Category Archives: Technology

Living forever as robot? Prototype lets humans upload their mind into mechanized ‘heads’

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After 15+ years as an IT professional. Jonathon decided to return to school in hopes of one day troubleshooting the most universal problem effecting all. Death, pain, and suffering by aging. As an undergraduate he is currently performing research in Dr. Richard Bennetts lab at the University of Southern Indiana, as well as volunteering for various organizations including the Buck Institute for research on Aging.
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Original Article Here

An Artificial Intelligence pioneer is embracing the controversial idea of uploading the memories, thoughts and feelings of a living person into a computer to create a Mind Clone or “second self.” The prototype for this new self is called ‘Bina-48’.

Entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt has created a new robotic head that she hopes, one day in the future, humans will be able to upload their minds into. Bina-48 is named after Rothblatt’s real-life wife, Bina Aspen, and serves as a proof-of-concept for the futuristic idea. The robot version is designed to carry on a conversation, with scientists hoping that these mind clones could give human owners a sort of artificial afterlife.

“I believe Mind Clones will be humanity’s biggest invention. The market opportunity is limitless,” Rothblatt told Bloomberg News. “Ultimately – just like we all want a smart phone, we all want a social media account – we are all going to want a Mind Clone. It will make everything in our life more useful, more valuable. It will give us twice as much time to do everything.”

Bena-48 was created five years ago as a digital replica uploaded with Bina Aspen’s thoughts, memories and feelings – all of which were broken down into computer code to create a digital version of her consciousness. Created by Hanson Robotics, Bina-48 can engage in conversation, answer questions and even have “spontaneous” thoughts that are derived from multimedia data in a “mindfile” created by the real Bina.

A similar mindfile is created when a person interacts on Twitter or Facebook and shares photos or blogs regularly – in essence, it’s a digital database of thoughts, memories, feelings and opinions. Mindware mimics the way the human brain supposedly organizes information, creates emotions and achieves self-awareness.

READ MORE: Bill Gates on AI doomsday: ‘I don’t understand why we aren’t concerned’

The proliferation of robots like Bina-48 may seem farfetched now, but Rothblatt is the woman who helped pioneered satellite radio as founder of Sirius and now oversees biotech innovation at United Therapeutics.

Mind Clone is a digital copy of your mind outside of your body,” said Rothblatt. “I think Mind Clone will look like an avatar on the screen, talking, instead of a robot version. Mind Clones are 10-20 years away.”

Am I talking about a law of physics here? Am I talking about defying gravity here? No. Am I talking about going faster than light? No. All I am doing here is talking about writing some good code.”

READ MORE: Elon Musk donates $10mn to stop AI from turning against humans

Companies such as eterni.me, Gordon Bell’s MyLifeBits, and Terasem’s Lifenaut are all pursuing Mind Clone to help a person’s personality, work and relationships survive after death.

Eterni.me is a proposed for-profit service that will reportedly offer immortality by creating “a virtual YOU, an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends, even after you pass away.”

 

How To Live Longer: Scientists Are Pushing To Make 120 The New 70

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Undergraduate at The University of Southern Indiana + More Years Less Tears + Your NeXt Computer
After 15+ years as an IT professional. Jonathon decided to return to school in hopes of one day troubleshooting the most universal problem effecting all. Death, pain, and suffering by aging. As an undergraduate he is currently performing research in Dr. Richard Bennetts lab at the University of Southern Indiana, as well as volunteering for various organizations including the Buck Institute for research on Aging.
Jonathon Fulkerson
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By @amynordrum a.nordrum@ibtimes.com on April 30 2015 9:31 AM EDT

Original Article Here

Researchers and pharmaceutical companies are pursuing ways to ward off death by cancer, heart disease and other common causes through precision medicine, gene editing, stem cell replacement therapy and 3-D bio printing. Though current patients shouldn’t expect to reach an average lifespan of 120 -- experts say these novel technologies could make it a reality for the next generation. Young-Joon Seol of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine demonstrates 3-D printing of muscle tissue. US Army Material Command

Researchers and pharmaceutical companies are pursuing ways to ward off death by cancer, heart disease and other common causes through precision medicine, gene editing, stem cell replacement therapy and 3-D bio printing. Though current patients shouldn’t expect to reach an average lifespan of 120 — experts say these novel technologies could make it a reality for the next generation. Young-Joon Seol of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine demonstrates 3-D printing of muscle tissue. US Army Material Command

Verne Wheelwright is 79 years old, but he says he feels like he’s 60. He takes fish oil pills and a vitamin called Biotin that stops his fingernails from splitting and may preserve bone mass. The Harlingen, Texas, health enthusiast eats mostly fruits and vegetables, goes “light on meat,” and exercises for at least a few minutes a day. And he uses a standing desk.

