"Radical Life Extension and A REMEDY FOR DEATH" -- new book trailer just up on Slideshare

We just posted a new book trailer on Slideshare.  It gives a brief overview on various breakthroughts on what is termed "radical life extension" -- most of which we have posted over the past few years on this site, as we came on news of these various pieces of research, and as they were relevant for the technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH.

You'll find that some of the items in the slideshow echo posts we've made here, and we will continue to add other new findings as blog posts . . .  and maybe include them in the sequel to this slideshow. (When and if there ever is a sequel, as that's is hard work!)

 Among the topics touched on in the slideshow (and in this blog) are these: anti-aging methods, bio-engineering, bio-artificial organs, chimeras (human-animal hybrids), quest for eternal youth, human stem cells, human cell implants, human immortality, medical ethics, organ fabrication, organ harvesting, organ regeneration, regenerative medicine, growing human body parts, tissue engineering, transhumanism, reversing the aging process, 3 D printing of replacement human organs, and more. 

 Here's the link to Radical Life Extension and A REMEDY FOR DEATH

We need new blood! 'Vampire therapy' could reverse aging, scientists find

"It may seem the stuff of gothic horror novels, but transfusions of young blood could reverse the ageing process and even cure Alzheimer's Disease, scientists believe." -- This the lead item in an article by Sarah Knapton in London's Daily Telegraph. (I used the spelling 'ageing' there, as such is the British way.)  

By the way, I misspelled Sarah Knapton's name in a previous version of this post. Sorry.

Now, before going on, let me say that the experiments so far have only been done on mice, not humans.  

Also, these experiments havebeen done, not in a spooky castle in Transylvania, but rather at Harvard and Stanford. (Does that make the idea less spooky?)

The research, primarily reported in the journal Science, involved eight blood transfusions over a three-week period.

Here's the link to that Daily Telegraph article

Now what they are doing with this finding in the (fictional) Hauenfelder Clinic in the remote mounntains of a certain Eastern European dictatorship I have no idea. (FYI: that Hauenfelder Clinic is the setting for my science technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH.  Not to worry, this is not a plot spoiler: I can tell you they don't use Vampire Therapy there . . . at least not yet!  But they do lots of other thing that push the limits of medical ethics  under the guise of  questing for eternal youth and human immortality for the chosen few!  The Hauenfelder Clinic is, one might say, a Jurassic Park for rich old guys who want to stick around . . . forever.)

A Remedy for Death and "Billionaires as patrons of science"-- New York Times

"Billionaires with big ideas are privatizing American science" -- the headline of an article in the New York Times

Well, billionaires with VERY big ideas along with  a sense of elitist entitlement, and a drive for life extension (for themselves and themselves only) ,are subsidizing the fictional Hauenfelder Clinic in my technothriller,   A REMEDY FOR DEATH

Not to spoil the plot, just to say that it's about a bunch of rich old guys (yeah, just guys) who're funding a kind of Jurassic Park for  "select" humans--themselves and other elitists.  It gets into bio-tech, bio-artificial organs, organ harvesting and regeneration, regenerative medicine, and, ultimatelym,into the quest for eternal youth and immortality.

Here are some sample chapters. Hope you're intrigued!

"The Race for Immortality"-- article in Slate

I came on still another article about the new drive on anti-aging and the quest for human immortality funded and directed by some of the rich guys at Google. Slate terms it "the race for immortality."  Subtitle: "Ray Kurzweil thinks we can stay one step ahead of death."   Link to the Slate article

The article in Slate is by Will Oremus, and joins other articles we've referenced here, which I'll link to below.

My context for interest in articles on the quest for immortality flows from my techno-thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH.  The book is done and out in the world, but I'm still keeping up with the literature.

In a nutshell, A REMEDY FOR DEATH is about a kind of Jurassic Park for rich old guys . . . and about the unforeseen consquences that flow.  (More info on A REMEDY FOR DEATH.)

One key difference between my approach in A REMEDY FOR DEATH and the main trend covered in these articles: Ray Kurzweil's approach is directed to staying alive long enough to be around for what he terms "the singularity," when we have computers and other devices smart enough to in effect download "us" to the cloud.

Without spoiling the plot, in REMEDY the characters take a more bio-tech approach, including printing out replacement organs (which is actually under way right now in labs around the world); other bioartificial organs and organ fabrication; the use of stem  cells; tissue engineering; and the use of human-animal chimeras.

In both REMEDY and the proposed Kurzweil approach arises the small matter of how do you move "consciousness," or "the soul," or whatever you term it across to the new?

