Patrick Cox's Tech Digest - View by Tag "aging"

Biologists Delay the Aging Process by “Remote Control”

September 9, 2014

UCLA scientists have revealed a new technique which extended the lives of fruit flies by up to 30% and positively impacted overall health in a recent study published in Cell Reports. By activating a gene called AMPK in the intestines of the flies, which serves as an “energy sensor” in cells, the researchers were able to boost the rate at which those cells use energy. Humans also have the AMPK gene; if activated, it could benefit a variety of anti-aging and regenerative medicine related studies already underway.

Cognitive Decline Linked to Immune Crosstalk at Blood-Brain Interface

October 1, 2014

Weizmann Institute scientists, writing in Science, reveal new research into cognitive decline related to the blood-brain barrier. The team suggests that at an interface known as the choroid plexus, where the brain transmits circulation signals, separate signals could influence gene expression. These signals could denote the expression of interferon beta. Interferon beta, used for fighting viral infection, also appears capable of harming the aging brain. Hopefully, the researchers suggest, this new work on blood-brain interface will lead to ways to rejuvenate aging brains and reverse cognitive decline.

Delayed Aging Is the Ultimate Preventative Medicine

October 10, 2014

I’m privileged to speak regularly to some of the most important scientists in the world, and it’s clear that many if not most understand that the solution for some of our most serious problems, including national debts and deficits, is extending health spans. It’s important, by the way, to differentiate health spans from life spans. Life spans can be extended by tacking more time onto the disabled end of life. Extending health spans, however, allows people to live healthy, productive lives longer.

Telomere Looping Activity Influences Aging and Disease Onset

November 18, 2014

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers, writing in the journal Genes and Development, reveal how a “looping” process in DNA telomeres can turn certain genes off at a young age but turn them back on as a person ages and lead to disease onset. This looping mechanism in younger cells appears able to keep certain genes from expressing because the telomere itself is long enough to influence them. As the telomere shortens over time, however, it can’t “loop” far enough to regulate potentially disease-causing genes. More research into telomere function could lead to a variety of new ways to prevent age-related disease.

Complex Jobs ‘May Protect Memory’

November 20, 2014

The BBC reports that according to a study of 1,000 70-year-olds in Scotland, conducted by Heriot-Watt University and appearing in the journal Neurology, more complex or “mentally taxing” jobs in younger age could potentially protect against memory loss and cognitive decline as a person ages. Through memory tests and questionnaires, the researchers determined the more varied and complex a person’s work, involving tasks like negotiations and data synthesis, the more protected their brains may be. One theory is that consistent, long-term mental stimulation helps to build a kind of functioning “reserve” that protects against declining memory.

Brain’s Dementia Weak Spot Identified

November 26, 2014

The BBC reports new research appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows certain brain regions that develop late and begin to age early could help identify those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. By studying MRIs of 484 patients ranging in age from eight to 85, researchers created a kind of time-lapse picture of brain development and aging, which identified regions of the brain for sense information processing that degenerated similarly to regions affected in Alzheimer’s patients. With further testing, researchers may be able to determine what causes late development and early decay of certain brain regions and potentially stop the onset of cognitive decline.

People Who Feel Younger May Live Longer

December 16, 2014

Reuters reports that according to University College London researchers writing in JAMA Internal Medicine, people who reported feeling younger than their actual age were less likely to die over an eight-year span than those who reported feeling their age or older. Though this was a subjective measure, researchers attempted to account for medical conditions, lifestyle factors, and preexisting diseases and still concluded that a person’s sense of their age can play an important role in overall longevity.

mtDNA Levels Directly Linked to Frailty and Mortality

December 18, 2014

Johns Hopkins university scientists, writing in the Journal of Molecular Medicine, report that mitochondrial DNA levels in otherwise healthy patients could be a predictor of near-term medical frailty. Subjects in a study who had just 9% less mitochondrial DNA on average in blood samples met the medical standard of frailty, and those in the bottom fifth overall were 47% more likely to die of any cause during the study time frame than those in the top fifth. Further research into mitochondrial DNA could lead to a frailty test or mitochondrial enhancers that support changes years ahead of time for those at risk of certain diseases.

Existing Drug, Riluzole, May Prevent Foggy “Old Age” Brain, Research Shows

December 23, 2014

New data appearing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from Rockefeller University and Icahn School of Medicine scientists reveals that riluzole, a drug currently on the market and used to treat ALS, could also help prevent neuron decay in non-ALS patients. In a study on rats, for example, researchers found the treated rats performed better in memory tasks than non-treated rats and also showed an increase in synaptic strength in their brains. With further study, this existing drug could become a powerful new tool to protect aging brains and preserve neuron function.

Molecular Mechanism Behind Health Benefits of Dietary Restriction Identified

December 26, 2014

Harvard School of Public Health scientists, releasing data in the journal Cell, report that they’ve identified the molecular mechanism that may explain the life-extension benefits of calorie restriction in lab animal tests. The researchers report that the restriction of two amino acids leads to increased hydrogen sulfide in cells, which appears to help prevent tissue damage over time. While toxic in gas form in high concentrations, the small amounts of hydrogen sulfide produced by cells as a result of caloric restriction led to similar benefits in a variety of animal tests.

Older Minds Need Physical and Mental Activity

January 21, 2015

Edith Cowan University scientists in Australia present new findings on the combination of mental and physical activity on the health of older citizens in a new paper published in the journal Translational Psychiatry. The team’s study looked at 172 subjects aged 60 to 85, who had been split into four study groups—those who underwent weeks of consistent exercise, memory training, both, and neither. Exercise combined with memory training produced the only significant increases in verbal memory. This study, while isolated, does support the stance that both physical and mental exercise are necessary for the preservation of brain function in older citizens.

Changing the Odds at the Big Casino

May 1, 2015

I remember a public service announcement (PSA), probably by the American Cancer Society, that aired on television when I was three or four. I clearly recall a picture on screen of five people sitting around a dinner table. The picture was starkly black and white, and a voiceover announced grimly, “One in five people will die of cancer.”

The Regulatory Transformation Begins

June 12, 2015

This issue isn’t going to be what I had planned it to be. Our household is in upheaval right now because an older relative just slipped hard down the slope of cognitive decline. My wife has experienced a truly unpleasant role reversal, taking the car keys away from her father following a couple of scary events. Routes that he’s driven for decades now baffle him. He’s been lost several times and recently had an accident.

Why Treating Age as a Disease Will Save Our Failing Healthcare System

July 2, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in an article for the TransTech Digest about a potentially transformative meeting that has presumably already taken place. If things went as planned, a group of researchers that included Dr. Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AICM) met with the FDA to explore the possibility of moving anti-diabetes drug Metformin into clinical trials for life extension.

Deep-Purple Mesoamerican Corn and Nutrition Puzzles

July 10, 2015

Whenever I give a speech, I include the fact that all transformational biotech breakthroughs have been initially rejected by the medical establishment. There’s a section about this in my forthcoming book as well. I do this simply to disabuse people of the notion that scientific progress is welcomed. In fact, nearly all truly important biotechnologies and those who discover them are rejected and treated as pariahs before being accepted.

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