“Each of these things is a little tiny thing, but you add them all up and they work, in my opinion,” he says.

Wheelwright wants to live as long as he can, and he says a lifespan of 120 years is within reach for most people of the next generation. According to a growing number of health researchers, pharmaceutical executives and futurists, that’s not such a crazy idea. Key therapies and technologies such as gene editing, stem cell therapy and 3D bio printing are fundamentally altering modern medicine in ways that could lead to much longer human lifespans and possibly put a century of life well within reach for most people.

“The potential of these treatments is huge,” says Phil Vanek, general manager of cell therapy technologies at GE Healthcare.

The possibility of an extra-long life is striking a cultural chord, even if it’s not yet scientific reality. Dr. Craig Venter, one of the United States’ leading geneticists, has launched a company and raised $70 million on the prospect of extending life, while venture capitalist Peter Thiel has already declared his intent to celebrate his 120th birthday. The concept of living to 120 even has its own Wikipedia page andnutritional regimen.

Today, the average American lives to be about 79 years old — an age that Wheelwright expects to exceed by many years. Until recently, the process of tacking on more years through better health has been slow-moving. A person born in 1970 in the U.S. could expect to live to be about 70 years old and one born in 2007 could count on seeing about 78 years.

“When I was in college in the ’50s, people died of heart attacks when they were 50 years old — lots of people,” Wheelwright says.

No one says expanding life by 42 more years to 120 will be easy, but experts now say it might be possible within two generations.

“The lifespan is going to continue to increase,” Eytan Abraham, head of cell therapy research at Lonza, says. “I think that’s quite clear.”

This isn’t the first time that humanity has harbored grand ambitions to prolong life. Hope flourished in the mid-1990s when genetically-modified food hit the market, the first stem cell was isolated from a human embryo and Dolly the sheep was successfully cloned. Each new technology soon ran up against controversy or scientific limitation, though, and hopes of curing cancer or creating genetically-engineering flawless offspring were tempered by both technical reality and ethical concern.

But experts say this time feels different.

Precision Medicine And Targeted Pharmaceuticals

Back in the mid-’90s, an international effort to map the human genome was underway but incomplete. Scientists released their first draft of the human genome in 2001 and ever since, this fast-growing field has stirred up hope that physicians may soon be able to leverage genetics to cure diseases.

Wheelwright signed up for a genetic analysis through 23andMe at the ripe age of 76. His wife signed up for one, too. When their results came back, he was impressed to learn that he was likely to overreact to a blood thinner called Warfarin and susceptible to an irregular heartbeat. Unfortunately, he had already discovered both of those issues on his own over the course of a long life.

“If I had had that information 10 years earlier, it might have made a difference in my life,” he says.

Worldwide, about 7.6 million people die from cancer each year. Since 5 to 10 percent of all the types of cancers that these patients die from are inherited, fixing or modifying DNA could provide a potential cure, or at least a highly-effective treatment.

“Some types of cancer are actually very treatable and even curable today because we understand the genetics of the cancer and we’ve been able to develop targeted therapies for that type of cancer,” Emily Burke, biotechnology advisor at Biotech Primer, said in a presentation during last week’s Interphexconvention in New York City.

So far, developing new medicines that act on specific genes or proteins has proven more fruitful than using techniques to directly edit, or replace, genetic defects. Genentech, for example, has already started selling an intravenous drug called Herceptin for patients with breast cancer caused by an overabundance of HER2 genes. The drug blocks receptors in the HER2 gene, preventing them from multiplying into more.

Doctors at the Cancer Genome Institute at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia can scan the genetic profile of patient’s tumor for mutations for which a specialized treatment may be available. Others have taken a tumor sample from a cancer patient and implanted that sample into a “mouse avatar” as a way to safely test experimental treatments.

“What you’ve essentially done is created a personalized mouse model for your particular type of cancer,” Burke says.

Gene Therapy And Gene Editing

Gene editing and gene therapy techniques don’t just act on genes, they physically alter them to fix mutations or replace defective sections. Patients with sickle cell anemia have two defective copies of the hemoglobin gene that prevent them from generating a normal amount of red blood cells.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could just replace their defective copy of the hemoglobin gene with a new copy?” Burke says.

