Biotechnology companies hunting for the keys to immortality

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  1. Skull and Bones
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    Skull and Bones ELITE MEMBER

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    Biotechnology companies hunting for the keys to immortality

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    Hard cell: 60,000 stem cell transplants are performed annually worldwide to treat cancer

    Daniel Defoe’s assertion that death and taxes are life’s two certainties may soon need revision. Regenerative medicines – therapies that replace or regenerate damaged cells, tissue and organs – that were once the domain of science fiction and alchemy are moving into the mainstream.

    “Ageing,” says the elegantly named Aubrey de Grey, “kills 100,000 people a day.” The chief science officer and co-founder of SENS Research Foundation may sound and, with his flowing auburn hair and beard, look like a 19th-century man of letters, but he is one of the world’s foremost experts in this most hubristic of sciences: curing death.

    SRF, a US-based not-for-profit organisation that researches rejuvenation biotechnologies, is not interested in age-retarding medicines or squeezing a few more years into our allotted lifespans. De Grey’s mission is to reverse the accumulation of damage in human cells that starts when we are born and kills two-thirds of the world’s population. And he is not alone.

    In 2011, researchers from the Mayo Clinic, another US-based medical research group, published research that was hailed by the journal Science as a top 10 breakthrough of the year. As cells age they stop dividing normally and become senescent, secreting damaging proteins that can impair healthy cells around them. The team’s work with mice has shown that removing senescent cells slows down the ageing process and may lead to a revolution in the treatment of age-related disease.

    Last September, Larry Page, chief executive of Google, announced the formation of Calico, a start-up focused on reversing ageing. It is headed up by Arthur Levinson, formerly chief executive of Genentech, the biotechnology company. While Levinson and his team of ex-Genentech colleagues are not gerontologists, according to de Grey, he welcomes Google’s entry into the field. “The only thing missing from our approach is serious money,” he says. “One thing Calico has is serious money.”

    According to the Burrill Report, a life sciences market analysis, regenerative medicine attracted $1.3bn of private equity funding in 2013.

    “If we were having this conversation in the mid-1990s about monoclonal antibodies,” says Jason Kolbert, head of healthcare equity research at Maxim Group, the investment manager, “you could have said, ‘Is there really a business here?’” But then in 2012 a company that had started life as a micro-cap was acquired for $11.2bn. That company was Pharmasset.

    Today, Gilead, its acquirer, “is talking about knocking out hepatitis C with one pill, once a day, for about six weeks – an amazing medical advances,” says Kolbert. “The next major advance in biotechnology is going to be cell therapy.”

    The biggest commercial player in regenerative medicine is Mesoblast, based in Melbourne, Australia, with a market capitalisation of about $2bn. Mesoblast has been developing the therapeutic use of mesenchymal precursor cells to improve survival rates after heart attacks. “Five years after a myocardial infarction, 50 per cent of survivors are dead,” says Robert Margolin, a spokesman for the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, the Washington-based advocacy organisation. “Mesoblast’s Phase III trial is due to report at the end of this year.”

    Other biotech companies are conducting promising research. Athersys has discovered stroke patients who have had their spleen removed fare significantly better than those who have not. “The spleen sends inflammatory cells that cause secondary damage,” says Kolbert. “Athersys has shown that if you administer allogeneic stem cells intravenously in a 24-72-hour window post-stroke, they limit the ischaemic damage.”

    AlloCure is trialling the adoption of allogeneic stem cells to treat kidney disease and MesoStem has pioneered a therapy using autologous bone marrow stem cells to treat heart attack. Later this year, Stem Cells will report results of a therapy that seeds new cells in the space behind the retina to treat dry macular degeneration.

    According to the ARM, 60,000 stem cell transplants are performed annually worldwide to treat cancer. Within a decade stem cell therapies are likely to become “the standard of care”, says Kolbert, in treating diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, neurological disorders, wounds and soft tissue damage.

    Tissue engineering is already here. Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology, for example, was involved in the treatment of a Russian ballerina whose throat was crushed in a car accident. She received a synthetic trachea made from a porous plastic scaffold seeded with the patient’s own bone marrow cells.

    Making complex organs such as hearts or kidneys is not a prospect in the near term and de Grey estimates the timeframe for his work on reverse ageing is 20-25 years at least.

    While government funds, such as the $3bn of US taxpayers’ money that has gone into the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, supports early-stage research, “large-scale trials depend on the commercial sector”, says Margolin.

