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Biotech Medicine Science

First Successful Gene Therapy Against Human Aging? (geekwire.com) 244

An anonymous reader writes: For the first time data may show that a human being has been successfully rejuvenated by gene therapy, claims Bioviva USA. "In September 2015, then 44 year-old CEO of Bioviva USA Inc. Elizabeth Parrish received two of her own company's experimental gene therapies: one to protect against loss of muscle mass with age, another to battle stem cell depletion responsible for diverse age-related diseases and infirmities." Bypassing America's FDA, the controversial therapies were described by the MIT Technology Review as "do-it-yourself medicine," saying it "raises ethical questions about how quickly such treatments should be tested in people and whether they ought to be developed outside the scrutiny of regulators." "The treatment was originally intended to demonstrate the safety of the latest generation of the therapies," reports Bioviva's web site. "But if early data is accurate, it is already the world's first successful example of telomere lengthening via gene therapy in a human individual."
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First Successful Gene Therapy Against Human Aging?

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  • If old people are going to stay around, they should consider going back to work too, otherwise it won't be affordable.
    • Gene therapy will be like getting hip replacement surgery in your 90's. You may not live long enough to enjoy the benefits, but the insurance company will probably pick up the tab anyway.
      • the insurance company will probably pick up the tab anyway.

        Which they'll pass on to their other clients.

        • I don't buy that.

          Pass on to the rest of us...

          That is the universal argument of the haves vs. The have-nots.

          • Okay... Feel free to answer the question then:
            "Where do insurance companies get the money to pay for medical care, especially the elderly?"
            Go ahead, try not to say "from their customers."

            What's not to "buy" ? Insurance companies take money from all clients and distribute it to clients who are covered and get medical care. Nearly 100% of the cost of more-than-trivial medical transactions is "passed on to other clients".

            • I can see where the Insurance industry would be screaming for more of this. When clients die, no more revenues.
            • The insurance industry doesn't get their profit form clients, they get it from stock market investments and the like.
        • by nmb3000 ( 741169 )

          the insurance company will probably pick up the tab anyway.

          Which they'll pass on to their other clients.

          Well that is how insurance companies work, whether you're 80 or 30 years old. But also don't forget about massive earnings they get from investing premiums.

          Besides, how is it fair to denigrate the elderly making use of their insurance when they've probably been paying premiums for 40+ years? Shouldn't you be more upset about the 26-year old who just came off his parent's insurance plan, has paid a total of $200 in premiums, and then breaks his neck falling off one of those cheap "hoverboards" to the tune o

    • If old people are going to stay around, they should consider going back to work too, otherwise it won't be affordable.

      If it isn't affordable and the old people who want to stay around don't consider going back to work, they're evidently too far gone already. Obvious cat is obvious.

    • Life extension, if it ever becomes real, will be for the very rich. The rest of us will live our normal lives of quiet desperation as we serve our life-extended masters.

      I wonder if eating people who have has this therapy will extend the life of the eater? Hmmmm. One more reason to consider eating the rich.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        It is really and it is already only for the rich.

        Heart bypass surgery, heart replacements, etc.... All only for the very wealthy.

        Eating healthy extends your life and only the rich can afford that.

        Living in a home not full of nasty crap or not living where the water has lead in it.... again only for the rich.

        Being able to take vacations so that stress wont kill you early.... again only for the rich. Burger king employees dont get 4 weeks of vacation a year.

        • You must be American, where junk food costs literallynothing but normal food is expensive and going to the hospital costs money.

        • Ordinary Americans can't get heart transplants? Really?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nospam007 ( 722110 ) *

          "It is really and it is already only for the rich.

          Heart bypass surgery, heart replacements, etc.... All only for the very wealthy."

          ...Americans you mean. In other developed countries those surgeries don't cost a dime for anyone (or a minuscule participation in some countries)

          "Living in a home not full of nasty crap or not living where the water has lead in it.... again only for the rich."

          Again, lead pipes have been removed in other countries as well, we knew that the roman empire fell because they all die

      • The rest of us will live our normal lives of quiet desperation as we serve our life-extended masters.

        I guess you haven't read today's headline.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/24/upshot/rich-people-are-living-longer-thats-tilting-social-security-in-their-favor.html [nytimes.com]

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      See congress-critters for a counter-example. I think it the height of impropriety to consider letting these dinosaurs hang on this long after their well-done, burnt to a crisp, burger time.

    • Yep, this is very bad news, human society isn't nearly mature enough for life extension technology. Hopefully the effect on lifespan will be minimal, because all this can do right now is exacerbate inequality.

