Longevity Meme Newsletter, February 23 2004

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    LONGEVITY MEME NEWSLETTER February 23 2004

    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 http://www.longevitymeme.org/newsletter/.

    ______________________________

    CONTENTS

    - Alcor and the Fight Against Bad Legislation
    - Cryonics in a Nutshell
    - Read "Death Sucks" as a Longevity Meme Article
    - Highlights from Fight Aging!
    - Discussion
    - Latest Healthy Life Extension Headlines

    ALCOR AND THE FIGHT AGAINST BAD LEGISLATION

    The Alcor Life Extension Foundation is a cryonics provider and research institute, in operation
    since 1972, based in Arizona. They are currently on the receiving end of a particularly obnoxious
    set of "shut them down without looking like we're trying too hard to shut them down" state
    legislation. This has all happened without any input from Alcor or the community, and Alcor was not
    even informed of hearing dates - so this has become something of a last minute affair. You can get
    up to speed on events at the following web pages:

    http://www.longevitymeme.org/projects/assist_alcor_before_february_26th.cfm
    http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000025.php

    Alcor's new President, a man who has inherited a suddenly hot seat by the look of things, has put
    together an informative action list. He is asking for us to contact Arizona officials before this
    Thursday 26th of February and voice our support for legitimate cryonics research and service
    provision. Visit the page below to see how to spend a few minutes of your time to help out:

    http://www.alcor.org/legislativealert.html

    As many of you may recall, the whole state regulation and threat of shutdown fire drill was recently
    put on for the Cryonics Institute in Michigan. The situation there was quickly resolved to
    everyone's satisfaction - "benign regulation" as the Institute principles put it
    - which raises questions about the intent of regulators and funeral industry lobbyists in Arizona.
    For example, author Richard Sandomir quoted Arizona Funeral Board Director Rudy Thomas as saying,
    "These companies need to be regulated or deregulated out of business." As I have pointed out once
    or twice, Rand Simberg got it right in his comments made when this mess was just getting started:

    http://www.interglobal.org/weblog/archives/003115.html

    At the root of it all, we recognize that cryonics is legitimate science - and we should defend
    legitimate science from those who would try to ban everything unfamiliar and new.

    CRYONICS IN A NUTSHELL

    If you are new to the concept of cryonics and cryopreservation, you'll find a wealth of information
    at the following pages.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryonics http://www.cryonet.org/

    The long and the short of it is that a growing cryonics industry offers the only potential hope for
    people who are too old to benefit from near future advances in healthy life extension science. We
    need not, and should not, leave these people behind - especially since it wouldn't take many
    unanticipated difficulties and delays in aging research to make all of us reading this now fall into
    this category.

    READ "DEATH SUCKS" AS A LONGEVITY MEME ARTICLE

    Phil Bowermaster's entertaining, punchy piece on the human relationship with death - spruced up and
    rewritten - is now the latest Longevity Meme article.

    http://www.longevitymeme.org/articles/viewarticle.cfm?article_id=17&page=1

    What are the roots of the fight against aging and the quest to live longer, healthier lives? What
    motivates us all to do our part? Why do advocates and scientists stand up and work towards
    lengthening the healthy human life span? Read "Death Sucks" and you'll see one set of opinions on
    the matter.

    HIGHLIGHTS FROM FIGHT AGING!

    Have you been reading our new blog? You should be! Here are a few "Fight Aging!" highlights from the
    past two weeks:

    The True Cost of Delay http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000020.php With so many groups working
    towards preventing, delaying or vilifying advances in medical technology, perhaps it is time to be a
    great deal more clear with ourselves about the true costs of these delays. Before I start, let me
    say that you're going to see some large numbers.

    Lengthening Your Natural Healthy Life Span http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000017.php A lot of
    the discussion surrounding healthy life extension focuses, understandably, on advances in medical
    science and how to best encourage funding and public understanding. After all, without progress,
    there will be no meaningful healthy life extension medicine in the future. How about the here and
    now, though? What can you do now to help yourself live healthily and longer?

    We Would Be Here Already If Not For The Politicians http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000014.php
    Korean scientists have pulled off the impressive next advance in stem cell and therapeutic cloning
    research, something that the combined US and European research communities could have accomplished
    several years ago, if not for the anti-research policies on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The Fast And The Slow Of It http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000012.php To those of us
    observing the advance of medical science from the sidelines - via the press, the scientific
    journals, our connections, and vague memories of being part of the scientific process ourselves
    at some point in time - progress is simultaneously blisteringly fast and frustratingly slow. How
    can this be the case?

