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Scientific regress: When science goes backward

Posted: November 28, 2010 at 12:21 am

To celebrate the ends of years, decades and other milestones, science publications often churn out "Whither science?" predictions. Just last week, The New York Times Science Times section celebrated its, um, 32nd birthday with a special issue on "What's next in science". What I found fascinating was the issue's overall tone of caution rather than the traditional boosterish enthusiasm.

Gina Kolata recalled a job interview 25 years ago with U.S. News and World Report, an editor of which asked her, "What will be important medical news next year?" Kolata replied that "next year gene therapy will be shown to work." Gene therapy, of course, has been a big bust. Kolata goes on to say that the best answer to "Whither science?" is to expect the unexpected. (Fortunately for her, Kolata didn't get the job with what a mean friend of mine liked to call "U.S. Snooze and World Distort," the print version of which just died after years of terminal illness.)


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trends in the life sciences and pharma research and development outsourcing (RDO)

Posted: at 12:21 am

Vicki Phelan, Managing Director, Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Practice
with Stan Lepeak, Managing Director, Global Research

Trends in the life sciences and pharma research and development  outsourcing (RDO)

The complete report is available at http://goo.gl/MgVBu

Oracle Business Intelligence Enteprise Edition (OBIEE) for Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS)

Posted: at 12:21 am

Oracle Siebel CRM is the base application behind Oracle’s Siebel CTMS.

Prepackaged OBIEE Applications does not have a module for Clinical Analytics and so there is a need to develop a complete custom OBI application in order to accomplish the requirements. This was untill Oracle has introduced Oracle Clinical Development Analytics (CDA) which is based on OBIEE+

Oracle CDA includes prebuilt data models, prebuilt Extract-Transform-Load programs sourcing from Oracle Clinical / Remote Data Capture and Oracle’s Siebel Clinical Trial Management System

Business Intelligence can be deployed in several Core functions

  • Protocol Design and Study Start-Up
  • Patient and Investigator Recruitment
  • Clinical Trial Management
  • Clinical Data Management
  • Data Analysis
  • Clinical Supplies
  • Regulatory and Safety

Nonclinical Use of  Business Intelligence in Clinical Trial
There are a number of ways in which business intelligence as a technology platform can be used to support the pharmaceutical value chain. There is ample evidence to show how business intelligence has been used successfully in a number of areas including:

  • Sales and Marketing
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Information Services
  • Executive and Portfolio Management

Clinical Use  of  Business Intelligence in Clinical Trial
Within clinical research, the strongest use of technology is in pre-clinical research, clinical, statistical programming and supporting other groups such as:

  • Data management (patient profiles)
  • Medical writing
  • Finance
  • Project management
  • Patient registries and post-marketing surveillance


Without CDA an OBIEE architect needs to understand CRM data model and also the actual business process flow of a CTMS application.It is observed that usually there is a customization to an extent of 25% on the CRM application.

Original Old Article on OBIEE for CTMS which was the only Business Intelligence solutions for Clinical trial management before Oracle announced CDA is Available at http://www.obieetalk.com

Requirements gathering sessions must be interactive with group of SME’s, Team of members from business, project sponsors to mitigate any risk of
slipping the time lines. It is recommended to plan for regular client reviews and approvals of every build to avoid any gaps in the expectations by the client .

At a high level the reporting requirements may include tracking budget and finance, clinical trials, activities, investigators,Initiations, enrollments, expiration’s, terminations. Cross dimensional hierarchies from Program to Protocol to Site to Subject is commonly desired.

Major dimension tables specific to CTMS includes Program, Protocol,Site,Subject, application, Investigator. Other common dimensions include Accounts, Contacts, Activities, Time, Geography,product, etc.

Here is a screen shot of a sample rpd for CTMS

Microsoft in Clinical Trials Management System (CTMS) and Electronic Data Capture (EDC)

Posted: at 12:21 am

one of the very few interesting article by Microsoft Engineers on Clinical Research Industry. Certainly interesting as it is written by none other than      Les Jordan-CTO, Life Sciences Industry Unit at Microsoft . Microsoft and IBM had much longer and deepr association with Lifescience/Healthcare/Bioinformatics industry than Oracle.

But I love to see microsoft grow beyond Sharepoint for Clinical Research and the BioIT alliance. Also love to ask microsoft what is the current status of some of those applications mentioned in the blog by Les, Especially the Microsoft Clinical Trial Initiation solution

Original article from microsoft website

Interesting how weeks become months when you’re writing and updating blogs.  This CTMS project certainly hasn’t gone away, but it did go on a bit of a hiatus while my “day job” intervened.  Enough excuses.  Mea Culpa.  On to the fun!

As we discussed in the previous post, the key to a clinical trials management system is thinking of it in terms of a project – after all, the people who run the clinical trial think of it in terms of a project, and it is measured in project management terms, so why not treat it that way from an architectural point of view?

A second and equally important “requirement” is one that we are increasingly seeing as an industry trend: having EDC (Electronic Data Capture) functionality and CTMS (Clinical Trials Management System) functionality in the same system, or at the very least having EDC and CTMS closely integrate and interoperate.

The clinical trials world of today is fairly fractured.  Think of all the different systems – often standalone systems – that are used by Life Science organizations:

  • EDC – Electronic Data Capture
  • CTMS – Clinical Trials Management Systems
  • CLIP – Clinical Investigator Portals
  • Project – Clinical Trials Project Management
  • Analysis – OK, it’s SAS, but how do you get the data there?  What about real-time analytics?
  • IRB & DSMB – Outside organizations with their own management systems, like a Click Commerce Research Compliance Automation solution?

What if you could have a system that gets close to doing all of that – or at least being able to manage all of it – through one interface?  How much would that save in training costs, integration costs, and implementation costs?

Well – that’s the vision.  Here’s how we pull it off:

  1. Start with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and SQL Server 2008 as the foundation to build upon.
  2. As discussed in the last post, we’ll use Microsoft Office Project Server as a way to organize the information and provide us with a trial specific taxonomy, along with roll-up of reporting metrics.
  3. To cover the EDC aspects, we’ll utilize Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007 – which is a web facing InfoPath solution – to handle data entry and front-ending the workflow for data checks, etc.

EDC forms in Forms Server can even handle digital signatures (with compliance and security being the subject of a future post) inside the InfoPath forms.  This has implications for those organizations that are involved with SAFE BioPharma (worth checking out).

The beauty of all of this is that it is all Web Service enabled, which means that you have easier integration mechanisms with existing analysis and EDC systems:

  • SAS – With integration with .NET, SOAP, and Web Services.
  • Medidata – We’ve demonstrated use of their Web Services API module that utilizes CDISC.
  • Perceptive Informatics – At the DIA annual meeting a couple years ago, we did a demonstration using DataLabs (now Perceptive) and InfoPath integration, using Web Services and about 5 lines of code!
  • EHR/EMR Integration – While it is still on the horizon, I think it is getting closer.  Check it out.

