Category Archives: longevity

Antiaging protein is the real deal, Harvard team claims


“Harvard stem cell biologist Amy Wagers, cardiologist Richard Lee of the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and their colleagues claim that a specific protein, GDF11, may explain young blood’s beneficial effects. They have reported that blood levels of GDF11 drop in mice as the animals get older and that injecting old mice with GDF11 can partially reverse age-related thickening of the heart. In two papers last year in Science, Wagers and collaborators also reported that GDF11 can rejuvenate the rodents’ muscles and brains.”

Senolytics: Scientists identify new class of drugs that slows the aging process

From the Independent:

“A new class of drugs has been identified that slow the ageing process in mice, alleviating symptoms of frailty and extending a healthy lifespan.

If their effect on humans is as marked as it is on animal models, their benefit could be enormous.

The research was carried out by a team from Mayo Clinic, The Scripps Institute and other institutions and published in the journal Aging Cell yesterday.

“We view this study as a big, first step toward developing treatments that can be given safely to patients to extend healthspan or to treat age-related diseases and disorders,” said co-lead author and TSRI Professor Paul Robbins, PhD.”

Doctors, academics debate the possibility, value of a 150-year lifespan

Here are two well-written stories about longevity, the Palo Alto Longevity Prize, and my book, 100 Plus. Journalist Joshua Alvarez did a good job interviewing a diverse set of voices. Here are the two links: one and two.

A few observations:

-Some may be surprised to see that the head of Stanford’s “Center on Longevity” says that “I’m largely on the fence about increasing lifespan. I see a real need for improving the quality of our lives and accommodating the years we’ve been given.” That’s sort of depressing, particularly given that so much of the cool tech that will extend our health is being created right at Stanford.

-I’m happy to have been given credit for writing the book that Dr. Walter Bortz, a physician who advocates for a 100 year lifespan, thought would never be written.

Can DNA Nanobots Successfully Treat Cancer Patient? First Human Trial Soon

From Singularity Hub:

““No, no it’s not science fiction; it’s already happening,” said Ido Bachelet to a somewhat incredulous audience member at a London event late last year. Bachelet, previously of Harvard’s Wyss Institute and faculty member at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, is a leading figure in the field of DNA nanotechnology.

In a brief talk, Bachelet said DNA nanobots will soon be tried in a critically ill leukemia patient. The patient, who has been given roughly six months to live, will receive an injection of DNA nanobots designed to interact with and destroy leukemia cells—while causing virtually zero collateral damage in healthy tissue.

According to Bachelet, his team have successfully tested their method in cell cultures and animals and written two papers on the subject, one in Science and one in Nature.”

Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Could Hold Key to Cure

Some great research coming out of Stanford University. Here’s their press release, and a few news articles.

The upshot is that “Brain cells called microglia chew up toxic substances and cell debris, calm inflammation and make nerve-cell-nurturing substances. New research shows that keeping them on the job may prevent neurodegeneration.”

How Exercise Changes Our DNA

From the NYT:

“We all know that exercise can make us fitter and reduce our risk for illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. But just how, from start to finish, a run or a bike ride might translate into a healthier life has remained baffling.

Now new research reports that the answer may lie, in part, in our DNA. Exercise, a new study finds, changes the shape and functioning of our genes, an important stop on the way to improved health and fitness.”

How old you feel may predict how long you’ll live

From AP:

“How old do you feel? Think carefully – the answer might help predict how much longer you’ll live. That’s according to British research posing that question to about 6,500 adults. Those who felt younger than their real age lived the longest over the following eight years.”

Could New Health Technologies Offset America’s Life Expectancy Gap?

Americans are living longer than ever before, but gains in longevity are not distributed evenly throughout the country. The gaps, which in some cases span decades, have the potential to either get better or worse depending upon longevity technology adoption patterns, making this the right time to start thinking about the issue.


Read more here.

The Longevity Dividend: Why living longer is actually good for economic growth

The United States is a wealthy and successful superpower, so you’d think that when it comes to life expectancy, its citizens would be in the top 10, right? Not even close: the US currently ranks 42 among the world’s countries, a bad sign for long-term economic growth, which is strongly correlated with longevity.

