October 31, 2014
In last week’s essay, I went over the basics of mitochondrial structure and function. This week I want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture—why mitochondrial function declines and how this age-related problem is related to other critical genetic malfunctions that lead to diseases and accelerated aging. If this seems to you like dry and boring science, don’t be fooled. Ongoing research breakthroughs are revealing rather simple ways to reverse the deterioration in mitochondrial function as well as critical genetic functions.
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.
November 21, 2014
When I was a kid, there was a category of jokes that ascribed certain people’s characteristics to some fright suffered by the mother during pregnancy. Comedians in the era of World War II joked that someone was tall because his mother was scared by bigfoot. Or someone’s hair was bright red because her mother was frightened by a fire truck.
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.
February 27, 2015
The biotech revolution continually surprises me. Exponential increases in computer technologies are powering biotech progress in ways that I never imagined.
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.”
May 22, 2015
Last week, in Part 3 of our look at new cancer therapeutics, I discussed the rise of DNA vaccine technology. This week, I’ll conclude this series on how scientists are changing the odds when it comes to cancer with a look at the P53 gene and galectin-3 proteins.
July 17, 2015
About once a week, I get a call from someone with a strong East Asian accent named Martha or Ralph or something else traditionally American. They tell me that they are calling from the “Microsoft Service Center” or “your computer service contract provider” because my computer is generating error messages, which they would like to help me fix.
August 28, 2015
Most of you know that my day job involves finding disruptive technologies for investors. Most of you also know that the stock market has recently taken a southward plunge.
September 4, 2015
In my digest piece last week, I included a video presentation by Dr. Eric Topol, the cardiologist, geneticist, researcher, and writer who serves as director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California. Topol is predicting rapid and radical change in the ways that healthcare is delivered; I’m currently reading his new book, The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands.
September 25, 2015
Excuse me if I ramble on today. Finishing the book project, on top of my writing and research routine, is putting a lot of pressure on me, so I’m sort of making it up as I go. Another consequence of a busy work schedule is that I occasionally skip a workout. I didn’t do that today, however, for several reasons.
October 30, 2015
Japan is the future. With the oldest population in the world and births far below replacement rates, the country has been hit by the aging tidal wave first. The “gray tsunami,” as it has been called by demographers, is on its way to US shores as well.
November 6, 2015
You will have to excuse me for a rather short digest this week. I am on my way to Marrakesh, Morocco to speak to a group of investors about the importance of the many transformational technologies that you—if you have been reading me for a while—are already aware of.
February 26, 2016
I’ve been thinking a lot about viruses due to the emergence of the Zika threat. Then, a little over a week ago, some new virus came into my life. Most likely, it was a recently evolved serotype of the rhinovirus, the cause of the common cold. Rhino is, of course, from the Greek word for nose, which is where the virus was thought to enter the body.
March 18, 2016
Very few people foresaw the virtual explosion of discoveries in the biological sciences through microchip and information technologies. Some did predict it, though—Freeman Dyson, for one, got it right.
May 31, 2016
A number of new technologies have been developed over the past hundred years that have advanced the quality of our life. The automobile, antibiotics, the television, the Internet; every one of these advancements are celebrated today.
July 25, 2016
Last week, I wrote about the health benefits of Pokémon Go and video games overall. The most important thing about Pokémon Go, however, isn’t that players exercise while playing. Rather, it’s that the game is the first widespread consumer adoption of augmented reality (AR).
February 6, 2017
Asterias Biotherapeutics (AST) continues to generate excitement and buzz around a transformative medical breakthrough. I wrote about this historic event back in September when the company first released results about its stem cell treatment for catastrophic spinal cord injury (SCI).
April 24, 2017
The March for Science confused me. Clearly, science and technology are responsible for the huge advances in standard of living and life spans we’ve experienced in the modern era. More science is a good thing.
April 9, 2018
For the last few weeks, I’ve been having a conversation with a friend and reader about the difference between geroprotection and induced tissue regeneration (iTR). Based on those conversations, it’s clear that I haven’t done a good job of differentiating these two concepts.