Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Edmonton Aging Symposium


Take a look at interesting presentations given at the recent Edmonton Aging Symposium in Canada, which are now publicly available online here:

The following talk has caught my particular attention:

The Damage of Aging: Present Possibilities and Future Therapies
Huber Warner

This talk argues that the role of damage accumulation in the aging process is probably exaggerated -- particularly for oxidative damage to both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. This counterintuitive conclusion is based on recent findings that mice defective in superoxide dismutase defence against oxidative damage do NOT live shorter lives, despite observed extensive damage to both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Something to think about.

This presentation goes much further, claiming at slide # 9:

Vitamins A, E may be unhealthy
(JAMA 2/28/07 and reported in National Post; March 1, 2007)

This slide also says that Vitamin A increases the risk of death by 16%, and ß-carotene increases the risk of death by 7%.

This is where you have to listen the recorded presentation itself (available at the weblink listed above), to find out that the author himself does not agree with these claims.

So, for each presentation it is better first to download the Power-Point Presentation, then to start the audio of the presentation, and to follow the voice of the speaker clicking the next slides of his Power-Point Presentation.

Interestingly, a similar idea that damage to mitochondrial DNA has still unclear relation to aging was also discussed in another talk:

Mitochondrial DNA Mutations and Their Possible Role in Brain Aging
Konstantin Khrapko

Why additional damage does not always shorten lifespan?
This is indeed a challenge for the evolutionary theories of aging, assuming that “natural selection will always be in greatest opposition to the decline of the most senescence-prone system” and, therefore “senescence should always be a generalized deterioration,'' with all the destruction pathways being equally important.
However this problem can be easily resolved by the reliability theory of aging that emphasizes the existence and the key role of the "weakest links" in system's reliability. If these "weakest links" are not affected, then the damage in other places may have no apparent effects on system's failure.

See also the video of this exciting talk with somewhat intriguing title:

The Color Code and a Rainbow of Health
James Joseph PhD. - Tufts University

This is a rare combination of good science, humorous easy-to-understand presentation with important practical implications for your own health through simple nutrition changes. Dr. James Joseph presented the results of his studies on the effects of a diet high in fruits and vegetables in preventing age-related disease and the impact on behavior with a primary focus the improvement in neurological function and reduction in Alzheimer's symptoms. His lab has shown that blueberry supplementation was able to offset the deleterious consequences on behavior associated with amyloid plaques in mice prone to developing these deposits. The mechanisms by which the active molecules within blueberries are able to increase the generation of new neurons in the brain as well as the pathways by which these molecules help to enhance neuronal signaling and ultimately communication is an area of intense study in Dr. Joseph's lab with results which can potentially be applied to immediately decrease the impact of aging on behavior. Just a short word of caution: it was all done on laboratory animals (rats and mice) only; no similar studies on humans were reported in this presentation.

See also the "Head-to-Head" debates on the Ethics and Desirability of Life-Extension, which is now available here:

These debates are between the advocate of life-extension Gregory Stock and his opponent Daniel Callahan, with Aubrey de Grey as a moderator.

What pleasantly strikes me here is that this contentious issue is discussed during the debates in an academic and very respectful way -- see it yourself!

Very optimistic vision on the economic sustainability of a future life-extension was provided by Ronald Bailey in his talk "Estimating Your Future's Options", see video here.

I wish this talk be longer and more detailed in terms of justification of the optimistic vision for economics of life-extension. Also I feel that even if life-extension is not socially profitable, it still deserves to be pursued, because I believe that human life has its own value, beyond the money dimension.

Overall, these are very interesting and useful records to see and listen.

Please feel free to post your comments on these records below!

Key words:
Edmonton Aging Symposium, Huber Warner, Konstantin Khrapko, James Joseph, Gregory Stock, Daniel Callahan, Aubrey de Grey, Ronald Bailey, life-extension, damage, reliability theory, carotene, DNA, longevity, oxidative damage, risk of death, vitamin A, vitamin E, polyphenolics


To read comments on this review, and to post your own thoughts, click here.

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Blogger bioimmortality said...

This issue would not be contentious at all if Daniel could cast his mind back to a time when his endocrine and neurotransmitter profile was that of a 20 -25 year-old.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Stanley Shostak said...

dear leonid gavrilov, i am disappointed that sidney wanzer's book, 'to die well: your right to comfort, calm, and choice in the last days of life.' cambridge, ma: a merloyd lawrence book; 2007 has not received the attention it deserves. wanzer raises (indeed, personifies) the vital issue of whether there is a dying process that entitles patients to comfort care as opposed to fighting 'fruitlessly against symptoms that need to be accepted' (27). please consider posting this book and opening a discussion of a dying process. thanx, stanley shostak

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