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An Interesting Issue of Life Extension Magazine

Posted: August 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm

The latest issue of Life Extension Magazine is fairly focused on the long view, and taken as a whole is a more than usually explicit call for the defeat of aging through research and development of the appropriate biotechnology. It is my sense that the mouthpiece of that organization has been steering more towards that direction in recent years, and I'm pleased to see it - the less the LEF folk conduct themselves as a standard issue supplement shop and the more they conduct themselves as a source of advocacy and funding for serious longevity research such as SENS the better they look to my eyes.

There are a couple of articles worth thinking on, starting with one penned by Aubrey de Grey subject that I've held forth on in the past.

Why Aren't More Wealthy People Funding Aging Research?

Since aging is indisputably humanity's worst medical problem, with the treatment (albeit only minimally effective) of age-related diseases consuming the vast majority of the industrialized world's medical budget, one would imagine that all reasonable approaches to the development of medicine to postpone it would be vigorously pursued and well funded. Unfortunately, none of them are. Neither the retardation of aging nor its repair receives a fraction of the research budget - whether from the public purse or from the for-profit biotech sector - that is enjoyed by disease-specific research. And this is despite the fact that gerontologists have been pointing out for decades that even modest progress in the implementation of "preventative geriatrics" - which is exactly what treatment for aging would be - would be staggeringly cost-effective. I believe that the overwhelming reason why politicians (and, to a lesser extent, companies) have not heard this message is not because they fail to understand it but because they dispute the premise. There is a profoundly deep-seated belief that aging is untreatable.

The Ellison Medical Foundation

The Ellison Medical Foundation is the largest private funder of research on aging and the second largest overall funder - second only to the federal government's National Institute on Aging. Since its inception in 1998, Ellison's Medical Foundation has
provided more than $300 million to fund basic biomedical research on aging relevant to understanding life span development processes and age-related diseases and disabilities, including stem cells, telomeres, longevity genes, DNA and mitochondrial damage, Werner Syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, neural development, degeneration and cognitive decline, and cellular response systems to aging and toxins.

An Initiative to Accelerate Anti-Aging Research:

Never before has such a volume of scientific knowledge existed about the underlying mechanisms of aging and how they may be thwarted. A growing number of researchers are predicting major advances in our ability to slow and reverse degenerative aging processes. One obstacle is the bureaucratic regulations that slow the development of new medical technologies. An even more troubling concern, however, is an epidemic of apathy as it relates to providing funding for promising age-reversal research projects.

Those with disposable income and assets donate monies to all kinds of so-called charities, yet overlook research that could help them live in a youthful state of health for a very long time. When one considers that aging is the disease that eventually kills us all, you would think that this is where the bulk of medical research emphasis would be focused. Instead, billions of dollars are squandered developing band-aid approaches to degenerative diseases instead of seeking to intervene directly in the aging process itself.


So what Life Extension has done is set up a website for the purpose of ascertaining how many humans today would be willing to assist in funding accelerated anti-aging research. Activist members have pledged to reach out to wealthy individuals to see if they are willing to help support aggressive research projects aimed at finding a cure for aging. If enough pledges of support are received, Life Extension and others will coordinate programs and present them to those who indicate a desire to contribute.

I will be interested to see how well this initiative proceeds; the LEF has a broad base of customers and readers, and it will be informative to see just how many of them can be converted from the mindset of supplement purchaser to the mindset of supporter of meaningful longevity science. There is a large gap between those two points on the cultural map, as demonstrated by the near complete lack of funds, attention, or interest flowing from the vast "anti-aging" marketplace towards serious research projects. The LEF spokespeople and mouthpiece are very atypical examples of that industry, sad to say, and there is no useful connection between the bulk of the industry and real longevity science. If there was, we'd have seen the effects already.


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