Here are my links and comments on some other recent articles on that theme of a Jurassic Park for rich old guys  (and not so old yet). Topics include anti-aging, reversing aging, human immortality, fear of aging and death, regenerative medicine, eternal youth, eternal life, and the regenerative medicine industry:

Business Insider article, "These Tech Billionaires Are Determined to Buy Their Way Out of Death"

See my previous post "New Google division, along with TIME Magazine, follow trail blazed by technothriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH!"   That will link you to the TIME cover story on Calico, a new division or subsidiary, of Google. Calico is exploring much the same issues as in my technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH.

 See also Adam Gollner's article in the Daily Bookbeast, "The Immortality Financiers: The Billionaires Who Want to Live Forever"

"Meet the Google executive who plans to cheat death: Ray Kurzweil"-- article in London DAILY MAIL

TIME Magazine ran a cover story a few weeks ago , which we covered here in the post: New Google division, along with TIME Magazine, follow trail blazed by technothriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH!

Now London's DAILY MAIL  has an article on one of those Google executives, futurist Ray Kurzweil, who joined Google a few months.  His aim, it seems,  is to hold his existing body together long enough for robots and computers to be developed to provide a surrogate kind of life.

From the DAILY MAIL article by a writer named "Daily Mail Reporter." (Guess his folks gave him a really unique name, or he's one of the robots Kurzweil is thinking of!)  Anyway:

"Kurzweil says he hopes the supplements will keep him healthy enough to reach the 'nanotech revolution'.

"'I can never say, “I’ve done it, I’ve lived forever,” because it’s never forever,' he said.

"'We’re really talking about being on a path that will get us to the next point."

 For more on the same topic. see my post here, "Tech billionaires determined to buy their way out of death"

See also  my post here, "Google and a brief history of immortality", which links to a video by TIME Magazine

Continuous supply of rejuvenated stem cells seen as path to radical longevity

Interesting article in Next Big Future on the stem cells, longevity and theFoxO gene, which is particularly active in centenarians (people 100 years or older) AND in a certain kind of fresh-water polyp.  (Not up on polyps? Think of it as a tiny freshwater squid.)

For some reason (being researched) human stem cells become fewer and less active with age ... except in those certain centenarians.  AND also in these polyps, which don’t show signs of aging. The link appears to be that FoxO gene, or some shared commonality around it.

What does this have to do with this blog, and with my technothriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH? I dunno, the article just intrigued me.  And at the risk of giving away the plot, I can tell you that there are no freshwater polyps playing a role in the plot of A REMEDY FOR DEATH.

(Though, come to think of it, that would be a creepy scene, wouldn’t it? Somebody tossed into a pool of tiny immortal squid-like things! Oooh, creepy! Maybe my next book.)

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers-- another use, this by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps

We recently examined here the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers as a tool to aid recuperation from  slow-to-heal wounds and other health conditions.  Link to that blog post:  "Hyperbaric oxygen chambers--- nowadays not just science fiction."

That was in the context of the role hyperbaric oxygen chambers play in my  medical techno-thriller,  A REMEDY FOR DEATH.

Today I came on another use of hyperbaric chambers, this in both USA Today and in more detail in Toronto's Globe and Mail.

American Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps 16 medals), has been "sleeping at 8,000 feet every night," in a hyperbaric chamber.

According to the Globe and Mail article, these chambers "are used by many athletes to replicate high-altitude conditions and boost levels of oxygen-rich blood cells."  Link to the article by Rachel Cohen in the Globe and Mail

What's particularly interesting to me is that for healing purposes, patients enter the hyperbaric chambers and go as if underwater, where air pressure is heavier.  Phelps and other athletes do the opposite: instead, they use the tanks set to simulate going up where the air is thinner.  That simulated altitude changes the body make-up, stimulating the growth of red blood cells.

And bear in mind the rumor that singer Michael Jackson slept in a hyperbaric chamber to slow the aging process.  Dr. Timothy Adkins (mentioned in my previous post, above) pointed out that he could not have slept all night in a chamber set to simulate underwater pressure: that would have resulted in damage and possible convulsions.

But --- and it is still a rumor, bear in mind --- perhaps Mr. Jackson, like Mr. Phelps, slept in a hyperbaric chamber set to a thinner atmosphere, as if on a mountain. Who knows?

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers--- nowadays not just science fiction.

Science fiction that's not fictional, technology that probably seemed far-out a couple or so decades back but is everyday use now.  I'm referring to hyperbaric oxygen chambers.

As hyperbaric chambers and hyperbaric oxygen therapy play key parts in my medical techno-thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH, I took advantage of an opportunity recently to visit (as an observer, not a patient) the Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine, a part of the Sebastian River Medical Center in Sebastian, Florida. 

I came away with some photos and info I hadn't previously known, and thought this would be a good place to share as background to readers of A REMEDY FOR DEATH.


 Before there was hyperbaric oxygen therapy to stimulate healing, there were decompression tanks for divers. Initially, decompression tanks were used with divers suffering from the bends, though more recently have been used to reduce the amount of underwater decompression needed from deep dives. (It's a lot more comfortable to sit or lie in a decompression chamber than to hang on a rope in cold water.)

