Longevity Meme Newsletter, January 26 2004

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    LONGEVITY MEME NEWSLETTER January 26 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

    - Healthy Life Extension Books You Should Read
    - Discussion
    - Latest Healthy Life Extension News Headlines

    HEALTHY LIFE EXTENSION BOOKS YOU SHOULD READ

    The past few years have seen a number of good books in print on the subject of human life extension
    and related issues. Health, practical matters, science, philosophy, future society and the
    marketplace have all been examined. Since I have yet to make any book recommendations in this
    newsletter, I thought it would be a good idea to put forward a short - and by no means inclusive -
    reading list or those who are interested in learning more about healthy life extension: the
    science, the community, its history and the future. So without more ado, and in no particular
    order, on with the list!

    Beyond the 120 Year Diet (Dr. Roy L. Walford) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1568581572/qid%3D1059379342/sr%3D2-1/ref%3Dsr%5F2%5F1/102-
    7217333-1080930 Calorie restriction (CR) is the scientific gold standard for healthy life extension;
    an overwhelming weight of scientific evidence shows a CR diet to be the best currently available
    tool to extend healthy lifespan and resist the degenerative diseases of aging. Starting CR can be
    intimidating, but Dr. Walford's series of books help to make the process comparatively painless.
    "Beyond the 120 Year Diet" is a good, easy introduction to the principles and science behind calorie
    restriction. Beyond that, it is a practical guide that will help you over a lot of the early
    pitfalls, handily answering the "what exactly is it I eat?" question and offering some great cooking
    tips. You can find a wealth of CR information and support at the following locations:

    http://www.longevitymeme.org/topics/calorie_restriction.cfm http://www.calorierestriction.org
    http://www.walford.com

    Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion (Brian Alexander) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0738207616/qid=1075104390/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-
    7217333-1080930?v=glance&s=books I will admit to being a sucker for books that uncover the human
    stories behind important advances in science. If you are like me in this regard, then you will
    certainly enjoy "Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion." It is very encouraging to see just
    how many researchers, behind the conservative cover one must maintain for scientific respectability
    in this modern age, are reaching for a cure for aging. The fight against aging is almost beginning
    in earnest in 2004; we are at a societal tipping point similar to the one that occurred for cancer
    research in the late 1960s and early 1970s. More than anything else, this book reinforces my belief
    that present day activism for healthy life extension will lead to real scientific results in the
    near future. Through education and awareness we can bring about widespread support for real anti-
    aging research, and the funding to make it happen. The last generation did it for cancer research,
    and we can do it for aging research.

    You may recall that we pointed out an interview with Brian Alexander last week. It's worth reading
    if you didn't catch it the first time around:

    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/tech/nextnews/archive/next040121.htm?track=rss

    The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead (Frank J. Tipler)
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385467990/qid=1075104985/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/102-
    7217333-1080930?v=glance&s=books I am probably going to get some interesting mail for recommending
    this book, but it was very influential on my reading choices for a while. In my mind, healthy life
    extension must include working together to create a long, long future worth looking forward to.
    Tipler's book was one of the first serious works I read that brought together a number of disparate
    scientific threads - from modern cosmology to medicine, and from neuroscience to computation physics
    - to show that yes, there most certainly could be such a future. The sections on religion, science
    and the human quest for immortality are also very interesting. It's now fashionable in some circles
    to attack "The Physics of Immortality," and while such attacks are certainly justified on some
    counts, I feel it is nonetheless an important landmark. No-one is going to agree with every idea
    that Tipler put forward, and the cosmological arguments are now sadly out of date, but if "A Brief
    History of Time" is somewhere in your collection, then this book should be too.

    The Immortal Cell: One Scientist's Quest to Solve the Mystery of Human Aging (Michael West) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385509286/ref=pd_sim_books_1/102-7217333-
    1080930?v=glance&s=books Hunting down a copy of this book is a must for anyone interested in the
    comparatively young fields of regenerative medicine, stem cell research and therapeutic cloning. As
    regular readers of this newsletter are no doubt already aware, regenerative medicine will most
    likely lead to the first wave of therapies that will greatly extend the healthy human lifespan. Even
    if we can't prevent aging, the ability to grow healthy tissue and new organs to order will enable
    doctors to cure previously incurable diseases and repair most or all of the damage caused by the
    aging process. (If, that is, the anti-research politicians stop trying to ban the necessary research
    - a real and constant threat these days). This is amazing science, with some real characters behind
    it. You can find a starting point for learning more about the science and politics of regenerative
    medicine at the Longevity Meme:

