Preventing Age-Related Diseases

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Do you wish there were ways of preventing age-related diseases, enabling you and your loved ones to live longer, healthier lives?

Each year since 2018, Lifespan.io has held a fascinating conference called Ending Age-Related Diseases (EARD). World-class scientists discuss recent advances in aging-related research. Before we cover the most interesting topics, let’s give thought to what is meant by age-related diseases.

The definition of disease is an abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to external injury.

In general, there are four main types of disease: infectious diseases, deficiency diseases, hereditary diseases and physiological diseases. Age-related diseases trigger physiological malfunction or failure because cellular structures have changed over time. These lead to the conditions and symptoms profiled in What Causes Aging?. The research at EARD seeks to reduce, delay and prevent both programmed and damage-related aging from happening to us. 

World-Class Scientists Preventing Age-Related Diseases

Here are ten of the most interesting speakers, targets and approaches for preventing age-related diseases from the 2022 and 2023 conferences:

George Church, Affordable Age-Related Disease Prevention Solutions

Some recent advances…

  1. For many years, scientists have attempted to engineer multi-virus resistant cell lines. In July, 2022, they published pre-print results showing a fundamental advance forward to success.
  2. Gene editing / cell therapy treatments can be delivered once per lifetime or per decade at very low cost ($2-25 per vaccine as an example), thus worldwide adoption is possible.
  3. eGenesis has enabled multi-plex gene editing for pig-grown organs to be resistant to pathogens, cancer, senescence, DNA-damage, cryopreservation and transplantation immunity issues.
  4. Rejuvenate Bio has created combination gene therapies to treat multiple age-related diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiac damage, kidney disease, mitral valve disease and neurodegeneration.
  5. George’s list of pathways for aging reversal include:
    • Removal of senescent and genomic-damaged cells.
    • Restoration of mitochondrial function. [See companies like Mitrix, providing transfusions of healthy mitochondria which your cells uptake to replace less effective ones. That said, 10% of your body weight is mitochondria and your body produces an immune response when it detects free-floating mitochondria in your bloodstream.]
    • Restriction of calories [See Intermittent Fasting article from Keep Health.]
    • Rejuvenation of blood and reactivation of healthy protein regulation [See Conboy Laboratory / IMYu research below.]
    • Reduction of inflammation [See Intervene Immune research below.]
    • Addition of stem cells
    • Replenishment of telomeres [See Bioviva Science research to extend mouse lifespan by 30-40% through intranasal or gene therapy injections. Specifically, this treatment significantly improved glucose tolerance and physical performance, as well as preventing body mass loss and alopecia. Further, telomere shortening associated with aging was ameliorated by TERT and mitochondrial structure deterioration was halted in both treatments.]
    • Epigenetic drugs
    • Prevention of cancers [See MAIA Biotechnology research.]

Greg Fahy, Intervene Immune

Ashley Zehnder, Fauna Bio

At the 2023 conference, Vadim Gladyshev, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, noted that, “Nature is better at extending aging than current interventions.” Steven Austad, of the American Federation for Aging Research, has released a new book on this topic, Methusalah’s Zoo: What Nature Can Teach Us about Living Longer, Healthier Lives. Some species don’t age. Some species age slower than we do. Also, animal longevity can be vastly increased by human intervention. For example, fruit flies were bred by Kennedy Schaal of Rejuve.Bio to increase average lifespan from 40 days to 300 days. (side note: Keeping them away from red wine probably helped quite a bit!)

Fauna Bio seeks to develop therapies found in nature. They conduct deep neural network studies of animal protective gene expression networks with human disease networks to pinpoint causal genes. In particular, their research on hibernating animals discovered that these species regenerate their stem cells, telomeres and even thymus glands. During hibernation, these animals revert to a neo-natal cardiac state to enable repair. Interesting discoveries and initiatives from Fauna include:

  • Centaur, a visualized comprehensive map of animal gene expression intersected with humans.
  • Grizzly bears have compounds which protect against muscle atrophy while they hibernate.
  • Faun1003 and other compounds for repairing damage from lung injury, IPF and pulmonary hypertension.
  • A new program in inflammatory bowel disease, seeking targets to improve epithelial barrier function and reduce immune cell migration.

Hanadie Yousef and Thach Mai, Juvena Therapeutics

  • Muscle tissue and skeletal aging, neurodegeneration, injury, atrophy and sarcopenia are debilitating life conditions.
  • Juvena has created a drug discovery platform to analyze which human embryonic STEM cell secreted proteins should be provided for safely rejuvenating patients. Their pipeline of preclinical candidates have been designed to activate STEM cell pathways and muscle formation for myotonic dystrophy type 1 and Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients.
  • The right secreted proteins are identified using unbiased machine-learning to rank-order and select candidates based on mechanisms of action and pathways tied to aging. 
  • Robotic filtering selects the right mix of cells for injection from their therapeutic protein library.
  • Daily injections are delivered for 2 weeks. They are working on bi-weekly and monthly formulations, seeking to determine the duration of efficacy.

