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Biotech Science

Gene Therapy Extends Mouse Lifespan 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the boosterspice-before-i-get-old-please dept.
Grond writes "ScienceDaily reports, 'Researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre have demonstrated that the mouse lifespan can be extended by the application in adult life of a single treatment acting directly on the animal's genes. Mice treated at the age of one lived longer by 24% on average (PDF), and those treated at the age of two, by 13%. The therapy, furthermore, produced an appreciable improvement in the animals' health, delaying the onset of age-related diseases — like osteoporosis and insulin resistance — and achieving improved readings on aging indicators like neuromuscular coordination.' Notably, the therapy did not cause an increase in the incidence of cancer."
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Gene Therapy Extends Mouse Lifespan

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @08:20PM (#40011925)

    But they will be divided by a contest for power, for whoever takes the head of another shall gain his might.

    I just hope they don't electrocute us all.

    • what about side effects?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You seem to get cursed with a very bad accent.

      • no cancer is a pretty good side effect, tho

        how about just making some stem cells from a tissue sample, and then treating them with the telomerase virus, and then injecting them back into you?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @09:17PM (#40012281)
          I really don't need mice that live longer. I need them to find a gene therapy to KILL mice. What's the point of this?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by catmistake (814204)

          no cancer is a pretty good side effect, tho

          It's not widely known that everyone has cancer. Shocking at first, but its not really that big of a deal. When we're young, we slough off cancer cells easily (I think they are digested... but I'm not an oncologist or anything) and they are replaced by healthy cells. As we get older, the ability to slough off cancer cells decreases, and when too many cells are cancerous, that's generally considered "having cancer." I think if people realized this fact of biology, there wouldn't be as much fear involved when

          • by sanman2 (928866)

            but when cancer is diagnosed, it means we have too many cancer cells to slough off - and that can often be fatal

            some of how you feel may be related to frame of mind, but the basic stuff is really based on physiological health - like whether you have cancer or not

          • by durrr (1316311) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @01:21AM (#40013491)

            What you mean to say is that everyones suffer constant genetic damage that in the absence of cell cycle checkpoints and DNA repair mechanism and improper regulation of apoptosis(cellular selfdestruction) and whatnot else would most likely lead to cancer in a short time.

            Some people actually have cancers that are contained and are free from symtoms, but this should be detected and treated as the very hallmark of cancer is their tissue-invasive and metetastatic properties, so given time, they will try their best to kill you if left alone.

            But no, everyone do not have cancer.

            • I believe the grandparent is most likely misinterpreting the observation that most men die with prostate cancer. In the vast majority of cases, something else kills them before the cancer. One of the interesting effects of increased screening in the USA is that, early on, a lot of people underwent treatments that turned out to be more dangerous than the cancer. Now, doctors are a lot more willing to recommend just ignoring it.

              His comment most likely is true of rats. Pretty much all rats that don't star

        • It's not no cancer.

          Some other methods increased youthfulness but increased the cancer rate as well.

          This one doesn't increase the cancer rate- but you can still get cancer.

      • The rats that can afford the cheese will come out of the woodwork, congress will pass a law to make it all illegal in the USA, and life with death will go on for US and EU.

    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @09:04PM (#40012215)

      But they will be divided by a contest for power, for whoever takes the head of another shall gain his might.

      But where will they find swords small enough to fit into their tiny little mouse paws?

  • THIS IS NOT NEWS (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @08:41PM (#40012043)
    • by Grond (15515)

      No, the Harvard researchers didn't do the same thing. They genetically engineered mice to have short telomeres, inducing faster aging, and then reversed the process by reactivating telomerase. The mice didn't actually live longer than normal. By contrast, the researchers in this study used a single application of gene therapy to extend the lifespan of normal mice, and they did so using techniques that have already been used in humans to treat other conditions.

  • This reminds me of the "calorie restriction" guy, who found out rats live 50% longer if they are fed less food then they actually need.

    So...they lived 3 years instead of 2.

    So...would a human gain 35 years...or 2?