    http://www.longevitymeme.org/topics/stem_cells_and_regenerative_medicine.cfm

    Merchants of Immortality: Chasing the Dream of Human Life Extension (Stephen S. Hall) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0618095241/ref=pd_sim_books_1/102-7217333-
    1080930?v=glance&s=books "Merchants of Immortality" covers some of the same ground as "The Immortal
    Cell," ranging a little more widely in topic and choice of interviewees. The book succeeds in
    bringing home the sheer waste of opportunity brought about by US and European government policies
    towards stem cell research and therapeutic cloning. Millions of lives could be saved every year if
    scientists had not been held back and research left unsupported, restricted or banned. As a society,
    we are on the verge of curing some of the worst diseases of aging, conditions that have plagued
    mankind for thousands of years, yet politicians insist on attempting to ban this progress! If
    "Merchants of Immortality" and "The Immortal Cell" don't make you want to take up a placard and
    demand that scientific research is allowed to proceed unmolested, then nothing will.

    As always, you can find the latest on anti-research legislation and how to speak up in opposition at
    the Longevity Meme:

    http://www.longevitymeme.org/projects/

    The future of health and longevity is in our hands. It is our voices that ultimately determine which
    therapies are researched, which cures are developed; if we don't use our voices, then the future
    will be shorter and less healthy for each and every one of us.

    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

    Working to Heal Nerve Damage (January 25 2004)
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040123001131.htm (From ScienceDaily). Scientists are
    making progress in the basics of nerve regeneration, even as other areas of regenerative medicine
    are racing ahead. With a technique similar to the artificial scaffolds used to grow bone,
    researchers have successfully regrown nerve cells. A quote: "We have shown that our scaffold
    selectively and rapidly directs cell differentiation, driving neural progenitor cells to become
    neurons." This lays the practical foundation for therapies that will repair a range of nerve damage,
    such as spinal injuries and paralysis.

    Leaving the Blinders On In Germany (January 24 2004) http://www.faz.com/IN/INtemplates/eFAZ/docmain.asp?rub=%7BB1311FCC-FBFB-11D2-B228-
    00105A9CAF88%7D&doc=%7B049ADE27-5720-4332-80DD-0054ED8C417B%7D A pointed editorial from F.A.Z.
    denouces German government policy with respect to all the most promising modern medical research.
    Next to France, Germany enforces some of the strictest anti-research legislation and greatest
    government control: very little healthy life extension research is permitted in Germany, and
    frustration is clearly evident. We are on the verge of curing some of the worst diseases of
    aging, conditions that have plagued mankind for thousands of years, yet politicians insist on
    attempting to ban this progress! We must stand up in support of medical research if we wish to
    see near term benefits.

    Defeating Cancer By 2015 (January 24 2004) http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20040121/5855212s.htm
    We've mentioned the declared goal of the National Cancer Institute before: to defeat cancer by 2015,
    eliminating all suffering and death caused by this condition. This article from USAToday emphasises
    that this is, above all, a realistic goal. Three decades of well funded research, education and
    widespread activism have brought us to this point. The fight against cancer is a success story in
    its closing stages: the fight against aging could be next if we look, learn and act. Following the
    example set by cancer research activists, we can encourage funding and recognition for healthy life
    extension research.

    The Cryonics Timeship (January 23 2004) http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1129295,00.html
    The Guardian reports on the Timeship, a cryonics project that has been brewing for some time. In
    recent years, the founders of the Life Extension Foundation have been devoting more of their
    resources to improving, expanding and extending the cryonics industry - understandable, given their
    age and the rate of scientific progress in the fight against aging. It is a tragedy that many of the
    founders of the healthy life extension movement will not live long enough to fully benefit from the
    first wave of regenerative medicine. Cryonics should be an important medical industry; only
    investment, research and better business can make it so.

    An Interview With Brian Alexander (January 23 2004)
    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/tech/nextnews/archive/next040121.htm?track=rss USNews is carrying an
    interview with Brian Alexander, author of Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion, focusing on
    the science of healthy life extension. There are a lot of ideas and a healthy amount of name
    dropping in there; the author has some interesting things to say about the backdrop to the current
    revolution in medicine. A quote: "Life extension already exists. Scientists have made lab animals
    live far longer than their natural life span, up to six times longer. Translating that to people
    will take a long time, but it will eventually be done."

