be pushing
    ahead with stem cell research. Scientists have demonstrated
    that "potentially limitless" numbers of T cells, a vital
    part of the immune system, can be created in the laboratory
    using stem cells. A quote: "In theory, the lab-made immune
    cells could be used for any patient, because they lack
    surface molecules that trigger rejection." We can now add
    immune system deficiencies to the long list of medical
    conditions open to stem cell based therapies. How much
    longer can European and US governments continue to block and
    criminalize this vital research?


    If you have comments for us, please do send e-mail to
    [email protected]