    Kolbert says institutional investors are backing these new therapies, but not everyone embraces a future where all body tissues and organs can be repaired or replaced. “People get very exercised by the potential problems posed by theoretical immortality,” says de Grey. “But we all agree it’s good to keep people healthy irrespective of how long ago they were born.”

    The incredible jellyfish that refuses to die

    First discovered in 1883, turritopsis is a tiny jellyfish, the size of a fingernail, found around the world but native to the Caribbean.

    In 1996, a group of scientists in Italy and Switzerland published a paper describing something remarkable – and so far unique – about the 5mm-long medusa. In crisis – if it is injured, starving or suddenly exposed to hot or cold temperatures – the jellyfish can reverse its normal life cycle and regress back to a juvenile polyp. Cells undergo transdifferentiation – the process by which they can develop into specialist cells – epidermis, muscle, sensory and so on, just as human stem cells do. The so-called immortal medusa is the only known organism that can trigger an ontogenetic reversal.

    So does turritopsis die? The tentative scientific consensus is it does not. Senescence (cell ageing) appears to stimulate the reverse metamorphosis that returns turritopsis to juvenile polyp status from where the life cycle can start over.

    There are many mysteries about how this process works at the cellular level. Shin Kubota, associate professor of invertebrate zoology at Kyoto University in Japan, believes one day it will have enormous significance for humans. Aubrey de Grey, chief science officer of SENS Research Foundation, disagrees. “Turritopsis doesn’t have a central nervous system and I don’t know about you, but I am rather fond of my central nervous system.”

    Biotechnology companies hunting for the keys to immortality - FT.com

    @thesolar65 Old man, your kind of thing.. :D
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2014
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  2. thesolar65
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    thesolar65 FULL MEMBER

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    OK Baad mein padhke comment dunga!!
  3. thesolar65
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    thesolar65 FULL MEMBER

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    well, 20-25 years? By that time I may have a heart attack or something!! But it does not matter. Our next generation(People with money bags) will benefit from it.

    But do we really need to stay alive for ever? Will our Conscience allow us to be immortal?

    Man, I do not want to trolled by younger generation.........:D
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  4. xyxmt
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    xyxmt SENIOR MEMBER

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    good luck to those scientists, also try to control weather too please.
  5. faisal6309
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    faisal6309 SENIOR MEMBER

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    These scientists should troll better. Immortality... :lol:
    A human may live 200 or 300 years may be more but he will die..
  6. DesiGuy
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    DesiGuy SENIOR MEMBER

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    highly unlikely...Even machines cannot achieve immorality and our bodies are just like machines...just a "bit" more complex.
  7. Skull and Bones
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    Skull and Bones ELITE MEMBER

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    The best thing will be to upload memories and consciousness on a machine, and upgrade it at regular intervals.
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  8. DESERT FIGHTER
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    DESERT FIGHTER BANNED

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    Huh... 3 options...

    Hire Indiana Jones!

    Get bitten by a vampire!

    Make some siency shit..
  9. faeza
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    faeza FULL MEMBER

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    Any sane person would never opt to live forever .. Forever is just too long.
  10. Khan_patriot
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    Khan_patriot FULL MEMBER

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    Uncle ji, dont worry just freeze yourself cryogenically and ask to be brought back to life in the future....:cheers:

    Lets hope this shit comes out in my lifetime, I personally seriously fear getting old, getting weak, losing my independence, and not to mention losing my devilish good looks.....:D
    I wish to die around 40 or 50 at max, I dont want to live like a cripple for the next 30 or some years.....:(
  11. Skull and Bones
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    Skull and Bones ELITE MEMBER

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    Theoretically, if your body produce enough anti-oxidants, then you'll never grow old. But obviously that doesn't safe guard against diseases and external accidents. So the term immortality is a misnomer.
  12. Khan_patriot
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    Khan_patriot FULL MEMBER

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    not forever but atleast being able to live for 70-80 years youthfully is going to be great, death is from the Almighty but the least we can do is make sure that we spend our allotted time youthfully and healthily....:coffee:
  13. DESERT FIGHTER
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    DESERT FIGHTER BANNED

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    Are those available on e-bay? :lol:

    Hahahahah..


    Die.
  14. Khan_patriot
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    Khan_patriot FULL MEMBER

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    So if I inject myself with anti-oxidents will I live (potentially) forever....o_O
    *runs of and drinks a gallon of green tea*
    *returns and searches for injectible antioxidents on google*.....:lol:
  15. Skull and Bones
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    Skull and Bones ELITE MEMBER

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    Enough to absorb to the free flowing radicals in the bloodstream, which accelerates aging process. Apparently, the oral intake can only slow it to some extent.