Resources to get you started:

Finally – there are other organizations and software vendors that are thinking along these lines.  Check out the following solutions:

Next up in this series:

  • Using MOSS templates for maintaining Part 11 compliance
  • Extranets & Identity Management
  • Architecture Diagrams & Screen shots
  • Validation and compliance

Clinical Trial and Pharmacovigilance process automation

Posted: at 12:21 am

I had posted last month about the Pegasystem pharmacovigilance solution.

Pega Systems the industry leader in Business Process Management (BPM) software solutions, released a Pharmacovigilance case processing software.

Pega has experience in clinical trial space, specifically in Clinical Trial Management. The solution is designed for rapid deployment to quickly leverage existing adverse event processing rules and requirements and can produce specialized documentation to help ensure compliance in a validated environment.










I have not come across any new updates after that. But apparently Accenture  has acquired Knowledge Rules, Inc., a Philadelphia-based consulting company that focuses exclusively on implementing and integrating business solutions using Pegasystems’ Business Process Management (BPM) software.

Accenture has a very large Pharmacovigilance division serving several large pharmaceutical companies. It would not be very suprising if Accenture roles out the BPM software for their pharmacovigilance services.

I think that is a possibility because Accenture  has announced plans to use the applications for all its Fortune 500 customers.

I would predict that United Health Group could be one of those customers as they are an existing customer of Pega.

Speaking of which Pega sounds like an attractive target Oracle can acquire

collaborative clinical trials management software for Central Laboratories

Posted: at 12:21 am

Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings…announced…a collaboration between Esoterix Clinical Trials Services, a division of LabCorp, and Clearstone Central Laboratories, a global central laboratory specializing in drug development and pharmaceutical services.…The collaboration provides LabCorp with access to Clearstone’s global network of labs, including China, France, Singapore and Canada, in addition to LabCorp’s existing labs in the United States and Belgium. The companies will collaborate on providing standardized central laboratory testing for clinical trials to their respective clients. The transaction also provides LabCorp access to Clearstone’s clinical trials management system APOLLO CLPM clinical trials management software, enhancing the ability of clients to conveniently send, receive and manage data.

APOLLO CLPM is a secured globally accessible web based, 21 CFR part 11 validated clinical trials management software. Designed and developed by subject matter experts of every applied discipline integral to the system. Built on an Oracle database, the APOLLO CLPM system is a truly singular database that replaces multiple legacy systems and sub-systems, helping to drive improvements in efficiency and quality across the central laboratory business Apollo provides for global standardization of requisitions, reports, kits, barcode labels, as well as scientific information, and improves the accuracy and speed of sample reception and processing

MNC Pharma tries to capture the $1.9 billion Indian OTC market by selling Drugs through India’s 170000 post offices

Posted: at 12:21 am

The multinational pharma companies are planning to approach the health ministry with a proposal calling for the utilisation of the 1.7 lakh post offices across the country to distribute over the counter drugs.

The move if implemented would increase the reach of OTC drugs by 20%.

The plan initially submiited 2 years ago requires  the approval of and coordination between department of pharma under the ministry of chemicals and fertiliser, department of post under ministry of communications and the health ministry.

The Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), an association of multinational pharma companies, is in the process of reviving the proposal as top officials at the health ministry have shown interest in discussing it and considering its implementation

The Indian over-the-counter (OTC) medicines market, the 11th largest globally, is pegged at $1.9 billion. It is the second fastest growing market globally with a growth rate of around 9% per annum.

Ranjit Shahani, country president, Novartis gives the analogy of the how petrol pumps have metamorphosed into multi-utility centres in last two decades. “One simple legislation can change that for over the counter medicines,”

Would you support this, even in US where people are more educated and FD keeps a watch on drug advertisement , people are often misguided.

India is yet to come up with a strong and comprehensive adverse drug event reporting infrastructre.

Scott Stern Kellogg School of Management speaks about “New Drug Development: From Laboratory to Blockbuster to Generic,”

Posted: at 12:21 am

Scott Stern, Associate Professor, Kellogg School of Management, speaks on the topic of, “New Drug Development: From Laboratory to Blockbuster to Generic,” at the Judicial Symposium on The Pharmaceutical Industry: Economics, Regulation, and Legal Issues, hosted by the Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program

Widespread fraud in the Clinical Trial of Drugs is pervasive event in United States

Posted: at 12:21 am

There have been several cases where Fraud in clinical trial has questioned the  Integrity of Data and ethics , when conducting clinical trial in India, which have been used by crusaders against outsourcing. But the new evidence suggest that the clinical trial fraud is more prevalent even in US. The most recent being MannKind Corporation Accused of Covering Up Adverse Clinical Trial Results

India’s poor history on adhering to patents, strong legal system, and the image of corruption means, any fraud in conducting clinical trial in India will invite serious punishment from FDA and western world. Yes we can cry that we will be singled out , or we can take necessary steps to avoid incidents such as above

MNC pharma MannKind is accused of Data Fraud Coverup  in securing FDA approval for Afrezza the inhaled insulin drug. A senior manager uncovered unlawful clinical trial conduct pertaining to the company’s Afrezza inhalant insulin device.  John Arditi, who was MannKind’s senior director of worldwide regulatory affairs, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer, in New Jersey Superior Court, claiming he was unfairly fired by MannKind after internal audits he conducted in November 2009 uncovered “potential fraud and scientific misconduct” involving Afrezza clinical trial data

Arditi discovered discrepancies in data at both a Russian and Bulgarian trial site, according to his lawsuit.  For several months, Adverse event results were either not being recorded properly, or were fabricated to favor the approval of Afrezza.  Arditi’s lawsuit asserts that he informed superiors at MannKind, on November 9, 2009, of his adverse findings and encouraged the company to approach the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but MannKind did not contact the agency because negative information would delay approval of the New Drug Application (NDA) for Afrezza.

The new revelation on MannKind Afrezza Clinical Trial that emerged last week , comes just days after the report published by The Council for Clinical Research Subject Safety & Data Integrity (CCRSSDI)  on widespread fraud in the Clinical Trial drugs by pharma and CROs in Unites States.

Two time Emmy winning reporter Kathy McDevitt led an investigative team from The Council for Clinical Research Subject Safety & Data Integrity (CCRSSDI), to record Subjects committing fraud. Her investigation led to on-air confessions by two such subjects on the nature and the extent of the fraud in the industry

Ms. McDevitt and CCRSSDI have jointly released a documentary tilted “Pervasive Fraud in the Clinical Trial World” . It is available on the CCRSSDI website. Copies of the DVD may also be requested by the video.

