The Methuselah Foundation at the Global Investors Forum

Aubrey de Grey, Methuselah Foundation chair, recently presented at the Global Investors Forum hosted by UBS. Our COO, David Chambers, was also there and writes:

On Thursday I attended the UBS Global Asset Management “Global Investors Forum” held at the Intercontinental in London. The event was attended by somewhat more than 100 quite senior people from pension fund management, life assurance and wholesalers of long duration investments to institutional clients.

Aubrey de Grey was one of three speakers to open the event, addressing the whole audience. His warm-up man was Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Prize Economics 2001) and he was followed by Sir Christopher Hum (formerly HM Ambassador to PRC).

My impressions:

  • Stiglitz and Hum were of course erudite and polished speakers, but what they said was necessarily quite superficial, and the sort of thing that say any reader of the Economist would already be familiar with.

  • By contrast Aubrey delivered “new news”. Overall the audience did not seem to find the ideas expounded ludicrous. There were some titters at the “1000 year lifespan” slide. I asked people around me afterwards what they thought, and nobody denied the plausibility/desirability of the notion. My neighbour unprompted told me that the rich would find the prospect of more life irresistible. Questions from the floor concerned timescale and current indications of progress.
  • Aubrey’s manifesto was a bit of a shock to such a sober and mainstream audience. I’m rather impressed that UBS took the bold step of inviting us.

As you may be aware, the industries most exposed to financial risk and gain as a result of rapid changes in life span are further ahead than the man in the street in appreciating the possibilities for new technologies of medicine and extended longevity in the next few decades. Billions of dollars owned by investors and clients hang in the balance if industry leaders are wrong, such as by failing to account for the development of SENS technologies for repairing the damage of aging over the next 20 years.

David Chambers went on to note:

Aubrey told me that this was the first time he had been asked to appear in front of such a heavy duty super-straight mainstream audience. To be clear: nobody drank the Kool Aid there and then. But neither were the ideas of SENS and greatly increasing healthy life spans rejected. UBS itself – a sober sided Swiss bank – decided that de Grey belonged up there with Stiglitz and Hum. This is how true mainstream acceptance and understanding will slowly accumulate: those with a large stake in the future will take the time to evaluate the prospects for longer lives, and go on to educate others. This meeting was a leading indicator, showing that the idea of dramatic longevity gains is beginning to enter the mainstream.

Much More Video From the Edmonton Aging Symposium

Records of the presentations mades at the Edmonton Aging Symposium are now available online. Much more longevity and aging science than can be taken in at one sitting! You’ll find presentations on calorie restriction science; searching for the mechanisms of regeneration in lower animals; AGEs and AGE-breakers; the latest results from studies of MRL mice; progress in LysoSENS; mitochondrial DNA mutations and their role in aging; immunotherapies directed against age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s; how and why the aging immune system becomes ineffective; healing damaged hearts with stem cells; and much more.

The University of Alberta Audio/Visual support, Koi Media and especially Capital Health provided absolutely amazing service and professionalism in putting this together. I cannot thank them enough for the hardwork and dedication when the going got rough. They made the chaos appear a lot less so. I hope you enjoy this chance to review some of the presentations you may want to see again or watch the ones you may have missed.

The content is hosted on Methuselah Foundation hardware, so please do your part to help take the load off the servers by posting these videos to Google Video, YouTube, or other video sharing sites.

Welcome to Many New Members of The Three Hundred

Membership in the Methuselah Foundation’s Three Hundred, dedicated folk like you and I who stand together in support of meaningful longevity research, is growing by leaps and bounds. A warm welcome to Michael Silverton, Andrew Hessel, Ryan Scott, Michael Potter, Ross Baker, Matthew W.A. Gress, Harry Huttunen and Steve Rozenblat – all of whom have stepped up within the last month to show their support for scientific research and longer, healthier lives.

Michael Silverton makes a challenge of his own:

A challenge to all IEET members, listeners, groupies, and wannabes to put your money where your sexy hyper-intellectual radical democratic ideals are. You think I can afford this? You gotta’ be kidding. This is about making a sacrifice that will make the difference for our children and their children. Talk is cheap, and so is $1000/yr. when you consider the potential payoffs.