One way to do this would be to engineer a virus to do what it does best — infect a cell and in the process insert a flawless copy of the hemoglobin gene. But until about five or six years ago scientists didn’t have a safe viral agent that could transport a gene in this manner without infecting the body. However, the EU approved a viral agent called Glybera in 2012 and last year the FDA granted “breakthrough status” to Celladon’s Mydicar therapy for severe heart failure, which is on track to be approved in 2015.

“I think most people are expecting that within the next few years, we’ll see many more on the market not only in Europe, but also in the U.S.,” Burke says.

If the idea that a virus can improve health still seems a bit far-fetched, know that viruses aren’t the only solution, though the alternatives have yet to make it through clinical trials and some are experiencing setbacks. Scientists may also use tools such as zinc-finger nucleases or Crispr. Both methods can cut a strand of DNA in two, remove a problematic base pair, and insert a new section, but neither of these methods has passed clinical trials. Sangamo BioSciences in Richmond, California, is currently testing zinc-finger nucleases as a way to interrupt a protein that HIV relies on to attack immune cells. Meanwhile, scientists in China reported a major setback just last week in the first test of Crispr’s ability to edit human embryos. Only 28 of 86 embryos in their experiment were successfully spliced.

Cell Therapy

Lately, companies have been branching out to find new ways to use cell therapy to treat cancer and promote recovery from heart attacks and stroke. Though gene therapy and editing provide useful ways to target sections of DNA, the human body is not simply a sum of all its genes. Cell therapy, therefore, inserts new live human cells into a patient to replace or strengthen parts that have been injured or lost – blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants are both forms of cell therapy.

“It’s going to become another pillar of the healthcare industry,” Richard Grant, global vice president for cell therapy at Invetech, says.

A team at the University of Pittsburgh has learned to extract cells from the thigh of a patient with urinary incontinence, grow extra muscle cells from the sample in a lab, and insert the new cells back into the patient as an added source of muscular strength to help them to regain control over their bladder.

Vanek at GE Healthcare says that while hopes are high for new forms of cell therapy, companies have yet to figure out how to produce these treatments en masse.  “Biologically and clinically, these medicines are having a huge impact,” Vanek says. “The question is — can we manufacture and distribute them?”

Stem cells are one form of cell therapy that are experiencing a resurgence. These cells have the ability to develop into any other form of cell required in the human body. NeuralStem Inc. is currently completing the second of three phases of clinical trials necessary to earn FDA approval to use stem cells taken from a spinal cord to treat ALS patients, who have suffered a loss of motor neurons in their brains and spinal cords.

Burke estimates that within five years, there will be FDA-approved stem cell therapies that are in use, and she thinks they will be particularly helpful in making new cardiac cells and nerve tissue, since people have a hard time regenerating those on their own.

3-D Bio Printing

No matter what critics have said about the 3-D printing craze that has given the world futuristic high heels and lackluster side dishes, medical researchers are taking it seriously. They see 3-D printing as a way to build healthy tissues or organs from cells, or to design medicines containing precise dosages or personalized devices that work best for a specific patient.

On Wednesday, a team of doctors from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital announced that a baby named Kaiba Gionfriddo, who once suffered from a fatal respiratory condition that caused his windpipe to periodically collapse, is doing well, three years after doctors implanted a splint in his trachea that was created by 3-D printing. The team has since printed and implanted tracheal splints for two more infants, and both are steadily improving after a year or more.

SplintThis tracheal splint was created using 3-D bio printing by physicians at the University of Michigan.  University of Michigan

“We were pleased to find that all of our cases so far have proven to improve these patients’ lives,” Dr. Glenn Green, an associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology at the University of Michigan who led the effort, said in a statement. “The potential of 3-D-printed medical devices to improve outcomes for patients is clear, but we need more data to implement this procedure in medical practice.”

The University of Michigan researchers want to pursue FDA approval to bring their tracheal splint-printing skills to mainstream medicine. And this is only one way in which researchers and biotech companies are hoping to use 3-D printing to significantly extend human life. The Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a project of the U.S. Department of Defense, is working to develop a method to print skin to replace the layers lost when a soldier sustains a burn, which cause 10 to 30 percent of deaths on the battlefield.

Burke estimates that “within a year or two,” it could become routine for clinicians to print heart valves, a urethra or blood vessels. She estimates that we’re still decades away from printing fully vascular, complex organs.