Among the findings in the documentary:

  • Multiple simultaneous trial enrollments by Subjects
  • Inability of research sites to check for dual clinical trial enrollments
  • No single record of all the studies a subject has taken
  • Inability to verify amount of actual drug usage by a Subject in a Study
  • Potential for flawed results in Studies

Watch the Documentary on YouTube

“I was shocked by how lax the identification process is for potential Study Subjects”, said Kathy McDevitt. “I always had assumed that a thorough identification and verification was required to enroll qualified patients in studies for drugs that you and I take”

Kerri Weingard, the Director of CCRSSDI, further adds “We here at the Council have consistently raised this issue. Many members of this Council run their own Study Sites and we have seen the level of fraud increase year after year. Unfortunately, no steps are being taken by the industry as a whole to combat this problem. If this problem is left unchecked, the whole industry will suffer and public confidence in our Drug Testing process will be fundamentally undermined”

CCRSSDI has led the charge on this issue. Its charter clearly defines that the primary goal of CCRSSDI is to ensure that every study by every site and every sponsor utilizes and identification and verification process to ensure that there is no fraud occurring and that subjects are not dual-enrolled or have been expelled from previous studies.

Download the explosive documentary “Pervasive Fraud in the Clinical Trial World”, at http://www.CouncilForClinicalResearch.com

For further information please contact Kerri Weingard, Director, Council for Clinical Research Subject Safety & Data Integrity at KWeingard(at)CouncilForClinicalResearch(dot)com or 646-225-6624

Council for Clinical Research Subject Safety & Data Integrity is composed of established members of the medical profession. Its goal is to ensure that our testing process for Clinical Research Trials remains error free and that Subject Safety is always assured. meetings are open to all. For further information please email  at info@CouncilForClinicalResearch.com.
ONE of Australia’s most senior cancer specialists has accused pharmaceutical companies of manipulating some clinical trials of medicines for commercial reasons, including deliberately delaying the release of negative findings and being reluctant to fund research into the toxicity of their drugs.  More details

Professor Stephen Clarke, who has conducted clinical trials involving humans for 15 years, agreed to speak publicly for the first time because he said it was essential for governments to fund trials of great public importance rather than leaving critical research solely to drug companies.

A number of researchers who spoke to The Age agreed, saying commercial decisions meant the public did not always get the full picture about a drug’s usefulness and safety.

Other more high profile clinical trial related issues in recent past are PPD Inc responsibility in Ketek Trial for Aventis

The FDA found the fraud 2002 in a trial supervised by PPD, the doctor was indicted 2003, convicted 2004 and Ketek was approved 2004 by the FDA using the faulty data. It wasn’t until early 2006 that liver problems in patients using Ketek came to light and subsequently, the continued reliance on the fraudulent data. Congressional hearings were called for in 2006 which were held 2007 and again 2008 when Fred Eshelman, founder of PPD testified

The FDA and drug maker Aventis were directly faulted. Eshelman washed his hands. . This clip is one of three showing Fred Eshelman’s verbal responses to questions.

Some of the other high profile cases are

News that Schering-Plough, one of the largest drug companies in the world, has been outright bribing physicians to prescribe drugs and operate sham clinical trials http://www.naturalnews.com/001298.html

University of California findings in the October issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, that 167 placebo-controlled trials published in peer-reviewed medical journals in 2008 and 2009 and found that 92 percent of those trials never even described the ingredients of their placebo pills.

The Utah Attorney General has filed a lawsuit charging GlaxoSmithKline illegally marketed its controversial Avandia diabetes pill as a new “wonder drug” that would reduce cardiovascular risks for diabetes, but instead increased the possibility of heart attacks. Consequently, the AG alleges Glaxo hoodwinked the state Medicaid program out of $7.8 million, which is the amount Utah spent to purchase Avandia between Jan. 1, 2001 and June 30, 2010

The more recent events in India were

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals and Omnicare have closed a clinical trial site in India operated by the contract research organisation (CRO) amid accusations that an investigator acted fraudulently.

Clinical Trial Fraud – How to Identify and Steps to Handle If Found, events like these makes adherence to GCP and training of CRA, and all stake holders in clinical trial more and more important

SalesForce.com partner introduces CRM for clinical trial management on Force Platform

Posted: at 12:21 am

Had an interesting chat with the CEO of the US based IT service provider for clinical research industry in June. Apparently the company a SalesForce.com partner introduces new CTMS application in India. Just came to know that they are going commercial this month. The applications is aimed at clinical trial management, Study site management and Patient Recruitment in the clinical research industry . Aimed at CROs, Hospitals, University Research centers and clinical trial Study Sites.

The application is based on Force platform by SalesForce and already have few Indian Organization using it for several months. The product will be offered in SaaS/Hosted/Cloud versions, which will render affordable TCO and higher ROI with less or no Capital investmental.

Harvard Medical Schools new automated safety surveillance system provides faster early warnings in the postmarket evaluation of medical device safety

Posted: at 12:21 am

Implementation of a computer-automated safety surveillance system of clinical outcomes registries for cardiovascular devices resulted in the identification of a drug-releasing stent that had significantly higher rates of major adverse cardiac events than similar stents

“Monitoring the safety of approved medical products is of vital public health importance, given that in clinical practice such medical products are often used in numbers far greater and in patient populations more diverse than when studied in premarket evaluations and clinical trials,” the authors write. “Ensuring the safety of medical devices challenges current surveillance approaches, which rely heavily on voluntary reporting of adverse events. Automated surveillance of clinical registries may provide early warnings in the postmarket evaluation of medical device safety.”

“In conclusion, automated safety surveillance of medical devices is feasible using automated monitoring tools applied to detailed clinical registries and can efficiently help identify emerging potential postmarket safety risks. Automated medical product surveillance can complement existing public health strategies, providing an additional mechanism to assess the comparative safety of approved medical products and improve the quality of health care delivered,” the authors write.


Original article on


International Stem Cell Corporation Announces the Commercial Launch of Its Breakthrough Stem Cell-Based Line of Skin Care Products

Posted: at 12:21 am

International Stem Cell Corporation (OTCBB:ISCO), http://www.internationalstemcell.com, announced today the commercial launch of its innovative line of topical skin care products by the company's wholly-owned subsidiary, Lifeline Skin Care ™ (http://www.lifelineskincare.com). Containing extracts from human "parthenogenetic" stem cells (hpSC), the products were formulated by a team of ISCO's research scientists in collaboration with cosmetic formulation experts to create an advanced scientific approach to skin care. The patent pending serums, which come in separate formulations for day and night time use, have been safety tested by highly regarded, independent laboratories, and have been shown to promote anti-aging of the skin.

The initial launch of the serums is to a pre-existing list of interested parties. We expect that the products will be available to the general public via our online store http://www.lifelineskincare.com in the near future.