The top spot in longevity rankings goes to Monaco with a life expectancy of 89.57; the bottom country, Chad, has a life expectancy of 49.44 – a striking 40 year difference (the age John Lennon was when he died). The United States, at 79.56, is a full decade behind the top spot when it comes to life expectancy. Why does this matter, other than the fact that death is bad? For one thing, it affects international competitiveness.


Read more here.

Medical research should focus on Aging: Nature

Here’s a well written article from Nature about how scientists should be focusing on aging in order to

1) treat a number of diseases and
2) extend healthspan for the many people who are in the ‘older’ demographic

Go Nature!

91-year-old woman finishes San Diego marathon in record time

From Reuters:

“Harriette Thompson, who ran her first marathon at age 76, set a U.S. record on Sunday for the fastest finish in her 90-and-over age group, finishing the 26.2-mile Rock’n’Roll San Diego Marathon in seven hours, seven minutes and 42 seconds, according to race organizer Dan Cruz.”

The world is getting fatter — a huge problem

A new study published in the Lancet today showed that almost 29% of the world’s population, or 2.1 billion people, are obese. The reason this is such a huge problem is that being overweight increases one’s risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer. New technologies are being developed that will allow people to live longer, but they can only do so much. Obesity is one of the biggest threats to human longevity.

Here’s a few article about the study:

LA Times

Value in retraining older individuals

“Age should no longer determine the appropriate end of a working life,” writes the Economist Magazine. This seems reasonable to me, especially given that people are healthier now than ever before (and thus able to work longer). But as the magazine points out, there will be a divide between older, well-educated, individuals and those who spent their careers in less-skilled areas. Those who are well-educated are more likely to stay in the workforce, while those with fewer skills are more likely to take retirement even if they are still in good health. From the article:

“Some 65% of American men aged 62-74 with a professional degree are in the workforce, compared with 32% of men with only a high-school certificate. In the European Union the pattern is similar.”

How to address this divide? The Economist suggests training programs — also not a bad idea. “Today, many governments are understandably loth to spend money retraining older folk who are likely to retire soon. But if people can work for longer, that investment makes much more sense.” Here’s another link to the longer briefing.

Redefining fashion at older ages

A British television station recently produced a fun film about women (with an average age of 80) who are redefining fashion for their age group. Dressing your age? I think not. Here’s the story.

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.

Life Expectancy Grows for Women Age 50 and Up

A new WHO report notes that women over 50 are now living longer. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the diseases of aging like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are still big problems. More reason than ever to tackle the problem of aging and the diseases that it brings. Here’s a short NYT story on the WHO report.

Re-imagine aging campaign

A cool idea by the folks over at SENS. Nice of them to include me along amazing people like inventor Dean Kamen whose comment is “Aging is a terrible game. You can’t win and you have to play.” Check it out.

Pew Foundation survey on longevity

Here’s an interesting survey by the Pew Foundation.

Asked whether they, personally, would choose to undergo medical treatments to slow the aging process and live to be 120 or more, a majority of U.S. adults (56%) say “no.” But roughly two-thirds (68%) think that most other people would. And by similarly large margins, they expect that radically longer life spans would strain the country’s natural resources and be available only to the wealthy.

Of course, most people are probably not considering that technologies that can increase healthspan (rather than longevity per se) will also help us better manage our resources and create wealth.

Longevity interview with Aubrey de Grey

This Newsweek article contains an excellent conversation about longevity — how we might live longer and what that might mean.

Here’s one of my favorite parts of the NW interview with Aubrey de Grey:

NW: But would we really want to live forever?

De Grey: The reason why we want to live a long time is not to live a long time. It’s that we want to not get Alzheimer’s. Do you want to get Alzheimer’s?

NW: Not particularly.

De Grey: All right. Do you think there’s some age at which you will want to get Alzheimer’s?

NW: Probably not.

De Grey: Exactly. It’s the same for cancer and other diseases. That’s why it’s so important for me to emphasize that any longevity benefits that we get out of this are just a side effect.

Life expectancy divide in San Mateo County

It’s well known that there are great disparities in life expectancy around the world and within the US, but how many people know the numbers for their neighborhoods? Today I dug into the data for San Mateo County and found a big divide within just a few miles. In Atheton and Belmont, the current average age of death is 80 years. In East Palo Alto, it is 61.8. Here’s links to the data.

Wealth is of course one factor, but there are many others. Steve Jobs, who was amazingly wealthy, died at 56.