The Methuselah Foundation, at least, isn’t waiting around. The organization has created the New Organ Liver Prize – a $1 million award to the first group to bioengineer a liver replacement for a large animal. One way to win would be to print it.

Quality counts

These developments are likely to take decades to break into the world of practical medicine — through hospitals and consumer drug cabinets. But that doesn’t mean the potential of these transformational therapies feels any less tantalizing to those who are working on the therapies today.

It’s legitimate to question whether it’s prudent to focus limited scientific resources on extending life when researchers could be improving the health of today’s patients. Furthermore, the final decades of life also tend to be some of the most miserable due not only to deteriorating health, but loss of social support and the sense of meaning that many people associate with employment. And what if doctors save a patient from organ failure and heart disease but in turn sentence them to a decades-long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is no cure?

“We are going to be extending lifespans but we don’t want to do so at the expense of quality of life,” Abraham of Lonza says.

When asked if he would like to live to be 120 years old, Grant of Invetech says, “Only if I can have quality of life to go along with it.”

Vanek at GE Healthcare says even if researchers miss the mark of living until 120, sharing that goal helps to focus the field of biomedical research in a way that will inevitably lead to valuable new treatments for today’s patients.

“I think longevity has that moon shot element. It’s big and interesting but I think quality of life is really why we do what we do,” Vanek says. “If you’re targeting longevity, and you fall short of it, you’re still going to end up improving quality of life.”

And maybe that has really been the true goal all along.

RB2015 Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference Aug 19-21

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Undergraduate at The University of Southern Indiana + More Years Less Tears + Your NeXt Computer
After 15+ years as an IT professional. Jonathon decided to return to school in hopes of one day troubleshooting the most universal problem effecting all. Death, pain, and suffering by aging. As an undergraduate he is currently performing research in Dr. Richard Bennetts lab at the University of Southern Indiana, as well as volunteering for various organizations including the Buck Institute for research on Aging.
Jonathon Fulkerson
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RB2015

WHO ATTENDS

  • Academic Researchers
  • Pharmaceutical and Biotech Industry
  • Undergrad, Graduate and Post Doctorial Students
  • Nonprofits
  • Regulatory
  • Investors
  • The General Public

WHY ATTEND

  • Focused tracks covering three key elements of successful drug development: clinical review, therapeutic approaches, industry and policy
  • In depth examination of advances in tissue engineering and gene therapy
  • More interactivity – 6 hours of interactive discussion sessions and 17 hours of networking
  • Jobs Board – review and share the expertise needs of the industry’s leading research and development organizers
  • Understand and shape the scientific and investment opportunities of the new Rejuvenation Biotechnology Industry
  • Extended poster sessions
  • Back by popular demand – our opening evening’s entertainment will be Hal Sparks – Comedian, Actor and Musician.

Silicon Valley Is Trying to Make Humans Immortal—and Finding Some Success

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Undergraduate at The University of Southern Indiana + More Years Less Tears + Your NeXt Computer
After 15+ years as an IT professional. Jonathon decided to return to school in hopes of one day troubleshooting the most universal problem effecting all. Death, pain, and suffering by aging. As an undergraduate he is currently performing research in Dr. Richard Bennetts lab at the University of Southern Indiana, as well as volunteering for various organizations including the Buck Institute for research on Aging.
Jonathon Fulkerson
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Original Article Here

By Betsy Isaacson / March 5, 2015 6:47 AM EST

Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, plans to live to be 120. Compared with some other tech billionaires, he doesn’t seem particularly ambitious. Dmitry Itskov, the “godfather” of the Russian Internet, says his goal is to live to 10,000; Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle, finds the notion of accepting mortality “incomprehensible,” and Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, hopes to someday “cure death.”

These titans of tech aren’t being ridiculous, or even vainglorious; their quests are based on real, emerging science that could fundamentally change what we know about life and about death. It’s hard to believe, though, since the human quest for immortality is both ancient and littered with catastrophic failures. Around 200 B.C., the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, accidentally killed himself trying to live forever; he poisoned himself by eating supposedly mortality-preventing mercury pills.

Centuries later, the search for eternal life wasn’t much safer: In 1492, Pope Innocent VIII died after blood transfusions from three healthy boys whose youth he believed he could absorb. A little closer to modern times, in 1868 America, Kentucky politician Leonard Jones ran for the U.S. presidency on the platform that he’d achieved immortality through prayer and fasting—and could give his secrets for cheating death to the public. Later that year, Jones died of pneumonia.

