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Clinical Applications for Age Management Medicine (Apr. 28-May 01, 2011, Hollywood, Florida, United States, North America)

Posted: February 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Cliquez pour écouter ce texte AMMG's comprehensive Spring 2011 conference agenda will expand the track on Stem Cells that we began last year andpresent clinically focused sessions and interactive panel discussions with experts to introduce and update physicianson the latest science-based clinical information, emergingmodalities and advanced techniques needed to implement agemanagement medicine in a new or existing practice. Thecurriculum will focus on lifestyle issues, physiological &biomedical conditions, diseases associated with agingthosegreatly impacting the patient population and most oftenconfronting physicians during an Age Management Medicineevaluation process as well as methods for developingpersonalized treatment programs.

3rd International Bangkok Congress on Anti Aging and Regenerative Medicine (BCAARM) (Sep. 02-04, 2011, Bangkok, Thailand, Asia)

Posted: at 6:14 pm

Cliquez pour écouter ce texte BCAARM is a medical congress on Anti-Aging which is the stage for medical personnels in this field to share their experiences and get to the most updating technology and innovation. There are more than 700 participant from allover the world attend, with more than 50 leader companiesexhibit in the congress.

Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, 5th Conference (SENS5) (Aug. 31-Sep. 03, 2011, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Europe)

Posted: at 6:14 pm

Cliquez pour écouter ce texte SENS5 is the fifth in a unique series of conferences thatbrings together researchers and laypeople interested inresearch leading to the application of regenerative medicineto the problem of aging. Since aging affects the body at alllevels of organisation, a large number of otherwiseunrelated disciplines are represented, including stem cells,immunotherapy, cancer, neurodegeneration, gene therapy andtissue engineering.

To Improve Blood Circulation, Lower Salt Intake

Posted: at 6:14 pm

A study conducted by CSIRO researchers found that a minimal intake of 3.8 grams of salt, which is equivalent to the salt content of most meals, can affect blood circulation.

Salt is an essential food ingredient needed to keep the body functioning properly. Sodium, a major extracellular ion, is needed by the cells to regulate mechanisms such as muscular contraction and water-base balance. In other words, the nutrients in salt helps maintain the right balance of water and other fluids in the body, influence the relaxation and contraction of muscles, and transmit nerve impulses.

The kidneys are responsible for maintaining the balance of sodium in the body in order to maintain optimal health by excreting it as urine. But these tiny organs that’s just as small as a common computer mouse has its limitations; it can only take a maximum of 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt in a day. Salt that fails to be excreted will start to accumulate in the blood and this could ultimately result to higher blood volume. In effect, the heart will have to work harder in order to properly circulate blood through the blood vessels. This results to higher blood pressure. Diseases linked to this condition are chronic kidney disease, cirrhosis, hypertension, congestive heart failure and a few others.

Immediate Effects of Sodium to Blood Circulation

A study published in the American Journal of Nutrition showed that salty foods can start to adversely affect blood circulation 30 minutes after consumption. The researchers found that eating foods containing 3.8 grams of salt of can inhibit the ability of blood vessels to expand and added that blood flow mediated dilation is reduced within 30 minutes after the meal.

The researchers from CSIRO, or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, in Australia reported that eating meals rich in sodium can reduce the ability of the blood vessels to dilate by 50 percent compared to low-sodium meals. But they added that normal blood vessel function was restored after 2 hours. The lead author of the study, Kacie Dickinson, said that they were surprised to see a similar response to eating foods rich in saturated fats which has been known to damage the blood vessels on a long-term basis.

In the study, the researchers gathered a group of sixteen healthy volunteers and observed the postprandial effects of high salt intake to the endothelial function of study participants which, if impaired, is linked to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and hypertensive disorder. The researchers found that eating either high or low sodium meals can affect the natural ability of blood vessels to expand.  But meals higher in sodium can result to a more significant change.

Food Sources

Knowing the foods that are high in sodium content is the best way of keeping an eye on your sodium intake. Some of the foods richest in sodium are kelp, garbanzo beans, some fruits, dry lotus stems, corn meal, chick peas, cheese, celery, canned foods, buttermilk, black-eyed beans, beets and meats. Fast foods like fries and burgers are high in salt.  People with hypertensive conditions needs to be more wary about their sodium intake due to the risks involved. Healthy people, on the other hand, need to take as much care to prevent the development of the disease. Though sodium from salt offers the body numerous health benefits, the adverse effects of too much sodium are enough reason to read food labels and be well-educated about how to maintain a healthy balance of sodium in the body.

Detecting High Sodium: how to Read Food Labels

Not all foods rich in sodium taste salty. A typical bagel, for example, has 532 milligrams of sodium. So it is always important to read food labels and scan through the Nutritional Facts to know if the food contains more sodium than what your body needs. If you are reading the ingredients, some of the substances that contain sodium are monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, sodium alginate, disodium phosphate, baking powder and baking soda. These ingredients are present in most processed goods.

Some foods also have sodium labels on them. “Unsalted” or “no salt added” means no salt was added in the processing of these foods. But these foods may still have sodium in them. “Light” or “light in sodium” means sodium content has been reduced by 50 percent to the regular variety, “low sodium” products contains 140 milligrams of sodium at most, “very low sodium” indicates 35 milligrams of sodium per serving, and “sodium free” means the food has less than 5 milligrams of sodium.

Healthy and Natural Alternative to Salt

It is possible to supply the body with sodium without taking too much salt. Sodium is a natural occurring nutrient in plants. So using certain plant ingredients like celery and beans in cooking can give dishes a salty taste and at the same time give you just the right amount of sodium. Organic sea salt, on the other hand, can be a better and healthier alternative.

Table salt and organic sea salt has the same nutritional value both consisting of two major mineral components namely sodium and chloride. They contain similar amounts of sodium but the difference primarily lies in the way there were processed. Table salt is usually mined underground and it needs more processing to remove harmful trace minerals and is commonly fortified with iodine. Chemicals are also added to table salt to avoid clumping. Organic sea salt is harvested from evaporated sea water. It undergoes minimal processing and only contains minimal amounts of trace minerals. Sea salt also naturally contains iodine. But regardless of where you are getting your sodium from, it is always important to keep it at a minimum.

Natural Ways to Lower Risk of Hypertension and CVD

The risk factors of hypertension and cardiovascular disease are high alcohol intake, excess weight, lack of exercise, high sodium intake, and high blood cholesterol level. So in order to avoid hypertension, it is only appropriate to keep an active lifestyle, maintain a diet that’s low in sodium and bad cholesterol, keep a healthy body mass index and keep liquor to a moderate. These habits do not only keep the circulatory system health, but they have other health benefits like reduced risk of diabetes, obesity and chronic diseases.



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Study: Red Wine Does Your Heart Good

Posted: at 6:14 pm

A study showed that the intake of red wine containing polyphenols can inhibit the decline of vascular function associated with old age.

The function of the blood vessels has the natural tendency to decline in efficiency as the person grows older. And this has been linked to different age-related health conditions like cardiovascular disease. The good news is:  there’s red wine.

Polyphenols in Red Wine to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

A study conducted by a team of French researchers found that dietary supplementation of red wine containing high levels of polyphenols can slow down the decline of vascular function, which is normally associated with aging. For their preliminary investigation, the researchers used rat subjects to observe the effects of red wine’s polyphenols to the cardiovascular system. They found that polyphenols can inhibit the dysfunction of the cell lining of the blood vessels called the endothelium.