    So drop by, or add us to your RSS aggregator. I think you'll find it worthwhile.

    DISCUSSION

    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, or want to discuss the newsletter, please do visit
    one of the forums at http://www.longevitymeme.org/forum.cfm or 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

    ______________________________

    LATEST HEALTHY LIFE EXTENSION HEADLINES

    Calorie Restriction in Local News (February 21 2004)
    http://www.thesandiegochannel.com/health/2856643/detail.html Since a number of national US media
    groups ran stories on calorie restriction a few months ago, more local news outlets have been
    commenting on this proven life extending lifestyle. The featured article from the San Diego Channel
    is a good example of the type: an interview with a healthy, hearty CR practitioner coupled with some
    commentary on the science behind it all. Meanwhile, an item from News 8 Austin discusses the use of
    calorie restriction to resist neurodegenerative disorders. You can find out much more about calorie
    restriction and the community of practitioners by visiting the CR Society website.

    Help Alcor Fight Bad State Legislation (February 21 2004) http://www.alcor.org/legislativealert.html
    Alcor, the Arizona cryonics provider, has issued a legislative alert in reference to a proposed
    state regulatory bill. As they point out, this bill ("a solution without a problem") was crafted
    without their input in response to incorrect and hysterical press coverage in 2003 and 2004. The
    bill "mandates that Alcor be regulated by hostile parties with no understanding of what we do, and
    which does not respect the rights of Alcor members." The Cryonics Institute managed to engineer a
    benign regulatory relationship in their home state earlier this year, so let's see if we can help
    Alcor achieve an equally satisfactory result. Visit the alert page to see how you can spend a few
    minutes to help out.

    New Type of Stem Cell to Repair Brains? (February 20 2004) http://www.hhmi.org/news/sanai.html The
    Howard Hughes Medical Institute reports that researchers have identified a new type of stem cell in
    the brain that probably already functions to repair damage. This work opens the door to a new set of
    near future techniques to treat neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's - a
    topic high on the "must have" list for extending the healthy human life span through regenerative
    medicine. You can replace everything else with transplants or artificial organs if necessary, but
    you can't replace the brain: your original thinking equipment has to be repaired in situ. Some high
    quality commentary on this research can be found at FuturePundit and Brain Waves.

    More on Understanding Biochemical Mechanisms (February 20 2004) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-02/chb-
    bct021804.php Understanding the biochemical and genetic mechanisms underlying aging will be the
    quickest path to a therapy. EurekAlert reports that researchers have established the mechanism by
    which the Sir2 longevity gene (identified fairly recently itself) works in mammals. This uncovers
    another piece in what is clearly an interlocking puzzle: oxidative stress, DNA damage, genetic
    moderation, cancer, degenerative conditions and other parts of aging all play into one other through
    linking mechanisms. The money quote: "If you have molecules that come together to mediate resistance
    to environmental stresses that cause aging, one might be able to come up with drugs that would
    affect this interaction and slow the aging process."

    Death Still Sucks (February 20 2004)
    http://www.longevitymeme.org/articles/viewarticle.cfm?page=1&article_id=17 Phil Bowermaster's "Death
    Sucks" (from Fight Aging! and the Speculist) has been revised, tweaked and posted as a Longevity
    Meme article. I enjoy good inspirational pieces like this; from the heart and with meaning. What are
    the roots of the fight against aging and the quest to live longer, healthier lives? What motivates
    us all to do our part? Why do advocates and scientists stand up and work towards lengthening the
    healthy human life span? Read "Death Sucks" and you'll see one set of opinions on the matter.

    Watching Progress in Cancer Therapies (February 19 2004) http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/7989115.htm
    Progress in cancer therapies over the past few years has been very promising, although all of the
    newest technologies still have to run the twin gauntlets of commercialization and FDA approval. This
    article from the Star-Telegram illustrates progress towards curing lung cancer
    - one of the most deadly cancers - by causing the body to attack cancerous cells. These new types of
    cancer therapy depend on advancing knowledge of biochemical and cellular processes, greatly
    accelerated by bioinformatics. From one of the trial participants: "I would tell anyone who gets
    the same diagnosis to stretch as far as they can and go to any kind of experimental therapy. If I
    hadn't done that, I wouldn't be here now."

