Author's research blog for the medical science techno-thriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH

REMEDY new FRONT BLACK May 28 2014

It's said that we only go around once in life . . . at least that's the way it's always been.

But what if? What if the terms of life have changed . . . for an elite, self-selected few?

What if today's emerging bio-tech and regenerative medical technologies—including the ability to regrow and implant body parts and organs—offer the chance for another whole go-round in life to a select, secretive few . . . a chance to come back, as one of them puts it, into “healthy, horny 21-year old bodies complete with all our accumulated savvy from this lifetime”?

A REMEDY FOR DEATH–Frankenstein and eternal youth in the age of bio-tech, tissue engineering, cloning, and regenerative medicine.

What if the project is almost successful . . . but opens dangerous doors . . . doors that cannot be closed?

 

A REMEDY FOR DEATH is fiction, but based on a great deal of keeping-up with what's happening in the various fields that make up what we know as bio-tech, regenerative medicine, and the role of the human mind. I'll be sharing some of that here on this blog, to which I'll be adding other items that I haven't yet posted  . . . as well as news of discoveries to come.

 

To order A Remedy for Death as ebook or pbook via Amazon

To order as ebook or pbook from other retailers, using universal link

To read sample chapters of A REMEDY FOR DEATH 

To view the book trailer "RADICAL LIFE EXTENSION and A REMEDY FOR DEATH"

 

And  . . . to read my blog posts and other research materials, continue below, or check the sidebars here for "Recent Posts" and "Categories".  Here a few to get you started:

 

Tech titans’ latest: Project Defy Death. Washington Post, page 1 above the fold, April 5, 2015;

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/04/04/tech-titans-latest-project-defy-death/#

 

Silicon Valley is trying to make humans immortal—and finding some success.  Newsweek cover story, Mar 15, 2015;

  http://www.newsweek.com/2015/03/13/silicon-valley-trying-make-humans-immortal-and-finding-some-success-311402.html  

 

Google ventures and the search for immortalityBloombergBusiness, March 9, 2015;

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-09/google-ventures-bill-maris-investing-in-idea-of-living-to-500

 

What if aging is nothing but a mind-set?  New York Times Magazine. October 26, 2014;

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magazine/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a-mind-set.html?_r=2

 

The Forever Pill. Cover story, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, February 18, 2015;

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2015-02-12/does-a-real-anti-aging-pill-already-exist-

 

Can Google solve death?   Cover story, Time, September 30, 2014

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2152422,00.html#ixzz2fMq3cHhF

 

Live forever: Scientists say they’ll soon extend life “well beyond” 120. The Guardian, January 11, 2015;  http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/11/-sp-live-forever-extend-life-calico-google-longevity

 

Custom organs, printed to order. Nova Next, March 18, 2015.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/3d-printed-organs/

 

This baby could live to be 142 years old: Dispatches from the frontiers of longevity. Time, cover story, February 23-March 2 2015

http://backissues.time.com/storefront/2015/this-baby-could-live-to-be-142-years-old/prodTD20150223.html

 

Radical Life Extension getting more mainsteam and getting more funding. NextBigFuture.com, January 11, 2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magazine/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a-mind-set.html?_r=2

 

 

 


Big step taken toward achieving the "Holy Grail" of regenerative medicine

British scientists have now taken cells from a mouse embryo and, "flipped a genetic switch" in the DNA, and then injected the product into another mouse with a defective organ, where those injected cells grew into the whole organ of another mouse. (In that case, it was the thymus, which relates to  the immune system.)

The work was done under the lead of Prof. Clare Blackburn, of the Medical Research Council / Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. The most complete article I've found is by Rebecca Smith, medical editor of London's Daily TelegraphHere's the link

You can also find a shorter piece by Pranav Dixit in Gizmodo. Here's that link

 If you've keeping up with this blog, you'll have seen other stories about growing replacement organs. So what's distinctive about this?  This is reportedly the first time the organ has been grown inside the target creature.

When can we expect to find something like this happening for humans?  According to one scientist, maybe ten years and tens of millions of pounds for research. But by then, odds are the products will relate to other elements in the quest for radical life extension.


"Scientists enhance intelligence of mice with human brain cells" -- follow-up

 A post here last week --"Mice given human brain cells become smarter"  linked to a piece in Discover Magazine.