The researchers from the University of Strasbourg, France said that their findings indicate that the intake of polyphenols through the regular drinking of red wine at a younger age can help reduce endothelial dysfunction and physical decline as the person grows older. They added that the mechanism behind the proposed health benefit of red wine is linked with the antioxidant property of polyphenols, or its ability to reduce vascular oxidative stress by inhibiting the production of the   enzyme NADPH oxidase, which has been found to be responsible for the hardening of the arteries and in increasing a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The study, led by French scientist Valerie Schini-Kerth, used four groups of Wistar rats. The control group received 3 percent of ethanol while the second and third groups were given 25 and 75 milligrams of polyphenols from red wine per kilogram of body weight in 3 percent ethanol, respectively. The fourth group was given the antioxidant and NADPH oxidase apocynin at a dosage of 100 milligrams per kilogram of body weight a day in 3 percent ethanol. The rats were 16 weeks old at the beginning of the study and it continued until they were 40 weeks old.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that three groups that received supplementation of polyphenols had lower levels of age-related vascular oxidative stress in the area of the endothelium. In addition, the group that received higher supplementation of polyphenols had a lower decline in physical performance compared to the control group.

The Health Benefits of Red Wine

The moderate drinking of red wine has been considered good for the health due to its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants have been found to reduce bad cholesterol levels while increasing the good cholesterol in the body; inhibit the production of inflammatory enzymes; and protect the cardiovascular system against the damage caused by oxidative stress. Despite the numerous potential health benefits of red wine, medical experts are doubtful about encouraging people to start drinking red wine due to the harmful effects of alcohol abuse. But they still agree that the antioxidants in red wine are extremely good for the health, especially to the heart.

The studies supporting the health benefits of red wine show that it contains more antioxidants than any other alcoholic beverage. Red wine contains a group of antioxidants called polyphenols that had been found to protect the lining of the blood vessels against oxidative stress. The two main forms of polyphenols are flavonoids and nonflavonoids.

Flavonoids are found in different food sources other than red wine. These include cocoa, tea, onions, apples, grape juice and oranges. Nonflavonoids, on the other hand, are efficient in preventing the clogging of the arteries with fatty substances. The studies supporting these claims are only limited to animal subjects and studies on humans are yet to be performed. Amongst the widely studied nonpolyphenol antioxidant content of red wine is resveratrol.

Resveratrol in Red Wine

Resveratrol is primarily found in the skin surface of red grapes. Red wine is rich in resveratrol since it is fermented with the skin intact. Numerous studies have found that resveratrol is effective in preventing the accumulation of fatty substances on the inner surface of the arteries. Studies on mice show that resveratrol can reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes – health conditions that are risk factors of heart disease. But to come in proportion with the resveratrol dosage used in the mice subjects, a person would need to drink 100 to 1,000 bottles of red wine in a day. This is not a problem since food supplements containing high dosages of resveratrol are widely available.

Other related studies on resveratrol found that the compound can be effective in reducing the production of inflammatory substances in the body. Heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are triggered by inflammation. Further studies are yet to be conducted in order to clearly determine the health benefits of resveratrol to the human body.

Natural Ways to Promote Heart Health

Promoting a healthier heart starts with eating the right kind of foods and having sufficient exercise. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and in other parts of the world. Studies found that heart disease can run in the family, but they also suggest that heart disease can be developed by unhealthy diet and the lack of exercise.

The foods that we eat have the strongest influence over the condition of our health. A diet rich in fat, low in fiber and insufficient in nutrients can lead to a higher risk in developing certain health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer. But this can be reversed by simply increasing our intake of fiber and important nutrients, and limiting our consumption of foods rich in fats. An increase in the levels of bad cholesterol is a strong indication of increased cardiovascular risk. This can be controlled by eating more brightly colored vegetables and whole grain foods, and less red meat. The accumulation of cholesterol can lead to the formation of cholesterol plaques on the walls of the arteries which can lead to an obstructed blood flow.

Exercise is very important. Not only does it keep the body performing well but it also helps in improving metabolism and burning excess fats. Certain vices like smoking and binge drinking can also adversely affect the heart so it is advised that these be avoided.



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The Adverse Effects of Caffeine in Energy Drinks to Children

Posted: at 6:14 pm

A study published in the Pediatrics journal revealed that excessive intake of energy drinks can lead to strokes, heart palpitations and sudden death.

A group of medical professionals who reviewed data from case reports, scientific literature, and data from interest groups and government-funded studies say that the potential adverse effects of drinking caffeinated energy drinks include strokes, seizures, heart palpitations and even sudden death. They added that energy drinks are overused, under-studied and may be harmful to teens and children.

Their data review included the case of Dakota Sailor, an 18 year-old high school senior student from Carl Junction, Missouri. He experienced seizures and needed to be hospitalized for almost a week after drinking two large energy drinks. Sailor’s doctor said that the caffeine and similar ingredients may have been the primary cause. According to the study, a can of energy drink normally has 400 to 500 percent more caffeine content than soda. Sailor and other kids included in the study said that they consume an average of four to five cans of energy drinks in a day. The researchers want to have pediatricians warn parents and kids about drinking energy drinks.

Chairman of the pediatrics department of the University of Miami Medical School, Dr Steven Lipshultz, said that they are discouraging the habitual use of energy drinks. Their report included information indicating that energy drinks commonly contain ingredients that optimize the effects of caffeine, producing symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea. The researchers added that energy drinks need to be regulated like prescription medicines, alcohol and tobacco. However, the safety level of consumption of drinking energy drinks for young adults, adolescents, and children has not been clearly established.

The industry of energy drinks boom began 20 years ago with the United States as the fastest growing market; the sales of energy drinks is expected to amount to $9 billion by 2011. The study suggest that more than 30 percent of young adults and teens consume energy drinks but there is insufficient research on the long-term effects of energy drink consumption in children, especially those with medical conditions.

Alarming Facts

The study discovered that some energy drinks contain caffeine and alcohol. The US Food and Drug Administration had sent warning letters to manufacturers and banned certain energy drinks in different states due to the rising case of alcohol overdose. The American Association of Poison Control Centers implemented codes in early 2010 in an effort to track cases of energy drink overdose and side effects on national level. They found 677 cases from October to December and 331 year-to-date.

For 2011, most of the cases were in teens and children. With the 200 cases of energy drink poisoning, more than 25 percent of the involved children are aged younger than 6 years. Though this number is only a tiny fraction of the 2 million cases of poisoning due to other substances per year, the symptoms of energy drink poisoning are lengthy and extremely alarming like irritability, high blood pressure, chest pains, rapid heart rate, hallucinations and seizures.  Though there had not been any cases of death caused by energy drink overdose, there had been a few deaths in European teens and adults with epileptic conditions caused by mixing energy drinks with alcohol.

Science policy senior vice president from the American Beverage Association, Maureen Storey, said that the study did nothing but perpetuate misinformation regarding energy drinks. But the American Academy of Pediatrics commended the report for bringing awareness about the resulting risks of excessive energy drink intake.

High Caffeine Intake Can Impair Cognitive Function

Contrary to popular belief, high doses of caffeine which is common in most energy drinks have been found to impair the cognitive function of teens. Researchers from the Northern Kentucky University found that teens with the least consumption of caffeine responded more effectively to a reaction-time test than those who had higher consumption. Study participants who drank more caffeine felt less tired and more stimulated after the test, but they performed less efficiently on the test.

Head researcher, Cecile Marczinski, said that their findings are interesting since energy drinks are often used to counter the effects of drinking alcohol. She added that having a better understanding of the adverse effects of energy drinks is important since there is no regulation on energy drink labeling and health warnings in the United States.

The researchers used data from 80 college students aged 18 to 40. The researchers gave the study participants energy drinks with different levels of caffeine and found that those with the highest caffeine intake performed less in tests that gauged their response time. The results of the study were published in the December issue of the Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology journal.