    The Cost of Delay (February 19 2004) http://www.fightaging.org/archives/000020.php What are the
    costs of anti-research policies pursued by Western governments over the past five years? What are
    the results of a five year delay in bringing the first (or the last) regenerative therapies for age-
    related conditions to market? Read my opinions on the subject at the Fight Aging! blog. The bottom
    line is, as always, that shaping the future is in our hands. Will medical research be funded,
    supported and widely understood? Will cures be developed for the degenerative conditions of aging?
    Will we live longer, healthier lives? We decide, through our actions, the answers to these
    questions.

    Understanding the Mechanics of Stem Cells (February 18 2004) http://www.betterhumans.com/News/news.aspx?articleID=2004-02-17-
    3 In just the last six months, scientists have made noticeable progress in understanding what makes
    stem cells tick. Biochemical mechanisms are uncovered, and in this article from Betterhumans, ways
    to efficiently control cell differentiation are explored. This particular advance is a clever and
    useful one. By introducing a mechanism to lengthen cell telomeres at the right time, researchers can
    create immortal progenitor cells that continually divide to create an endless supply of the desired
    cell type (spinal neurons in this case). There are uncertainties in the technique, especially
    relating to cancer in immortal cell populations, but this looks like it could be a powerful new
    addition to the early-stage regenerative medicine toolbox.

    Stem Cell Politics and Consequences (February 18 2004) http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20040213-121315-
    4659r This UPI article thoughtfully points out the probable consequences of bans and criminalization
    - or even continuing anti-research pressure of the sort put out by the US administration - on stem
    cell and therapeutic cloning technologies. Meanwhile, I am hopeful that we are seeing a shift in the
    dynamic of this political debate. It is all fairly obviously about abortion, no matter what the anti-
    research groups may actually claim. It is also clear that widespread support for the basic research
    leading to regenerative medicine is beginning to make inroads in the political landscape. Ordinary
    people like you and I can help this process by standing up and taking part. It doesn't take long to
    lend a hand to support medical research, and the end results will be well worth it!

    Inside the Cryonics Institute (February 17 2004) http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/michigan/index.ssf?/base/news-
    11/1076953743290000.xml Mlife.com is running a mostly positive piece on the Cryonics Institute
    (CI), in business since 1976. You can find out more about the cryonics industry and cryopreservation
    at CryoNet. Cryonics providers like CI and Alcor provide an important service to the healthy
    life extension community: the only positive technological response to the blunt recognition that
    not everyone will live long enough to benefit from near future advances in medicine. With a new
    focus on basic cryonics research from groups like Suspended Animation, the industry should be
    capable of growth and improvement in years to come.

    Printing New Tissue (February 17 2004) http://www.betterhumans.com/News/news.aspx?articleID=2004-02-16-
    3 As a followup to the last item on tissue engineering, Betterhumans reports on progress in using
    printing technologies to create structure in tissue. This appears to be mostly still flat printing
    with some tweaks, but three-dimensional printing machines (fabricators) are becoming more common.
    They are used to produce models in a number of industries, and I imagine they could also be adapted
    for bioengineering. From the article: "A large part of the body is made of tubes. We can now make 3D
    hollow biological tubes and organ modules, which potentially could be used as grafts."

    >From Research To Therapies Takes Time (February 16 2004)
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/15/science/15CLON.html
    >From the New York Times, an article to remind us that, despite the
    blistering speed of modern medical research, getting from science in the laboratory to therapies
    in the clinic takes time. I recently commented on this very topic at Fight Aging: "the fast and
    the slow of
    it." New research breakthroughs are encouraging, but we have to remember that - even discounting
    delays due to regulation and anti-research legislation - it takes years to fund and build the
    industry required to bring most new therapies to market. While you see the science in the news,
    you hear far less about the hard work and economic necessities needed to follow up on scientific
    breakthroughs.

    Protandim, Ceremedix, Lifeline (February 16 2004) http://www.9news.com/storyfull.aspx?storyid=24198
    We've mentioned Lifeline Nutraceuticals and Ceremedix before in the context of their work to put out
    a new super-antioxidant supplement (now called protandim). I advocate waiting for independent
    studies before rushing out to buy it based on the marketing hype - there just hasn't been enough
    science done on this product to pass my comfort level. As Dave Gobel of the Methuselah Foundation
    notes: if protandim works, Ceremedix should enter some of their lab mice into the Methuselah Mouse
    prize and prove it. That goes for the rest of the "anti-aging" marketplace too - if you can't
    demonstrate an extension of healthy life span in mice, pack up your wares and go home!

