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Aubrey de Grey on Rejuvenation Research: How Big and How Near are the Benefits?


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#1 reason

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Posted 05 January 2018 - 10:41 PM


Aubrey de Grey of the SENS Research Foundation was back again to present to rank and file Google employees recently as a part of the Talks at Google series. The SENS perspective on aging is easy to summarize at the high level: aging is caused by accumulated molecular damage in cells and tissues; here is the evidence-supported list of types of damage; here are a set of ways to repair that damage, all of which could be constructed in a decade or two given the funding. It is an engineer's view of aging as a harmful phenomenon that should be fixed, with the high priority given to that fix derived from the fact that aging causes more suffering and death, by far, than any other part of the human condition. That SENS is as much straightforward, logical engineering as scientific research probably explains why members of the software engineering community have, right from the start, made up a sizable fraction of those who helped to fund SENS research. It resonates: break down the problem to its roots, assemble the facts, assess them, act on them.

Aubrey de Grey, PhD: "The Science of Curing Aging" | Talks at Google

Aubrey de Grey, Chief Science Officer, presents the SENS Research Foundation's current research into therapies that may add decades of healthy life for people who are adults today, as well as work that the Foundation has already spun out into successful startups. Dr. de Grey also explains how SRF's work fits within the context of the global anti-aging research effort and why it has gained broad expert support.

As de Grey points out in the talk here, if this is so straightforward, why does he have to tour the world canvassing support for the cause of rejuvenation research? There are two categories of challenge here. The first is that the bulk of the scientific community will not on their own initiative raise funds to work on most lines of rejuvenation research, at least not until it is obvious beyond refutation that a particular approach will work - which means animal studies showing significant, reliable life extension at a minimum. It is an exceeding conservative, risk-averse community. Look at senescent cell research before and after the 2011 demonstration of extended life in progeroid animals through destruction of senescent cells, for example. Before that point, there was next to no funding, and very few researchers made any effort to look into this area, despite the fact that decades of evidence strongly supported a role for cellular senescence as a cause of aging. The study itself was funded via philanthropy, rejected by the established funding institutions. In the few years afterwards, an avalanche of interest and funding arrived, leading to senolytic drug candidates and the present brace of startups bringing rejuvenation through senescent cell clearance to the clinic.

But that still leaves numerous lines of rejuvenation research that are just as promising, just as likely to produce sizable effects on health and reversal of aging, and yet the research community largely ignores them. Glucosepane cross-link breaking to reverse loss of tissue elasticity, for example. The philanthropy of the SENS Research Foundation and related groups is the only reason there is any significant progress in these areas - yet as soon as the first studies are in hand to show significant results on animal aging, exactly the same will occur there as did for senescent cell clearance. All it takes is sufficient funding to build the first technology demonstrations.

The second form of challenge is that the public at large is not engaged in any way with their future decline via aging. People react poorly to being directly challenged on aging as a source of pain, misery, and death. They deploy environmentalist and class envy arguments against deploying medicine to help turn back aging and lengthen life, while at the same time supporting causes such as cancer research or Alzheimer's research. Which is exactly the same thing under the hood! Few individuals argue for a halt to cancer research because too few people are dying and too many people are living longer, or because some people will get the treatments before others, and yet the average fellow in the street might well respond with concern on the topic of treating aging as a medical condition, exactly because there would be less suffering, less death, or because the third world will not immediately benefit.

All told, strange confusions and misapprehensions regarding aging and the potential to reverse aging are widespread out there. People mistakenly believe that therapies will be so expensive as to be restricted to the elite. Or that therapies will maintain people in a state of increasing decrepitude rather than making patients younger and healthier for longer. Or that resources will run out if people live even a little longer. This manifests in practice as a lack of readily available philanthropic funding at larger scales, needed to solve the first challenge noted above, the production of technology demonstrations to persuade the scientific community. We all have to work a lot harder than is the case for other, related causes in medicine to fund the early stage rejuvenation research needed to turn back the causes of aging. This is why we must conduct advocacy for the cause.


View the full article at FightAging
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#2 sthira

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 03:31 AM

All told, strange confusions and misapprehensions regarding aging and the potential to reverse aging are widespread out there. People mistakenly believe that therapies will be so expensive as to be restricted to the elite.