But historical precedent hasn’t dissuaded some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley. Thiel, for example, has given $3.5 million to the Methuselah Foundation. Aubrey de Grey, Methuselah’s co-founder, says the nonprofit’s main research initiative, Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), is devoted to finding drugs that cure seven types of age-related damage: “Loss of cells, excessive cell division, inadequate cell death, garbage inside the cell, garbage outside the cell, mutations in the mitochondria, and crosslinking of the extracellular matrix.… The idea is that the human body, being a machine, has a structure that determines all aspects of its function, including its chance of falling apart any time soon, so if we can restore that structure—at the molecular and cellular level—then we will restore function too, so we will have comprehensively rejuvenated the body.”

But SENS, which has an annual operating budget of $5 million, is puny compared with the Brin-led Project Calico, Google’s attempt to “cure death,” which is planning to pump billions into a partnership with pharmaceutical giant AbbVie. Google is notoriously secretive, but it’s rumored to be building a drug to mimic foxo3, a gene associated with exceptional life span.

Then there’s the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research, the granddaddy of modern antiaging initiatives, started by venture capitalist Paul F. Glenn in 1965. Since 2007, the foundation has distributed annual “Glenn Awards,” $60,000 grants to independent researchers doing promising work on aging. The Glenn Foundation also works to kick-start antiaging initiatives within large institutions (“It began at Harvard, and then we sought out MIT and then the Salk Institute and then the Mayo Clinic,” Mark R. Collins, spokesman for the Glenn Foundation, explains), and it puts more than $1 million per year toward grants by the American Federation for Aging Research, a charitable foundation dedicated to age-related disease.

The Glenn Foundation also works closely with the Ellison Medical Foundation, a far younger institution (founded in 1997). Ellison’s passion project gives out hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants each year to scholars pursuing research on, and remedies for, aging. Their decision to fund independent research—as opposed to creating grandiose, in-house programs—may be paying off. Relatively modest research projects funded by Ellison and Glenn appear to be developing into a verifiable means to stave off old age—for lab mice. The tantalizing question: Can those lab results be replicated in humans?

Aging in Reverse

In 1956, gerontologist Clive M. McCay performed a somewhat ghoulish experiment on the rural upstate New York campus of Cornell University: He sewed the flanks of live mice together in order to link their bloodstreams. In the pairings McCay stitched together, one mouse was spritely, healthy and young; the other was old and in relatively bad shape. With their bloodstreams linked, the old mouse seemed to age in reverse, getting healthier and younger as the experiment continued. The young mouse, meanwhile, aged prematurely.

At the time, relatively little was understood about the makeup of blood. McCay’s experiments were fascinating but a bit of a dead end, so he shifted his focus to calorie restriction, where his experiments eventually made him famous, while his ingenuous blood work was largely left to languish.

Fast-forward 48 years to 2004. Amy Wagers, at Harvard University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, repeated McCay’s flank-stitching experiments to see if she could reproduce his results. And it worked. So Wagers—in part funded by Glenn and Ellison—decided to try to isolate individual proteins in the mouse blood to see what was causing the ghoulish effect.

She found that a protein called GDF11, common in the blood of young mice but sparse in the systems of the older rodents, caused much of the old mice’s “reverse aging.” In the bloodstream, GDF11 is responsible for keeping stem cells active; when GDF11 levels drop, as they do with age, stem cells (which are responsible for tissue renewal) falter, injuries heal more slowly and aging begins to take hold. But even in very elderly bodies with very little GDF11 inside them, those stem cells never go away—they merely become dormant as GDF11 levels drop. Injecting young blood, with its high levels of GDF11, into old mice seemed to restart those dormant stem cells, causing the old mice to “age in reverse” as they produced the healthy, vital tissues associated with youth. The work is “incredibly promising,” says Collins.

Meanwhile, at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, one of the Ellison Medical Foundation’s Senior Scholars in Aging had also been experimenting with ways to keep mice from growing old. Dr. Ronald DePinho was interested in telomeres, structures that cap the tips of chromosomes like aglets do the end of shoelaces. In young bodies, an enzyme called telomerase keeps telomeres healthy and stable; in older bodies, levels of telomerase drop, telomeres shorten, and the chromosomes begin to fray. It seemed likely these fraying chromosomes were responsible for some of the physical effects of aging, and DePinho wanted to find out how.

His team genetically engineered mice whose telomerase output could be toggled and found that in the “off” state, where there was no telomerase at all, the mice aged prematurely. “We took them to the point where they were the equivalent of 90-year-old humans,” he says, “with shrunken brains, impaired cognition, infertility, thin bones, hair loss, etc.”