    Some Adult Stem Cell Grants Coming Through (January 22 2004)
    http://www.alligator.org/edit/news/issues/stories/040122grant.html Despite the legislation
    restricting stem cell research in the US (and a potential ban on a necessary technology for that
    research), the NIH is making some grants for adult stem cell work. This article at the Alligator
    notes a $1.3 million grant to go towards research into regenerative tools to repair brain injuries
    and diseases. The brain is the most important part of the body from a long term healthy life
    extension point of view - it's the one organ we can't transplant or replace. More sophisticated
    strategies for repairing and preventing degenerative conditions of the brain will be vital.

    People Who Want To Block Healthy Life Extension (January 22 2004)
    http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=17638 (From AlterNet). Anti-progress groups have
    campaigned against healthy life extension in recent years: all the broken arguments against
    technology can be used against better medicine too. Halting research because the wealthy get the
    first benefits is foolish. Rich people always have early access: the high prices they pay go towards
    making medicine better, safer and cheaper. Should we have banned cancer therapies or heart surgery
    because they were initially expensive? More pertinently, what sort of person advocates massive
    ongoing suffering and death as preferable to temporary unfairness?

    Damaging "Anti-Aging" Marketing at Work (January 21 2004)
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3407781.stm "Anti-aging" marketing has caused a great deal of
    damage to funding of legitimate scientific research in the fight against aging. This "anti-aging"
    beer story has been doing the rounds for a week or so, and can be held up as a good example of the
    type. By getting the amount of press it has, it trivializes the work of legitimate scientists who
    investigate, treat or work towards a cure for aging and its associated degenerative conditions. The
    voice of real anti-aging and healthy life extension science has long been drowned out by a billion
    dollar industry based on potions, fraud and adventurous marketing. If even just a fraction of that
    money went into real research, just imagine where we would be now.

    Christopher Reeve in the News (January 21 2004) http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/newsfd/auto/-
    feed/news/2004/01/21/1074664309.26609.5395.2462.html;COXnetJSessionID=AOo8vW11ELX1Yl08VdczGZbszC2ja-
    O1FPce7JGSpKV29NaB4eBq4!831215335?urac=n&urvf=10747025241890.6074203694022199 Christopher Reeve's
    advocacy for stem cell research and regenerative medicine has been in the news a fair amount of
    late. He is one of the most outspoken advocates for freedom of research for a number of years, and
    is very critical of anti-research legislation in the US and elsewhere. In this article from the Palm
    Beach Daily News, Reeve discusses near term breakthroughs, research in Israel and a wide range of
    other topics. Christopher Reeve is doing amazing work in support of medical research that will lead
    to longer, healthier lives, and we should be lining up to thank him.

    Progress on Alzheimer's (January 20 2004)
    http://www.infoaging.org/news_article.html?SMContentIndex=0&SMContentSet=0 InfoAging (an excellent
    general resource for information on aging and aging research, by the way) is reporting on progress
    in fighting Alzheimer's. The immense amount of research funding is starting to pay off: scientists
    have prevented memory and learning loss in the mouse version of the disease. In addition, other
    interesting results on the possible root causes of Alzheimer's are noted at the site. It's worth
    remembering that Alzheimer's symptoms were once considered a part of aging; not a disease and not
    curable. That should make you pause for thought whenever you hear people claiming that all the
    currently unspecified degenerative effects of aging are not worth research time and money.

    Pessimists Debate Aging Science (January 20 2004)
    http://www.sagecrossroads.com/public/news/stories/index.cfm?story=045 Harry Moody and Arthur Caplan
    will debate whether aging should be viewed as a disease at SAGE Crossroads, an issue crucial to
    large scale funding and research strategies. I am sympathetic to the theory of aging as undiagnosed
    disease - most degenerative conditions were once seen as "a part of normal aging," after all. Moody
    and Caplan occupy very conservative positions in biogerontology; neither believes that near term
    healthy life extension is possible, so they do not advocate research funding for the fight against
    aging. This is a part of the self-defeating cycle described by Aubrey de Grey.