As someone who sees a great deal more talk than action in the world, I am always pleased to see sentiments of this nature. The future is ours to shape – but we have to step forward and help shape it!

On that note, I am happy to say that 138 people and organizations have joined The Three Hundred since its launch, and each is helping to change the world for the better by funding the Mprize for longevity research and the SENS science sponsored by the Methuselah Foundation.

We’re well on the way to filling half of the places in the The Three Hundred, and what a milestone that will be!

Michael Yamashita’s Blog Scan

Once again, Michael Yamashita provides us with the results of an eye cast upon the blogosphere:

http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/2007/04/support_freedom.html
… Support freedom, kill death. The Edmonton Aging Symposium was held at the University of Alberta last weekend, and a number of important anti-aging scientists attended, such as Aubrey de Grey and Gregory Stock. The Symposium discussed the prospect of …
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http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=hold_the_neutrons&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1
… The English have never been noted for their cuisine. Ask Alexander Litvinenko’s family. But now you have something else to worry about besides Mad Cow, polonium-210 and a certain lingering blandness. Check out this press release: Meat and two neutrons — the key to a longer life Long-life isotopes of a different variety Indulging in an …
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http://advancednano.blogspot.com/2007/03/new-life-extension-possibility-and-stem.html
… A method of using isotopes to make bonds in the body more resistant to free radical damage could lengthen human lives by 10% or about 10 years. It does not reverse free radical damage, so it would be less helpful to older people. A team led by Mikhail Shchepinov, formerly of Oxford University, fed nematode worms nutrients reinforced with natural …
Profile page: http://www2.blogger.com/profile/07541279438184352860
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http://pimm.wordpress.com/2007/03/30/edmonton-aging-life-extension-technologies-symposium-starts-march-30-31/
… Edmonton Aging (Life Extension Technologies) Symposium starts, March 30-31. Posted by attilachordash on March 30th, 2007 The Edmonton Aging Symposium starts today. Based on the program and speakers you can expect hot debates: Huber Warner, Aubrey de Grey, Irina Conboy, Amit Patel, Judith Campisi. I hope that the discussions will be hot, …
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http://thebewilderness.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/04/support_freedom.html
… The Edmonton Aging Symposium was held at the University of Alberta last weekend, and a number of important anti-aging scientists attended , such as Aubrey de Grey and Gregory Stock. The Symposium discussed the prospect of developing and implementing many anti-aging technologies, with the Methuselah Foundation and the Supercentenarian Research …
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http://www.everythingispointless.com/2007/04/nihlism-transhumanism-hedonism.html
… A couple of months ago I was sent a rather cryptic email suggesting that I check out the work of Aubrey de Grey, who (according to his Wikipedia page) is: a controversial biomedical gerontologist who lives in the city of Cambridge, UK. He is working to expedite the development of a cure for human ageing, a medical goal he refers to as engineered …
Profile page: http://www.blogger.com/profile/15282045026892204345
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http://www.stevens.edu/csw/cgi-bin/blogs/csw/?p=16
… The science writer Steve Hall has thought as long and hard about the pros and cons of technological human enhancement as anyone I know. His last two books, Merchants of Immortality and Size Matters, consider life extension and height extension, respectively, with great sophistication and clarity. The latter book is particularly poignant, because …
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http://infidel753.blogspot.com/2007/04/genetics-and-life-extension.html
… This seems like a worthwhile idea. Since some animals live an unusually long time — and therefore must age unusually slowly — let’s analyze the genes of those species and find out how they do it. …
Profile page: http://www.blogger.com/profile/10965786814334886696
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http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=190656&blogID=247668687
… The Singularity is about breaking through the millennia-enduring glass ceiling of Homo sapiens cognitive capacity. There are people that can bench press 500 lbs, and people that can barely manage 100. There are atheletes that can run a five-minute mile, and there are those that can barely puff through a mile in under ten minutes. There are …
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http://www.phicons.com/index.php/2007/03/20/ted-talks-av-podcasts-life-inspiration/
