Saturday, January 26, 2008

What will be the next steps in medicine lenghtening your life?

(apologies for not posting... real life took it's toll. Oh and i'll be a way a few weeks on vacation so not mucho posts to come soon either).

Work is in progress on various fronts related to life extension and some work looks rather promising. What would be the first to come to clinical use and what will be the impact?

Certainly there is a big push and rapid development in the field of regenerative medicine. Already beating heart tissue has been grown in the lab and using a heart as scaffold a full heart has been grown. Vascularisation is in my view the leading problem in this area but clearly progress is well afoot. Say 15 more years and many applications should be at least very close to market in my educated guess.

Also using patient derived stem cells either by apharesis, skin stem cells or possibly soon enough by dedifferentiating cells from a biopsy plenty of clinical applications become possible resulting in vast improvements in cardiovascular disease, dystrophie or ataxia to name but a few. First commercializations are in progress and applications are close to market.

So life extension without touching the underlying processes of aging in a systemic and systematic way is plausible. Many will interject that these steps that at are in progress of being made available regardless of what biogerontology brings to the table will maybe up the life expectancy by another decade but then everyone will develop Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other failure modes of the brain. Well, fortunately we seems to make a lot of progress in these domains too so maybe the most apparent ways in which the brain goes will be treatable in the same time frame? Certainly there is reason for hope.


jrowley said...

It seems it takes 15-20 years for a medical technology with a biological component to go from Nature paper to commercialization, so the beating heart is a ways away. The most interesting work will come from the first stem cell treatments making it to market. These products will be deemed safe to use, and can be prescribed just like anything else. Then some maverick MD-PhDs will begin using these products off label to start treating spinal cord injury, MS, DMD, etc... real debilitating diseases. I also think that the life extension crowd will figure out how to use it as well, very similar to the Institutes using Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone. So, look for rapid advancement once these initial products hit the market, but focused commercialization for life extension will only be available from Medical Tourism companies, as it will take awhile for Clinical trials to be run for this type of application. Death from old age isn't thought of as a disease by the FDA - yet.

Great posts... keep it up.

Jon Rowley -

Towards infinity said...

Well, my time estimated do not necessarily mean US market as i have high hopes for china in terms of biotech, i mean look at the money and manpower flowing into every technical field plus they certainly have no blinders on when it comes to life-extension.

Like your blog btw and thanks for the heads up from this lowly IT guy with no idea of biology :-).