Then DePinho and his colleagues toggled the telomerase back on—and what he saw was incredible. “The organs started to restore themselves,” he says. “The brain increased in size, cognition was improved, fertility was restored, hair returned to a healthy sheen, and all of the other problems that we saw in the animal were alleviated.” Giving telomerase to a telomerase-deprived animal didn’t just halt the aging process—like GDF11, it seemed to make the animals younger.

Might either or both of these discoveries be used to create a Ponce de Leon–style fountain of youth? “We’ve not done any life span studies on these animals, so we don’t know whether this would have an effect on their life span. But we think that it would affect one’s health span—meaning the number of years that you live without a significant illness,” says Wagers. Preliminary studies look promising. Wagers says a colleague has been looking into a protein she describes as the fly version of GDF11. “When he gives more of it to flies, they live longer. And if he takes it away, their life span is shortened.”

There’s one (huge) caveat here. Telomerase is linked to both the prevention and progression of cancer. Aging cells that lack telomerase are more likely to become cancerous; when older cells replicate, their “fraying” chromosomes, unprotected by telomeres, often give birth to cancer-causing mutations. And once cells become cancerous, their telomerase levels rise, letting the mutant cells spread and multiply uncontrollably. Doctors treating cancer often work to deprive those spreading cells of telomerase—and many are worried that flooding the body with telomerase might help cancer along. In other words, this path toward making us live longer could kill us.

DePinho and others think telomerase therapy will likely reduce the incidence of cancer—by making chromosomes less likely to fray. And though scientists like University of California, Berkeley’s Irina M. Conboy have raised concerns that GDF11, by promoting cell regrowth, might also increase cancer incidents, Wagers’s cautious optimism mirrors DePinho’s: She says there is no evidence GDF11 causes higher incidence of deadly diseases. Still, she says, more experiments must be done. Neither she nor DePinho think their substances of choice will reach human clinical trials for several years yet.

But with discoveries like Wagers’s and DePinho’s prompting an eruption of scientific excitement, the idea that we could live longer—not a few years more but maybe a century or even several hundred years longer—suddenly becomes one of the more stirring and controversial topics of the coming century. “What this means for longevity must be defined carefully, of course, because with such dramatic developments there will be a very big difference between how long people have lived so far and how long people expect to live,” says de Grey. If we start living for an average of 400 years instead of an average of 80, we may have to rewrite a lot of the stories we tell ourselves about how life—and death—work.

According to Wagers, if aging can be reversed, instead of the slow, steady decline into senescence we are used to, we might just live and live and keep on living, as healthy and apparently young-seeming humans, right until some organ or other fails catastrophically. This in stark contrast to the dystopian future imagined by, for example, Gregg Easterbrook last year in the article “What Happens When We All Live to 100?” in The Atlantic. Easterbrook and others posit a future in which life spans keep extending but “health spans” don’t, and the sickly elderly live for decades and suck all of the money out of the economy. In Wagers’s version, on the other hand, everybody stays healthy right until they die—so maybe there doesn’t need to be a retirement age, and the economy grows and grows. Though perhaps that’s a recipe for another kind of dystopia: one where we work and work and work and never stop working for 384 years, until the day we die.

Print Your New Liver

But maybe, in the future, we won’t need to worry about organ failure. For all those times when there isn’t an organ to spare, there’ll soon be cloned copies, either grown in the lab or 3-D printed: We’ve already 3-D printed livers and kidneys, turned skin cells into stem cellsand stem cells into organs, and we’re redefining the definition of fatality, thanks to a procedure called cold saline resuscitation. Replacing a dying body’s blood with a rush of cold saline can drop the body’s temperature and put a dying patient into a state of suspended animation. And once a patient is in that state, doctors can fix a whole lot of things that might otherwise be fatal: gunshot and knife wounds, hemorrhages and organ failure—especially if there’s a handy supply of spare, cloned organs available in the emergency room.

To our current tastes, there’s something a little ghastly about this paradigm: living forever, or at least a long time, in an eternal, static youth, with trips to the emergency room more frequent as we get older, to periodically replace failing organs. According to a 2012 Pfizer study, when it comes to aging, our greatest fears are of “being dependent” or “living in pain.” That might be replaced in our cultural imagination by fear of eternal youth leading to sudden, stunning death—what if your heart, 200 years old, suddenly gives out when you’re nowhere near a hospital? The body horror of the future may be very different from today’s, but it’s body horror all the same.