    • by qeveren ( 318805 )

      There probably should be a maximum age limit for serving any role in elected government. Things are already too full of stagnant old people in the halls of power.

  • Medical advances like this is why some people don't understand that I'm not planning to retire at 65 and live another 75 years until I'm dead at 120. Outliving retirement funds will be a serious problem for most people in the future.
    • Other people would pin it on basic numeracy.

      • Oh good, I'm not the only one who noticed 65+75 != 120.
        • Oh good, I'm not the only one who noticed 65+75 != 120.

          I wrote it wrong by not mentioning my current age. I'm 45 and plan to live another 75 years. That's 45 + 75 = 120. Retiring at 65 seems unrealistic.

    • Do you actually think that if life extension technology becomes real, anyone but the super rich will be able to afford it?

      • Current medical advances are already extending the lifetime of many people. Once the patents expire, life extension technology will become more affordable and widespread.
      • It would become a reality for most of the middle class. They will finally live long enough to pay off their student loans. Who would have thought that underwater basket weaving would have such a tiny market.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      Outliving retirement funds will be a serious problem for most people in the future.

      A problem easily solved by saving or working more.

      • You can't really solve the problem of an ageing population by saving more. You also need young people to do the work, and lots of saved money in combination with fewer workers means the prices will go up. Working more would help, but only if the person is physically and mentally capable to do the work.
        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          You can't really solve the problem of an ageing population by saving more.

          And you have a reason you say this?

          You also need young people to do the work,

          No, you don't. Much has already been made of the growing productivity of workers. And older workers who don't choose to save enough can still work.

          • And you have a reason you say this?

            Imagine an isolated island with a population of young but sterile people. Everything is going great, and they are saving money (made from seashells) in a big box to pay for their retirement. Do you see the problem ? Money does you no good if there are not enough workers. You'll simply get inflation.

            Much has already been made of the growing productivity of workers

            Exactly. So it's not a matter of solving the problem by "saving more". You solve the problem by providing more worker productivity.

            • by khallow ( 566160 )

              Imagine an isolated island with a population of young but sterile people. Everything is going great, and they are saving money (made from seashells) in a big box to pay for their retirement. Do you see the problem ? Money does you no good if there are not enough workers. You'll simply get inflation.

              That's not the world we live in. It's not saving as we actually do it. It doesn't cover technological advances. And it ignores that most people don't actually save enough for their absence from the workforce to matter.

              • That's not the world we live in.

                I know. It's a story to help explain the problem. Money is basically an standardized IOU. It doesn't do you any good to put an IOU in a box, and get it out 50 years later, when the counterparty isn't able to work any more.

                It doesn't cover technological advances.

                Exactly, but that wasn't the point. The point was that "saving money" is no solution. That doesn't mean that there can't be any other solution, such as higher productivity, robots, or more efficient caretaking.

        • > You also need young people to do the work

          Robots. We need robots to do the work. The Japanese figured this out a few years ago:

          http://www.japantimes.co.jp/ne... [japantimes.co.jp]
          • Robots. We need robots to do the work. The Japanese figured this out a few years ago

            Robots could help, but we're still not anywhere near the point that robots can take over a significant part of the work force. Also, society still needs resources, including fertile land and clean water, as well as energy.

    • Re:This... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HiThere ( 15173 ) <charleshixsn@EUL ... t minus math_god> on Saturday April 23, 2016 @12:23PM (#51972949)

      Probably, but I doubt that that will be her problem. Teleomere shortening is one of the body's defenses against cancer...and she's apparently turned that off. There may also be a similar reason for stem cell depletion, though I've never heard of one for certain, only a couple of things that suggest that stem cells are more likely to turn cancerous than other cells. And the word is suggest, as there are other findings that suggest that senescent cells are the ones most likely to turn cancerous.

      • Re:This... (Score:5, Informative)

        by smugfunt ( 8972 ) on Saturday April 23, 2016 @01:10PM (#51973233)

        Teleomere shortening is one of the body's defenses against cancer...and she's apparently turned that off.

        The articles are sadly lacking in detail as usual but my impression is that they have performed a one-off lengthening, not turned off shortening. Also, it seems it was only done to her leukocytes not every cell.

        there are other findings that suggest that senescent cells are the ones most likely to turn cancerous.

        There was a recent result in mice where they managed to eliminate all senescent cells. So do that first, then lengthen the telomeres periodically and who knows how long you might last.

