Do not go gentle into that good night…

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If you’ve come here looking for information about the UBC Life Extension Club (the shorter, equally inclusive name we’re using these days), please join our Facebook group located at http://www.facebook.com/groups/131351550242272/

Or, if you like, send an email to UBCLifeExtension AT gmail.com and ask to be added to the mailing list!

Practical Applications of Life Extension

Earlier this year, 2 UBC C&LE members gave a presentation on the Practical Applications of Life Extension. If you missed it, check it out here:

https://docs.google.com/present/embed?id=dd5zvdgp_399c3h6tqdr

And here are the notes we used to prepare the presentation:

https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1TwO8IBlc-EGXIKaDooWtCpxYctIcgYu9lIlua5JsJJI&embedded=true

Food Freezing Technology Preserves Human Teeth. Organs Next?

Japanese business man and chef

This is from singularityhub.com – A fascinating development in the cessation of cellular death during the freezing process, and possible implications for human cell freezing..

 

Chefs and scientists alike can use magnets to prevent the formation of ice crystals during freezing.

A technology used to freeze sushi is solving a dilemma for organ storage. By borrowing tech used to preserve high-end food delicacies, a Hiroshima University research group proved it possible to safely freeze whole teeth and their delicate attaching tissues. As long as the freezer stays cold, the folks at Hiroshima U. think your teeth could be stored for 40 years, no problem. But the sushi-storage system isn’t a one trick pony: internal organs could be next thanks to the magic of supercooling.  In typical cryo-storage, fast freezing of organs requires poisonous levels of anti-freeze, and let’s face it, no one wants a poisoned kidney transplanted into their body. But slower freezing causes cell popping ice crystals to form. So, what do you do to prevent ice crystals during slow freezing? Use magnets. ABI is the Japanese company producing the freezer system. ABI’s “Cells Alive System” (CAS) vibrates water with magnetic fields, preventing freezing, even at supercool temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius (According to thePatent.) When the field is turned off, the water in the food instantly freezes. No time for ice growth means no Freddy Krueger action on frozen organs. Watch some great demonstrations of the technology in the videos after the jump.

Interest in the CAS technology has spread all over the world. In the first video below, a bottle of water is super cooled below freezing in a CAS freezer. The bottle is slammed against the freezer door, inducing ice crystals to form. The bottle of water is instantly turned to solid ice. Supercooling water is a trick youcan Try At Home but the CAS system is able to do more than supercool pure liquids. It can supercool, then freeze, meat and vegetables and anything else.  In the second video, CAS frozen flowers are dethawed and arranged in a vase.  The perfect preservation of the flowers is an enormous contrast to my painful childhood memories of sloppy, limp, dinnertime vegetables.  The frozen vegetables were train-wrecked by ice, while these flowers received much, much less damage during freezing.

The transition of this tech from food to longevity science is slowly evolving, but the steps forward are real. You can, right now, pay to store your teeth. Hiroshima University tested the cooling technology for teeth, and uses ABI CAS freezer tech at The Teeth Bank, the world’s first commercial tooth bank. Dr. Toshitsugu Kawata, a Hiroshima University professor who has done extensive research at the Teeth Bank, helped prove that CAS is a viable technology to preserve teeth. Spare teeth used to be worthless medical waste. Now, removed wisdom teeth aren’t garbage, they can be frozen and re-implanted at any point during your life. (The Teeth Bank’s re-implant success rate is 87% according to the Taipei Times. ) Thanks to scientific advances, surgeons can even alter your old teeth by sculpting them, transforming a molar into an incisor. To quote Dr. Kawata, “It’s like having a spare tire.”

In the journal Cryobiology in 2010, a research team including Dr. Kawata published the use of ABI’s CAS freezing technology on teeth. A very tricky part of tooth preservation is keeping tooth ligaments alive, or even some of the ligament cells.  Implanting ligaments is important.  We have ligaments attached to teeth because the force of chewing could grind our chompers out of our jaws.  When the research team tried slow freezing a whole fresh tooth without the CAS magnetic fields, the ligaments didn’t survive and were severely damaged. However, a CAS magnetically vibrated tooth’s ligaments survived. CAS frozen ligament cells grew as well as those from a fresh tooth, and showed only minor damage.

Frozen wasabiSee the intact cell walls? This wasabi suffered very little damage due to ice.