    Same thing here.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by rubycodez (864176)
      uh huh, the very famous pioneer "calorie restriction guy" Roy Walford, found peace and serenity through his restricted diet he claimed was going to let him live until he was 120. Which is to say, he flopped over dead before reaching the average age of U.S. male. Eating gruel while everyone around him was enjoying wine, beefsteaks, and ice cream, he reaped his reward. what a dumb-ass.
      • Re:Rats! (Score:5, Informative)

        by John Bokma (834313) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @09:34PM (#40012375) Homepage

        Avg. life expectancy USA male: 75.6 (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy [wikipedia.org])

        Roy Walford died at age 79 of respiratory failure as a complication of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Walford [wikipedia.org])

        Love your rage dripping between the lines, though

        • Mod up, nice catch. Americans especially need to accept the fact that the less you eat the longer you live... except that you must eat the right things, the right nutrients that does a body good.
          • by dkf (304284)

            Americans especially need to accept the fact that the less you eat the longer you live... except that you must eat the right things, the right nutrients that does a body good.

            And you've still got to be lucky as well as good. There are many things that can kill you even if you don't overeat (e.g., hungry alligators!) and there are plenty of diseases that don't normally kill but do make your life truly miserable. (Osteoarthritis is a classic example, both common and awkward to treat.)

        • by AlXtreme (223728)

          Except that the average life expectancy you quote is at birth... Roy was in his 40's when he started reducing his amount of calories, so his life expectancy would have been approaching 80 regardless of what he ate.

          Pass me the steak!

      • Lying troll.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      This reminds me of the "calorie restriction" guy, who found out rats live 50% longer if they are fed less food then they actually need.

      So...they lived 3 years instead of 2.

      So...would a human gain 35 years...or 2?

      Same thing here.

      Or would the human quit the study because he was always hungry?

    • by u38cg (607297)
      The increase would be significant; much more than 2 but probably less than the 30-40 years implied by extrapolation.

      However, the point that is often missed here is that the calorific restriction involved is intolerable - it would leave you weak, lethargic, and with no quality of life. I can't remember the exact details, but it's of the order of 1000 calories a day for a man, less than half the standard recommended amount for weight maintainance.

  • by GeneralTurgidson (2464452) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @08:47PM (#40012087)
    We keep trying to live longer, but I can't see a life past 90 being very comfortable or enjoyable. I think no amount of drugs or therapies can fix the human psyche--it wasn't made to last forever. The older you get, the crazier you become in most peoples eyes.
    • by RedCard (302122) * on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @09:00PM (#40012185)

      Sure, people lose some mental faculty as they age, but in my estimation it's far more likely because of physical degradation of the brain than a hand-waving concept like "degradation of psyche". Stop the physical degradation of the brain, and the mind will remain fresh.

      • by Databass (254179) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @09:50PM (#40012459)

        I'd make an off-the-cuff guess that most people could extend their effective lifespans by 24% if they just got +20 minutes of moderate (heart rate up, light sweat) exercise each day. Cost? $0 and 20 minutes of time. Available to everyone, ready for mass implementation today. Compared to gene therapy, anyone could do the exercise today for nothing. And most won't even then.

        • by Shavano (2541114)

          I'd make an off-the-cuff guess that most people could extend their effective lifespans by 24% if they just got +20 minutes of moderate (heart rate up, light sweat) exercise each day. Cost? $0 and 20 minutes of time. Available to everyone, ready for mass implementation today. Compared to gene therapy, anyone could do the exercise today for nothing. And most won't even then.

          So this would increase life expectancy from 78 to 96? I'm not buying it.

          • by Belial6 (794905) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @12:46AM (#40013329)
            Not to mention...
            (20 Minutes * 365 days * 63 employable years) = 459900 minutes / 60 minutes per hour = 7665 hours of exercise.

            7665 hours * $8 (minimum wage) = $61320. If the treatment costs less than $61000, it is cheaper to have the treatment than it is to exercise.

            If you make even $25/hour, a $150000 procedure is cost effective.
            • It's worth noting that exercise may have other benefits which gene therapy may not provide.

              Improved endurance.
              Improved mood.
              Improved sleep patterns.
              Improved physical appearance.

              These have value too.

              And some people even find they ENJOY exercise, once they get in shape.

        • I would agree. Having seen what happens to an elderly person when they go from an active lifestyle to a sedentary one with my grandfather it shouldn't be all that surprising. My grandfather played golf every day he could (we live in Minnesota so 6 months of the year you can't) and every morning did the RCMP exercise routine (stretching, pushups, vigorous walking, and other relatively light exercises). He cough pneumonia, ended up in the hospital where he got some even more awful infection and was confined t
    • "The older you get, the crazier you become in most peoples eyes."