    India Making Progress in Stem Cell Research (January 19 2004) http://www.newkerala.com/news-
    daily/news/features.php?action=fullnews&showcomments=1&id=5051 The Indian research establishment is
    moving wholeheartedly ahead into stem cell-based regenerative medicine. This report covers an
    institute working on regenerative therapies to treat corneal blindness through regrowth of damaged
    tissue. Elsewhere, another article notes the start of a government-funded research effort targetting
    stem cell therapies in neurobiology and cardiac medicine. Meanwhile, US stem cell research
    - despite demonstrated cures working in the laboratory - is stunted and blocked by existing and
    threatened anti-research legislation.

    RSS Feed Upgraded (January 19 2004) http://www.longevitymeme.org/syndication.cfm The Longevity Meme
    news feed has been given a long-overdue upgrade to RSS 2.0, and the other feeds will following
    shortly. If the update causes problems for anyone, please do let us know and we'll make the old feed
    format available as well. If you're already reading the Longevity Meme via RSS, why not consider
    adding one of our other feeds as well? Our newsletter, articles and Take Action! content are also
    syndicated via RSS. Keep up to date and on the ball!

    Florida Research Ban Hampers Progress (January 18 2004)
    http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/stories/2004/01/12/story6.html The Jacksonville
    Business Journal examines the effects of the Florida therapeutic cloning and stem cell research ban.
    As expected, this has resulted in less research in the state. It discourages biotech companies from
    doing business in the Florida. An interesting quote from a more optimistic scientist: "I think once
    you can show you can cure grandpa's Alzheimer's, these issues will be resolved." Researchers have
    already shown that stem cell medicine can cure grandpa's heart disease, not to mention the array of
    conditions cured in the laboratory, but we don't seem to any closer to lifting these research bans.

    Christopher Reeve on Stem Cell Research (January 18 2004) http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-preeve18jan18,0,6553931.story?coll=sfla-news-
    palm This Sun-Sentinel article opens with a powerful quote from stem cell research advocate
    Christopher Reeve: "When politics and religion try to dictate to science, sick and dying people
    lose." Stem cell and therapeutic cloning researchers have demonstrated cures in the laboratory or
    early trials for heart disease, Parkinson's, nerve damage, cancer, and many other conditions. Yet
    these amazing advances are still under attack and the subject of anti-research legislation in the US
    and elsewhere. If we want to live longer, healthier lives through advanced medicine, then - like
    Christopher Reeve - we must step forward and say so.

    Palm Beach Post on Calorie Restriction (January 17 2004) http://www.palmbeachpost.com/accent/conten-
    t/auto/epaper/editions/saturday/accent_0480a33bc0c8109f10c1.html The Palm Beach Post is running a
    long piece on calorie restriction
    (CR) that covers ground missed by recent articles in the mainstream press. Many journalists seem to
    focus on the difficulty of extreme CR, while ignoring the vast number of people who easily and
    safely practice mild or moderate CR. The weight and diversity of scientific evidence supporting
    CR as a way to improve health and lengthen healthy lifespan is overwhelming. If you are not
    practicing at least mild CR, then you should read the article and look into giving CR a try.

    "Death Sucks" (January 17 2004) http://www.speculist.com/archives/000587.html The Speculist declares
    that "death sucks," and offers some background and justification for that statement. More seriously,
    he also examines why fear of death is a vital part of human existence and a spur for human progress.
    Supporting medical research to lengthen our healthy lifespans - to eventually defeat aging and death
    - is the culmination of a long process of scientific advancement that began in the stone age. We can
    overcome these limits, just as we have overcome many other limits in the past, and we can continue
    to use science to make our lives longer, healthier and better.

    New Republic on "Beyond Therapy" (January 16 2004)
    http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040126&s=easterbrook012604 While we are on the subject of the
    President's Council on Bioethics, here is a long review and commentary on "Beyond Therapy:
    Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness" from the New Republic. The tone is carefully neutral on
    technology and better medicine (and of course in favor of government regulation), but it does make
    the underlying Council agendas clear. The Council members are pro-death, anti-research and in favor
    of using legislation to block access to and development of therapies that will extend the healthy
    human lifespan. This, sadly, is a reflection of the position of the current US administration.

    Bioethics Council Issues Stem Cell Report (January 16 2004)
    http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20040116/03/ (From BioMed Central). The strongly anti-research
    President's Council on Bioethics has issued its first report on stem cell research. As you probably
    know by now, most council members are affiliated with religious policy organisations and opposed to
    many fields of medical research. The chair, Leon Kass, has repeatedly declared himself opposed to
    allowing any form of healthy life extension medicine to be developed or practiced. There are no
    policy recommendations in the document, but there don't have to be - existing and threatened
    legislation is squashing stem cell research in the US already.