A key innovation in creating the Lifeline Skin Care™ serums was the encapsulation of the parthenogenetic stem cell extractsinto nanospheres, which not only protect the proteins, but substantially enhance the effectiveness of the serums. World renowned skin cream formulation experts assisted ISCO's scientists to create the finished products and ensure that the final serums deliver the most up-to-date advances in skin rejuvenation technology that also helps to prevent and repair damage caused by the environment.

According to Gregory S. Keller, MD, FACS (2007 Specialist of the Year in Facial Cosmetic Surgery in Strathmore's "Who's Who"): "These new day and night serums represent a huge step forward in anti-aging skin care products. Combining liposome-encapsulated proteins derived from ISCO's powerful new class human stem cells with a unique blend of anti-oxidants, vitamins and natural extracts, allowed Lifeline Skin Care to create highly effective stem cell-based serums that provide strong anti-aging benefits."

The new skin rejuvenation serums are based on the breakthrough discovery that certain proteins derived from ISCO's proprietary pluripotent human parthenogenetic stem cells are beneficial to the culture of human skin cells in the laboratory. ISCO, the world leader in human parthenogenetic stem cell technology, is studying this new class of stem cells, and has demonstrated their therapeutic potential in many fields of regenerative medicine. Human parthenogenetic stem cells are created from unfertilized human eggs and do not involve any harm to a viable human embryo, thus avoiding serious ethical questions that surround other areas of stem cell research. hpSC possess unique immune-matching attributes making them an excellent platform for the development of cellular therapies for large populations of individuals. As of today, ISCO has successfully derived ten hpSC lines. One of these lines carries the most common immune type found within the US population and can be immune-matched to an estimated 75 million people worldwide.

"The commercial launch of the new skin care products represents an important step in the execution of ISCO's strategy. The revenue generated from sales will help support the development of our therapeutic programs utilizing our unique and powerful class of human pluripotent stem cells," said Dr. Ruslan Semechkin, CEO of Lifeline Skin Care.


International Stem Cell Corporation is a California-based biotechnology company focused on therapeutic and research products. ISCO's core technology, parthenogenesis, results in creation of pluripotent human stem cells from unfertilized oocytes (eggs). These proprietary cells avoid ethical issues associated with use or destruction of viable human embryos and, unlike most other major stem cell types, can be immune matched and be a source of therapeutic cells with minimal rejection after transplantation into hundreds of millions of individuals of differing racial groups. ISCO also produces and markets specialized cells and growth media for therapeutic research worldwide through its subsidiary, Lifeline Cell Technology, and is developing a line of cosmeceutical products via its subsidiary, Lifeline Skin Care. ISCO is advancing novel human stem cell-based therapies where cells have been proven to be efficacious but traditional small molecule and protein therapeutics have not. More information is available on ISCO's website, http://www.internationalstemcell.com.

To subscribe to receive ongoing corporate communications please click on the following link: http://www.b2i.us/irpass.asp?BzID=1468&to=ea&s=0.


Statements pertaining to anticipated developments, product introduction plans, the potential benefits of planned products, collaborations, affiliations, and other opportunities for the company and its subsidiaries, along with other statements about the future expectations, beliefs, goals, plans, or prospects expressed by management constitute forward-looking statements. Any statements that are not historical fact (including, but not limited to statements that contain words such as "will," "believes," "plans," "anticipates," "expects," "estimates,") should also be considered to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and/or commercialization of potential products and the management of collaborations, regulatory approvals, need and ability to obtain future capital, application of capital resources among competing uses, and maintenance of intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements and as such should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect the company's business, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements found in the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The company disclaims any intent or obligation to update forward-looking statements.

Key Words: Stem cells, parthenogenesis, biotechnology, skin care, anti-aging


International Stem Cell Corporation
Kenneth C. Aldrich, Chairman

Lifeline Skin Care, Inc.
Ruslan Semechkin, PhD, President & CEO
Vice President, ISCO

Natural Ways of Reducing Bad Cholesterol Levels

Posted: November 7, 2010 at 9:23 am

A group of researchers found that eating 45 grams of dark chocolate in a day for a period of 16 weeks can potentially reduce the cholesterol levels of diabetic patients.

Understanding Bad Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol in the body: the good and bad. Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is referred to as bad cholesterol since high levels of LDL results to a higher risk of developing coronary and cardiovascular diseases. It interferes with healthy blood flow by sticking on artery walls and forming a thick and hard cholesterol plaque. This narrows the blood passages in a process called atherosclerosis.

There’s a good type of cholesterol, on the other hand, that is essential in preventing and reversing the adverse effects of LDL accumulation by extracting the bad cholesterol from the walls of the artery and removing them from the body through the liver. The body needs to have more of the good cholesterol in order to function properly. Good cholesterol is responsible for promoting the fluidity and permeability of membranes and it is also essential in the manufacturing of bile acids that breaks down fats and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin D and vitamin A.

A person’s bad cholesterol level is greatly influenced by his diet and hereditary condition. Eating foods with high contents of saturated fats will result to the accumulation of bad cholesterol in the blood. Rich sources of saturated fats are dairy products and meat. Vegetable oils from cocoa, palm and coconut are also rich in saturated fats. There is a specific health condition which may result to high LDL levels despite minimal intake of saturated fats. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia which literally means more cholesterol in the blood. It can be inherited and is usually brought about by the lack of cholesterol receptors in the cells of the liver. Note that the liver is responsible for the processing of LDL cholesterol. This condition can result to atherosclerosis and other coronary diseases in early adulthood. High cholesterol levels have also been linked by different studies to diabetes.

There will always be a natural way of reducing the risk of health conditions such as coronary diseases and diabetes. Medical experts will always recommend healthy diet and active lifestyle on top of anything else. A group of researchers from the Hull York Medical School of the University of Hull found that eating one of our most favorite bitter-sweet treats can reduce the cholesterol levels of diabetic patients.

Dark Chocolate against High Cholesterol in Diabetics

An Overview

A group of researchers from the Hull York Medical School published a study in Diabetic Medicine saying that dark chocolate has the capacity to lower cholesterol levels in people suffering from diabetes. Their findings may sound incongruous but they have found that eating 45 grams of dark chocolate reduced the cholesterol levels of 12 diabetic participants in a study period of 4 months. The head of the research team and professor of diabetes and endocrinology, Steve Atkins, said that their study demonstrated that dark chocolate can result to the reduction of cardiovascular risk caused by insulin resistance and being overweight. The 12 participants had type 2 diabetes, a condition wherein cells are weakly responsive to insulin naturally produced by the body.