… Each year, TED hosts some of the world’s most fascinating people: Trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses. With sponsorship assured TED is putting up a talk a week in video, audio and streaming formats. I am busy filling the miniSD on my mobile right now. Below is a quick list of the talks available at TED to …
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http://leightoncooke.blogspot.com/2007/03/wanna-celebrate-your-1000th-birthday.html
.. …Well according to Aubrey de Grey it’s just an engineering problem! TED blog has all the details and Aubrey has the beard…
Profile page: http://www.blogger.com/profile/15888732615181532548
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http://futuresheet.com/2007/03/31/scientists-try-to-answer-age-old-query-should-people-live-longer/
… Scientists try to answer: Should people live longer? March 31st, 2007 by futuresheet Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) Journal reports that dozens of academics are gathering at the University of Alberta for a two-day aging symposium to discuss whether we can significantly extend lifespans and whether we should. “If we all live to be 150, the hospitals …
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http://www.novamente.net/bruce/index.php/?p=31
… Bryan Appleyard’s new book, How to Live Forever or Die Trying, includes a chapter (available online) about ImmInst’s Atlanta Conference, including commentary about Bruce Klein(me!), Ben Goertzel, Novamente and a number of other life extension pioneers, such as Susan Fonseca-Klein, Aubrey de Grey, Martine Rothblatt, James Hughes, Max More and …
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http://dao.complexitystudies.org/2007/03/22/ted2007/
… TED2007 March 22nd, 2007 by guenther I came upon TED a year ago and have since watched nearly all the videos: they are mind-expanding, inspiring, fascinating – they restore faith in the human race and give hope that we’ll make it yet (yes, these talks evoke this all! – watch some of them to know what I mean). I especially liked Sir Ken …
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http://atokena.livejournal.com/5559.html
… For a brief introduction into the progress of gerontology and the mounds that can be achieved through the coming scientific methods check out this short presentation by Dr. Aubrey de Grey. http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=3847943059984264388&q=TED+Conference
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http://cyberend.com/1stparagraph/2007/03/24/what-about-not-dying-at-all/
… Aubrey de Grey, British biogerontologist and founder of SENS, controversially claims to have created a roadmap to defeat biological aging. In this talk, he argues that aging – like other diseases – can be cured, and that humans can live for centuries, if only we approach the aging process as “an engineering problem.” [Watch the [...] …
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http://dakura-deoman.livejournal.com/68408.html
… Traditionally, medical science involves itself with restoring a person to a state of good health, or as close to that as possible. Recent discoveries and advancements, however, have opened up prospects of all kinds of enhancements designed to improve a human’s natural, basic capabilities and make them ‘better then well’. In general, Human …
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http://rejuv.blogspot.com/2007/04/rejuvenation-engineering.html
… Rejuvenation Engineering is the Second Life (SL) virtual Reality (VR) simulation of a real life (RL) problem, Reversing Aging, and applying engineering/science toward it’s solution. Here I am in SL watching a 2 minute slide presentation on Dr. Aubrey de Grey of Cambridge University, the Biomedical Gerontology theorist whose Strategies for …
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http://rejuv.blogspot.com/2007/04/7-deadly-things.html
… Dr. Aubrey de Grey states that there are 7 DeadlyThings which are killing us as we age. They are damage inside and outside of our cells which must be removed if we are to survive. …
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http://www.thepriceofrice.com/2007/04/building-bridges-to-forever.html
… Please read the following quotation: Most of my Baby Boomer contemporaries are completely oblivious of this perspective. They just assume that aging is part of the cycle of human life, and at 65 or 70 you start slowing down. Then at eighty you’re dead. So they’re getting ready to retire, and are really unaware of this perspective that things are …
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http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=156836259&blogID=249477555
… The following “reflections”, published in the book The Singularity is Near, “articulate” the “personal philosophy” of Ray Kurzweil, and are worth recapitulating here: We have the means right now to live long enough to live forever. Existing knowledge can be aggressively applied to dramatically slow down aging processes so we can still be in …
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A disclaimer: Please note that the blogs linked to here do not represent any official position or opinions of the Methuselah Foundation, and are presented here for your reading. The blogs we present represent only the opinions of their owners and commentators.