The primary objective in using  hyperbaric oxygen therapy for a patient is to increase the concentration of oxygen in the blood, as a way of promoting healing. For that reason, a lot of the patients attending the Sebastian Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine suffer from diabetic wounds or other injuries that have bneen slow to heal.

Put them in a chamber, pump up the concentration to maybe two atmospheres or so (around what you'd be experiencing as a scuba diver 30-50 feet underwater), then increase the oxygen to 100% from its normal range when mixed with outside air, and healing significantly speeds up. Though, to qualify that, it may take 10, 30 or more sessions in the tank for the desired breakthrough.

Each "dive" lasts from one to about two and a  half hours. (The term "dive" comes from the old use for divers. Besides, if I were a patient, I think I'd rather brag to the gang down at the bowling alley that "I'm going to take a dive tomorrow", than say the ho-hum "off to therapy.")

While in that "dive," the patient lies on a comfortable bed, and can read or watch TV. (But definitely not smoke! Remember how bad things happen when pure oxygen and flames, or even sparks, get together.)  For that same reason-- to avoid any chance of a spark -- the maintenance staff uses special mops and solvents.

Here's another shot of a hyperbaric chamber, this time with the hatch sealed.  The tanks used here are open and bright, so patients don't risk the claustrophobic sense in other "tubes" such as MRI.


I said the primary objective in using hyperbaric therapy is to speed healing, that is, helping tissues knit together more rapidly.

But there are other uses, including to help the recovery of victims of stroke or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).  It seems that most of the more visionary experimental work has to be done outside the United States, because of our slow-to-change regulatory mode.

There was a rumor that singer Michael Jackson slept in a hyperbaric chamber in the hopes of staying young. Rumor or true, who knows.  But there is research being done on that now--- can hyperbaric oxygen therapy slow aging?

My thanks to Timothy G. Adkins, M.D., Medical Director at the Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine, part of the Sebastian River Medical Center, Sebastian, FL.  Oh, as to the question, What does it feel like to be in a hyperbaric chamber breathing oxygen?  According to Dr. Adkins, it doesn't feel any different than breathing normal air at normal pressure.

Living to 100 and beyond--- Wall Street Journal

The article "Living to 100 and Beyond" in The Wall Street Journal tackles some key questions:

  1. Are there ways we can "conquer aging" --- at least in the sense of prolonging our healthy  years significantly longer? Not just another year or two, but what about an extra 50 or 150 or 100 years?
  2. If we can, what implications? On society, economics, ethics and the like.

The article, by Sonia Arrison, is based on her new book 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything.

Particularly relevant to this blog, and my related speculative medical thriller, The Life After Life Conspiracy, are some of the anti-aging and related approaches she mentions, certain of which play a role in the plot.  In writing this thriller, I started with the foundation that all of the steps are based on real-world research (though I have in places taken the liberty of going a step or so beyond what has actually been done yet, and in other places combining research in novel ways.) 

That said, areas of  special interest include:

  • Gene therapy, citing the work of Cynthia Kenyon at the University of California, San Francisco. I've been following the work of Dr. Kenyon and her "playing with worms" for a decade or more.
  • Replacing worn-out body parts, using regenerative medical approaches to "build" new replacement parts, including hearts, livers, bones, and others.  She cites the work of Dr. Anthony Atala at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and that of Dr. Doris Taylor at the University of Minnesota.
  • Organ printing--- "printing" stem cells around a scaffold of various types.

Enough. I'll leave you to the article and the book:

Sonia Arrison's article in Wall Street Journal: Living to 100 and Beyond

Sonia Arrison's book, info via Amazon

"Chasing the youth pill" -- Fortune oldie

I suppose it's fair to say that humans' interest in remaining youthful is a quest that never gets old. (Terrible pun, but it does set the scene.)

I've been researching and collecting information on my speculative medical thriller, THE LIFE AFTER LIFE CONSPIRACY, for a long time (longer than I want to think about!).  I came on this 2004 article in FORTUNE by David Stipp in my archives, and felt it deserved to be given a new life (oops! there I go again).

In  any case, this article raises some of the key issues on this topic, including  the medical ethics of prolonging life, as ". . .  research [may be]  threatening to rob life of the meaning that comes from growing old and dying naturally."

Which happens to be one of the issues explored in THE LIFE AFTER LIFE CONSPIRACY.

Another issue explored both in my book and the article is the role--- proper or improper --- of drug or pharmaceutical firms and labs getting into this issue of anti-aging,  slowing the aging process, seeking to extend  life, including what is "acceptable" in these areas, and what is not. (And who is to determine "acceptable"?)

 "Chasing the youth pill"-- Fortune article