Here's a more extended account of what seems to be the same research.  (I say probably, as it is not clear from the Discover item where the work took place.)

In the work reported in the IEET (Institute for Ethtics and Emerging Technologies), written by George Dworsky    Dworsky IEET report, he writes,

"To conduct the experiment, the scientists created human chimeric mice — mice that were endowed with human glial cells.

("Chimera" --there's that word again, one we're going to be hearing much more of as science moves on.   A chimera, in this context, is a blend of  human with animals of some kind or another, to date mostly chimps and mice.)

"We did this by using a narrow glass micropipette to inject 100,000 human glial progenitor cells into each hemisphere of the developing mouse forebrain," said Goldman. This resulted in the widespread integration of human glia into their brain. Once the mice reached adulthood, a large proportion of their forebrain glia were essentially human.

May I intervene here to (modestly) point out that much the same was done by the fictional neurosurgeon/researcher in my technothriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH in his work with Chimp Donnie?

Back to IEET:

"To mitigate any ethical concerns, Goldman told io9 that the grafts were delivered into postnatal animals, they were of cells that could not be transmitted to offspring, and they did not involve neuronal replacement."

In other words, they made sure that (a) these "ensmartened" mice weren't going to pass on to their babies, and (b) the implanted human cells were not from an aborted fetus, but rather "from human skin cells reprogrammed into induced pluripotential cells." 

Which implies that human skin cells can be reprogrammed into brain cells.  Hmm, does that mean that when you, as the saying goes, "put your foot in your mouth" you are ultimately adding foot cells to augment the brain-power you just failed to demonstrate by what you said? I wonder.


Researchers grow teeth from gum cells

Suppose you could regrow that tooth you lost to (a) a fall, (b) cavities, (c) a bar-room fight?  Well, someday you may be able to do just that.

The BBC  this week reported on work being done at King's college, London . BBC article: Researchers grow teeth from gum cells

Here they took "epithelial" cells from humans --from their gums.  Grew those cells, then mixed them with "mesenchyme" cells from mice.  The result was transplanted into mice, who then grew hybrid human/mouse teeth, with roots. 

"The mesenchyme cells" were cultured to be 'inducing' --they instruct the epithelial cells to start growing into a tooth," says the BBC article.

Alas, this is still early experimental. The process is expensive, and not likely to produce working results in the near future.

You'll see a photo of one of the resulting teeth taken from that chimerical mouse (a chimera is a blend of human and animal elements).

FYI: the researchers do a lot more than this in my technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH" Playing God with Body, Soul, and Bio-tech

And it was just last week that we posted here about human brain cells being implanted into mice. Mice implanted with human brain cells become smarter--Discover Magazine!

I know there's a lot of worry going around about what if computers got smarter than us humans and took over.  But now I'm REALLY worried about mice that are too smart for our good!

(By the way, for a cracking-good, very intelligent technothriller about computers, try THE FEAR INDEX, Robert Harris.)

 


"Mice given human brain cells become smarter" --Discover

A "chimera" as the term is used in the fields of regenerative medicine, bio-artificial organs, organ regeneration, and others, is a combination of humans and primates (or, now, humans and other animals).

So now we have a report via Discover Magazine that human brain cells from an aborted human fetus have now been implanted in mice . . . and it seems "the presence of human cells made the mice's brains function better". 

Just what that means is still being determined. No reports of whether these mice are smarter than cats.

Joking aside, I am very aware of the legal and ethical implications of taking human brain cells and implanting them in a creature of another species.

Quite some time back,I started what became my technothriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH with a scene of a neurosurgical researcher planting aborted human brain cells into a chimp to see if that would increase language abilities.

This was my fiction, and seemed  to be so extreme that it would set up the legal/ethical situation.  I wanted to shock, to get readers thinking, This should not be!

My agent at the time sent it to some New York publishers, and the most memorable reply came from a well-respected editor who said, in effect, "This is totally impossible." Times have changed.  

Interestingly, in that Discover piece you'll see some back-and-forth comments by readers on the two related issues of (a) taking cells from aborted / deceased human fetus for the sake of research; and (b) the ethics and implications of moving human brain cells to non-humans, thereby creating chimeras.

As one of the characters in A REMEDY FOR DEATH puts it, "You're opening very dangerous doorways! Once they're open, there's no stopping what may come through from the other side!"