    Protecting the Brain From Aging (January 15 2004) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-01/ama-
    nav010804.php EurekAlert discusses progress towards protecting the human brain from the degenerative
    effects of aging: the more we know, the more we can do to prevent conditions like Alzheimer's. It's
    worth recalling that even "normal aging" as discussed in the article is likely to be a collection of
    as yet unclassified diseases and conditions. After all, the horrific effects of Alzheimer's were
    regarded as a part of "normal aging" once upon a time. The effects of aging can be understood,
    fought and beaten, but only if we support and encourage the advance of medical science.

    Boca Raton Says No To Cryonics (January 15 2004) http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/aut-
    o/epaper/editions/wednesday/south_county_04401c31c0c8800f0050.html The Palm Beach Post reports that
    the Boca Raton City Council voted 5-0 to deny cryonics research company Suspended Animation, Inc.
    permission to operate in the city. One council member said: "It is totally inappropriate for this
    council to be second-guessing the emergence of science," but he still voted against SAI. As I have
    said before, cryonics as a field needs new research and new products in order to grow and be able to
    offer the choice of cryopreservation to more people. Cryonics is the only slim change at a much
    longer, healthier life in the future for uncounted millions who are too old to wait: we hope to see
    it prosper.

    Human Stem Cells: the Key to Healing (January 14 2004)
    http://www.tribuneindia.com/2004/20040115/science.htm#1 I thought I'd share this excellent
    introductory piece on stem cell research from the Tribune in India. If only more balanced articles
    like this appeared in American newspapers! Understanding of stem cell research and therapeutic
    cloning is muddied in the US and Europe by the heated abortion and human reproductive cloning
    issues. Anti-research groups and politicians have no qualms about using outright lies and
    distortions to justify their positions, alas. We, as advocates and educators, need to try harder to
    get our message out - and you can help!

    More on Engineering Blood Vessels (January 14 2004)
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040114075322.htm Building blood vessels is a very
    important part of tissue engineering
    - without the right shape, size and distribution of blood vessels, scientists cannot build large
    tissue masses, such as complete organs. As this article from ScienceDaily illustrates, researchers
    are past the "doing it" stage, and well into the "doing it faster, better, cheaper" stage. This
    sort of technology opens the door to the development of widely available replacement organs grown
    to order from the patient's own cells. These early tissue engineering technologies will enable us
    to effectively replace body parts damaged by degenerative conditions of aging.

    Looking Back, Looking Forward (January 13 2004)
    http://www.sagecrossroads.com/public/news/stories/index.cfm?story=043 Chris Mooney examines the
    state of gerontology and healthy life extension research in 2003, with an eye to the year to come,
    at SAGE Crossroads. One reassuring item is that investment into aging research has grown
    enormously: "private investments are probably up 10- or 20-fold." On a different note, SAGE
    Crossroads has just relaunched with a radically improved and much better looking website, making
    their archive of webcasts much more accessible. If you haven't watched any of them yet, you should
    go and take a look.

    Irish Government Funds Stem Cell Research Initiative (January 12 2004)
    http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/front/2004/0113/541387771HM1STEMCELL.html The Irish Times notes
    that the Irish government is funding a stem cell research initiative, including the construction of
    a new Regenerative Medicine Institute at Galway. As I've mentioned before, you can track progress in
    any scientific field by the number of buildings being built...so the more, the merrier from where I
    stand. Meanwhile, other articles note the funding difficulties faced by stem cell researchers in the
    US, all due to restrictive legislation - almost a ban for all practical intents and purposes -
    imposed by the current administration.

    Suspended Animation Back Into The Fray (January 12 2004)
    http://www.bocaratonnews.com/index.php?src=news&category=LOCAL%20NEWS&prid=7259 Boca Raton News
    reports that Suspended Animation Inc, a cryonics research company, will follow through with its Boca
    Raton petition for laboratory space despite overwhelmingly negative indications to date. (You may
    recall the Planning and Zoning application furor at the end of last year, and the accompanying calls
    for community support). Research and spin off products are essential to the long term growth and
    success of the cryonics industry. With that thought in mind, and considering a wider context, these
    current problems with anti-research politics are troubling.

    ______________________________

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