The “tautology problem” in evolutionary theory highlights a real problem with modern evolutionary theory that is generally ignored

[This is a paper I published in the peer-reviewed journal Communicative and Integrative Biology here in 2014. It is relevant to the study of aging because of the increasingly popular view, pioneered by Josh Mitteldorf and others, that aging may be a programmed set of mechanisms influenced by group selection of ecosystems, as discussed in an earlier interview at this blog.]

Natural selection is the prevailing theory for explaining biological change; that is, how evolution occurs.[1],[2],[3] It is not the only factor in evolutionary change, as forces like genetic drift and sexual selection are generally considered to be either sub-theories or parallel theories to natural selection. …

A deep dive with Dr. David Sinclair about his new book and the state of longevity science

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Are we finally reaching an inflection point in the scientific search for longer and healthier lives? Extending lives has been a dream since humans first evolved enough consciousness to reflect on their inevitable deaths. Could it, might it, finally be the case that after so many false promises we are finally on the doorstep of substantial life extension increases?

David Sinclair, a well-known and respected professor of genetics with Harvard Medical School, and co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging, believes that we are getting close. Sinclair runs a lab at Harvard Medical School and also at the University of New South Wales in his native Sydney, Australia, supervising in total more than 25 researchers. …

A conversation with Dr. Michael Fossel about the potential downsides of senolytics and the promise of telomerase therapy

(I had some assistance from LEAF’s Steve Hill in the first part of this interview)

Dr. Michael Fossel has been focused single-mindedly on telomeres and telomerase therapy for decades now. He worries that the field of longevity science’s new infatuation with senolytics may be damaging if researchers don’t fully take into account not only positive short-term results from senolytics in various model organisms, but also the long-term results — which he argues can be quite damaging.

He makes this case in a 2019 review paper and also touched on it in my interview with him last year here. Fossel’s 2004 textbook, Cells, Aging and Human Disease (Oxford University Press) also covers some of these issues and the relevant biological context of his concerns. …

A conversation with Dr. Brad Thompson of Wyvern Pharmaceuticals

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Dr. Brad Thompson, CEO of Wyvern Pharmaceuticals

The skin is our largest organ. It’s also the organ that shows the most obvious signs of aging because, well, it covers all of the other organs. And perhaps, for many of us, age spots, gray hair, wrinkles, crepey skin, sags, etc. are the most annoying aspect of aging, at least from a cosmetic perspective.

We’re all vain, so it seems.

But what if we’re on the verge of real skin rejuvenation? No, not a special skin cream that rehydrates, or collagen to restore some lost elasticity. Or botox to freeze your face muscles and mimic youthful skin. …

This is a short story “interlude” from my in-progress big book on the nature of reality, Cosmic Ecology: God’s Evolving Dream

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Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old time is still a-flying

And that same flower that smiles to-day

To-morrow will be dying

Robert Herrick, To the Virgins to Make Much of Time

I had a most peculiar dream about time and loss. My wife, Greta, was leaving me — but not in the way you may expect.

She was particularly beautiful the morning I suspected something strange was going on. She pulled her hair behind her left ear to better read her Sunday paper and leaned forward to focus her gaze. At the same time, she moved toward me about half a foot because I was sitting across the table from her reading my own section of the paper. I appreciated again the new frames in her glasses and reaffirmed internally that I had indeed done very well to marry such a through and through beautiful woman. …

New research finds a remarkable correlation between species’ average longevity and rate of telomere attrition

Dr. Maria Blasco and her team have discovered a remarkable correlation between the average longevity of organisms of various species and the rate of telomere attrition in those species. Kurt Whittemore, a postdoc in Blasco’s Telomeres and Telomerase research lab at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center, was the lead author of a major new paper called “Telomere shortening rate predicts species life span.” Here’s the “money” chart from the paper (Figure 3):

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Storing your own stem cells as a long-term life insurance policy

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Stem cell science is not new but the amount of science involving stem cells is growing exponentially. And our knowledge of the role of stem cells in our bodies and healthspan is growing accordingly.

We now know that stem cells age, so not all stem cells are created equal. We also deplete our store of stem cells as we age, resulting in less effective repair mechanisms as we get older. This is one of the many ways in which we age. …

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A conversation with Jose Luis Cordeiro about why longevity science needs to get political

Jose Luis Cordeiro is a highly energetic and enthusiastic advocate for much longer lives, and the ability of modern science and medicine to achieve much longer lives. A slew of social and economic benefits will flow from longer lives, including massive healthcare savings.

For example, recent research has suggested that a single medication, metformin, normally used by diabetics, may be able to improve human “healthspan” by up to 30% (adding more healthy years without necessarily adding any more years to lifespan). …

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A conference report on Longevity Therapeutics 2019

I had the pleasure of attending the first year of the Longevity Therapeutics conference in San Francisco in January, on behalf of LEAF, where I am a volunteer writer. In full disclosure, my attendance was comped by the conference organizers.

Organized ably by Hanson Wade, with John Lewis, CEO of Oisín Biotechnologies, as program chair, the conference focused on senolytics for senescent cell clearance, big data and AI in finding new drugs (“in silico” testing), delivery systems for therapeutics like senolytics, TORC1 drugs, biomarkers of aging, and challenges with clinical trial development and FDA approval. …

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Liz Parrish was arguably the first person to undergo telomerase gene therapy, in 2015, and she’s become both famous and infamous for doing so. Famous because of her courage in doing so, and for being a trailblazer for what may eventually become a serious longevity treatment. And infamous for taking this kind of risk without, in the view of some commentators, taking necessary precautions or following approved procedures. For example, her procedures took place in Colombia because they’re not allowed (yet) in the U.S.

I won’t delve here into the ethics or merits of Liz’s pioneering choices; rather, I question Liz below about the whys and hows of her treatments, and what her company, Bioviva, is now working on. …


Forever young?

A blog devoted to the science, technology and philosophy of combating aging

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