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    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJul 9th 2009 edited
     (6333.1)
    Wednesday, July 8, in the journal Nature, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and two collaborating centers reported that the Easter Island compound - called "rapamycin" after the island's Polynesian name, Rapa Nui - extended the expected lifespan of middle-aged mice by 28 percent to 38 percent. In human terms, this would be greater than the predicted increase in extra years of life if cancer and heart disease were both cured and prevented.

    The rapamycin was given to the mice at an age equivalent to 60 years old in humans.

    The studies are part of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Interventions Testing Program, which seeks compounds that might help people remain active and disease-free throughout their lives. The other two centers involved are the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.

    The Texas study was led by scientists at two institutes at the UT Health Science Center: the Institute of Biotechnology (IBT) and the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies.

    "I've been in aging research for 35 years and there have been many so-called 'anti-aging' interventions over those years that were never successful," said Arlan G. Richardson, Ph.D., director of the Barshop Institute. "I never thought we would find an anti-aging pill for people in my lifetime; however, rapamycin shows a great deal of promise to do just that."


    link

    Rapamycin apparently targets the same molecular pathway involved in life extension through calorie restriction.

    It's currently used as an immunosuppressant for transplant recipients, so you'd need to adjust the dose pretty precisely to get the life extension benefit without compromising the immune system.
  1.  (6333.2)
    i'm no scientist, but isn't one of the downsides to a potential aging cure the ridiculous explosion of cancer rates among the general population? I seem to remember being taught that that was the "trade-off"
  2.  (6333.3)
    Three questions come to mind. Can this drug be a synthesided easily and cheaply? How expensive is it going to be? and what side effects does it have?
  3.  (6333.4)
    In a world that's rampant with problems caused by humans we spend money on inventing "cures" to extend our livespan?

    Somehow I just don't think it's a very good idea.
    •  
      CommentAuthortonymoore
    • CommentTimeJul 9th 2009
     (6333.5)
    you'll live decades longer, but it makes you look like Tetsuo at the end of Akira.

    -T
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeJul 9th 2009
     (6333.6)
    More important would be a drug that *might* extend life, but *does* help with old-age issues that makes life for the elderly miserable. Senlity, osteoporosis, etc.
  4.  (6333.7)
    Agreed. What's the plan? Make people live 200 years, 150 of which will be spent in senility?
  5.  (6333.8)
    This kind of shit absolutely fascinates me. I'm only in my 30's and I'm already taking steps to prolong/improve my health and fitness. I've always said that by the time I reach 60,I'll be volunteering for anything and everything....pills,robotics,sorcery...whatever it takes to extend my time here on earth. 'Cause this is it(in my opinion at least). I say bring on the pills and the nanobots....I wanna be here when the sun explodes!!!!
    •  
      CommentAuthorOsmosis
    • CommentTimeJul 9th 2009
     (6333.9)
    I'm only in my 30's and I'm already taking steps to prolong/improve my health and fitness.

    Definitely. I find it hard to understand the mindset of someone who doesn't take care of their body. This meatsack has to carry your brain around for the rest of your life, you will only ever be issued one, and you only get one time round to use it. Why wouldn't you want to take the best care of it you can?

    That said, all the push-ups and vitamins you like a) can only put off the inevitable and b) do very little to counter the things StefanJ and Verus mention.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeJul 9th 2009
     (6333.10)
    I think death is useful, in that it gets rid of bastards and give young folks a chance to have their turn to innovate.

    That said, a somewhat extended life would be good, for this reason: Grandparantage.

    It is taking longer for people (at least in the industrialized world) to starting having children. Kids need grandparents. For many kids today grandma is a wraith in a nursing home.