    If National Pride Is What It Takes... (February 15 2004) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor-
    y&cid=1894&ncid=1894&e=16&u=/ap/20040213/ap_on_hi_te/cloning_lag This Yahoo! News article ties
    together a number of threads from the therapeutic cloning debate last week: the US research
    establishment has been held back by bad legislation (and the threat of more where that came from),
    US scientists are now far behind Asia and Europe in vital medical research, and pro-research states
    are facing off against the anti-research Federal government. I'm no fan of knee-jerk national and
    state pride, but if that's what it takes to get bad legislation pushed aside and the five-year
    research setback ended, then that's what it takes. It's great pity, and a comment on the worse
    aspects of human nature, that the thousands of lives lost each and every day to conditions that
    might already be treatable were not enough to make this happen.

    Pioneers of Tissue Engineering (February 15 2004) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-02/uoca-
    uoc021104.php EurekAlert reports on the state of tissue engineering, from knees to hearts and even
    brains. Tissue engineering is a branch of regenerative medicine in which scientists are attempting
    to build structures from scaffolds and tissue to replace damaged portions of the body. Researchers
    are now regularly growing undifferentiated tissue like skin and cartilage; the trick is to create
    structure, as in heart valves, bone, joints and other organs. Eventually, tissue engineers hope to
    produce entire organs for transplant, grown from a patient's own cells. All in all, this is the
    infancy of a very challenging field, but the rewards will be enormous. Tens of thousands of lives
    could be saved each and every day if new organs could be grown on demand.

    Japan Allows Embryonic Stem Cell Work (February 14 2004) http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-
    bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20040214b1.htm A short piece from the Japan Times notes that the first stem
    cell research using locally produced embryos has been allowed to proceed. This will allow
    intellectual property rights to be assigned, which is very important for later funding and
    commercial development. Meanwhile, the latest advances seem to be stirring up attempts to ban all
    embryonic stem cell work in the US again. Given that a single vote in the Senate is all it would
    take, now would be a good time to contact your representatives and demand that they support this
    vital medical research.

    Search for Aging Genes Narrowed (February 14 2004) http://www.betterhumans.com/News/news.aspx?articleID=2004-02-13-
    4 More reinforcement for telomere theories of aging is reported by Betterhumans: scientists are
    closing in on the inheritance mechanism for telomere length. (Telomeres, as you may recall, are the
    "caps" that protect your DNA from damage during replication). This, coupled with other studies,
    would seem to confirm that shorter telomeres lead to greater genetic damage with advancing age - and
    therefore greater incidence of age-related disease. Like other theories of aging, however, this
    doesn't seem to be the whole story. Other mechanisms are at work to produce the familiar
    degenerative effects of aging.

    Vital Progress Summit Gearing Up For The 15th (February 13 2004) http://www.extropy.org/summit.htm
    The Extropy Institute's Vital Progress Summit will commence on the 15th of this month, but the
    online areas are already open for visiting registrants and "catalyst" invitees. The aim of the
    summit is to provide a loud, clear rebuttle to the anti-research, anti-progress forces epitomized by
    the President's Council on Bioethics and the current US administration, groups whose members oppose
    healthy life extension, stem cell research and the search for better medicine. Everyone who has an
    interest in living longer, healthier lives should sign up and participate.

    Nanomedicine When? (February 13 2004) http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndm-
    ViewId=news_view&newsId=20040211005491&newsLang=en A press release found via KurzweilAI briefly
    discusses the timetable for nanotechnology to begin making its mark on medicine and longer,
    healthier lives. Robert Feitas - who has an article here at the Longevity Meme - weighs in with his
    opinions, amongst others. It appears that diagnostics will be the first branch of medicine to
    benefit enormously from nanotechnology. The really interesting stuff described by Robert Freitas is
    probably still 20 years away. Researchers are currently working on the tools to make the tools, as
    it were, before being able to dive into building medical nanomachines.

    Brian Alexander on Korean Therapeutic Cloning Advance (February 12 2004)
    http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,62258,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2 Wired follows up on the
    recent advance in therapeutic cloning technology with an interview with Brian Alexander, author of
    Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion. As always, Brian Alexander provides a sane, balanced
    look at both the science and the (sadly intrusive) politics. The digest version of the article would
    be that yes, this is a big step forward in the reliability and capability of therapeutic cloning
    technology, but no, he doesn't think that it will result in any more of a political tempest than we
    are already experiencing. More commentary can be found at Fight Aging! and the Speculist.