The Benefits of Polyphenols

The researchers linked the positive results of their study to polyphenols found in cocoa. This compound has a powerful anti-inflammatory property, making it a strong and effective antioxidant. As its natural function, polyphenols protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals and prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol which causes it to become glued to artery walls, causing atherosclerosis. A person can maintain high levels of polyphenols in the body by eating foods rich in polyphenols; topping the list is cacao alongside green tea and wine. The researchers suggested for chocolate manufacturers to create smaller packages of dark chocolate bars in order to give individuals with diabetes a better way to manage their intake of polyphenol-rich chocolates and so they can better take advantage of its benefits in lowering their blood cholesterol levels.

The Methodology and Results

The researchers recruited a group of 12 diabetic patients and gave them 3 bars of 15-gram dark chocolate bars per day for a period of 16 weeks. The chocolate bars contained 85 percent cocoa and other placebo bars did not have any cocoa content and was only dyed to achieve the same color as dark chocolate. They said that the bars were no bigger than a banana and, unlike the usual way of eating a banana, the bars were eaten at different points of the day. The researchers also said that dark chocolate has a low glycaemic index which related to the release of glucose into the blood stream from sugars.

Though the researchers used a very small group, the participants did not report any increase in weight nor did they experience problems in controlling their blood sugar levels brought by their existing health condition. They said that the study is only a preliminary of more and bigger studies to come and they will be releasing more information regarding their findings in the following days.

Foods against Bad Cholesterol

The body’s bad cholesterol level is a major health concern. High levels of bad cholesterol in the body may result to coronary problems and other serious health problems. But eating the right kind of foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help in managing cholesterol levels and promoting a healthier body.

  • The body needs soluble fiber in order to sweep out saturated fats which can increase the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. Soluble fiber can be found in oatmeal, prunes, barley, pears apples and kidney beans. Including some of the fiber-rich foods in ones daily diet can reduce the risk of developing diseases caused by bad cholesterol.

  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, lake trout and mackerel can also help in lowering bad cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids help in reducing blood pressure by preventing the clotting of the blood and the accumulation of bad cholesterol on the walls of the arteries.

  • Almonds, walnuts and other kinds of nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids which helps maintain the smooth passage of blood through the blood vessels and reduce blood cholesterol levels. Eating around 43 grams of nuts can lower the risk of developing heart diseases according to the Food and Drug Administration. But keep in mind that nuts are packed with calories so eating a handful can be enough.

  • Other foods that can lower bad cholesterol levels are those fortified with plant sterols like yogurt drinks, orange juice and margarine. Eating at least 2 grams of plant sterols through rich food sources can lower LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent.


Discuss this post in Frank Mangano’s forum!

Good News: Evidence for Minimal Proteome Changes in Aging

Posted: at 9:23 am

What is your proteome? In short, it is the list of all the proteins built within your body and their abundance - a parts catalog for your biological machinery. Analysis of even modest fractions of the proteome has only recently become practical, but it is potentially a good way to measure the complexity of repairing and reversing aging, or gain insight into which contributing mechanisms of aging are the most important. Aging is no more than change: damaged proteins, unwanted molecules, things in the wrong place at the molecular level - which leads to malfunction and failure in the large-scale organs and processes of the body.

The good news for today is that a comparison of young and old proteomes in mice shows that there is little change with aging. This is a positive result for the future of longevity science, because it means researchers can rapidly follow up on the few changes that were identified. The opposite result - many changes, as is the case for gene expression - would have been rather discouraging: a sign that matters are very complex in yet another area of the biology of aging, and that much work would have to take place in order to understand the relevance of the data.

From the open access paper (for the full paper, you'll want the PDF version):

The biological process of aging is believed to be the result of an accumulation of cellular damage to biomolecules. While there are numerous studies addressing mutation frequencies, morphological or transcriptional changes in aging mammalian tissues, few have measured global changes at the protein level. Here, we present an in depth proteomic analysis of three brain regions as well as heart and kidney in mice aged 5 or 26 months.


In frontal cortex and hippocampal regions of the brain, more than 4,200 proteins were quantitatively compared between age groups. Proteome differences between individual mice were observable within and between age groups. However, mean protein abundance changes of more than two-fold between young and old mice were detected in less than 1% of all proteins and very few of these were statistically significant. Similar outcomes were obtained when comparing cerebellum, heart and kidney between age groups. Thus, unexpectedly, our results indicate that aging-related effects on the tissue proteome composition at the bulk level are only minor and that protein homeostasis remains functional up to a relatively high age.

It is unexpected, given the gene expression findings to date - but welcome. I look forward to seeing the results from human studies. Given the free-falling cost of bioinformatics, and commensurate improvement in the technology, comparing proteomes in young and old people will be a graduate student project within a handful of years.

Printing Skin

Posted: at 9:23 am

From Singularity Hub: "Wake Forest's Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) and the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) have developed a skin printer that can deposit cells directly onto a wound to help it heal faster. They recently presented the results of their latest experiments at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress (ACSCC) in Washington DC. Mice given topical wounds were able to heal in just three weeks when a new skin was printed onto the damaged area (compared to 5-6 with control groups). WFIRM and AFIRM also stated that the skin printer had been tested to see if it could print human cells, but that the next step forward would be experiments on pigs. If ultimately successful, skin printers could revolutionize the way we treat injuries - making serious wounds less fatal and rapidly speeding the healing of other injuries. ... the recent conference [gives] some valuable insights into how the skin printer actually works. Two different printing heads are used - one with skin cells, a coagulant, and collagen; the other with a different kind of coagulant. Keeping these substances separate allows them to be deposited easily (like ink) but then quickly bond together and form a solid skin covering with fibrin."

Link: http://singularityhub.com/2010/11/04/wake-forest-could-print-you-some-new-skin/

Stem Cell Therapy for Peripheral Artery Disease

Posted: at 9:22 am

Peripheral artery disease is one of a number of conditions shown to benefit from even early, crude efforts at stem cell transplantation: "Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects 8 million Americans. It's when arteries in the legs narrow. The most common symptoms of PAD are cramping, pain or tiredness when walking. It can so bad that some can't walk at all. Now an experimental stem-cell therapy may offer hope to people with severe pad. Ronald Davis can move again after seven long years. 'Pain 24 hours a day, seven days a week,' said Davis. Plaque clogged the artery carrying blood to his leg, which cut off oxygen flow. ... Left alone, it can cause ulcers, gangrene and even lead to amputation. ... Davis began a last-ditch stem-cell therapy at Duke University. His leg was marked for 30 injections, totaling millions of stem cells. For him, there was no other choice. ... Cells are taken from the placentas of Israeli women who've given birth. Once injected, they secrete proteins, which boost additional cell growth. Then, it's believed those cells may contribute to the growth of additional vessels around the plaque, circumventing the blockage. ... Three days after injections, Davis was walking, and doctors say the oxygen level in his leg tissue jumped from 43 percent to 67 percent. ... This specific type of stem-cell therapy is currently involved in a Phase 1 clinical trial."