Healthy Alternatives to Energy Drinks

There is a growing body of research studies revealing the adverse effects of excessive caffeine intake and energy drinking consumption. People, especially teens, tend to seek help from energy drinks in order to keep them functioning at their “peak performance”. But studies had found that the content of energy drinks, like caffeine and other stimulants, can result to different symptoms like palpitations, seizures and hypertension, and may also exacerbate an existing medical condition. So it is therefore recommended that one make use of healthy alternatives to energy drinks, such as:

  • Drinking water can be a healthy alternative to drinking energy drinks since the body tends to perform better if well-hydrated. Drinking plenty of water after a small meal can also help sustain the feeling of fullness and can also avoid the drowsiness caused by eating a heavy meal. Water is abundant and inexpensive, so there really is no need to waste your precious dollar on energy drinks.

  • Drinking water with a twist of lemon juice can give you a lift whenever you need one. Lemon is a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants and other nutrients that can help in keeping you well-energized.

  • Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee and energy drinks. But it can be an effective beverage to fight drowsiness and in stimulating the body and mind to stay awake and alert. Eating sweet fruits can also supply the body with enough energy to last the day.

Caffeine in coffee and other beverages can help in keeping your mind and body alert. But due to its adverse effects, medical and health professionals advise people to limit their consumption.


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Fresh Raspberries Join the Fight Against Cancer

Posted: at 6:14 pm

A study conducted by a team of researchers from Clemson University in South Carolina found that raspberries have protective effects against cancer.

Raspberries belong to the rose family and are classified as a bramble fruit like blackberry. Its fragrant scent and sweet taste makes it an appetizing ingredient to pastries, sweets and certain dishes. Though raspberries are available in limited supply and are primarily grown in California from June through October, the red berry can be bought fresh or in preserved form at any supermarket. And aside from its succulent and delicious taste, raspberries are also rich sources of an antioxidant called ellagic acid. This nutrient belongs to the group of phytonutrients called tannins and is considered as responsible for the various health benefits of other berries.

The growing interest of different scientific bodies in raspberry roots from its potential in fighting cancer through its antioxidant content. A preliminary study conducted by a team of researchers from the Clemson University, South Carolina observed that raspberry extracts can effectively kill breast, colon and stomach cancer cells by up to 90 percent.

Raspberries Kill Cancer Cells

A study from CU in South Carolina observed how certain cancer cells react to raspberry extract and found that the substance can effectively destroy breast, colon and stomach cancer cells by 90 percent. For years, raspberry has been thought to be a rich source of antioxidants. The new study aims to determine whether there is more to raspberry than its antioxidant content. With their findings, researchers are saying that other substances are also responsible for the raspberry extract’s efficacy in eliminating cancer cells.

The researchers used a popular US variety of raspberries called Meeker red raspberries in their study. They compared their results with the effects of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, which is a stronger antioxidant. They found that raspberries are eight times more effective in killing cancer cells. Thus, they concluded that other substances in raspberry are helping in destroying cancer cells, and for their next study, the researchers will further investigate on what these substances are.

A related study on the use of raspberry in fighting cancer published in the American Association for Cancer Research found that the anthocyanins from black raspberry can efficiently inhibit the growth of esophageal cancer cells and stimulate them to die through apoptosis. The ellagic acid extracted from raspberry has received greater attention than its other nutrient content. Studies have shown that the nutrient can effectively prevent certain cancers like breast, esophagus, lung, bladder and skin cancer.

Raspberries and its Variety of Health Benefits

With more data providing evidence on the various health benefits of raspberries, people have more reason to have a serving or so on a regular basis. Though nutrients extracted from raspberries are widely available as food supplements, the study that showed that there are other compounds in raspberries that can potentially help in protecting the body from certain cancers suggests eating fresh raspberries instead in order to fully take advantage of everything that this red berry has to offer.

Raspberry is rich in phytonutrients that has anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. As a plain antioxidant, raspberry contains ellagic acid that helps prevent the damage caused by free radicals to cells and cell membranes. Raspberry’s flavonoid content is also as well-researched as its ellagic acid content. Studies have found that the flavonoids in raspberry do not only offer antioxidant protection but they can also prevent the growth of certain bacteria and fungi in the body. Candida albicans, for example, is the primary culprit for the development of vaginal infections and a contributor of irritable bowel syndrome.

Compared to other berries, raspberry contains 50 percent more antioxidants than strawberries, 300 percent more than kiwis and 10 times more than what tomatoes can offer. This information is according to a study conducted by researchers from Netherlands and which was published in an issue of the health journal BioFactors. And like the other studies on raspberries, this is primarily due to its high ellagitanin content.

Raspberries are also packed with different vitamins and minerals that help promote overall health. These are excellent sources of vitamin C and manganese which are two of the most powerful antioxidants that help protect the cells from oxidative damage. Raspberry is also rich in copper, potassium, magnesium, niacin, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B complex and dietary fiber. In addition to this, health professionals are recommending raspberry as a natural alternative to processed sugar in sating people’s craving for sweets, especially to those with diabetic conditions.

A study published in an issue of The Archives of Ophthalmology showed that eating raspberries can help promote eye health. Researchers found that eating 3 or more servings of the red berry a day can significantly reduce the risk of developing ARMD or age-related macular degeneration by more than 30 percent; ARMD is the primary cause of vision loss in older people.

Selecting and Storing Your Berries

Raspberries are highly perishable and it can only be stored for up to 2 days even when kept in the fridge. So always make it a point to purchase only what you can consume for the period. This is also the reason why most people opt to buy preserved raspberries or raspberry food supplements. But since raspberry has a lot more to offer when eaten fresh, it is recommended that you add fresh raspberry to your shopping list. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that processed foods like canned goods, baby foods, cereals and bread containing raspberries have almost undetectable amounts of anthocyanins and other antioxidants.

Before storing the fruit in your fridge, make sure to remove any molded fruits and other foods may affect the freshness of your berries. Also, pick out any wilted or spoiled raspberry to prevent it from contaminating the others. Since raspberries are often pre-packed, you will likely find spoiled pieces packed together with the fresh ones. And always keep them inside the fridge since putting them in room temperature or exposing them to sunlight will cause the raspberry to become spoiled even before you get the time to eat them. But if you want to keep them longer, raspberries can last for about a year inside the freezer. But make sure to store them in a single layer.


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The New Stem Cell Science of Progeria

Posted: at 6:14 pm

Great inroads have been made in recent years into an understanding of the accelerated aging condition called Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, or progeria. Despite its extreme rarity - there are less than a hundred sufferers known worldwide - the condition is of great interest to aging researchers, and this is because of what progeria might teach us about a range of important cellular mechanisms and their impact on "normal" aging.

The breakthrough discovery linking progeria with malformed lamin A protein back in 2003 came about as a result of advances in biotechnology. Thanks to rapid technological progress, the means to make this discovery became cheap enough that one determined researcher could push through to succeed in a comparatively short time frame. Ten years previously, that would have been impossible for such a small research effort.

Today the tools of cellular biotechnology are at least as far advanced over the state of the art in 2003 as that year was over the early 1990s. As a result new avenues are opening up in the investigation of progeria's mechanisms - and their relevance to the rest of us. A recent research release from EurekAlert!, for example, shows how application of the comparatively recent technologies of induced pluripotency (used to produce induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells) are leading to further discoveries in both aberrant and "normal" aging:

Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome is caused by a single point mutation in the gene encoding lamin A, which forms a protein scaffold on the inner edge of the nucleus that helps maintain chromatin structure and organize nuclear processes such as RNA and DNA synthesis. The mutation creates an alternative splice site that leads to the production of a truncated version of the protein known as progerin. Unlike the full-length protein, progerin does not properly integrate into the nuclear lamina, which disrupts the nuclear scaffold and causes a host of problems.

