Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) affects the brain, making it difficult to coordinate movements. The ultimate cause is unknown, but the most obvious effect is that the brain produces less dopamine, and brain cells start to die.

While it is not directly fatal, the side-effects of PD (muscle rigidity, tremors, trouble swallowing, cognitive decline, increased chance of fatal falls, etc) make it more likely you will die early, raising the mortality ratio to twice that of the average person.

Currently, 1.8 deaths out of every 100,000 are PD-related.

It is commonly believed that there is no cure, with most efforts going towards treatment rather than an attempt to excise the disease. Initially, drugs such as Levodopa may be used. Where the drugs don’t work, deep-brain stimulation might be used instead. A recent breakthrough means that this might not require surgery.

Neural transplantation or cell replacement therapy (CRT) is an attempt to replace the neurons that have been lost to the disease, but the results on this method have been spotty up until now. There is a glimmer on the horizon, though – a recent paper showed it was possible to implant new healthy brain cells into affected brains, using an embedding matrix of cartilage to “ease” the implant, letting the new neurons integrate more securely.

CRT is the focus of a lot of research, with genetic modification being one of the avenues explored. A group called “GForce-PD” is working towards using CRISPR technology to correct dopamine production in neural grafts.

While we may not have a cure yet, I have no doubt it is on its way.

first human head transplant to be performed next month

I wrote about Sergio Canavero in my How To Live Forever book (online version here).

It’s just been announced that his long-awaited infamous operation, in which a living human head will be removed from a body and placed onto another, is to be performed next month in China. The location is not known. The patient is not known. The donor is not known.

If this fails, it will not be surprising, but it will also make it harder for any other experimental surgeons to get permission or patients to try again.

If it succeeds, then its fantastic and terrifying at the same time.

In a fantastic way, it means that people that have debilitating bodily conditions that cause weakness or paralysis have a chance to overcome all those issues at once.

In a terrifying way, it means that it science-fiction dystopian stories such as Spares or The Island step closer to reality – humans that are bred solely for the purpose of being a replacement body for an aging clone.

It is unlikely that “back-alley operations” will happen in this, as the expertise needed to do the surgery means that only the most educated and practiced ones could perform it, and that means that they could make easy money with legitimate operations instead, not needing to go underground to do it.

Is it possible to live forever with this method? A person with sufficient resources could use this trick to live for centuries, replacing their body every few decades. But, because age is about more than just the age of the body, this is just a way of prolonging life – the brain would eventually succumb to deterioration even if the body did not. In a way, it’s a way to live long enough to see proper immortality solutions to appear.

gene correction before transplant of new skin

Yesterday, the news broke of a series of operations performed on a young Syrian boy named Hassan who had a life-threatening disease, epidermolysis bullosa, which makes the skin liable to rip easily and tear away from the underlying layers because of its poor generation of laminin 332.

The boy had to have 80% of his epidermis (the outer layer of skin) completely removed and replaced.

His father had tried donating some of his own skin but the boy’s body rejected it, so scientists had to generate sheets of skin cloned from his own skin.

But there was no point doing that if the skin was just going to have the same problem, so they had to fix this problem.

The doctors contacted Michele De Luca of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia’s Center for Regenerative Medicine, who had fixed a similar (but less severe) problem on someone’s legs before.

Michele extracted a sample of non-damaged skin from the boy, and subjected it to viral delivery system designed to replace the damaged LAMB3 gene in the skin’s DNA with a corrected copy.

After the virus had done its work, the skin was ready for growing. The scientists grew up to about a meter-squared of corrected skin before attaching it to the boy’s body in a short series of operations.

The operations were such as a success that there are no scars, only mild discolouration in some areas, and the kid can now run around like any other, playing rough games, getting battered and bruised, and most importantly, healing afterwards.

Most people seem impressed with the 80% skin replacement part of this story, but I think the most important part of it is that this was basically an instance of doctors taking a person’s own faulty organ, genetically correcting it, cloning a new one, and transplanting it back onto the body.

I believe this kind of trick can be used for many other disease types – not just skin diseases. For example, it is possible to 3D print new hearts using stem cells from your own body. If your heart is defective for genetic reasons, why not correct the issue before printing?

Lungs, veins and arteries. All of these can be 3D-printed. If yours are defective, it may be a choice soon to correct the defective genes, print new ones, and replace your defective parts.

We can rebuild you!

is it mathematically possible to live forever?

A story was released a few days ago saying that some scientists had proven with maths that it is impossible for halt aging.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are taking that at face value and think that it means that it is not possible to live forever. This is, fortunately, untrue.

It was “proven” in 2008 that humans couldn’t live past 125, and yet that was based purely on existing data and did not take into account our ability to solve issues.

The 125 limit is caused mostly by the Hayflick limit, which is a limit to how many times a somatic (normal – not stem) cell in the body can divide before its telomeres get too short, telomeres being the bits at the end of the DNA that stop the DNA from being corrupted.

Of course, once humans identify a cause to a problem, we get out there and solve it. So, Elizabeth Parrish, an entrepreneur that runs the biotech company BioViva, became the first human to undertake telomere extension therapy, adding up to 18 years to her life.

The mathematical proof that was released a few days ago relies on the natural chaotic warring that happens between the various cells in the body from running itself ragged. But again – if we can spot a problem, we can solve it.

The research assumes that a living being, once born, will continue to live as-is until it simply dies of old age.

But we are hackers. We tinker. We see problems and fix them.

One of the issues is senescent cells (SnCs). We have already come up with a number of solutions to that which will be publically available within the next few years, including senolytics such as FOXO4-DRI and UBX0101.

I don’t accept that it is mathematically impossible to live forever. I believe these scientists have simply not considered all the variables.

Navitoclax

I was just looking into where I could get some UBX0101 and came across a person on a forum saying that UBX0101 is Navitoclax, or is a derivative of it.

UBX0101 is a senolytic compound that was reported in July to be able to preemptively clear out osteoarthritis in healing wounds and cause lost cartilage to be regrown.

Navitoclax (also known as ABT-263) is a senolytic drug that has anti-cancer properties. It was evaluated in clinical trials in 2009 and approved in 2017 to work along with another drug, trametinib, to fight solid cancer tumours.

Navitoclax has a long-term side-effect that it can deplete levels of blood platelets, so it is not advised to make it a “one a day” tablet. If you take up to 150mg per day as well, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea. But I haven’t seen reports of any serious permanent side-effects.

It’s still quite expensive to buy – £267.75 for 100mg in one source. I wonder if there’s a cheaper source?