Link: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?id=7765921

An Update on Early Artificial Sight

Posted: at 9:22 am

I posted not so long ago on the topic of foundational work in artificial sight:

The present mainstream approach involves building a grid of electrodes in place of the retinal cells lost to forms of degenerative blindness; images captured by a worn camera are analyzed and the electrodes stimulated appropriately. ... Progress in this model is at present a matter of making implantation safer and more reliable, greatly increasing the density of electrodes, and improving the ability to translate a camera's view into a helpful picture - a combination of medicine, electrical engineering, and computer vision research. The end result of this form of technology will never produce anything more than a detailed, glowing sketch of dots and lines for the patient: it is not true vision as experienced by those of us fortune enough to retain our sight. Nonetheless it works - already providing a great improvement for patients over being blind - and it will serve as a foundation for later forms of artificial sight technology.

Today, let me point your attention to a refinement of this technology under development by a German company:

researchers based in Germany have developed a retinal implant that has allowed three blind people to see shapes and objects within days of the implant being installed. ... The device - known as a subretinal implant - sits underneath the retina, directly replacing light receptors lost in retinal degeneration. As such, it uses the eyes' natural image processing capabilities beyond the light detection stage to produce a visual perception in the patient that is stable and follows their eye movements. Other types of retinal implants - known as epiretinal implants - sit outside the retina and because they bypass the intact light-sensitive structures in the eyes they require the user to wear an external camera and processor unit.


"The present study...presents proof-of-concept that such devices can restore useful vision in blind human subjects, even though the ultimate goal of broad clinical application will take time to develop."

This seems like a natural evolution if it can be made to work in a practical fashion - cut out the aspects of the system that were awkward to manage in favor of an implant that can stand alone. The obvious path for incremental improvement is still to increase the number and density of electrodes, and thus the resolution of the glowing grids and images seen by the patient. Work on that area will likely benefit numerous similar lines of development in the artificial sight community.

There remains a big difference between "vision" and "useful vision" - but I imagine that the gap will close as this technology evolves further. An implant that replaces one part of an eye is an invitation to build a second implant that attaches to it and replaces a neighboring feature...and so forth. This research and development community will give the tissue engineers a run for their money.

Improving Repair After a Stroke

Posted: at 9:22 am

Some of what the body does in response to injury, especially in the nerves and brain, is in fact counterproductive in the long term: "Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability, due to the brain's limited capacity for recovery. ... Researchers interested in how the brain repairs itself already know that when the brain suffers a stroke, it becomes excitable, firing off an excessive amount of brain cells, which die off. The UCLA researchers found that a rise in a chemical system known as 'tonic inhibition' immediately after a stroke causes a reduction in this level of excitability. But while this 'damping down' initially helps limit the spread of stroke damage, the increased tonic inhibition level and reduced brain excitability persists for weeks, eventually becoming detrimental to the brain's recovery. ... It was surprising to find that the level of tonic inhibition was increased for so long after stroke and that there was an inflection point where the increased level eventually hindered the brain from recovering. It was also surprising that we could easily manipulate tonic inhibition in the brain after stroke to restore it back to a normal, 'non-stroke' level and, in doing this, enhance behavioral recovery. ... They found that by applying specific blockers of this inhibitory brain chemical, they could then 'turn off the switch.' The resulting enhanced brain excitability immediately improved behavioral recovery after stroke."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-11/uoc--srw110110.php

Longevity Meme Newsletter, November 1st 2010

Posted: at 9:22 am

November 1st 2010

The Longevity Meme Newsletter is a weekly email containing news, opinions, and happenings for people interested in aging science and engineered longevity: making use of diet, lifestyle choices, technology, and proven medical advances to live healthy, longer lives. This newsletter is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. In short, this means that you are encouraged to republish and rewrite it in any way you see fit, the only requirements being that you provide attribution and a link to the Longevity Meme.

To subscribe or unsubscribe from the Longevity Meme Newsletter, please visit http://www.longevitymeme.org/newsletter/



- So You Want to be a Biogerontologist
- Coverage of TEDMED 2010
- On Body Temperature and Longevity
- Beneficial Mitochondrial DNA Damage?
- Longevity Meme and Fight Aging! Content Feeds
- Latest Headlines From Fight Aging!


There's something to be said for stepping up and helping to get a job done directly. Over the past few years, a number of folk in the healthy life extension community have steered their careers towards the life sciences and study of the biology of aging - a field known as biogerontology - rather than working to raise funds or advocate for engineered longevity:


"By and large, biogerontologists work at research institutions, typically universities or laboratories, though a few also work in the industry and a few companies research aging. The vast majority of biogerontologists have a PhD (or sometimes an MD or both), so if you want to become a biogerontologist you should be prepared to go to graduate and/or medical school. While it is possible to study aging in a private company or as a staff member of a research institution, the majority of well-known biogerontologists have their own research group, like ours, at a research institution. Again, you can certainly contribute to research on aging in a variety of ways and even without making of it your main job, yet if you are serious about becoming a biogerontologist and doing independent research at the highest level then this usually implies developing an academic career."

Where you wind up in life and the degree to which you enjoy success in your goals is all about the connections you make along the way. If you want to make progress in a particular field, you have to establish relationships within that field. For example, the SENS Foundation runs an academic initiative program - whose chief value to the students involved is the opportunity to make connections within the community of researchers interested in repairing the biochemical damage of aging:



The TEDMED 2010 conference was held this past week, and Aubrey de Grey and Anthony Atala were amongst the speakers:


"Next up on stage were aging and life extension scientist Aubrey de Grey and regenerative medicine researcher Anthony Atala. Aubrey is a quirky figure in the world of science, with a long beard and provocative views on aging and immortality. Anthony Atala is, by impression, much more grounded and lives in the world of tissue engineering. The most notable thing about their joint talk was not what they said but rather that their institutions, the SENS Foundation and Wake Forest University, are going to partner together on some projects. They approach the idea of fixing the human body from highly different angles and it will be interesting to see the results from their collaboration."


The body temperature of mammals appears to affect longevity in ways that overlap with calorie restriction, but the biochemistry is less well understood:


"Caloric restriction (CR) causes a reduction in body temperature which is suggested to contribute to changes that increase lifespan. Moreover, low [body temperature] has been shown to improve health and longevity independent of CR. ... Based on current evidence, it is concluded that low [body temperature] plays an integral role in mediating the effects of CR on health and longevity, and that low [body temperature] may exert independent biological changes that increase lifespan. Our understanding of the overlap between CR- and [body temperature]-mediated longevity remains incomplete and should be explored in future research."