      Tell that to people like Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, etc., etc. ...

      Sure, some people go crazy or get cantankerous. Others gain wisdom and give damned good advice. I don't think generalizing is going to go very far here.

    • by westlake (615356) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @12:09AM (#40013169)

      We keep trying to live longer, but I can't see a life past 90 being very comfortable or enjoyable. The older you get, the crazier you become in most peoples eyes.

      I look back on neighbors and family who lived well into their nineties --- at home, mentally alert and physically active until very near the end. It has me thinking that it is the contempt the young have for the old that is vain and mad.

      • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @02:31AM (#40013691)

        My theory on this is marketing. I mean think about it, the traditional attitude of the young towards the old in most cultures is of respect for their knowledge and experience, but the "MTV generation" run right up to their 30s with a sneer on their face for anyone older. I reckon its the product of an intense and massive focus on youth culture deliberately fostered by marketing executives who know full well that what they are selling is crap, and the only way they can sell it is if the young are seperated from the older, stronger, wiser population who would rightly advise them to keep their money in their pockets.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by longk (2637033)

      Why not? My grandma is 90+ and still happily alive. She lives alone and spends lots of time online Facebook-ing and Skype-ing the many people she's got to know during her long life and meets up with some of them every now and then. The only help she receives is a maid doing some of the heavier cleaning tasks two times a week.

      My only fear at that age would be outliving all my close friends and family, but if my grandma is anything like I can expect for myself I'm certainly not worried about physical or menta

    • I think it depends on the person, especially if they are still active or not. On my mother's side of the family they are all fairly sedentary and even though they seem to have good genes for living long they are basically 1 foot in the grave for 20 years. My father's side of the family is quite different, they probably have average to slightly above average genes for longevity but they stay active. I had a great aunt who made it 98 and was bowling almost up until the day she died, it was pneumonia that got
  • Who'd have thought it?
  • by TheInternetGuy (2006682) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @09:22PM (#40012303)
    Long Live our new cheese eating over lords!
    • Life is measured, not in the number of breaths you take, but in the number of cheeses that take your breath away.
    • by Apothem (1921856)
      I thought we were in some kind of mouse-induced experiment on humans? To my knowledge, they've been lord over us for a while now.
  • Whatever happened to the whatcouldpossiblygowrong tag? This story sounds like the beginning of a Michael Crichton novel and we all know how those end. Joe Haldeman's Old Twentieth also had something like this called the Becker-Cendrek process. Made you immortal. Somehow I don't think it would be too difficult to get human volunteers for this one.

  • He' been saying that telomerase lengthening is a good area of research for life extension for years and years. It's good to see one of his 7 therepudic targets for immortality verified.
  • Maybe if we had the resources to sustain an enourmous population... but we already have an enourmous global population... and there's a serious energy crisis, as well as ... polution, global temperatures... etc.

    Maybe scientists should be figuring a way to make people live shorter, but far better quality lives. I kid... of course. But quality of life is important, and as the population increases, so does competition for limited resources, and individual quality of life will decrease. If we suddenly have a

    • Population increases have been leveling off faster than just about anybody predicted. Rates are down in Africa, China, India (the worst "offenders" of recent history).

      Granted, things will probably get worse before they get better, but I just don't see the population apocalypse that others in the past have predicted, actually happening.

      According to census figures, if it were not for immigration, the population of the U.S. would actually be lower today than 10 years ago.
    • by Shavano (2541114)

      I guess we'll have to increase all the milestone ages... age of concent, drinking age, voting age, and retirement age... maybe make celebacy trendy somehow... really start giving gays and lesbians huge incentives... and start heavily taxing marriage and procreation.

      Marriage and procreation are taxing enough as it is.

      • I guess we'll have to increase all the milestone ages... age of concent, drinking age, voting age, and retirement age... maybe make celebacy trendy somehow... really start giving gays and lesbians huge incentives... and start heavily taxing marriage and procreation.

        Marriage and procreation are taxing enough as it is.

        Well said, but I don't believe a word of it. One can only go so far alone.

    • But quality of life is important

      Significantly delaying the onset of age-related diseases is one of the biggest contributors to quality of life I can imagine. And if we have to work an extra twenty years for an additional twenty years of youth and health ... well, that's a tradeoff I'd certainly be willing to make, and I expect a whole bunch of other people would feel the same.