Perhaps the fix is to replace bodies—these unreliable vessels, plagued with problems!—altogether. That’s the goal of the most ambitious billionaire-backed immortality investment of them all, Itskov’s 2045 Initiative. Founded in early 2011, the initiative has already collected an impressive set of experts in specialties ranging from robotics and neural interfaces to artificial organ creation. Their goal: replace our current meaty cases with robotic or holographic avatars by (you guessed it) 2045.

In some ways, the 2045 Initiative’s goal isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. Tele-operated robotic avatars exist, though so far they’re more novelty than lifestyle choice. Itskov thinks that as tele-operated avatars become more fine-tuned, “the jobs with an increased risk to human life and health, such as that of a fireman, a police officer, a first-responder, a miner, etc., will disappear.” Eventually, says Itskov, these tele-operated avatars will be “superior to the biological body in terms of its abilities,” thereby ushering in an era of increased avatar popularity.

But even if such robot avatars get cheaper and experience a sudden upswing in use, consciousness is still tied to our meaty, messy brains—and thus far, no one’s yet made headway in transferring it to a more durable medium.

That’s not to say no one’s trying. Tech giant Intel is aiming to have an “exascale” computer—a computer that can operate at the same speed as the human brain—by 2018. And in August 2013, researchers from Japan and Germany used Japan’s K supercomputer to simulate 1 percent of brain activity for one second. That may not sound like much to be excited about, but with exascale machines on the horizon, it’s surely a sign of what’s to come. Markus Diesmann, one of the scientists involved in the K supercomputer experiment, told The Daily Telegraph in 2014, “If petascale computers like the K computer are capable of representing 1 percent of the network of a human brain today, then we know that simulating the whole brain at the level of the individual nerve cell and its synapses will be possible with exascale computers—hopefully available within the next decade.”

Youth Is Wasted on the Old

But whether we achieve immortality through robots, injections or protein packs, one profound and disturbing question remains: Do we really want to live forever? And if so, why?

Itskov says he’s driven by frustration. A serial hobbyist, the Russian billionaire’s taken up judo, weight lifting, diving, practical shooting—“but every time I achieve certain results in a new type of sport or a hobby, I realize that if I really want to get serious results, then I need to make this activity the focus of my entire life and sacrifice something else for it that is no less interesting.” This dilemma, he says, keeps him constantly aware of how short life is. “For all the diversity of opportunities that life gives us, there is so little that we manage to find out and do.” Hence, Itskov’s incentive for the 2045 Initiative: “When I am successful in realizing this mega-project, then I will finally have 10,000 years for numerous hobbies.”

For other billionaires, a short life doesn’t seem terrible compared with the calamity aging promises: a slow decline and death that most of us accept as inevitable. For Ellison, the frustration of the deteriorating body is personal: “I lost my mother to cancer, and anyone who’s watched anyone suffer from that disease…well, life can’t be made much more dreadful for them,” he told The Guardian in 2001, when his interest in cures for aging was first piqued. For others, like Thiel, it’s the mainstream’s refusal to even think to thwart death that’s frustrating. “The way we psychologically deal with aging is through some combination of acceptance and denial,” he declared at the Venture Alpha West 2014 conference. “Acceptance is: ‘[It’s] going to happen, there’s nothing we can do about it.’ Denial is: ‘It’s not going to happen to me.’”

Ask ethicists about immortality, though, and the quest starts to look a little less heroic. Paul Root Wolpe, the director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University, argues that perhaps we ought to pay more attention to how the elderly are treated today before we think to extend life spans further. “When you hear people who are pro-life-extension talk about the greater font of wisdom, experience and perspective you’d create by extending life, well, we already have a lot of 70- to 90-year-olds in society now, and we do nothing to try to learn from them,” he says. “So I don’t buy that argument.” On the contrary, says Wolpe, “we already have doubled the average life span of humans, and what that has created in modern society is a cult of youth.”

The elderly, meanwhile, are treated like detritus. Between 8 and 10 percent of American seniors were reportedly abused last year, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse(NCEA), and for every case of abuse on record, the NCEA estimates between 14 and 24 others go unreported. A study conducted by De Montfort University found that 61 percent of the elderly think society sees them as a burden, while 57 percent think the media encourages the idea that older people are a problem for society. Only a third feel their contribution to society is properly recognized.