Just to show that nothing is straightforward in biology:


"As you all know by now, accumulated mitochondrial DNA damage is thought to provide an important contribution to degenerative aging. The process by which the small misplaced, changed, or missing segments of DNA known as mutations create the conditions for failing organs - and ultimately death - is complex and has many steps, but it starts with changes in the operation of crucial mitochondrial machinery. There is some evidence for the existence of beneficial mutations to mitochondrial DNA that accumulate with age in at least some populations. On reflection this doesn't seem unreasonable. We know, for example, that some mitochondrial DNA haplotypes are demonstrably better than others - they are associated with people who, on average, benefit from better health and longevity. Some folk have the luck of the draw and inherit good mitochondrial machinery. But our cells are more than just the straight output of their DNA blueprints, both nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA, because cellular processes and mechanisms can conceivably influence the way in which those blueprints become damaged over time.

"So [some] human populations may have evolved to allow certain specific types of damage to readily occur in their mitochondria, because that damage changes mitochondrial operation in ways that provide benefits to survival. Devious, but then that's biology for you."


As you may have noticed, the Longevity Meme daily news recently moved over to live at Fight Aging! The various feeds have updated to reflect this fact, and the old feed locations should presently be redirecting users to the new locations. You can find an overview of the new situation in the following post:



The highlights and headlines from the past week follow below. If you have comments, please do send e-mail to newsletter@longevitymeme.org

Remember - if you like this newsletter, the chances are that your friends will find it useful too. Forward it 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!




Friday, October 29, 2010
The TransVision 2010 conference was held in Milan this past weekend, a chance for European transhumanists to meet and make presentations on topics of interest - such as engineering greater human longevity. Some of the conference video is up at the teleXLR8 blog. You might also look at organizer Giulio Prisco's report: "TransVision 2010 is over! I wish to thank all speakers and participants, those who came to Milan and those who participated remotely via Teleplace. ... This was a very interesting event, with great talks by great speakers. I am happy to have seen again many old friends and made many new ones. In the picture above, some speakers and participants at a dinner after the end of the conference. I was not really able to pay attention to any of the talks including my own, and I look forward to watching the video coverage. We recorded everything on video, both in HD with the cameras on site, and from Teleplace. The videos will be available online and on the conference's DVD proceedings. The videos recorded in Teleplace will be available online in a few days, and those recorded on site in a few weeks."

Friday, October 29, 2010
At the SENS Foundation, Michael Rae looks at the NIA Interventions Testing Program examination of resveratrol and rapamycin: "Combined with their positive results with rapamycin, the failure of resveratrol to extend life using resveratrol in normal mice over a very wide range of doses should reasonably be taken to put the resveratrol "story" to test. On the other hand, the ability of rapamycin to extend life in these mice has been confirmed, and expanded to a preliminary extent. Naturally, further studies are underway or proposed to elucidate the full nature of these effects. ... At the same time, whatever these studies may reveal, even the most optimistic reading of these results and an assumption of perfect human translatability is still overshadowed by how limited the results are. Interventions such as rapamycin, which only retard the rate at which aging damage accumulates (or, perhaps, allows the organism to carry on functioning for a longer period of time under its accumulating burden), can only temporarily delay the onset of age-related ill-health, not arrest or reverse it - and in the case of rapamycin, the first pharmacological agent to extend the lives of otherwise-healthy mammals, its ability to do even this has been found to be limited." Drugs that slow aging - slow the rate at which damage occurs - are not a desirable end point for the next twenty years of research, when we could instead be working instead to reverse aging by repairing biochemical damage.

Thursday, October 28, 2010
A reminder about the NewOrgan Prize from Sentient Developments: "the Methuselah Foundation recently launched the NewOrgan Prize which will be awarded to the first scientist to produce and successfully transplant an organ using regenerative medicine. The contest is meant to speed up the research process and bring the promise of regenerative medicine to reality. As the US Department of Health & Human Services has stated, 'Regenerative medicine will be the standard of care for replacing organ systems in the body.' The trick is to make it happen. When it comes to reconstructing a new organ, 'new organ engineering' will require the development of all tissues that build the organ including muscle, nerves, arteries and veins. The challenges and limitations of the current system for organ replacement are well documented, including the agony of waiting for a donor to die, lifelong limitations from immunosuppressant drugs, and possible organ rejection. And the sad reality is that many die without receiving a new organ or even qualifying to be considered." As for the Mprize for longevity science, the NewOrgan Prize purse will be formed from philanthropic donations: so if you support the goal, make a donation. Prizes have a multiplying effect: every dollar in the prize purse inspires something like $15 to $50 dollars in research and development funding, based on recent and historical prizes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010
The evolved balance between cancer resistance and tissue maintenance is an important determinant of longevity - but it can be fine-tuned so as to have your cake and eat it, as researchers have found in recent years. Here is another example, in flies this time: "Somatic stem cells are critical for regeneration of many tissues, thus ensuring long-term maintenance of tissue function. Proliferation of stem and progenitor cells has to be limited, however, to prevent hyperproliferative diseases and cancer in aging animals. This conflict between the need for stem cell proliferative potential and cancer prevention compromises regeneration in many high-turnover tissues of aging animals, including humans. ... In old flies, intestinal stem cells (ISCs) hyperproliferate, causing an accumulation of mis-differentiated daughter cells (a phenotype termed intestinal dysplasia). We show that the balance between regeneration and dysplasia in this tissue significantly influences lifespan. When ISC proliferation rates are reduced, but not completely inhibited, dysplasia is limited and lifespan is increased. This can be achieved by moderately reducing insulin and stress signaling activities, as well as by expressing protective proteins in somatic stem cell lineages. Our results show that optimizing proliferative homeostasis (i.e. limiting dysplasia, but allowing sufficient regeneration) in high-turnover tissues is an efficient strategy to extend lifespan." The more that is known about the fine details of metabolic and cellular processes, the more that might be done to tinker with them to extend life. But this will never be as efficient a path forward as repair technologies - when we strive to identify and repair damage within our biochemistry, we have no need to fully understand every aspect. We know what a young metabolism and cell look like, and we are trying to revert the clearly identified differences between young and old.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
An example of early applications of stem cell research forging ahead outside the US: "While stem cells have been making news around the world for their potential, and are even being tried on patients, Dr N K Venkataramana, neurosurgeon, BGS Global Hospital in Bangalore, has successfully used the therapy on patients suffering from Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, cerebellar degeneration and cerebral palsy. 'I used adult mesenchymal stem cells derived from the bone marrow. They were transplanted into the brain through keyhole surgery. These stem cells multiply and thereby regenerate the damaged areas of the brain. This leads to reactivation of brain cells, resulting in recovery from the disease.' ... He created a state-of-the-art research facility - Advanced Neuro Science Allies - and began his research into the use of stem cell therapy three years ago. 'I picked out authentic mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow using a marker. The stem cells were purified and tried on animals for safety. Subsequently, we used the therapy on patients. ... Initially, the findings are that we are on the course to a complete cure. All the patients treated so far have a marked decrease in the need for medication. Their symptoms have reduced drastically. They have an increased feeling of well-being and it is obvious that they are recovering. However, there are still some factors to be addressed and understood.'