  • She looks 54 with pancaked on makeup. Is this the future?
    • by rfengr ( 910026 )
      The video. No, she is good looking, but I suppose that is all relative.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Some people are just not good looking, and some people look old before their time, but I saw the video [youtube.com] and neither applies in the case of Liz Parrish. I suspect that the real problem here is that you're an asshole.
  • by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Saturday April 23, 2016 @09:16AM (#51971885)
    A bit off topic, but can anyone recommend some good science fiction novels that deal with this subject (i.e. the consquences of living in a world where aging was suddenly easily cured, and people died only by violence (and maybe disease too))?
    • Can't say it's a good book because I only read the sample so far, but check The Cicada Prophecy by J.R. McLeay. It looked interesting at least.

    • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Saturday April 23, 2016 @09:38AM (#51972045) Homepage Journal
      Asimov did this in Foundation and Earth. In his version the Spacers lived a long time, but chose to live without human contact in order to avoid disease. They were served by robots. Probably very accurate description of what would happen if there were enough space on Earth and people lived a long time.
    • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Saturday April 23, 2016 @09:39AM (#51972047)

      Elizabeth Moon wrote several novel series that indirectly touched upon this issue, where "rejuvenation" kept older people living longer in key positions of business and government.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Familias_Regnant_universe [wikipedia.org]
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatta's_War [wikipedia.org]

    • Red Mars and the sequels spend a lot of time talking about this kind of thing.

    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      Jack Vance wrote one: To Live Forever [goodreads.com]

      I liked it. I like pretty much everything he's written though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Immortal, by Jorge Luis Borges.

    • Check out Misspent Youth: http://www.goodreads.com/book/... [goodreads.com] It doesn't touch yet the scenario where it is solved but it's the first book of multiple ones. Continue with "Pandora's Star" where you will find exactly what you are looking for (and much more). ;)
    • Almost anything by Larry Niven, but the Ringworld series for sure.

      Both of his main protagonists, Louis Wu and Beowulf Shaeffer do many of the things they do to deal with extended life.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Heinlein's Methuselah's Children had that as a sub-plot element. It's a bit dated, but pretty good. Long term effects are discussed in the sequel "Time Enough for Love", but that needed a better editor.

    • Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling had similar themes.

      The main character is dealing with the side effects of medical age reversal. The youth have determined that the rate of medical advancements will increase lifespans at the same rate they are aging.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The Takeshi Kovacs trilogy by Richard Morgan. The first in the series, Altered Carbon, is particularly relevant. People can effectively live forever by transferring their minds to new bodies.

      • There the life extension is through the ability to transfer minds into implanted mind-hard-drives.

        Which should in any logical universe lead to permanent youth for everyone AND elimination of poverty cause everyone could basically live off of interests on their savings, while sleeping for centuries in between, right?
        Or buggering off to new frontiers and living happily forever there, right?
        OR... and check this out... NEVER HAVING AN ECONOMIC PROBLEM ON ACCOUNT OF FASTER THEN LIGHT INFORMATION TRANSFER.
        TIME TR

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          People don't want to just put themselves in storage for 100 years while their fortune amasses. That's actually the punishment they use for criminals. Apart from being attached to other people in the here and now, if everyone started doing that it would cause massive economic problems by itself. Chances are that would have to be protected against by savings taxes. In fact, the rich might insist on it.

          Also, everyone has a big expenditure periodically as they need a new body. That is stated to be very expensiv

  • Only 7 months (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Saturday April 23, 2016 @09:20AM (#51971911) Homepage

    She only took the treatment 7 months ago. How much could we really know about it's efficacy in such a short period? Unless she reverted to looking like a 20 year old person (she doesn't), then I have a hard time believing that it's really working. Also, we don't know how it will effect her long term.

  • I read somewhere that, on average, you'd be killed in some accident by 150 anyway.
  • http://www.geekwire.com/2016/b... [geekwire.com]

    For one thing, the findings haven't yet been submitted for peer-reviewed publication.

  • We'll only know when and and, most importantly, if she manages to substantially outlive most people of her age.
  • What was done is reckless, but pushing progress is often non-linear process that requires reckless extermination. Good example is Charles Goodyear and rubber vulcanization.
  • The woman is the CEO of the company making this so-called anti-aging treatment. AND she located the company outside the US to escape FDA requirements that a therapy be proven to be safe and effective. Could it be true? Maybe, but it looks more like snake oil to me.

  • Double life expectancy and effectively double the population. I'm sure the Earth is up for that.

    • You could always start a large war or convince all the young people to have abortions because it is their health and choice or some other reason. You could also stop the negative connotations of homosexuality and convince half the population to become queer to save the world.