John Schloendorn Reports on the Edmonton Aging Symposium

LysoSENS researcher and Methuselah Foundation volunteer John Schloendorn attended the recently held Edmonton Aging Symposium. Here is his report on the event:

Last week, I had the chance to attend the Edmonton Aging Symposium, a public conference put together by Methuselah Foundation volunteer Kevin Perrott in Alberta, Canada. I can sum up only selected aspects of the meeting here, and apologize to the presenters whose work I could not include. The reader shall be referred to the abstract book, and the conference videos which will shortly be announced on this blog.

The opening talk was by Huber Warner, well known for his outspoken criticism of SENS as a whole, and less well known for his financial support of selected SENS projects. Warner set out to discuss the relationship between “time, damage and aging”, but did not make it beyond the limited, albeit interesting example of DNA damage in our cells’ nuclei and mitochondria. As most of the symposium was neatly organized according to types of age-related damage, it would have been useful to have a general introduction to “time, damage and aging” covering all the “big seven” damage-types at this stage, but we had to wait for this until de Grey took over later in the day. Warner did set the stage for subsequent presenters in the most heated one of these fields, namely the contribution of mitochondrial DNA mutations to the aging process of certain gene-targeted mice. In the words of presenter Konstantin Khrapko: “When the prevailing opinion about the role of mitochondrial mutation in aging changes more than twice within your funding period, it is pretty stressful”. We at the Methuselah Foundation of course hope that the stress exerted by mitochondrial mutations on hard-working gerontologists can soon be relieved by doing away with them (the mutations, not the gerontologists), and we recently got to work towards that end.

Interestingly, the introductory session was completed by Janet Fast, a sociologist, who cited Canadian retirees’ leisure behavior to argue that the aged aren’t damaged after all. However, as far as one can tell from the fact that none of the world’s best and brightest gerontologists and bioengineers present packed their things and went home, she cannot have been very convincing. I think that while the work to prevent discrimination of the aged on grounds of their impaired physical function or “ageism” is certainly important, it can become dangerous to take it as far as to deny that such impaired function exists, progresses, and ultimately becomes terminal.

Progress has been solid and steady in the other fields pertaining to the removal of age-related damage according to the SENS proposals: Too few cells, and too many cells, and the three types of junk (inside cells, between cells and protein crosslinks). The cellular work featured Conboy and Conboy from Berkeley, pioneers in investigating the role of how an aged bodily environment dictates the aging various stem cell types, and presented excellent data with implications on how one might go about shielding the stem cells from this influence. This might one day allow the stem cells in an aged person to ignore the body’s calls to stop regenerating, and effectively remedy the “too few cells” problem. Geoff Goldspink discussed how regenerating muscle cells might be helped along further with growth factors, and how professional athletes and the industry behind them have become very interested in supporting this work.

On the other hand, Judith Campisi (Buck Institute) attempted to get rid of unwanted cells (“too many“), and reported on overcoming matrix metalloproteinases, an important mechanism by which such senescent cells can defend themselves against immune cells attempting to clear them out.

In the field of age-related storage diseases (“junk“), atherosclerosis researcher Jay Jerome explained the need for enzyme therapies to resolve arterial plaques, and Rittmann showed how his Methuselah Foundation-funded work to clone suitable enzymes from environmental microbes has made excellent progress over the past year.

Cynthia Lemere explained how a vaccine against extracellular beta-amyloid to resolve Alzheimer’s disease plaques suffered a severe setback in 2001, when a clinical trial had to be shut down due to severe side-effects. She introduced several good ideas how to prevent this, and which have shown promise in mice. Efforts to bring these into the clinic are well underway.

And finally, another conference highlight I would like to mention in conclusion was the presentation of an autopsy of a supercentenarian (someone who died older than 110 years of age) validated by the supercentenarian research foundation, by Steve Coles and Doros Platika. We saw photos of a 115 year old brain preparation with no trace of plaque deposition or neurodegeneration, and an aorta with as much atherosclerosis as a newborn baby. Pre-medical textbooks teach that both types of lesions should be prevalent in just about everybody, half a century earlier. For those of us with more commonplace genomes, it is not a question of whether we get these lesions, but how fast they progress towards diseases. We wish the Supercentenarian Research Foundation the best of luck in discovering the basis of this biomedical miracle.