The founder of the ABI Corporation and its CAS freezer, Norio Owada (known internationally as “Mr. Freeze,”) is actively pursuing medical advances.  There’s a hodgepodge of reports out there about what’s being done.  According to various sources, Mr. Freeze is collaborating with 40 researchers to translate their work with teeth and sushi to hearts, nerves, and other organs. Transplant medicine could benefit tremendously. With further research, this technology could supercool, or even freeze internal organs, putting an end to the dangerously brief time frame for organ transplants. In a 2008 Forbes article, Mr. Freeze speculated on where his technology may lead. “If you could preserve a heart for three days, you could fly it anywhere.” On the late-night Japanese TV show, World Business Satellite, there was discussion of research towards using ABI’s CAS freezers to store ovaries during cancer treatment, allowing women to keep their fertility. On the ABI company webpage, photos of a rat heart transplant and undamaged cell walls of frozen wasabi are a reminder of the unusual coupling of frozen food and medicine.

Rat heart surgeryRat heart transplant for ABI’s research

Despite the very promising advances, and actual organ banking technology coming from ABI, information about the company hasn’t been too plentiful on the blog-o-sphere. One problem is that there have only been a couple English language scientific publishings that refer to ABI Corporation LTD or the CAS system. The next problem is that most of the TV and news media is in Japanese. And finally, since CAS freezers are sold internationally, videos and forum posts about people messing with the freezers aren’t always by English speakers. However, this technology could solve major problems associated with cryopreservation of body parts. Because as we’re learning to make organs, we need to learn how to store them.

Looking into the  future, imagine you have heart failure ten years from now. Rather than a frightening race against time to find a donor organ from a cadaver, a spare heart is thawed from a well stocked frozen organ bank.  Hell, you’ve got a CAS freezer full of replacement parts grown from your own cells. Humans are learning how to grow replacement organs through bio-scaffolds and printing (As reported in Singularity Hub.)  Combining organ printing and organ freezing may lead to growing and freezing our own spare parts, well beyond the extra teeth and perfectly preserved wasabi.

[Images, ABI incorporated, World Business Satellite]
[Sources: Journal of CryobiologyForbes Magazine, Journal of Biomedical Research]

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Nanodiamonds and Bones

“Establishment of nanodiamond layers for human implants and ‘living bones’ based on innovative nanotechnology”


While the field of bone replacement and rejuvenation after accidents and bone-wasting diseases has vastly improved over the last 15 years, there are still problems associated with it. The company DiaLife, founded and run by Dr Doris Steinmüller-Nethl, conducts research into the use of nanodiamonds in bone repair and replacement, and the Journal of Experimental Gerontology recently printed a paper concerning some progress in the field.

Nanodiamonds, also known as hyperdiamonds and aggregated diamond nanorods, are incredibly small crystalline forms of carbon, and are even harder than conventional diamonds. Because of their small size (about 5-20 nanometers in diameter and 1 micrometer in length), they can appear to form a very smooth film, and this small hard film can have many applications, such as coating high-precision medical tools.

The DiaLife project has three main research goals concerning the application of nanodiamonds to living systems.

The first is to coat medical titanium implants, such as some dental implants, with a nanodiamond layer. Because of the properties of the nanodiamond film, the coated implants cause less inflammation, are more stable, are more compatible with the body, and are more durable. The article mentions that several types of nanodiamond dust were tried, and that there was some success attaching the nanodiamonds, which were charged, to metals and plastics.

The second research goal is to incorporate sensors into the nanodiamond film to possibly monitor how the bone was healing or the settling of the film itself. The article says that they were able to successfully attach HRP (Horse Radish Protease) to nanodiamond powder, and were able to successful incorporate the protein into cells. However, just how well it works is still mostly unknown.

The third research goal is to be able to form larger pieces of bone incorporating the biological compatibility of stem cells and nanodiamonds on a pre-made matrix, as to create a piece of bone that would not be rejected. While the potential is great,  the article didn’t provide any new insights on the matter.

Being able to easily replace bone with something  that the body doesn’t reject is a goal that could potentially help a lot of people, particularity with an aging population.