"There is also evidence that defective lamin A accumulates during the normal aging process via the sporadic use of the alternative splice [site]. Therefore we are very keen [to] identify new aging markers and explore other aspects of human premature and physiological aging."


Compared to normal skin fibroblasts, cells from Progeria patients have misshapen nuclei and a range of other nuclear defects, including a disorganized nuclear lamina, loss of super-condensed DNA, telomere shortening and genomic instability. Yet, despite their "old" appearance and characteristics, these cells could be readily converted into iPS cells.

"The reprogramming process erased all nuclear and epigenetic defects and the rejuvenated pluripotent cells looked and acted like perfectly normal healthy cells."

Which is a very interesting result. You might compare it with another demonstration made recently in which damaged cells lost their damaged status when altered to become induced pluripotent stem cells. Unlike that case, however, here the induced pluripotent cells still bear the seeds of the damage: when they differentiate into other types of cell, those cells once again produce the bad lamin A and suffer the characteristic effects of progeria.

The researchers conclude that a therapy might be built through genetic manipulation and cell transplant, as they were able to fix the differentiated cells via that approach:

Genetically modifying progeria-derived iPS cells to shut down the expression of progerin staved off the premature appearance of aging phenotypes after differentiation. "Transplantation of the progenitor cells derived from the 'corrected' progeria iPS cells might hold the promise to treat these progeria children in the future."

As I have noted in the past, a comprehensive fix for progeria may well be of some benefit to those of us suffering "normal" aging as well.

Improved Manipulation of the Immune System

Posted: at 6:13 pm

Can improving the technologies of vaccination lead to gains in the capacity of the age-damaged immune system? Progress in the ability to manipulate the immune system may pay off in unexpected ways when further technologies are built atop a new platform: "Vaccine scientists say their 'Holy Grail' is to stimulate immunity that lasts for a lifetime. Live viral vaccines such as the smallpox or yellow fever vaccines provide immune protection that lasts several decades, but despite their success, scientists have remained in the dark as to how they induce such long lasting immunity. Scientists [have] designed tiny nanoparticles that resemble viruses in size and immunological composition and that induce lifelong immunity in mice. They designed the particles to mimic the immune?stimulating effects of one of the most successful vaccines ever developed - the yellow fever vaccine. The particles, made of biodegradable polymers, have components that activate two different parts of the innate immune system and can be used interchangeably with material from many different bacteria or viruses. ... the yellow fever vaccine stimulated multiple Toll?like receptors (TLRs) in the innate immune system. TLRs [are] molecules expressed by cells that can sense bits of viruses, bacteria and parasites ... the immune system sensed the yellow fever vaccine via multiple TLRs, and that this was required for the immunity induced by the vaccine. ... We found that to get the best immune response, you need to hit more than one kind of Toll?like receptor. Our aim was to create a synthetic particle that accomplishes this task. ... In experiments with monkeys, nanoparticles with viral protein could induce robust responses greater than five times the response induced by a dose of the same viral protein given by itself, without the nanoparticles."

Link: http://www.kurzweilai.net/virus-mimicking-nanoparticles-can-stimulate-long-lasting-immunity

An Example of Youthful Regeneration

Posted: at 6:13 pm

Young mammals are capable of feats of regeneration: even in humans, it has been known for young children to regenerate lost fingertips. That capacity fades with age, however. Researchers are investigating the biochemistry of this behavior for much the same reasons as they look at regenerating species such as salamanders - if the capacity is there, perhaps it can be restored in adults. "Researchers, working with mice, found that a portion of the heart removed during the first week after birth grew back wholly and correctly - as if nothing had happened. ... This is an important step in our search for a cure for heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the developed world. We found that the heart of newborn mammals can fix itself; it just forgets how as it gets older. The challenge now is to find a way to remind the adult heart how to fix itself again. ... Previous research has demonstrated that the lower organisms, like some fish and amphibians, that can regrow fins and tails, can also regrow portions of their hearts after injury. ... In contrast, the hearts of adult mammals lack the ability to regrow lost or damaged tissue, and as a result, when the heart is injured, for example after a heart attack, it gets weaker, which eventually leads to heart failure. ... The researchers found that within three weeks of removing 15 percent of the newborn mouse heart, the heart was able to completely grow back the lost tissue, and as a result looked and functioned just like a normal heart. The researchers believe that uninjured beating heart cells, called cardiomyocytes, are a major source of the new cells. They stop beating long enough to divide and provide the heart with fresh cardiomyocytes."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-02/usmc-nhm022311.php

The International Aging Research Portfolio Launches

Posted: at 6:13 pm

A little while back, I was invited to preview an independent project under development at the behest of Alex Zhavoronkov, one of the trustees of the UK-based Biogerontology Research Foundation, a group with strong ties to the Methuselah Foundation and SENS Foundation communities. That project is now launched and open to the world: it is the International Aging Research Portfolio - "tracking international progress in aging research".

The site grants users access to research and funding information for over a million [projects]. The IARP is a fully searchable, flexible and highly scalable knowledge-management system developed to enable organizations to collaborate, track, analyze, structure, make decisions and set directions for future research efforts in aging. ... Aging research spans many areas of natural and social and behavioural sciences and requires a high degree of interdisciplinary and international cooperation. The goal of IARP is to provide a centralized decision support system for scientists, research institutes, funding organizations and policy makers involved in aging research.

If you are a statistics addict, this might keep you occupied for a while. The aggregated funding data and trends in research are particularly interesting, and could be more so if further sliced and diced. For example, funding by theory of aging:

Color me surprised that funding of work on telomeres in aging is so very far ahead - but there's the purpose of data mining, to learn. The hope here is that data mining tools that operate on this large data set will provide compelling benefits for the research community, such as by making it easier to match up research proposals to funding sources based on the sort of awards made in the past.

Public sources of funds are over-represented in this database by virtue of being public sources and thus producing records that are generally more accessible. One can imagine a slow extension of such a data aggregation operation into the private funding space based on the same provision of compelling benefits. If you make it worthwhile by streamlining the process of fundraising (on the research side) and the process of finding suitable projects to fund (on the funding source side), then people will use the system and in the process support its evolution and growth.

DNA Methylation Correlates With Age-Related Frailty

Posted: at 6:13 pm

We expect to see good correlations between many aspects of our biology and aging: "Epigenetic variations have been widely described to occur during the aging process. To verify if these modifications are correlated with the inter-individual phenotypic variability of elderly people, we searched for a correlation between global DNA methylation levels and frailty. We found that the global DNA methylation levels were correlated to the frailty status in middle/advanced-aged subjects but not with age. A 7-year follow-up study also revealed that a worsening in the frailty status was associated to a significant decrease in the global DNA methylation levels. These results suggest that the relaxation of the epigenetic control in aging is specifically associated with the functional decline rather than with the chronological age of individuals. Thus, the modifications of DNA methylation, representing a drawbridge between the genetic and the environmental factors affecting the age-related decay of the organism, may play an important role in determining physiological changes over old age." Equally, it may go the other way - these changes could just as well be the symptoms of damaged systems flailing as they try to adapt to countless small breakages at the level of cells and molecular machinery. It is important in the development of therapies for aging to try to identify the root causes, as fixing those will also solve secondary issues.