    The Next Step in Therapeutic Cloning (February 12 2004)
    http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,62254,00.html As reported by Wired (and in numerous other
    places), Korean researchers have accomplished the next successful step in therapeutic cloning and
    stem cell medicine: reliably extracting stem cells from cloned human embryos. As the Wired article
    says, "a Korean woman now has a set of cells that could one day replace any damaged or diseased cell
    in her body with little worry of rejection, if researchers can get stem cells to work
    therapeutically." The scientists have even managed to create a new stem cell line from this work,
    which is very good news, given the limited number of lines currently available. A New York Times
    article provides a good introduction to the medical significance of this advance.

    Cloned Stem Cells Repair Heart Damage (February 11 2004)
    http://www.infoaging.org/news_article.html?SMContentIndex=1&SMContentSet=0 (From InfoAging).
    Advanced Cell Technology has demonstrated that cloned stem cells can be used to repair heart damage
    more effectively than adult stem cells. You may recall that human trials using adult stem cell
    infusions have already taken place, but further trials have been blocked by the FDA. While this work
    by ACT is just the first in what will no doubt be a number of demonstrations using mice, it already
    shows great promise for future development of the technology. ACT and other research groups are
    doing an impressive job in overcoming technical hurdles on the way to full blown regenerative
    therapies based on stem cells and therapeutic cloning.

    The Age of Anti-Science (February 11 2004) http://news.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=160812004 An
    article from the Scotsman zeros in on aspects of modern society that bother us greatly: why, when
    science can do so much for health and longevity, are so many groups fighting so hard to prevent
    advanced medical research. The subject of the article is legislation on tissue use in the UK, but it
    applies equally to anti-research legislation targeting stem cell work in the US. As the article
    notes, we live in a time when "the fate of tissue samples and diseased organs has become more
    important than the welfare of the living." This attitude is one that must be fought, tooth and nail,
    if we are to maintain the march of medical progress towards longer, healthier human life spans.

    Of Mice and Mitochondrial Medicine (February 10 2004) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-02/uorm-
    mom020904.php Proving that all journalists like alliteration, a EurekAlert piece looks at recent
    steps towards better understanding the role played by cellular mitochondria - the powerhouse of the
    cell - in aging and age-related disease. While scientists know that failing mitochondria play a role
    in many diseases, they are only now able to reliably manipulate this part of the cell. Working with
    mitochondria in mice is the first step towards obtaining more information and greater understanding;
    then come interventions, trials and therapies.

    A Pessimistic View of Public Interest in Science (February 10 2004)
    http://www.sagecrossroads.com/public/news/stories/index.cfm?story=048 An article at SAGE Crossroads
    examines the relationships between public interest in science and how science is practiced, arriving
    at some strange conclusions. It seems fashionable in some circles to argue that competition and
    encouragement in science are bad things; I get the impression this author would like to see
    scientists locked in a box of moral purity and isolation, there to slowly work without profit or
    acknowledgement. This is nonsense of course - science is at its best when competing teams race for
    discoveries and capitalization. Just look at the human genome project: we'd still be waiting on that
    if government scientists had been left, unchallenged, to their own schedule.

    To Save the Lives of Millions (February 09 2004) http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?-
    nodeId=66056&command=displayContent&sourceNode=65583&contentPK=8751990 Growing replacement organs
    via regenerative medicine and tissue engineering isn't easy, no matter how fast science seems to be
    advancing towards this goal. It will happen, but not by magic, and certainly not without a great
    deal of funding and hard work. This article from This Is Nottingham describes parts of the path from
    culturing cells to being able to grow an entire liver for transplant. Scientists are currently
    working on an intermediary steps, including a tissue matrix for liver cells, and more advanced
    options for artificial livers.

    A Look at "Breaking the Aging Code" (February 09 2004) http://newsite.lef.org/news/aging/2004/02/09/eng-healthnewsdigest/eng-
    healthnewsdigest_083315_2722933232783122805.html The LEF News is carrying an overview of Breaking
    the Aging Code, a book probably best described as an attempt at a care and maintenance guide for the
    human body. Lifestyle and dietary choices do make an enormous difference to healthy life span, but
    only calorie restriction has been proven to extend it. These other maintenance tricks of the trade,
    while useful and good for your health, are preventing damage that would otherwise cut into your
    natural healthy life span. As for cars, good maintenance only gets you so far - more and better
    medical technologies are needed for true healthy life extension.

    ______________________________

    Do you have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter? Visit one of the forums listed at
    http://www.longevitymeme.org/forums.cfm, or send e-mail to [email protected]
     
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