In sum, I think we are all indebted to graduate student and Methuselah Foundation volunteer Kevin Perrott for putting together this excellent conference. Normally this type of thing is done by committees of senior researchers, and I find it truly amazing that a single motivated student single-handedly pulled one of that I honestly think was far above what you get in the field on average. It is an honor and a pleasure to work with the excellent volunteers at the Methuselah Foundation such as Kevin.

First Videos From the Edmonton Aging Symposium

The Edmonton Aging Symposium, organized through the tireless efforts of Kevin Perrott of the Methuselah Foundation, was held a week ago to widespread acclaim. Congratulations are due to Kevin and his fellow volunteers for playing host to such an event of interest. The first presentation and debate videos from the symposium are now available via Google Video:

Kevin assures us that more video footage will be forthcoming in the days ahead.

Across the World for Longevity Research

Methuselah Foundation COO David Chambers notes:

Google introduced a new feature yesterday – called MyMaps – which allows you to make a public map with markers and labels. I have made a MyMap for Aubrey’s travels this year.

That’s a lot of blue location markers for one itinerary.

Foundation chair and biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey keeps a busy schedule in support of our goal of longer, healthy lives: fundraisers in California, scientific conferences in Canada, investment forums in London, and ever onwards. The odds are good that he’ll be speaking within driving distance of your city within the next 12 months. Why not drop by and hear about the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence and the Mprize for longevity research in person?

Methuselah Foundation announces new Mprize competitor: Alan Cash joins the challenge to extend the lives of mice

The Methuselah Foundation is pleased to announce a new Mprize competitor: Alan Cash, Managing Partner of Terra Biological LLC, of San Diego, California. The Mprize, a scientific research prize aimed at encouraging scientists to find a way to reverse the aging process, is a primary activity of the Methuselah Foundation. The Mprize fund continues to grow and currently stands at more than $4 Million. Prizes will be awarded to research groups that can most successfully extend the lifespan of laboratory mice.

The focus of Mr. Cash’s research and development at Terra Biological LLC is on small molecules that simulate the genomic effects of caloric restriction (“caloric restriction mimics” or “CR mimetics”). CR mimetics have been shown to increase the lifespan of laboratory test animals, namely C. Elegans worms, D. Melanogater flies and, in a small pilot test, M. Musculus mice by up to 36%.

Mr. Cash is an entrepreneur with formal training in physics and geology, who has studied the biological and biochemical aspects of aging research with scientists in the field. He is working with the National Institutes of Aging Division of the US National Institutes of Health and also investing his own funds in this research. Previously Mr. Cash was Chairman and President of Terra-Kleen Response Group Inc., which was acquired by a Canadian public company in 2005.

Development of commercially viable CR mimetics continues, and one of these products, “beneGene” was introduced into the European and Canadian markets for use in humans in January 2007.

The NIA/NIH is currently evaluating the inclusion of one of Terra Biological’s CR mimetics in its ITP test program in mice to measure its biological effects on life and health span. These larger scale mouse tests will constitute the entry into the Mprize competition.

Mr. Cash commented, “My hopes in entering the Mprize competition are to demonstrate and confirm, on a larger scale in mice, the effectiveness of specific small molecule, biochemical control of aging. This biochemical control, which has already been shown to simulate calorie restriction – CR, a scientifically tested and accepted method of increasing life and health span – will be tested beginning with middle aged mice, about 16 months old.”

About the Methuselah Foundation

The Methuselah Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to accelerating the development of foreseeable, science-based therapies to combat aging. Its main activities are the funding of SENS research, and the Methuselah Mouse Prize, which is being offered to the scientific research teams that significantly extend the lifespan of middle-aged laboratory mice. Further details of the Methuselah Foundation can be found at: www.methuselahfoundation.org

About Terra Biological LLC

Terra Biological LLC conducts research into small molecules that simulate the genomic effects of caloric restriction, with the goal of developing commercially viable caloric restriction mimetics, comparable to those that have resulted in lifespan increases of up to 40% in laboratory test animals. Terra offers these “calorie restriction mimics” for human use in the Canadian and European markets.