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21336567

Decellularization to Create Blood Vessels For Transplant

Posted: at 6:13 pm

Decellularization is proving to be a versatile technology in tissue engineering: grow the tissue from stem cells or accept a donor organ, strip its cells to leave behind the extracellular matrix, and then repopulate it from the recipient's stem cells to make it ready for transplant. For example: "Heart bypass patients may soon be able to get new arteries without having to sacrifice vessels from other parts of their body, thanks to ready-made, off-the-shelf artificial blood vessels. Biomedical engineers have been trying to build replacement blood vessels, needed for coronary artery bypass surgery and kidney dialysis patients, for three decades. Researchers from Humacyte Inc., in Durham, N.C., discovered the trick: recruiting cells to build the vessel, then washing them away so the nonliving tissue is storable and works for anyone. ... The company has managed to make a "universal blood vessel. This is very practical and convenient for clinical applications. ... Other approaches, customized with a patient's own cells, take several months to prepare. ... Though Humacyte is starting to plan human clinical trials, it's too early to predict when the grafts would become available to the general public. ... [researchers] not yet know how much the grafts would cost, but anticipates it will be less than the $15,000-and-up for personalized grafts from patient's own cells. The company can use cells from multiple cadavers to generate hundreds of grafts at once, making production much cheaper."

Link: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-blood-vessels-20110221,0,6930611.story

A Sampling of Present Work on Targeted Cancer Therapies

Posted: at 6:13 pm

I am not complacent about the cancers that no doubt lie in my future - just as they lie in yours. But I am not terribly concerned either; I give more thought to the fate of my wallet than to the fate of my flesh when it comes to cancer. By the time I hit the stage of life at which cancers are most likely to manifest, then the state of the art in safe and robustly effective cancer therapies will be impressive indeed. That will be true even if all that happens in between now and then is that the present technology demonstrations carried out in laboratories are developed into commercially available therapies ... and I'd expect far more progress than that to happen over a twenty year span of time.

Here are two more reassuring examples of ongoing development in biotechnology for those of us fortunately enough to have the luxury of time when it comes to cancer - even if we certainly don't have the luxury of time when it comes to aging itself.

Nanotechnology may lead to new treatment of liver cancer:

Researchers evaluated the use of molecular-sized bubbles filled with C6-ceramide, called cerasomes, as an anti-cancer agent. Ceramide is a lipid molecule naturally present in the cell's plasma membrane and controls cell functions, including cell aging, or senescence. ... The beauty of ceramide is that it is non-toxic to normal cells, putting them to sleep, while selectively killing cancer cells


Cerasomes [can] target cancer cells very specifically and accurately, rather than affecting a larger area that includes healthy cells. The problem with ceramide is that as a lipid, it cannot be delivered effectively as a drug. To solve this limitation, the researchers use nanotechnology, creating the tiny cerasome, to turn the insoluble lipid into a soluble treatment.


Researchers [previously] observed that cerasome use led to complete remission in aggressive, large granular lymphocytic leukemia in rats. ... It is plausible that preventing liver tumor vascularization with cerasome treatment could induce widespread apoptosis, a genetically programmed series of events that leads to cell death in tumors

The Answer To Wiping Out Cancer Could Be World's First Chemical Guided Missile:

Current cancer treatments destroy the cells that form the bulk of the tumour, but are largely ineffective against the root of the cancer, the cancer stem cells. This suggests that in order to provide a cure for cancer we must accurately detect and eliminate the cancer stem cells.


researchers have [created a targeted] RNA aptamer, a chemical antibody that acts like a guided missile to seek out and bind only to cancer stem cells. The aptamer has the potential to deliver drugs directly to the stem cells (the root of cancer cells) and also to be used to develop a more effective cancer imaging system for early detection of the disease.

Many different research groups are developing many different competing methods of both targeting cancer cells and delivering existing chemotherapy compounds in a highly targeted way. The chemical compounds used in many existing cancer therapies could be the basis for very safe and very effective future therapies if only they could be delivered just to cancer cells, and in small doses that did not leak out into neighboring tissues. This is exactly the capability being demonstrated over the past few years in laboratories around the world.

Exercise Versus Accelerated Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Posted: at 6:13 pm

Researchers demonstrate that exercise can counter some of the effects of an engineered acceleration of mitochondrial dysfunction: "researchers [found] that signs of premature aging were halted - and even reversed - in virtually every tissue and organ in the bodies of exercised mice. Mice genetically altered to age faster were forced to run on treadmills for 45 minutes, three times a week. Five months later, the mice looked as young, healthy and active as wild-type mice - mice that didn't have the genetic mutation - while their sedentary and same-aged siblings were balding, greying and shrinking. .. The mice were genetically manipulated to age twice as fast as normal because of a defect in the repair system of their mitochondria, the powerhouses or furnaces inside each cell that give our body energy. Evidence has been mounting for decades that the older we get, the more mutations we accumulate in mitochondrial DNA. The furnaces start to break down, resulting in a steady decline in tissue and organ function. ... In our study, we saw huge recovery in mitochondrial function [in] the exercised mice." We might expect this result, given that exercise is known to have an impact on longevity, as well as on many of the biological mechanisms that are associated with aging. Given the importance of mitochondria in aging, it is interesting to see more work on the links between exercise and their function - but we must always be careful when evaluating work based on engineered dysfunction or accelerated aging. It is often the case that the putative end result has little relevance to "normal" aging.

Link: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/health/4321105/story.html

Theorizing on Thrifty Genes and Overnutrition

Posted: at 6:13 pm

An open access paper: "Nearly 50 years ago geneticist James Neel famously proposed that 'thrifty genes' were important contributors to the rising prevalence of diabetes. Such genes promote efficient use and conservation of food energy, he theorized, and thus were favored by natural selection to help our ancient ancestors cope with famines. Now widespread in various populations, they predispose to obesity and diabetes, abetting a tendency to prepare for famines that never come. ... Here I propose an extension of this reproduction-centered version of Neel's theory that bears on aging. One of my key premises is that many windows of opportunity for reproductive booms occurred during the Holocene as agricultural innovations spread, periodically increasing food availability between times of nutritional stress. The periods of plenty selected for genotypes capable of rapidly ramping up fecundity as food intake increased. ... I believe the boom times' selection of genotypes prone to nutrition-cued accelerated development is having an especially problematic effect today because of widespread childhood overnutrition. Accelerated development, which enhanced reproductive success in the past, now has a pro-aging effect with rapidly growing costs. Indeed, when viewed through the lens of the antagonistic pleiotropy theory of aging, this effect seems anything but thrifty: It predisposes toward what might be called the spendthrift phenotype, characterized by chronic activation of pro-growth pathways - notably those involving mTOR, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor-1 - that support rapid development and sexual maturation but that also underlie later senescence. The modern fallout encompasses a much broader array of age-associated ills than the diabetes that prompted Neel's original hypothesis. Indeed, the spendthrift phenotype may well increase the age-associated risks of most if not all diseases of aging, like the ruinous adult legacy of flush, fast-living youth."

Link: http://www.impactaging.com/papers/v3/n2/full/100286.html

Photographs: Russian Cryonics, American Rejuvenation Biotechnology

Posted: at 6:12 pm

Follow the links below for a little photography for an otherwise slow Tuesday:

My Visit to KrioRus - the First Cryonics Company in Europe and Asia

Yesterday I visited the facilities of the Russian cryonics company KrioRus, which are located just outside Moscow. That's the huge dewar flask where the cryopreserved bodies are stored. It's so big that one needs to climb up a ladder to peek through the steamy nitrogen. And in the picture below Alexei Turchin, a renowned futurologist and expert on global risks, and I are in front of the other dewar flask, now empty and waiting for the new cryo patients. Cryonics is an amazing opportunity to get a chance to find yourself in the future. I believe cryonics is the choice of truly smart people.

SENS Foundation 'Lab Warming'

One of the Foundation's achievements last year was our Research Center's moving to a larger laboratory space, in Mountain View, California. Earlier this month we held a small opening event. It gave us a chance to thank our Research Operations Manager, Tanya Jones, and her team, for all their work in yet-again increasing the capabilities of the Foundation to pursue its core research interests. Anyway ... I took some snapshots during the afternoon, and thought I'd share them.

