Category: Blog

Scientists Call for a Biomedical Apollo Project to Avert Global Aging Crisis

Last summer, California-based LifeStar Institute assembled a panel of leaders in the science of aging to ask them the question at the core of their research. “How far can the potential of new biomedical therapies to slow, arrest, or even reverse the damage of aging be brought to bear against the challenge of global graying?” The most important conclusion reached by the participants was that an aggressive program of investment to realize that potential is not only justified, but necessary on humanitarian, economic and social grounds.

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Functional Lung Tissue-Engineered in Rat Model

A recent landmark report from researchers at Yale and Duke universities heralds a significant advance towards the tissue engineering of replacement lungs. Decellularised donor lungs repopulated with progenitor cells were matured in vitro and then implanted into living rats, where the tissue participated in gas exchange to an extent functionally approaching that of native lung tissue. This study represents a crucial proof-of-principle that the decellularisation/repopulation approach can be effective in another complex organ.

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Active Aß Immunization Reverses (Some) Neuritic Pathology

Neurites – projections from a neuron’s cell body – become structurally abnormal in proximity to the extracellular aggregates that occur in both neurodegenerative disease and “normal” cognitive aging. These structural abnormalities have been suggested to play a role in cognitive pathology, by disrupting normal synaptic integration. Active immunotherapy against beta-amyloid (using the AN1792 antibody) has now been shown to reverse much of this structural deformity, even in cases where plaque clearance is incomplete.

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An AID to Faster, More Efficient iPS Derivation?

New insights into the role of AID, a DNA demethylase, in the reprogramming process that produces induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are expected to allow greater efficiencies and permit the elimination of clinically problematic viral vectors and proto-oncogenes.

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Progress and New Cautions in an “Universal Amyloid Strategy”

Serum amyloid P component (SAP) is a universal constituent of amyloid deposits, apparently regardless of the disease in question (and thus the other proteins present). Although methods have been developed to eliminate SAP from the body, this approach could have potentially serious side-effects. We announce a new SENS Research Foundation-funded project to tackle amyloid accumulation via the alternative, more direct approach of catalysing degradation of the pathogenic protein components.

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Aß “Affibodies:” A Novel Route to Comprehensive Clearance?

Affibodies are artificial, antibody-like proteins generated through protein engineering techniques. ZAβ3, an affibody that targets amyloid-beta (Abeta), has been shown to prevent plaque formation and neurotoxicity in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease. Affibodies like ZAβ3 might have important practical advantages over antibody-based Abeta-clearing agents, making this a promising new approach.

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CR Mimetics and the Definition of Insanity

Widespread optimism about the life-extension potential of calorie restriction (CR) is tempered by doubt that any significant number of people will ever adopt it as a lifestyle. However, thus far the search for “CR mimetics” – drugs that convey the same benefits on a normal calorie intake – has been fruitless. Here we review some of the prominent examples.

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Methods and Mechanisms for Preserving Dissociated Human ESC

Unlike mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs), human ESCs are highly prone to death after enzymatic dissociation from a growing cell cluster; as a result, researchers are forced to rely on far more laborious methods for their expansion. New research at the Scripps Institute has revealed the molecular basis for this frustrating limitation, and also uncovered two small-molecule drugs able to greatly improve the cells’ survival.

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Abeta Epitope DNA and Peptide Vaccination: Bridging the ‘Therapeutic Threshold’ for Cognitive Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease

Immunotherapeutic clearance of beta-amyloid is the preferred regenerative medicine approach to the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but existing attempts to develop such therapies have been fraught with side-effects and limited efficacy, as well as concerns about clinical translatability. A new approach using DNA vaccines is showing great promise, and has the potential to be safe and cheap enough for deployment in pre-clinical AD – before any irreversible memory loss can occur.

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