    Now, to balance out the longer lifespan, we have to move up puberty. Maybe age 22? And delay menopause by a decade. No more teenage moms; if you accidentally get pregnant it will mean putting your career on hold, not ruining any chance at an education.
    • CommentAuthorIan_M
    • CommentTimeJul 9th 2009
     (6333.11)
    Rapamycin and its related compounds are immune suppressants. So is calorie restriction. If you like going outside, if you like having pets, if you like getting laid, if you like interacting with people at all, this may not be the path for you.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeJul 9th 2009
     (6333.12)
    Reasons this could suck a whole lot:
    1. Cost of elder care is already high. Now we want to extend life by another 20+ years? Fun.
    2. The drug only lengthens life, it doesn't do anything about quality. Sure, the article says if cancer and heart disease is cured it'll work miracles but there's the possibity the rest of your body won't function or you'll have other age related problems (poor sight/hearing, weak bones/muscles, weak heart, difficulty breathing, incontinence,etc.) to consider. Yay, thirty more years of wearing an old person diaper and needing to get pushed around by some youngun because your legs don't work anymore.
    3. How shall I put this delicately: many ideas held by old people suck and, to be blunt, death helps get rid of that. While I don't actually wish any harm on the man, I look forward to the day when Rush Limbaugh is no longer on the air for whatever reason. The man can already afford his own pharmacy to indulge his pill habit, I'd rather not want him getting hooked on life enhancing drugs.
    4. Have to agree with StefanJ, one function of death is so that the young can get their chance to lead their own way. Certain acts of progression (technology, civil rights, etc.) are already difficult now without having to try and deal with rich, old people doddering around and slowing things down even further.
    5. Having to deal with Jim Carey living forever. Please, stop Ace Ventura 73: Watch where I put the Gopher before it begins.
    6. Population control would suck. You think certain cities are congested now? Ha.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJul 9th 2009 edited
     (6333.13)
    Let's see:

    1. Rapamycin has been known since the 1970's. Wyeth makes a commercial version but the underlying compound itself would no longer be subject to patent.

    2. The compound can be manufactured but the first few sources I found on it don't say much about costs.

    3. In the tests in mice, not only did the mice live longer they had fewer age-associated illnesses. so we aren't talking about adding 20 years of senility and illhealth, we're talking about pushing those thigns back 20 years or so - at least potentially.

    4. While the effect of Rapamycin are similar to calorie replacement, they're not identical. For starters you need to start calorie restriction in young adulthood in animals. (People haven't been attempting calorie restriction long enough to know hoa well it will work in humans.) Rapamycin on the other hand, is effective in mice when the treatment starts at the equivalent of sixty years old in humans.

    5. So even if they can't separate the anti-aging effect from the immunosuprressive effect, you could start taking this in your 50's or 60's. At that point, you'd be in much the same situation as people who need to take immunosuppressants after organ transplants - you're trading off some quality of life against not dying.

    6. Now that they've apparently identified the chemical receptor in the body that links calorie restriction and longevity, (MToR) scientists can start working on other drugs that target MToR which may not have the same immunosuppressive effect. MToR is apparently linked to a bunch of different body processes including cell survival and apostosis, immune system regulation and cancer regulation. So by studying those different roles we might find a way to selectively effect the aging process without inhibiting its other roles.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJul 10th 2009
     (6333.14)
    And we have another possible target for anti-aging treatments:

    he secret to longevity may lie in an enzyme with the ability to promote a robust immune system into old age by maintaining the function of the thymus throughout life, according to researchers studying an "anti-aging" mouse model that lives longer than a typical mouse.

    The study, led by Abbe de Vallejo, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics and immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and immunologist at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, reports that the novel mouse model has a thymus that remains intact throughout its life. In all mammals, the thymus?the organ that produces T cells to fight disease and infection?degenerates with age.

    Results of the study are published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    "These findings give us hope that we may one day have the ability to restore the function of the thymus in old age, or perhaps by intervening at an early age, we may be able to delay or even prevent the degeneration of the thymus in order to maintain our immune defenses throughout life," said Dr. de Vallejo.

    The mouse model that Dr. de Vallejo's team studied was developed by his colleague Cheryl Conover, Ph.D., an endocrinology researcher at Mayo Clinic. In this "knockout" mouse model, researchers deleted an enzyme known as pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPPA). PAPPA-knockout mice live at least 30 percent longer and have significantly lower occurrence of spontaneous tumors than typical mice.

    PAPPA controls the availability in tissues of a hormone known as insulin-like growth factor (IGF) that is a promoter of cell division. Hence, IGF is required for normal embryonic and postnatal growth. But IGF also is associated with tumor growth, inflammation and cardiovascular disease in adults. By deleting PAPPA, the researchers were able to control the availability of IGF in tissues and dampen its many ill effects. In the thymus, deletion of PAPPA maintained just enough IGF to sustain production of T cells without consuming precursor cells, thereby preventing the degeneration of the thymus.

    "Controlling the availability of IGF in the thymus by targeted manipulation of PAPPA could be a way to maintain immune protection throughout life," Dr. de Vallejo said. "This study has profound implications for the future study of healthy aging and longevity."


    link

    Hell, if they develop a way to boost the immune system, it could offset the immunosuppressive effect of Rapamycin.