KrioRus and the SENS Foundation are two amongst a wide range of modern ventures in longevity science - although very different in focus, both are just a few years old and spring from overlapping communities of supporters, most of whom have been involved in the space for a decade or two at most. The longevity advocacy and interest community has a much longer history, and has become generational in nature over time. The folk who were most active in the early 90s are largely not the folk who are most active now, and progress in the form of new initiatives and public interest tends to arrive in waves. This I see as a good thing: life is change, and all broad movements need the influx of new faces and new movers and shakers in order to progress.

Salt increases heart attack and stroke risk, even if blood pressure is normal

Posted: at 6:12 pm

Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

Excess dietary salt is notorious for increasing blood pressure – blood volume increases, placing more stress on blood vessel walls. This forces the heart to pump harder against the pressure, and also structural changes that harden the vessel wall (this hardening is called stenosis) occur in response to these high pressures.
About one-third of all American adults and over 50% of those over the age of 55 have hypertension, and hypertension carries significant risks. Elevated blood pressure accounts for 62% of strokes and 49% of coronary heart disease. [1] Notably, the risk for heart attack and stroke begins climbing with systolic pressures (first number in the blood pressure reading) above 115 mm Hg – considered “normal” by most standards.[2] Also, dietary salt is not only dangerous to the cardiovascular system, but also contributes to kidney disease, osteoporosis , ulcers, and stomach cancer. [3] Read more...

Body cleansing, Body detoxify

Fight Aging! Newsletter, February 21st 2011

Posted: February 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

February 21st 2011

The Fight Aging! 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 Fight Aging!



- 25 Scientific Ideas of Life Extension
- An Editorial on Death and Ageism
- How Reversible is Alzheimer's Disease?
- A Podcast Interview With Aubrey de Grey
- Discussion
- Latest Headlines from Fight Aging!


The Russian parallel to the SENS Foundation and Methuselah Foundation is an organization called the Science for Life Extension Foundation. Amongst other activities, the Foundation volunteers publish a number of high quality PDFs on aging, human biochemistry, and longevity science. Not all of which are in English, unfortunately, but in the following post I point out one of the better ones:


"I did want to direct your attention to one of the documents, however, which is entitled '25 Scientific Ideas of Life Extension.' It is a very elegantly designed, very clear booklet aimed at investors. The PDF packages up a series of scientific research programs aimed at extending human life into compelling elevator pitches - but just saying that doesn't do it justice. It really is very well done indeed, and you should take a look."


We live in a world in which people are dying all the time and all around us - a fact that we spend a great deal of effort ignoring. Most of those deaths are the elderly, and what does it say about us that we try hard to pay no attention?


"Aging kills people, just as cars do. There are only two things that distinguish aging from other killers: it kills people very slowly, only after gradually and progressively debilitating them over many years, and it only kills people who were born quite a long time ago. The combination of these features seems to be the only available explanation for why we so meekly and calmly accept the deaths of so vast a number of people from aging, while feeling much more intense anger and despair at the comparatively rare deaths that occur in the industrialized world at younger ages. ... Is it somehow OK, or at least only a little bit sad, when someone dies of 'natural causes' after 'a good innings'? I would suggest that it is not OK.

"Ageism permeates our societies, and our descendants will look back in disgust and horror at the way in which we allowed our historical legacy of prejudice to suppress and slow down progress towards the biotechnologies of rejuvenation. We younger folk write off the old in so many ways, and in doing so each of us is only sticking the knife into the person we'll be a few decades down the line - and teaching our children to do exactly the same. Every death is a tragedy, but so many people work so hard to pretend otherwise."


The evidence to date suggests that the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's disease are in fact largely reversible in principle, at least in the early and mid stages of the condition. All we lack are good methods of bringing about that reversal:


"Researchers from the Max Planck Research Unit for Structural Molecular Biology at DESY in Hamburg have succeeded in demonstrating that once the gene is deactivated, mice with a human tau gene, which previously presented symptoms of dementia, regain their ability to learn and remember, and that the synapses of the mice also reappear in part. The scientists are now testing active substances to prevent the formation of tau deposits in mice. This may help to reverse memory loss in the early stages of Alzheimer disease - in part, at least."


Biomedical gerontologist and longevity advocate Aubrey de Grey should need no introductions for this audience. You'll find links to a recent interview with de Grey in the Fight Aging! post linked below:


"During this conversation I ask Dr. de Grey to discuss issues such as: the term natural death and its impact; the publicity and importance of two long-awaited documentaries about Ray Kurzweil - Transcendent Man and The Singularity is Near; traditional metabolic and more recent DNA tests such as the ones done by 23andMe and others; the slow developmental process of new drugs and therapies, and the problems of taking them from testing in lab rats to humans; the Thomas Malthus argument of overpopulation and Aubrey's reply to it."


The highlights and headlines from the past week follow below. 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, February 18, 2011
The investigation of the mechanisms of calorie restriction continues apace. Here, researchers "report for the first time that deactivation of a protein called CRTC1 in roundworms increases their lifespan, most likely mediating the effects of calorie restriction. Previously, researchers knew hunger promoted longevity by activating an enzyme called AMPK, which senses that food is scarce and pushes cells into a low energy state. ... We knew AMPK was a major energy sensor but didn't know what it was talking to. Our goal was to understand the genetic circuitry that registered that response. ... It was clear that one pathway that coordinated metabolism with growth in response to nutrients was AMPK signaling. Studies had also suggested that AMPK might regulate lifespan in worms. What was not known was what factors downstream of AMPK mediated those effects. ... they searched the genome of Caenorhabditis elegans for likely AMPK targets, and identified one suspect encoding a protein called CRTC1, which was expressed at the same time and place as AMPK. To determine if CRTC1 played any role in lifespan, the team fed worms an inhibitory RNA engineered to deplete them of CRTC1 protein. When they measured the worms' lifespan-normally about 3 weeks-they found that worms fed the anti-CRTC1 RNA lived a whopping 40% longer, suggesting that AMPK retards aging by antagonizing CRTC1 activity. ... AMPK deactivated CRTC1 by adding phosphates to a specific region of the CRTC1 protein, an effect equivalent to eliminating CRTC1 altogether. Likewise, when the worms were fed an inhibitory RNA depleting them of an enzyme that lops off the CRTC1 phosphates, they lived longer, showing that AMPK and the lopper - known to scientists as calcineurin - determine lifespan by controlling the extent to which CRTC1 is phosphorylated."

Friday, February 18, 2011
From ScienceDaily: "It has been long known that stress plays a part not just in the graying of hair but in hair loss as well. ... Now, a team [that] was investigating how stress affects gastrointestinal function may have found a chemical compound that induces hair growth by blocking a stress-related hormone associated with hair loss - entirely by accident. ... Our findings show that a short-duration treatment with this compound causes an astounding long-term hair regrowth in chronically stressed mutant mice. This could open new venues to treat hair loss in humans through the modulation of the stress hormone receptors, particularly hair loss related to chronic stress and aging. ... the researchers had been using mice that were genetically altered to overproduce a stress hormone called corticotrophin-releasing factor, or CRF. As these mice age, they lose hair and eventually become bald on their backs, making them visually distinct from their unaltered counterparts. The [researchers] had developed the chemical compound, a peptide called astressin-B, and described its ability to block the action of CRF. ... researchers injected the astressin-B into the bald mice to observe how its CRF-blocking ability affected gastrointestinal tract function. .... About three months later, the investigators returned to these mice to conduct further gastrointestinal studies and found they couldn't distinguish them from their unaltered brethren. They had regrown hair on their previously bald backs."