Still, even Wolpe admits the pursuit of happiness may ultimately entail a pursuit of a lot more time to be happy. The goal, he says, should be to seek out “healthier living as we age…finding how we slow down the detrimental aspects of aging. How do we keep people healthier longer and increase the amount of time that they get to appreciate and enjoy life?” But should our society be prepared for it, “if in the process of doing that we also increase life span, that’s fine,” he says.

Perhaps the most worrying question that arises with the prospect of having millions (and even billions) of multi-centenarians running around on Earth is whether the planet can support this kind of growth. Current projections suggest that the world’s population will rise from 7 billion today to about 9 billion in 2050—at which point it will more or less level out. And abundant concerns have already been raised about what all these billions of people will do for work, not to mention where they will get safe drinking water and the food necessary to live healthily. But those forecasts don’t consider the possibility that we’ll stop dying. If we do, the next generation of innovative health-tech entrepreneurs will face perhaps an even greater challenge: redesigning the planet to accommodate its massive population of Humans 2.0.

http://www.newsweek.com/2015/03/13/silicon-valley-trying-make-humans-immortal-and-finding-some-success-311402.html

Click here for Immortality Now!tech

Genome Editing with CRISPR-Cas9

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Undergraduate at The University of Southern Indiana + More Years Less Tears + Your NeXt Computer
After 15+ years as an IT professional. Jonathon decided to return to school in hopes of one day troubleshooting the most universal problem effecting all. Death, pain, and suffering by aging. As an undergraduate he is currently performing research in Dr. Richard Bennetts lab at the University of Southern Indiana, as well as volunteering for various organizations including the Buck Institute for research on Aging.
Jonathon Fulkerson
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CRISPR

McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CRISPR

Change Coming Regarding the Forum.

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Undergraduate at The University of Southern Indiana + More Years Less Tears + Your NeXt Computer
After 15+ years as an IT professional. Jonathon decided to return to school in hopes of one day troubleshooting the most universal problem effecting all. Death, pain, and suffering by aging. As an undergraduate he is currently performing research in Dr. Richard Bennetts lab at the University of Southern Indiana, as well as volunteering for various organizations including the Buck Institute for research on Aging.
Jonathon Fulkerson
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CHANGE

After very careful consideration I have decided to make a change in philosophy regarding our forums here at MYLT.

Original Forum Intention = I believe in an open science. Where we can build upon each others discoveries. I envisioned part of the forums here becoming a place where like minded aging researchers could bounce ideas off each other.

Reality = A lot of time and money is spent in each of our careers. I have learned this first hand in my lab. Sometimes peoples livelihoods are determined upon their publications and the possibility of being scooped (a term for someone else publishing something your working on before you do) can have pretty damaging effects. Also, projects require capital, and for a scientist one way to acquire capital is to patent some of your techniques. Both of these would be hindered by a forum as I envisioned it. I wish it wasn’t like this, but I must work with the reality of the situation.

New forum intentions = So after careful consideration I will be converting the forum into a more open to the public forum. Where just about anything related to this site is fair game. I do imagine discussions on new research and diets, but this is to be seen.

~jonathon

Here we grow again!!

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Undergraduate at The University of Southern Indiana + More Years Less Tears + Your NeXt Computer
After 15+ years as an IT professional. Jonathon decided to return to school in hopes of one day troubleshooting the most universal problem effecting all. Death, pain, and suffering by aging. As an undergraduate he is currently performing research in Dr. Richard Bennetts lab at the University of Southern Indiana, as well as volunteering for various organizations including the Buck Institute for research on Aging.
Jonathon Fulkerson
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Although I do not have the means yet to test the validity (which i doubt) This is however no doubt growth. We have accumulated almost 800,000 hits on nearly 200,000 visits since our debut! Thanks to all for the great start!

http://moreyearslesstearsco.ipage.com/stats/

usage statistics

 

 

TED TALK – Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance

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Undergraduate at The University of Southern Indiana + More Years Less Tears + Your NeXt Computer
After 15+ years as an IT professional. Jonathon decided to return to school in hopes of one day troubleshooting the most universal problem effecting all. Death, pain, and suffering by aging. As an undergraduate he is currently performing research in Dr. Richard Bennetts lab at the University of Southern Indiana, as well as volunteering for various organizations including the Buck Institute for research on Aging.
Jonathon Fulkerson
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Hugh Herr is building the next generation of bionic limbs, robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. Herr lost both legs in a climbing accident 30 years ago; now, as the head of the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group, he shows his incredible technology in a talk that’s both technical and deeply personal — with the help of ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her left leg in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and performs again for the first time on the TED stage.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
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