Saturday, September 23, 2023

Can we find ways to live above 100? Millionaires bet on it.

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Shreya Christina
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But to test the same treatments in humans would require decades of clinical trials, which would be very difficult and extremely expensive. So they look for chemical clues in the blood or cells that could reveal how quickly a person is aging. Quite a few “aging clocks” have been developed that indicate a person’s biological age rather than their chronological age. But none are reliable enough to test anti-aging drugs — until now.

When I leave to go back to my own slightly less chic but still beautiful hotel, I am handed a gift bag. It’s packed with anti-aging supplements, a box with a note saying it contains an AI assistant for longevity, and even a regenerative toothpaste. At first glance, I have absolutely no idea if any of them are based on solid science. They may be nothing more than placebos.

Ultimately, of all the supplements, drugs, and various treatments promoted here, the workout is the one most likely to work, judging by the evidence we have so far. Obviously, regular exercise is the key to getting healthy years of life. Workouts designed to strengthen our muscles seem to be particularly beneficial in keeping us healthy, especially at a later age. They can even help keep our brains young.

I’ll write a good report of the conference when I get back home, so if your curiosity is piqued, keep an eye out next week! In the meantime, here’s some related reading:

  • I wrote about what aging clocks can and cannot tell us about our biological age earlier this year.
  • Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid. The idea is that by rejuvenating the immune system, we can protect frail older people from serious diseases.
  • Longevity scientists are working to extend the lifespan of dogs. There are benefits to the animals and their owners, but the ultimate goal is to extend human lifespan, as I wrote in August.
  • The Saudi royal family could become one of the top investors in aging research, said this piece by my colleague Antonio Regalado. The family’s Hevolution Foundation plans to spend $1 billion a year to understand how aging works and how to extend a healthy lifespan.
  • Speaking of financing, most of the investment in the field has gone into Altos Labs— a company focusing on ways to tackle aging by reprogramming cells to a more youthful state. The company has received financial backing from some of the richest people in the world, including Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner, Antonio explains.

from the web

An experimental drug for Alzheimer’s disease appears to slow cognitive decline. It’s huge news, given the decades of failed attempts to treat the disease. But the full details of the study have not yet been published, and it is difficult to know how much impact the drug may have on the lives of people with the disease. (STAT)

Bionic pancreas can successfully treat type 1 diabetes, according to the results of a clinical trial. The credit card-sized device, which is worn on the stomach, can constantly monitor a person’s blood sugar levels and deliver insulin when needed. (MIT Technology Review)

We are heading for a dementia epidemic in US prisons. There is a growing number of elderly inmates and the US penal system does not have the resources to care for them. (Scientific American)

Unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to develop monkey pox disease than those who receive the Jynneos vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the organization doesn’t yet know how the vaccine affects disease severity in those who become unwell, or if there is any difference in protection for people who receive fractional doses. (The New York Times $)

Don’t call them mini brains! In last week’s Checkup, I covered organoids — tiny clumps of cells meant to mimic full-grown organs. They’ve been used primarily for research, but we’ve started implanting them in animals to treat disease, and humans are next. Perhaps the best-known organoids are those made from brain cells, which are called mini-brains. A group of leading scientists in the field say this falsely implies that the cells are capable of complex mental functions, such as the ability to think or feel pain. They ask that we use the less catchy but more accurate term “neural organoid” instead. (Nature)

That’s it for this week. Thank you for reading!


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