Thursday, February 17, 2011
From the Monterey Herald: " Within a Northeast Ohio lab, a hairless mouse is growing an ear from the cells of a Wadsworth, Ohio, preschooler. Dr. William Landis, the G. Stafford Whitby Chair of Polymer Science at the University of Akron, is leading groundbreaking, tissue-engineering research to grow human cartilage - first in the lab, now in animals and, eventually, in patients. His work is part of a fast-developing field that could help millions of patients repair injuries, replace worn body parts or fix birth defects with tissue grown from their own cells in the not-so-distant future. ... Kyle Figuray's parents agreed to be the first area participants and donors of his otherwise useless cartilage. The healthy, friendly 5-year-old was born with a congenital defect that caused the exterior ear and ear canal on his right side to develop improperly. Typically, the malformed ear cartilage is discarded as medical waste after it's removed during the first of three procedures to craft a new ear out of rib. Instead, the tissue removed [was] placed inside a vial and shared with Landis' research team, who carefully cleansed the cells and fed them special nutrients to coax them to proliferate in the lab. A few weeks later, enough cells were available for researchers to 'seed' them onto a biodegradable, biocompatible polymer scaffold. A few days later, the seeded ear scaffold was implanted under the skin of a hairless mouse ... The mouse will be studied over the next year to determine how the cells are behaving and progressing toward normal cartilage. If all goes well, the biodegradable polymer scaffold should disappear, leaving behind only Kyle's cartilage cells in the shape of an ear. The hope is that an affected person's cells someday can be harvested, seeded onto similar polymer scaffolds and implanted under the patient's own skin in the abdomen or back until they grow into replacement tissue. At that point, the new tissue could be removed and used to replace the patient's injured or defective tissue."

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Research into Laron dwarfism in a population in Ecuador has been taking place for a few years now: "People living in remote villages in Ecuador have a mutation that some biologists say may throw light on human longevity and ways to increase it. The villagers are very small, generally less than three and a half feet tall, and have a rare condition known as Laron syndrome or Laron-type dwarfism. ... though cancer was frequent among people who did not have the Laron mutation, those who did have it almost never got cancer. And they never developed diabetes, even though many were obese, which often brings on the condition. ... [this is] an opportunity to explore in people the genetic mutations that researchers [found] could make laboratory animals live much longer than usual. ... The Laron patients' mutation means that their growth hormone receptor lacks the last eight units of its exterior region, so it cannot react to growth hormone. In normal children, growth hormone makes the cells of the liver churn out another hormone, called insulinlike growth factor, or IGF-1, and this hormone makes the children grow. If the Laron patients are given doses of IGF-1 before puberty, they can grow to fairly normal height. This is where the physiology of the Laron patients links up with the longevity studies that researchers have been pursuing with laboratory animals. IGF-1 is part of an ancient signaling pathway that exists in the laboratory roundworm as well as in people. The gene that makes the receptor for IGF-1 in the roundworm is called DAF-2. And worms in which this gene is knocked out live twice as long as normal."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
A promising open access study: "Transplanting autologous renal progenitor cells (RPCs), (kidney stem cells derived from self-donors), into rat models with kidney damage from pyelonephritis - a type of urinary infection that has reached the kidney - has been found to improve kidney structure and function. ... Advancements in stem cell therapies and tissue engineering hold great promise for regenerative nephrology. Our RPC transplant study demonstrated benefits for pyelonephritis, a disease characterized by severe inflammation, renal function impairment and eventual scarring, and which remains a major cause of end-stage-renal disease worldwide. ... The researchers divided 27 rats into three groups, two of which were modeled with an induced pyelonephritis in their right kidneys, while the third group did not have induced disease. RPCs were obtained from the diseased animals' left kidneys and injected into the right kidney six weeks later. Two weeks after injection, tubular atrophy was reduced. After four weeks, fibrosis was reduced and after sixty days, right renal tissue integrity was 'significantly improved.' ... We propose that kidney augmentation was mainly due to functional tissue regeneration following cellular transplantation. Kidney-specific stem/progenitor cells might be the most appropriate candidates for transplantation because of their inherent organ-specific differentiation and their capacity to modulate tissue remodeling in chronic nephropathies. ... The researchers concluded that because renal fibrosis is a common and ultimate pathway leading to end-stage renal disease, amelioration of fibrosis might be of major clinical relevance."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
From the Telegraph: "India's first set of government-approved clinical trials of stem cells on patients with chronic obstructive lung disease, diabetes, liver cirrhosis and osteoarthritis are likely to begin in five cities in April this year. A Bangalore-based company, Stempeutics Research, has received approval from the country's drug regulatory agency to evaluate the efficacy of its stem cells on these four incurable diseases after safety assessments over the past year on patients with cardiovascular disease. The efficacy - Phase II - trials are likely to begin on small groups of volunteer patients offered the experimental treatment in collaborating hospitals in Bangalore, Kochi, Delhi, Mangalore and Manipal, a senior Stempeutics official said. Each volunteer patient will receive a dose of mesenchymal stem cells derived from the bone marrow of healthy persons. The stem cells, coaxed to proliferate in a broth of laboratory biochemicals, will be injected at the site of illness - the pancreas, the liver, the lungs, or the bone - where they are expected to stimulate resident stem cells and regenerate the damaged or lost tissue. While private and even government hospitals have in the past offered stem cell therapy to patients with intractable conditions, the proposal by Stempeutics is the first with formal approval from regulators for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, liver cirrhosis and osteoarthritis."Link: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110216/jsp/frontpage/story_13589821.jsp

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The selective destruction of immune cells in the old should greatly improve their failing immune function. Much of that decline results from an imbalance of cell types, while other issues such as autoimmune diseases may be the result of a small population of misconfigured cells: "Aberrant production of autoantibodies by inappropriately self-reactive plasma cells is an inherent characteristic of autoimmune diseases. Several therapeutic strategies aim to deplete the plasma cell pool, or to prevent maturation of B cells into plasma cells. However, accepted views of B-cell biology are changing; recent findings show that long-lived plasma cells [contribute] to the maintenance of humoral memory and, in autoimmunity, to autoreactive memory. As a consequence of their longevity and persistence, long-lived plasma cells can support chronic inflammatory processes in autoimmune diseases by continuously secreting pathogenic antibodies, and they can contribute to flares of symptoms. As long-lived plasma cells are not sufficiently eliminated by current therapies, these findings are extremely relevant to the development of novel concepts for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Thus, long-lived plasma cells appear to be a promising new therapeutic target." It would be a good day for a great many patients if it turns out that autoimmune diseases can be eliminated or greatly reduced in severity by destroying just a small population of cells. We already know that complete destruction and recreation of the immune system works, so this seems like a reasonable direction to explore.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Some thoughts on wrong directions in medicine from Chronosphere: "The first thing that anyone needs to understand about medicine is what its proper goal is. That's actually pretty simple: to cure disease and maintain good health. No further qualifications are necessary. Once that proposition is accepted, it then should become obvious that the end goal, and the ultimate ideal of medicine, is to keep people alive and in good health indefinitely. ... So, despite the fact that most people, when asked, will recoil in horror from the notion of personal, biological immortality, the fact is that that is exactly what they expect, exactly what they want, and exactly what they will effectively demand. Unfortunately, most of the medicine we practice today is not only not going to provide immortality any time soon ... Halfway technology represents the kinds of things that must be done after the fact, in efforts to compensate for the incapacitating effects of certain diseases whose course one is unable to do very much about. By its nature, it is at the same time highly sophisticated and profoundly primitive ... It is characteristic of this kind of technology that it costs an enormous amount of money and requires a continuing expansion of hospital facilities ... It is when physicians are bogged down by their incomplete technologies, by the innumerable things they are obliged to do in medicine, when they lack a clear understanding of disease mechanisms, that the deficiencies of the health-care system are most conspicuous ... The only thing that can move medicine away from this level of technology is new information, and the only imaginable source of this information is research. The real high technology of medicine comes as the result of a genuine understanding of disease mechanisms and when it becomes available, it is relatively inexpensive, relatively simple, and relatively easy to deliver."

