Tag Archives: Aging

Can A Scientific Dream Team End Aging?

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No one wants to get old. But how can we stop and even reverse aging?

Perhaps a Dream Team of the world’s greatest scientists. And a whole lot of money.

Well, that just became a reality.

For those of us who follow venture capital, the news hit like a bomb. Previously unknown Altos Labs burst onto the scene with a $3 billion seed round, likely the largest early stage fundraise in history.

To put that in perspective, a typical seed round is more like $1-3 million.

Altos will be putting that money in the hands of some of the world’s top scientists.

Noted antiaging researchers like Izpisúa Belmonte and Alejandro Ocampo are on board. Nobel Laureates Shinya Yamanaka and Jennifer Doudna have also joined as advisers.

Altos has promised salaries over $1 million, generous research budgets, and autonomy. Plus, no more constant grant writing.

So can aging be reversed? New findings suggest it may be possible.

Just last September, researchers succeeded in reversing aging in mouse hearts using Shinya Yamanaka’s Yamanaka Factors:

…after two and a half decades of fitful starts and abandoned leads, Braun and a team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute showed that they could reprogram heart cells in mice and get the animals to regenerate cardiac tissue after a heart attack. The breakthrough, published in Science, adds new evidence that it will eventually be possible to help patients recover muscle lost in heart attacks and gives another boon to anti-aging researchers who want to one day apply these rejuvenation techniques across much of the body.

Heart cells are some of the hardest to reprogram. If scientists can do this, what else can they accomplish?

David Sinclair at Harvard reversed aging in mouse eyes the year before. The pace of these breakthroughs seems to be increasing.

Any investor in startups always asks the founder “why now?” Why is now the right time to raise this money and build this business?

Altos has a very compelling “why now.”

The foundation for reversing aging has been laid by Yamanaka and others. Scientists worldwide are building on it rapidly, coming up with cure after cure for previously untreatable diseases.

I’m itching to see what Altos can accomplish. Best of luck to their incredible team!

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More on tech:

Reversing the Aging Process in Mouse Eyes… and Maybe Someday, Us?

3D Printing a Human Ear

The Lost Planet of Vulcan

Photo: “Shinya Yamanaka” by Rubenstein is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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What Is the Ideal Amount of Exercise?

Above: Me sucking wind after a tough workout.

We often hear what the minimum amount of exercise we need is, but what amount of exercise is actually optimal? At what point have we reaped all the benefits exercise has to offer, and possibly even gone over the edge into damaging overtraining?

With the largest snowstorm in years lashing my apartment today, I thought it was as good a time as any to try to find an answer.

The federal government recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. This establishes a useful lower bound we definitely shouldn’t dip below, but a highly cited study in JAMA Internal Medicine finds that you can get further longevity benefits by exercising a lot more:

the longevity benefit threshold appears to be approximately 3 to 5 times the recommended physical activity minimum

So, in order to be sure to get the maximum longevity benefit, you need to do five times the minimum recommended level of exercise. 5x the minimum recommended level would be 1 hour 47 minutes of moderate activity daily or 54 minutes of vigorous activity daily.

Furthermore, the study found no danger from exercising even more than what it takes to get the full longevity benefit:

there does not appear to be an elevated mortality risk with LTPA [leisure time physical activity] levels as high as 10 or more times the recommended minimum.

Looking at the differences between moderate and vigorous activity, I also wondered if one is better than the other. There doesn’t seem to be solid data to say that either moderate or vigorous activity is superior from a health perspective:

comprehensive reviews of the literature on physical activity and mortality report that overall volume of physical activity is associated with lower mortality risk but report mixed findings on the relative contributions of moderate- vs vigorous-intensity activities

So am I doing enough? Looking at the pedometer app on my phone, I’ve averaged 2.75 hours per day of walking (moderate intensity exercise) over the past year. I also do about 3-4 hours a week of vigorous exercise (yoga and strength training, mostly), so about 30 min daily.

So, I seem to be comfortably above the level needed to get the maximum longevity benefit. That said, counterintuitively, I sometimes find my mood is a little lower on days I don’t do vigorous activity. (You think you’d be happy for a rest day, but maybe not!) Just because I’m at the maximum amount of exercise to produce longevity benefits doesn’t mean that more exercise might not produce other benefits in terms of mental health, athletic ability, appearance, etc.

Since there appears to be no harm from even very high levels of activity, I may add another vigorous workout (likely yoga or calistenics) to my routine some weeks, depending on my schedule and desires at the time.

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New Research Identifies the Key Causes of Aging

Dr. Jeremy Walston, Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University and co-author of the study

I just read an interesting new study identifying the biggest causes of aging. The authors gathered a panel of leading experts on health and aging and asked them what the biggest risk factors are for failing health as the years go by. Here’s what they found:

Experts identified 13 factors predisposing to or clinically manifesting AACD [accelerated aging and cellular decline]. Among these, chronic diseases, obesity, and unfavorable genetic background were considered as the most important.

Early detection of accelerated aging and cellular decline (AACD): A
consensus statement

None of the risk factors will shock you, but seeing all the key risks laid out in order of importance can really help guide our decision making:

One risk stood out above all:

smoking was consistently viewed as the most prominent risk factor

So if you’re smoking, definitely consider quitting! I recently shared how I put down the cigarettes 6 years ago. Hopefully my experience can help.

These risks mostly boil down to either what you put into your body or what you do with your body. Here’s how I try to mitigate these risks:

  • Sleeping 8-9 hours a night
  • Exercising at least 4 times a week, in addition to walking at least 4 miles every day
  • Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and avoiding too many processed foods
  • Meditating most days, generally for 10-20 minutes

Although I did, incongruously, read this article while eating some potato chips, so there’s room for improvement! 🙂 Have a great weekend everyone!

Reversing the Aging Process in Mouse Eyes… and Maybe Someday, Us?

I just listened to a fascinating discussion with Dr. David Sinclair, PhD, on his lab’s recent success in reversing aging in mouse eyes. Sinclair and his team damaged the optic nerves of mice and then, using Yamanaka factors, reprogrammed the cells to “remember” their youthful vitality and regenerate. The mice could then see! The paper was recently published in the journal Nature.

This has significant potential for treating glaucoma in humans as well as someday reversing aging in general. If cells can be reprogrammed to recover the information they had when they were young, many conditions associated with aging could be reversed.

In this discussion (available as a YouTube video or a podcast), Dr. Sinclair also details some of the key things he does to try to prevent and reverse aging

  • Supplements/medication: NMN, resveratrol, oleic acid, metformin
  • Exercise, in particular weight training
  • Intermittent fasting, about 1.5 meals daily
  • Monitoring of biomarkers through regular blood testing. He uses a company called Inside Tracker and advises them. This is something I intend to look into further.
  • Wears Apple Watch and Oura Ring to track sleep, heart rate variability, etc. This and blood tests can provide an idea if certain interventions are working.

I read Dr. Sinclair’s amazing book shortly after it came out and started taking NMN on that basis. I do seem more energetic these days, although whether that’s due to NMN is anyone’s guess.

You can also get up-to-the-minute insights on aging research from Dr. Sinclair by going to his website here and signing up for his email list, Lifespan Insider (bottom right of page). I just did and am eagerly awaiting some useful tips!