Irina and Michael Conboy, Conboy Laboratory for Engineering Longevity at UC-Berkeley, IMYu

  • Age associated reduction in quality of life is strongly influenced by dysregulation of cell signals present in the blood.
  • Proper regulation of blood cell signaling factors can restore youthful cognition, muscle repair, liver function and other measures of health.
  • Regular cleansing of blood plasma is important. Further details on the Conboy Laboratory work can be found in our article on Rejuvenation and Regeneration, updated from the 2022 EARD talks.
  • Of note, July ’22 published research showed systemic induction of senescence in young mice after a single blood exchange from old mice. If you require a blood transfusion, don’t get it from old blood donors!

Michael Geer, Humanity.Health

  • Popular iPhone app that monitors your rate of aging. Not yet available for Android.
  • 160,000+ users.
  • Integrates with Apple Watch, Mi Band and Oura Ring to track data.
  • Leverages large health population databases for algorithm tuning.
  • Provides health guidance to improve your chances of living a longer healthier and happier life.

Matthew “Oki” O’Connell, Cyclarity Therapeutics

  • Preclinical company targeting drugs to alleviate atherosclerosis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the arteries and the underlying cause of about 50% of all deaths in westernized society.
  • Engineering new cyclodextrins to capture and remove 7-Ketocholesterol (7-KC) also known as oxidized cholesterol.
    • 7-KC is the most toxic molecule in the human body. No known biological function. Highly predictive of heart failure.
    • Disrupts membrane function, both outer and inner.
    • Forms when cholesterol bumps into oxygen free radicals becoming 7-KC.
    • Unable to be expelled by cells and tissues. Macrophages eat it but then become foam cells contributing to arterial blocking.
  • Once 7-KC is removed, macrophages can then heal arterial lesions.
  • In September, 2021, received $10MM in seed funding including from lead investor Kizoo which is part of the Forever Healthy initiative.
  • Hosted within the Buck Institute, they seek to raise $30MM Series A and launch a 36 subject Phase 1 trial in the UK in Q3, 2023 with completion in Q1, 2024.
  • Competition includes preclinical company Repair Bio and their proof-of-concept Cholesterol Degrading Platform (CDP) to break down excess cholesterol using a macrophage cell therapy. CDP reduced atherosclerotic plaque lipids by 48% in vivo in mouse models. They plan to launch a clinical trial for Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia.

Peter Fedichev, Gero

  • Using AI and physics to identify biomarkers of aging to enable drug discovery.
  • Sees aging as a combination of stress, noise and entropy. Once this happens, it is hard to reverse. Keep a healthy lifestyle to avoid it!
  • Too much healthcare spend is directed to late-stage aging once stress, noise and entropy are already in our systems. Preventive solutions, not treatments, are the key to long life.
  • Working with Pfizer, one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies, to potentially identify targets against fibrotic diseases.

Vadim Gladyshev, Harvard Medical School

Some interesting discoveries from publications from the Gladyshev Lab:

  • In human females, a 20-40 year old cell becomes a baby! That egg cell is rejuvenated after the fertilization process for 7-8 days through gastrulation. After that, the aging process begins. And yes, that means aging begins before birth.
  • Biological age test results, when measured during severe stress, are increased. Ex. COVID, fractures, illness, pregnancy and Chris Hemsworth’s experiences in Limitless!
  • Biological age measurement results return to normal once stress passes.

Yuri Deigen, YouthBio Therapeutics

  • Harnessing partial cellular reprogramming of the Yamanaka factors to restore youthful gene expression and thus delay and reverse aging.
  • Starting with single-organ therapies focused on specific diseases.
  • See his great presentation on how aging is under genetic and epigenetic control. For example, Monarch butterfly lifespan varies by 10x depending on time of year they are born! The volume of expression of different genes vary based on the butterflies birthdates. (Side note: Maybe there is something to zodiac personality traits?)

Conclusion of Preventing Age-Related Diseases

Thanks for reading about emerging solutions for preventing age-related diseases. As your reward for focusing on your health, check out the new longevity cities mentioned during the 2023 conference. These include Vitalia, Próspera, a potential Longevity Network State in RI and Zuzalu. From Jan 5-March 1st, 2024, Vitalia is inviting people to go live there for only $3,000 / month! You then get to participate in minimally-regulated clinical trials such as this Follistatin gene therapy from MiniCircle. What, you are skeptical? Yes, you should be! These need more time to determine the risks. That said, the brochures for these new cities do look pretty cool. See the Vitalia link…

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