Yearly Archives: 2012

I’ll be speaking at the SF Litquake Festival tonight

Here’s the details:

When I’m 164: The New Science of Anti-Aging and What Happens If It Succeeds

October 10, 2012 – 6:00 PM
SF Writer’s Grotto
490 Second St., 2nd Floor
Do you want to live forever? Humans may soon be able to radically extend lifespan through genetics, stem cells, and bionics. What happens then? Would you take a pill that slows aging and allows you to live to age 164? Drawing on art, literature, and tech, David Ewing Duncan (author of When I’m 164) leads a discussion that considers whether humans should cheat death, even it becomes possible.

Vein grown from stem cells saves 10-year-old girl

From Reuters:

Doctors in Sweden have replaced a vital blocked blood vessel in a 10-year-old girl using the first vein grown in a lab from a patient’s own stem cells.

The successful transplant operation, reported online in The Lancet medical journal on Thursday, marks a further advance in the search for ways to make new body parts.

Gene therapy is finally well on its way to clinical approval

A good article on gene therapy from The Scientist:

The concept is simple: if a mutated gene is causing a problem, replace or supplement it with a new, accurate copy. In theory, such a strategy could not just treat, but cure countless human genetic diseases. In practice, however, developing safe and effective gene therapies has not been easy. Even when identifying a disorder’s genetic basis is fairly straightforward, finding the appropriate delivery vector to target the diseased tissues in the body, while avoiding unintended consequences, has challenged would-be gene therapists for more than 20 years. But more and more researchers are convinced that the technique is on the brink of becoming a common medical practice.

Oxford debate on whether aging should be defeated

Cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s — these are all diseases of aging, yet some people are willing to argue that aging is a good thing. That’s the question at hand at this Oxford University Scientific Society Debate between SENS Foundation Chief Science Officer Dr. Aubrey de Grey and neuroscientist Prof. Colin Blakemore. It happens live in the UK at 11am PST and I’m told the video will be online soon after. I’ll link to it when it is available.

Adultolescence: It’s the Beginning of a New Age

Here’s my latest Big Think interview — this time on longevity and the family.

From the transcript: “When we can live longer and healthier lives, there’s the question of what happens to many different areas of our lives. The family is one that’s super important. What happened the last time we doubled human life expectancy? Human life expectancy in 1850 in the United States was 43 years. Today it’s around 80 years. We’ve roughly doubled it already. And so the question is, is well what happened to family life during that time?”

Next task for genome sequencing companies: writing, of course

Here’s a great article from PandoDaily discussing what gene sequencing companies like Halcyon might do now that another company (Oxford Nanopore) has managed to do cheap, fast, sequencing first. Halcyon board member Elon Musk has this to say:

Halcyon has a lot of hardcore technology and awesome engineers. No one has or is about to jump ship. Halcyon is one of the few companies where I’m an investor vs being part of the founding team, but I’m nonetheless committed to supporting them for years to come.

If this other tech really works and can do perfect DNA reading, including knowing which genes are expressed, then Halcyon will shift its focus to writing genes.

Another tissue engineering success

A 30-year old man in Baltimore had his cancerous trachea taken out and replaced with one grown for him in the lab. Now, he has a second chance at life and his 4-year-old daughter will have her father around. Scientists like Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, director of the Advanced Center for Translational Regenerative Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, are true heroes.

Here’s the full story in the New York Times.