      There wouldn't be any need to delay the age of adulthood as you suggest. We'd just have longer, healthier, more productive, and all-around better adult lives. Sig

    • by u38cg (607297)
      The lifespan of all humans everywhere won't increase by 25 years in a blink. It will take many, many years just until such a therapy becomes available to rich-world citizens, never mind the population as a whole. We'll have time to make the cultural adaptions necessary.
  • (Sorry about the abbreviations). A friend of mine pointed out that extending the life of a mouse by say 25 percent cancer free may not do the same when extending the life of a human by 25 percent.

    The reason of course is because if it takes say 3 years for a cancer to develop because of this therapy (given to the mice when they were adults), the mice would still have died of other causes before the cancer could kill them (a 25 percent increase in a mouse's lifespan is only about a year). Whereas with people

  • Is that the extension takes place on the wrong end of life. I don't want to die at 200 years old. I want to live at 25 for 200 years.

    In any event, we better be used to starvation diets if such things come to pass. If the Duggars and the Octomom and Kate Gosselian prove, it is impossible to keep people from irresponsibly overpopulating the world.

    But let's say that we extend human lifespan to say 200 years. Is this increased lifespan going to be one in which everyone is healthy in a youthful manner until

    • by Belial6 (794905)

      Duggars and the Octomom and Kate Gosselian prove

      Their children average out to a negative number when the nation as a whole is counted. If you are going to extrapolate from single individuals, any people that don't have kids are even worse, as their breeding practices would end the human race with their generation.

    • by wrook (134116)

      It's easy to get discouraged when watching a loved one live through that. Personally I think our paliative care options are too limited.

      But it's important to remember that many people live long and active lives with very little problems. My grandfather died at 72 as each of his organs started to fail one after the other. It took him a very long time to die in a horrible, painful way. But my father, who is turning 70 this year, still rides his bike 60-70 km at a go, up and down mountains. He plays 18 ho

    • Sure, sure, all of that is scary. But think of the ultra-porn!

    • by compro01 (777531)

      In any event, we better be used to starvation diets if such things come to pass. If the Duggars and the Octomom and Kate Gosselian prove, it is impossible to keep people from irresponsibly overpopulating the world.

      Even with those people, The USA, Canada, and just about all of Europe have had birth rates well below replacement for a few decades now (The USA hasn't had a birth rate above replacement since the late 60s). Immigration is the only way population is growing around here.

  • Bring on the advanced haptic interface now!

  • With all the government entitlement spending being put on the "credit card" of "future generations", don't forget to raise the MAXIMUM benefit age along with the raising the MINIMUM benefit age. No sense in creating more pesky loopholes to deal with later...
  • This is good news as Diablo III is around the corner. I have lost 2 good mice the last time they released a Diablo game. Oh... you mean real mouse?
  • "Gene Therapy Extends Mouse Wingspan"

  • 1 Put incold virus.
    2 Release in wild
    3 Watch the fun begin

    Imagine the fights for resources when everybody lives 10-20 years longer absent injury or infectious disease.

  • by bhlowe (1803290) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @10:31AM (#40016657)
    This story is more interesting..
    From http://www.33rdsquare.com/2012/04/eating-buckyballs-double-rat-life.html [33rdsquare.com]
    Scientists at the University of Paris and colleagues fed the molecule fullerene (C60 or “buckyballs”) dissolved in olive oil to rats and found it almost doubles their lifespan, with no chronic toxicity.
    The results suggest that the effect of C60, an antioxidant, on lifespan is mainly due to the attenuation of age-associated increases in oxidative stress, according to the researchers. Moreover, the researchers speculate that a longer treatment could have generated even longer lifespans.
    ...
    “C60 can be administered orally, and as it is now produced in tons, it is no longer necessary to resort to its water-soluble derivatives, which are difficult to purify and, in contrast to pristine C60, may be toxic.
  • From the article: "In 2007, Blasco's group demonstrated that it was feasible to prolong the lives of transgenic mice, whose genome had been permanently altered at the embryonic stage, by causing their cells to express telomerase and, also, extra copies of cancer-resistant genes. These animals live 40% longer than is normal and do not develop cancer."

    Why can't we have cancer free humans based on this research?

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