      There are a lot of things you can do to alleviate your fears of overpopulation that doesn't involve using science and technology to deal with issues as the rise up.

      • by Megol ( 3135005 )

        just FYI: one can't convince people to be "queer" (I guess you mean homosexual), it isn't a choice.

        • All sex is a choice else rape wouldn't be illegal- it would be a fact of existence just as eating and using the restroom is.

          As for the difference between queer and homosexual, there is no real difference unless someone has changed the definition to feel better about themselves but that is not my problem.

  • by tanstaaf1 ( 770797 ) on Saturday April 23, 2016 @10:10AM (#51972237)
    Some observations which may seem obvious but bear mentioning: (1) In today's out-of-control / Ponzi monetary system, this is almost enough to start a speculative bubble (2) At some point anti-aging breakthroughs at a fundamental level are inevitable (3) When real anti-aging therapies become available they are going to be priced out of this world...literally priced for billionaries. The LAST thing in the world your health-insurance is likely to underwrite is something which will extend your natural lifespan to something preternatural. Can you imagine ObamaCare doing that? Can you imagine the impact of such a move, were it to occur, on the broken pension/SS/medicare system and the negative interest rate economy in general? (4) We have a problem already with "elites" buying it all -- including complete control of the government. Can you imagine the situation when billionaires -- and only billionaires -- can afford to live forever? (5) That's right: totalitarianism by the 0.001% for the 0.001% ... forever. I'd say if we are going to "fix" the government and monetary/tax system we might want to fix it sooner than later.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      >When real anti-aging therapies become available they are going to be priced out of this world...literally priced for billionaries.

      That's one reason Parrish went outside of the US to do her trial. By doing so, she bypasses regulations and fees that the FDA requires that can make the cost of bringing a brand new drug to market today roughly around a billion dollars. So of course in order to recoup the cost of research and go through the lengthy gauntlet of FDA approval, pay their overcompensated CEO's, an

    • The LAST thing in the world your health-insurance is likely to underwrite is something which will extend your natural lifespan to something preternatural.

      Huh? This doesn't make any sense at all. Health insurance companies have to pay out when you get sick. As happens when you get old. Indeed, what really ends up killing people is the inability to pay for the meds which are keeping them alive. They don't want you to get sick. They want you to keep paying them.

      Life insurance companies would LOVE this. They are betting that you DON'T die soon. If you have life insurance, you are betting that DO die sooner rather than later. You know, just in case.

      Can you imagine the impact of such a move, were it to occur, on the broken pension/SS/medicare system and the negative interest rate economy in general?

      Yeah, peo

  • Scientists have always been going around testing therapies on humans. Louis Pasteur wasn't a doctor, but he injected has rabies vaccine in a boy who recovered. Pasteur also ate his own dog food [wikipedia.org]

    Pasteur himself was absolutely fearless. Anxious to secure a sample of saliva straight from the jaws of a rabid dog, I once saw him with the glass tube held between his lips draw a few drops of the deadly saliva from the mouth of a rabid bull-dog, held on the table by two assistants, their hands protected by leather

  • Not that I wish anyone dead, but if we have people living longer, it will strain the food supply, the job market, and the ecosystem in general. We need to start building moon bases and heading to Mars or we're really going to run out of resources.
    • Two words: Soylent Green.

    • What if we just send the elderly to the Moon ?
    • Strain the food supply? No, it won't. That's exactly the same argument people made in the middle of the 20th century about how human population growth will drain all of our resources by the end of the 20th century. Why did it not happen? Because of a mix of technological and economic reasons. I don't need to explain the technology part, but the economics part made sure that people decided to have less babies.

      Put it simply, if each pair of parents only had one baby, soon we will have 0 population growth, eve

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Saturday April 23, 2016 @11:52AM (#51972775) Homepage Journal

    "itâ(TM)s going to take 15-20 years to get a drug through, but 100,000 people are going to die today! Weâ(TM)re so detached, how do you say that without feeling emotional? Thatâ(TM)s it, their value to this earth is gone. And itâ(TM)s real to them, itâ(TM)s very real to them. To us it seems like fantasy, but to them theyâ(TM)re facing their last moment, and we shouldnâ(TM)t feel comfortable with that."

  • The last thing we need is for people to live longer. What we do need is far less babies to begin with.
  • Give this a decade or so and maybe there actually is something to it. Before, it may just result in a net loss of life-expectancy. It will surely result in a significant loss of money to anybody that wants to risk it. Hey, maybe we can have Ray Kurzweil try it?

  • After all, dying and going to heaven (or hell) is a pretty important part of most religions...

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