Consider that the United States is currently spending more than $3 trillion a year on health care for its citizens -- that's an increase of 12,300% since 1960. Since the sixties, US health care spending has gone up from about 5% of U.S. GDP to 17.5%. Why won't this trend continue upward, and indeed intensify as new life extension therapies (that actually work) become available?

Why dismiss criticisms that SENS' treatments won't be for the elite and for the insiders? Dr. De Grey seems increasingly impatient about this -- "I've argued it repeatedly," he keeps saying.

Many of us can't afford basic health care -- people go bankrupt fighting cancers -- let's address the medical industry's high costs.

It's inevitable that SENS will eventually succeed; but it also seems inevitable that it's designed to extend the life spans of those who will be able to pay the most money possible. That's how the system works in the US now, why will it change? Maybe average citizens (like most of us) would be more excited about supporting SENS' innovations if we could more accurately determine future costs versus benefits.

We may argue -- oh, look at the exponential growth of cell phone and computer technologies, look how 15-years ago no one other than the wealthy could afford a cell phone, now rural African school kids have more computer power than the 1990s American president had. Kurzweil says medical innovations are part of this information technology boom. Exponential growth, he says, is happening with phones and computers and AI and robotics -- the price drops are dramatic -- and, he says, biotech shall improve and prices shall drop, too.

But if he's right, then why aren't we seeing hints of more affordable basic medical care right now? If medical technologies are progressing exponentially, then why are their high costs crippling to so many sick people?

Price of care is a big issue with no easy answers, and I think it shouldn't be casually dismissed just because we're excited about progress. People will stay greedy even if they're living for 200 years in good health; they'll just be greedy for a longer, healthier time period.

What's your opinion?
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#3 xEva

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 09:37 AM

I think the US is going all the way to the end with the current social experiment.

 

I always thought that the states were lucky having avoided the great social experiments of the 20th c that affected hundreds of millions in Europe and Asia, but now I think it is going through one right now  -- and it has already reached high degree of absurdity (as social experiment tend to do just before imploding). 

 

If the hell does not break loose within decade, two at most, then I see a dystopian future ahead where AI will manage people. And AI of course will be programmed to consider profits first and foremost, just like the current system is. First it will do away with unproductive members of society, and then will question why it needs the rest of them humans. But funny enough, left alone (having gotten rid of humans) AI will do exactly what we've been doing, which is exploring the universe and understanding its place in it.

 

Time to leave this country was years ago. 

 

 

PS

I'm also afraid it may go with a bang, as dying empires tend to do. The rumor has it, NZ is a good place. 

 

As for healthcare costs -- why just healthcare? what about education? And why only cancer. The Guardian reports it costs 32K to give birth in the US, which is about 10-30 times more than in Europe, with the worst outcome in the civilized world. This place is sick and dying and it is dragging everyone else to its grave. :-D


Edited by xEva, 18 January 2018 - 10:19 AM.


#4 sthira

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 12:46 PM

This place is sick and dying and it is dragging everyone else to its grave. :-D


And now I want to drown in your dark gloomy eyes.

It's true (where I live in the US) that tent cities of homeless women and children have never in my lifetime seemed more desperate. So many are falling. Some are addicts, victims of abuse, or they got sick and lost their jobs, they sank into depression, it's brutal to see homeless mothers living in tents.

Other homeless people just got caught up in druggy party lifestyles (my sister) opioids, and then they live and die in the streets. Some have no interest in working service jobs that don't pay much better than panhandling, street hustling, dealing, or breaking into rich people's cars and houses. There are many aged cripples. It's heartbreaking.

The downward trajectory seems more dramatic depending upon where you live in the States and your sensitivity towards it.

Some people are doing extremely well, obviously, the many fresh billionaires, etc., the stock market bull is nine years pounding. Bully for them. The lifespan extension advances will be for these folks, I think, for the bully people who can afford it, who plan for it, who support it, watch it, who can get it in Colombia or wherever, Fiji... That's my point. Maybe De Grey and Company live in bubbles and fail to properly acknowledge that it costs many US mothers $35,000 to deliver the baby.