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
From In the Pipeline: "there's a report out in PNAS that the longtime treatment for leprosy (Hansen's disease), diaminodiphenylsulfone (DDS or dapsone), also prolongs life in the nematode C. elegans. ... The treated animals showed a significantly longer lifespan, faster body movements compared to untreated controls, and a delay in accumulating the 'aging pigment' lipofuscin. Now, DDS kills bacteria by inhibiting folate synthesis, but that doesn't seem to have anything to do with lifespan extension. The authors found that one of its key targets might be pyruvate kinase - and this might be the source for the mild anemia that's sometimes seen as a side effect in human patients. Nematodes have two isoforms of the enzyme, one mostly in muscle, and the other mostly in the digestive tract. Further study (with RNAi, etc.) showed that the lifespan extension seems to be working through the former, but not the latter. But it also showed that this probably can't be responsible for the whole lifespan effect, either: mutant nematodes with that isoform deleted live longer than wild type, but treating them with DDS makes them live longer still."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Smoking is just a more subtle way of stabbing yourself - causing damage that will shorten your life. One of the impacts of smoking is degraded blood vessel function, and this has a long-term effect on the brain. It is an example of the way in which the state of general health impacts the rate of neurodegeneration: "Heavy smoking in middle age appears to be associated with more than double the risk for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia two decades later. ... [Researchers] analyzed data from 21,123 members of one health care system who participated in a survey between 1978 and 1985, when they were 50 to 60 years old. Diagnoses of dementia, Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia were tracked from Jan. 1, 1994 (when participants were an average of 71.6 years old), through July 31, 2008. A total of 5,367 participants (25.4 percent) were diagnosed with dementia during an average of 23 years of follow-up, including 1,136 with Alzheimer's disease and 416 with vascular dementia. Those who smoked more than two packs per day in middle age had an elevated risk of dementia overall and also of each subtype, Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, compared with non-smokers. ... Smoking is a well-established risk factor for stroke, and may contribute to the risk of vascular dementia through similar mechanisms." As we non-smokers look at this and shake our heads, it is worth recalling that a sedentary lifestyle can be just as damaging to human life expectancy as smoking. Have you looked at the exercise in your life recently?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Developing the means to repair the human brain is essential to engineered longevity - it's the one organ we can't just replace as a last resort. From Sentient Developments: "The human brain degrades quickly with advanced age and, as a result, represents the weakest link in the life extension chain; as far as I'm concerned it's full stop until we can meaningfully fix the cognitive problems associated with aging. Yes, age-associated diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease are clearly bad, but the most devastating of these involve the nervous system - diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. These diseases take a brutal toll on individuals and their families, often virtually killing the person well before they die. That we are facing a looming epidemic of neurological diseases shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone. But what is surprising is that very few people are actively doing anything about it. And it's not that the writing isn't on the wall - it is. The time to act is now. ... Until we can meaningfully treat age-related cognitive decline, many of these other life extending advances are a moot point; what we're in danger of doing right now is extending lifespan, but not necessarily healthy life span." I disagree with this conclusion on the grounds that I think extending life without extending healthy life would be very hard to accomplish even if we were trying - aging is biological damage, and the outcome flows from the state of damage. Reduce the damage and you extend both life and healthy life. Neurodegeneration is driven in large part by the state of general health, perhaps through the mechanisms of blood vessel health, for example.

Monday, October 25, 2010
Why, in a world in which a million people die every week, is cryonics still a fringe activity? Some fairly novel arguments are made in this piece over at Depressed Metabolism: "in the case of cryonics, the idea is so antithetical to the existing order of civilization that it can it only be advanced by insurgent means. This is so because cryonics overturns the Vitalistic view of life, challenges the conventional definition of death, invalidates the core tenets of contemporary medicine, erodes the need for a mystical afterlife, radically redistributes capital (disrupts inheritance, bequests, and mortuary customs), mandates a complete change in reproductive behavior, perturbs generational succession, [requires] profoundly disruptive technologies such as cloning, regenerative medicine, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence ... [thus] the idea that cryonics was just an extension of medicine and is compatible with religion and existing social and political institutions, while superficially satisfying, is both mistaken and bound to fail. ... It is becoming clearer and clearer that demonstrating the technological feasibility of cryonics is not sufficient for the acceptance of cryonics. ... Cryonics advocates often seem to believe that if they refute the common scientific and technical objections to cryonics (which is not that hard to do because the psychological resistance to the idea prevents critics of checking even the most basic facts about the rationale and practice of cryonics) the social and psychological reservations will take care of themselves. This is not just incorrect, such reservations are often the most fundamental."

Monday, October 25, 2010
Aging is the accumulation of damage, and given that life expectancies have increased over time, we'd expect the aged to presently have less biological damage than was the case in the past. This is challenging to measure, however, given the crude state of medical technology in earlier eras. Here is an unusually clear example: "Today's 70-year-olds do far better in intelligence tests than their predecessors. It has also become more difficult to detect dementia in its early stages, though forgetfulness is still an early symptom ... The H70 study provides data on cognitive symptoms that researchers have used to predict the development of dementia, and also to investigate whether the symptoms have changed in recent generations. The study involves a large proportion of 70-year-olds from Gothenburg, Sweden, who have been extensively examined over the years ... Using the test results, we've tried to identify people who are at risk of developing dementia. While this worked well for the group of 70-year-olds born in 1901-02, the same tests didn't offer any clues about who will develop dementia in the later generation of 70-year-olds born in 1930. ... The improvement can partly be explained by better pre- and neonatal care, better nutrition, higher quality of education, better treatment of high blood pressure and other vascular diseases, and not least the higher intellectual requirements of today's society, where access to advanced technology, television and the Internet has become part of everyday life."

If you have comments, please do email them to newsletter@longevitymeme.org.

Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor

Posted: at 9:22 am

(HealthDay News) -- Exercising during adolescence may help guard against a deadly form of brain tumor in adulthood, new research suggests.

The study also found that avoiding obesity during the teen years was associated with a lower risk of developing the cancerous brain tumors called gliomas, while being tall increased the chances of such malignancies.

The study appears in the Nov. 1 issue of Cancer Research.

Gliomas are the most common type of brain and central nervous system cancers, accounting for 80 percent of cases, according to background information in the study. Gliomas cause 13,000 deaths in the United States each year.

Though little is known about why people develop the tumors or who is at risk, previous research has hinted that "early life exposures" may increase the risk of developing the cancer in adulthood, said study author Steven C. Moore, a research fellow in the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch of the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Studies have shown that people who are left-handed, for example, are at higher risk of the disease. Read more...

Memory concentration, loss of memory, short term memory loss

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