Category Archives: H+ news

Google’s plan to extend our life span will change everything

Today’s news that Google is launching a new company (Calico) to fight aging is epic. Epic. Fighting aging used to be the realm of biologists and doctors, but now that the engineers are getting involved, progress will likely move much faster. This is very good news for those of us who want to see health spans extended for everyone.

Here’s Time’s breaking story.

Here’s my op-ed about it.

Here’s Aubrey de Grey’s op-ed.

Genomics X Prize canceled

This was one piece of news I wasn’t quite expecting. According to Peter Diamandis, the Chairman of the X-prize foundation, the incentive prize was cancelled because innovation outpaced the prize.

He says in his column explaining the move:

At XPRIZE, failure is not a bad thing; it is part of the process. We expect most of our competing teams to fail as they attempt to achieve audacious goals. And sometimes, if we are doing our job right, an XPRIZE will fail as well. When we launch an XPRIZE, we do so with the understanding that it may not achieve its objectives – either because we made the finish line too difficult, or sometimes because we did not make it hard enough.

He goes on to say that:

What we realized is that genome sequencing technology is plummeting in cost and increasing in speed independent of our competition. Today, companies can do this for less than $5,000 per genome, in a few days or less – and are moving quickly towards the goals we set for the prize. For this reason, we have decided to cancel an XPRIZE for the first time ever.

Skin patches could deliver genes

NewScientist reports that Jon Vogel and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland have come up with a procedure that creates “patches of synthetic skin could deliver gene therapies to patients without the need for injections.”

As someone who doesn’t really love needles, this is a good sign for the future. Read the full story here. Thanks to Elissa for sending this story to me.

Is the FDA trying to kill adult stem cell medicine?

Here’s an informative article from h+ magazine on how the FDA currently argues that culturing adult stem cells amounts to the creation of a new drug. This of course would mean long time lags for getting stem cell procedures approved, which has prompted the creation of at least two groups: the American Stem Cell Therapy Association (ASCTA) and Safe Stem Cells NOW! (both focused on adult stem cells).

It doesn’t make sense to me that my own cells would be considered a “drug,” but Dr. Christopher J. Centeno who was interviewed for this article by Stephen Coles says that “The FDA is working to protect the interests of Big Pharma.” Yikes — if that’s the case, it’s a huge setback for personalized medicine.

DARPA making progress on regrowing limbs

And of course, once we can re-grow solidier’s limbs, we will also be able to do it for everyone.

From Wired:

“The first phase of the Pentagon’s plan to regrow soldiers’ limbs is complete; scientists managed to turn human skin into the equivalent of a blastema — a mass of undifferentiated cells that can develop into new body parts. Now, researchers are on to phase two: turning that cellular glop into a square inch of honest-to-goodness muscle tissue.

The Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) just got a one-year, $570,000 grant from Darpa, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research arm, to grow the new tissues. “The goal is to genuinely replace a muscle that’s lost,” biotechnology professor Raymond Page tells Danger Room. “I appreciate that’s a very aggressive goal.” And it’s only one part in a larger, even more ambitious Darpa program, Restorative Injury Repair, that aims to “fully restore the function of complex tissue (muscle, nerves, skin, etc.) after traumatic injury on the battlefield.”


Artificial muscles

From rdmag:

Researchers at the UT Dallas Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute have demonstrated a fundamentally new type of artificial muscle, which can operate at extreme temperatures where no other artificial muscle can be used—from below the temperature of liquid nitrogen (-196°C) to above the melting point of iron (1538°C).

The discovery is reported in the March 20 issue of Science under the title “Giant Stroke, Superelastic Carbon Nanotube Aerogel Muscles.”

Thanks to H+ voters and congrats to new board members

Thanks to everyone who voted for me! I’m looking forward to working with the entire H+ team to help take the organization to the next level in order to better accomplish the mission of promoting understanding, interest and participation in fields of emerging innovation that can radically benefit the human condition.

Here’s a listing of the candidates that were elected to the five 2009-2010 Board seats:

Sonia Arrison
George Dvorsky
Ben Goertzel
Todd Huffman
Mike LaTorra

Also, these three candidates will serve 2009 terms:

Patri Friedman
Jonas Lamis
Mike Treder

Congratulations to all of you! Congratulations also to Richard Leis who has accepted appointment as the new Executive Director.