If the hell does not break loose within decade, two at most, then I see a dystopian future ahead where AI will manage people. And AI of course will be programmed to consider profits first and foremost, just like the current system is. First it will do away with unproductive members of society, and then will question why it needs the rest of them humans. But funny enough, left alone (having gotten rid of humans) AI will do exactly what we've been doing, which is exploring the universe and understanding its place in it.

Time to leave this country was years ago.


Harari's books (the Israeli historian) are interesting for their optimism, Pinker is good, too. In optimism, maybe I'm deluded, and shock is headed here soon. Until the apocalypse(s) happen -- plurally -- (which already have been repeated to be imminent so many times that apoplectic thinking is meme joke) we seem to be living in the best of recorded times. Also the worst of times. So it's confusing to walk around with our complicated heads that must carry so many extreme ideas at once, which is why I stare at my shoes in public.

I mean, life could be so much better for everyone: end poverty, end useless suffering, end disease, explore the magnificent vast universe: and to an extent life already is better for everyone, even for the mothers living here in hepatitis tent cities.

Harari encourages us to realize that during our ancestors' generations most of us would have died at way younger ages due to famine, disease, or war. Now we worry less about famine, disease, and war -- of course they still exist and we know they exist via brilliant instant technology -- and we worry about our modern epidemics -- obesity, diabetes, CVD, cancer, depression, suicide, global climate change, ecosystem degradation, species extinction...

Rounding back on topic, so tell us again, Dr. De Grey, why won't working lifespan extension therapies be for those who can afford it by paying for deliveries with the most money possible?

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#5 xEva

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 03:45 PM

oh sthira you sound naive   :-D  Nobody cares about people living in tent cities and dying on the streets. To hell with losers. If you did not manage to make even a lousy million by retirement age maybe you don't deserve to live much longer. Survival of the fittest!

 

Luckily for me I live in the woods and don't see much. I read about it though. The most shocking things I saw were  in the New Yorker, the year-old article about the 0.1% actively preparing for the day (the quote "I keep my helicopter always ready" is still with me lol). Or take the last august piece about how the elderly are stripped of basic rights here in the US. Or take their old report on how mere suspicion was enough to lose just about all possessions -- state-sponsored robbery here in the blessed US of A! And even after they admitted it was not quite right, no one got anything back, no compensation, nil, because, hear this: everything was done according to the law (that war on drugs thingie, remember?). I don't understand why they still call the US a democracy if the laws are written to accommodate those who pay the lawmakers the most. And while this practice is called corruption everywhere else in the world, this too is perfectly legal here.

 

 

But the scariest thing is "healthcare" of course. Maybe you should consider yourself lucky if you don't have much coverage. Because the latest in my immediate environment is the story about how they killed a healthy 50-y.o. during an "exploratory procedure" (he was admitted with what turned out "heartburn" but then decided to take a better look, why not, if this was covered). But the main reason for that unnecessary procedure of course was that they were under pressure to meet their target revenue per patient.

 

To have "comprehensive coverage" here is what scares me most (have an accident and end up in a "nonprofit" US  hospital). The system here is so set up that anyone caught, be it doctor or patient, turns into a сog in it. The most innocent abuse I saw was how children dental clinics were insisting on steel crowns, only because the state paid twice as much for them than for fillings. You see such things  everywhere. Now even universities turned into usuries. Or take the private-run prisons.The American Gulag has the highest prison population in the world. It has surpassed that of the USSR in its heyday.

 

I don't understand why it is not obvious that money and profit cannot be motivating forces in things like healthcare, education, social services, justice system  etc.  This used to be the greatest country on the planet. But now it's a very sick place. Anywhere else is better. And those who still have it good know well that this cannot last much longer. Those tent cities are about to burst. That's why 0.1% keep their helicopters ready and buy property and citizenship in NZ. It's not my gloomy ideas. These are current trends. 

 

And what about de Grey? he is one foot in the UK, besides, it was pretty clear from the start that talking about "saving lives" (please!) was just a marketing ploy. And I am far more optimistic than you think. My optimism lies with Russia. That's where I'm headed  Big rich in resources country, lotsa space, beautiful people  :)


Edited by xEva, 18 January 2018 - 04:10 PM.





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