Monday, February 14, 2011
Via EurekAlert!: "Scientists [have] produced the first known compound to show significant effectiveness in protecting brain cells directly affected by Parkinson's disease, a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disorder. Although the findings were in animal models of the disease, the effectiveness of the compound, combined with its potential to be taken orally, offers the tantalizing possibility of a potentially useful future therapy for Parkinson's disease patients. ... The new small molecule - labeled SR-3306 - is aimed at inhibiting a class of enzymes called c-jun-N-terminal kinases (JNK). Pronounced 'junk,' these enzymes have been shown to play an important role in neuron (nerve cell) survival. As such, they have become a highly viable target for drugs to treat neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease. ... The SR-3306 compound, which has been in development [for] several years, performed well in both cell culture and animal models. In cell culture, the compound showed greater than 90 percent protection against induced cell death of primary dopaminergic neurons, while in mouse models of induced neuron death, the compound showed protective levels of approximately 72 percent. The scientists went one step further, testing the new compound in a rat model, which duplicates the physical symptoms often seen with the human disease - a pronounced and progressive loss of motor skills. The results showed SR-3306 provided a protection level of approximately 30 percent in the brain, a level that reduced the dysfunctional motor responses by nearly 90 percent."

Monday, February 14, 2011
Lithium is known to extend life in nematode worms, though I haven't seen much further exploration of the mechanism. Here, Japanese researchers show that lithium intake is also associated with human mortality - though as for all such large statistical studies, one would want to see confirming work from other parts of the world before taking it as fact: "Lithium is a nutritionally essential trace element predominantly contained in vegetables, plant-derived foods, and drinking water. Environmental lithium exposure and concurrent nutritional intake vary considerably in different regions. We here have analyzed the possibility that low-dose lithium exposure may affect mortality in both metazoans and mammals. ... Based on a large Japanese observational cohort, we have used weighted regression analysis to identify putative effects of tap water-derived lithium uptake on overall mortality. Independently, we have exposed Caenorhabditis elegans, a small roundworm commonly used for anti-aging studies, to comparable concentrations of lithium, and have quantified mortality during this intervention. ... In humans, we find here an inverse correlation between drinking water lithium concentrations and all-cause mortality in 18 neighboring Japanese municipalities with a total of 1,206,174 individuals ... Consistently, we find that exposure to a comparably low concentration of lithium chloride extends life span of C. elegans ... Taken together, these findings indicate that long-term low-dose exposure to lithium may exert anti-aging capabilities and unambiguously decreases mortality in evolutionary distinct species."

Whey Protein-rich Diet Helps Reduce Fatty Liver Risks, Study Says

Posted: February 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm

A study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Lausanne found that a diet rich in whey protein can reduce the amount of fat in the liver.

Researchers from the University of Lausanne found out that the supplementation of whey protein in a person’s diet can lower the risk of developing fatty liver disease in obese women by reducing the amount of fat in liver cells. The study was published in an issue of Clinical Nutrition. They also found that whey protein was able to improve the study participants’ blood lipid profile which is important in promoting a healthier heart. The participants were asked to take the whey protein supplements for a period of four weeks.

Lead researcher Murielle Bortolotti said that their study was uncontrolled and preliminary but it strongly suggests that whey protein supplementation helps reduce the risk of fatty liver disease and promotes cardiovascular health as a long-term benefit. The researchers gathered a group of obese patients with an average BMI of 37.6 and IHCL concentrations between 1.9 to 20.5 percent. The participants were also recorded to have noticeable resistance to insulin with an average insulin sensitivity score of 2.77. The researchers observed that, after four weeks of whey protein supplementation, the study participants’ average IHCL dropped by 21 percent while their plasma triglyceride levels also went down by 15 percent. Their overall plasma cholesterol concentration was down by more than 7 percent after about a month of taking whey protein supplements. Researchers said that the result of the study indicates that whey protein has the potential to improve triglyceride profiles and IHCL.

The Liver and Fatty Liver Disease

The liver is the largest and heaviest glandular organ in the human body with an average weight of 1.36 kilograms. It is divided into four lobes which are unequal in size and shape. It is located at the right part of the abdominal cavity and just below the diaphragm. The portal vein and hepatic artery are responsible for carrying nutrients from the small intestines and oxygen-rich blood to the liver, respectively.

The human liver serves numerous functions including the production of enzymes that break down fats and produce glycogen from glucose. It is also responsible for producing urea and certain amino acids, storing of vitamins like vitamins B12, K, D, A and some minerals. The liver also produces 80 percent of the cholesterol in the body. The common disorders of the liver are liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, hepatitis and Wilson’s disease. The most harmful habit that affects the proper function of the liver is the excessive drinking of alcohol which can potentially alter the metabolic processes in the organ.

The root cause of fatty liver disease remains to be unknown. But medical experts are looking at patients’ resistance to insulin as the primary cause of the condition. Insulin resistance is a metabolic disorder where the cells are no longer responding properly to insulin in order to metabolize glucose.  In other words, insulin is no longer capable of performing its natural task of regulating sugar levels in the body. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver without the presence of alcohol. It refers to a wide spectrum of liver diseases from steatosis or simple fatty liver, cirrhosis or the irreversible and advanced scarring of the liver, to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Fatty liver disease is common throughout any age group; children can start developing fatty liver disease at the age of 10.

Natural Ways to Promote Liver Health

The liver is a very important organ in the body. Though minor health conditions concerning the liver are often very treatable, it is still necessary to keep the liver functioning properly to promote overall health.

  • Diet plays a very important role in keeping the liver in tiptop shape. Ignoring hunger pangs or sudden and unscheduled eating can literally surprise the liver. Every time this happens, the liver exerts effort to produce the necessary enzymes to digest and metabolize the food properly. Eating at different hours of the day will overwork the liver and cause it to become exhausted. When struck with a sudden desire to eat, choosing foods that are not too heavy to the stomach like salads and fruits is recommended. And it is also a good way of maintaining a healthy body weight.

  • Drinking plenty of water helps in washing away impurities and toxins out of the kidneys and liver. But drinking too much water while eating can interrupt the normal digestive process. So remember to observe proper pacing.

  • The body has a limited requirement for sugars. Eating too much sweet foods can be dangerous to the liver and the human body. Sweets, especially those made or composed of refined sugar, will result to the excessive accumulation of fats in certain body parts like the buttocks, abdomen, thighs and the liver. Too much refined sugar will also result to the production of more triglycerides in the blood which, in turn, can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Some artificial sweeteners had been found by different studies to be poisonous to the body and result to fatigue and hypoglycemia. Eating fruits or blackstrap molasses when you want to eat something sweet are excellent alternatives to artificial sweeteners, especially for individuals with diabetes.

  • Foods rich in protein like eggs, chicken, whole grains and legumes can help promote better liver health by helping it maintain a normal protein level in the body since the liver is responsible for producing protein. Low levels of protein can be a strong indication of kidney and liver disease. Eating natural and organic foods that are free of artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives can also help in keeping the liver healthy.

  • Some disease-causing bacteria can breed in the intestines. These organisms can cause permanent damage to the liver. So it is important to keep the intestines clean by drinking enough liquids and foods rich in dietary fiber.

  • Eating less to lose weight can result to an insufficiency of nutrients supplied to the body. This makes the liver weak and incapable of producing enzymes that are needed in the proper digestion of food. Stop worrying too much about gaining weight and instead direct your attention to the foods that you eat to keep your liver and body healthy. As a reward, your liver will be able to better digest food and contribute in managing your weight.


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