The article, written by Magdalena Schimke, can be found at:

Experimental Gerontology
Volume 46, Issues 2-3, February-March 2011, Page 208

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/05315565

For further information, see the following site:

http://www.w-fforte.at/at/laura-bassi-centres/dialife.html

The Singularity and the Methuselarity

Literal immortality of humanity could come within the next few decades. As long as the human race does not kill itself, there is a very real chance that by either advances in technology or longevity we could live virtually forever.

There was recently a news piece on NPR that interviewed Ray Kurzweil, Keefe Roedersheimer, and several other researchers at the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, an institute that works to develop “friendly AI” to the point of the singularity. For those of you who do not know, the singularity is the hypothesized event where artificial intelligence becomes greater than ours, and begins an exponential explosion of improvements to itself, resulting in something that our level of intelligence may not even comprehend. There is the inherent danger, however, that if the proper precautions are not taken, this AI would be either malicious towards humans or (in a more likely scenario) indifferent to us. Neither case is particularly good; if the AI is indifferent to humanity, it may view us as simply materials for something greater, and destroy us to create things it would deem to be more useful.

The people at the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) believe that the singularity, using “friendly AI,” will allow us to fully integrate ourselves with the new intelligence. With this, we could erase the distinction between the new super-AI and humanity, thus leading to our functional immortality. Whether or not the result could still be considered humanity is an open question.

Aubrey de Grey is member of the advisory board for the SIAI, and isn’t so thrilled about the idea of the technological singularity. In an interview with H Plus Magazine he claims that the singularity would require “fully autonomous recursively self-improving digital computer systems,” and doubts the possibility of such systems. Self-improving code is currently being done with genetic algorithms, but the code is only one part of the system.

Aubrey de Grey instead trumpets the “Methuselarity,” where the rate of increase of rejuvenation technologies matches the rate of aging.

The rate at which the rejuvenation technologies would have to be improved in order to match aging was coined the “Longevity escape velocity,” and would not be static as long as there were uncorrectable injuries. However at one point, theoretically, the rate at which life expectancy improves will be greater than 1 year/year, leading to apparent biological immortality.

For more information, see the following links.

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/degrey20090913/

http://www.hplusmagazine.com/articles/ai/aubrey-de-grey-singularity-and-methuselarity

http://www.npr.org/2011/01/11/132840775/The-Singularity-Humanitys-Last-Invention

http://singinst.org/blog/

[Life Extension] Walking Speed Correlates with Longevity

Dr. Studenski and her colleagues just published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association correlating walking speed with lifespan (and quality of life, by extension).

The goal of the study was to make more individualized estimates of lifespan and factors affecting lifespan.

Apparently, significant increases in lifespan were found for every faster increment of 0.1 m/s walked.

Check out the study here:

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/305/1/50.abstract

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

If quorum is met at the meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 1), the following amendments will be put to the active members as a single resolution to be passed by 2/3 majority:
(the club constitution  as it exists currently can be found here)

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Under “ARTICLE 5: EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE”

  • Amend Article 5.2 from “Vice-President / Treasurer” to “VP-Communications
  • Add Article 5.3   “Treasurer

Under “ARTICLE 6: FUNDS”

  • Amend “THE SOLE SIGNING OFFICER OF THIS ORGANIZATION SHALL BE THE:  Vice-President/Treasurer“, replacing “Vice-President/Treasurer” with “Treasurer

Under “BYLAW 5: EXECUTIVE DUTIES”

  • Remove 5.1.3
  • Amend “Title Duties: Vice- President/Treasurer” to read “Title Duties: VP-Communications
  • Remove 5.2.1 and 5.2.3
  • Amend 5.2.4  to read “In the event that the President is unable to continue carrying out the executive duties of that office, the Vice-President shall perform the duties of the office of President until such time as it is expedient to hold a by-election to fill the office of President.”  [differences in italics]
  • Add 5.2.5: “Act as the communications officer of the club, externally and internally, having responsibility for the club email address, website, and social media applications.”
  • After 5.2.5, add “Title Duties: Treasurer
  • Add 5.3.1: “Act as liaison to the Finance Commission”
  • Add 5.3.2: “Act as one of the two Bookings Representatives of the Club”
  • Add 5.3.3: “Act as the sole signing officer of the Club”

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If you’re interested in running for Treasurer, be prepared to say a few words in your own support as there may be competition!  And remember, we’re officially striking the Outreach and Film Committees, so think about those as well…  See you on Wednesday!

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