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

 

 

 


"Have scientists found the key to eternal life?" -- Are worms showing us the way to radical life extension by reversing the aging process?

“Have scientists found the key to eternal life?”—an article in DailyMail.com, July 24 2015

In a study at Northwestern University, Dr. Morimoto and team found that a certain strain of worms  begin the downhill slide to aging when they reach their equivalent of puberty.

It seems the same gene that causes this effect is also present in humans. Implication (still being studied): perhaps there is a way, using biochemical and genetic methods, to switch the  mechanism that sends the signal: “time to start aging!”  That is, to reverse the aging process, perhaps opening the way to radical life extension.

Is there a way we can prevent that aging switch from flipping—or, even better for the rest of us,  flip the switch in reverse?  Is it a valid step toward reversing the aging process, even toward human immortality?  Who knows? Stay tuned.

Here’s the link to the Daily Mail article

 


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.


"Are myths about the rejuvenating powers of young blood true?""-- from Aeon

The article raises this question: "Are myths about  the rejuvenating powers of young blood true?"

The answer, as I discern it from this and other literature: Definitely yes and no.

Not long ago here we posted about some research in Lund, Sweden attempting to rejuvenate blood (of mice) by reprogramming stem cells.  Link to that post and the article on rejuvenating blood    The broader topic there, of course, is the search for methods of achieving radical life extension.

My point is that the idea of recapturing youth by somehow rejuvenating via young blood is very new-- witness the Swedish research.  But it is also very old, as recounted in this article in the Briish AEON, which begins way back in the myths of ancient times and carries through to what's happening now. Oh yes, vampires are covered in it, as well.  Here's the link to that AEON article


"Quest to grow human organs inside pigs in Japan" -- multiple sources

Quest to grow human organs inside pigs-- the headline says it all. Google those words ,and you'll come on many links to the same research, including Youtube and photos. 

By the way, "chimera" is the term used for human-primate hybrids -- that is chimps and the like, which are around 98% or more genetically similar to humans. I suspect the term chimera is being extended to cover other types of combinations . . . and if you Google onwards you'll see  much more. I'll add some more here another time. Another related term is "transgenic"-- also something for another time. Still another related term is "Radical life extension."

I suspect these human organs "carried" in pigs and other animals are going to become a very big deal for the regenerative medicine industry. I think they are also going to be a much-discussed topic in the area of medical and research ethics.

It's relevant here as my technothriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH begins with the attempted creation of a human-chimp hybrid.  'Nuff said.


Need a new brain? Why not grow your own?

Well, maybe not quite yet. But work is underway.

In Austria, researchers took both embryonic stem cells (i.e. from human embryos) and adult skin cells, then did some "lab magic" and in about a month the cells grew and self-orgaized into what the researchers termed "brain-like organoids" 3-4mm in size that showed "neural activity".  

Think of it!  A few flakes of skin can become the startings of a human brain. Now that's not to say that these litle bits had consciousness, that's many more steps ahead.

They have survived a year (as of when the article went to publication in the journal Nature,) but have not grown any larger, apparently because at this point there is no blood supply in. (But other research in other labs is focusing on generating bio-artificial  blood vessels.)

This work was reported on in  Britain's New Scientist , BBC News , Washington Post via Reuters , Siongularity Hub  and others .

What about the ethical issues of growing even a tiny  human brain?  The researchers are aware of the issue, and the Austrian team does not want to see larger human brain specimens grown now, as that would be "undesirable."

Gary Marcus, in a New Yorker article, looks at this same research, though taking a much longer look at the implications  of where this kind of work may lead decades or a half-century from now.

 "But we’ll also need to confront immense ethical quandaries. What rights does synthetic brain tissue have? Should a 3-D-printed brain have the right to vote? To an education? To terminate its own life? (Or to not be terminated?) For now, these questions are still just another round of thought experiments. But it’s more likely than ever that such thoughts might some day be held by just another brain in a jar."

Beyond all that, there's still one other big issue: even if we can "grow"  a complete human brain, where is the mind?   That is the biggie we tackle in  my technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH --Playing God with Body, Soul, and Biotech,  . . . though suggesting an approach other than bio-science.


" Organs Made to Order It won't be long before surgeons routinely install replacement body parts created in the laboratory"--Smithsonian

The header tells it all: "Organs Made to Order: It won't be long before surgeons routinely install replacement body parts created in the laboratory"


Smithsonian earThis is from the Smithsonian Magazine, and provides a brief overview of the work being done in human organ regeneration by one of the leaders in the field, Dr. Anthony Atala at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.  You'll pick up a feel for the approach and the terminology, and will also see some excellent photos of the work done, like this regenerated ear-in-progress.

 (Photo courtesy Smithsonian.)

Here's a link to that article

 


"'Transhumanists' are planning to upload your mind to a memory stick…"-- London Telegraph

I'll leave you to the full article (link is below), but here are a couple of excerpts to give the flavor of the Transhumanist concept:

 "As the name implies, Transhumanists are people who want us to become "beyond human". It’s an umbrella term for a broad family of ideas united by the vision that technology now, or at least soon will, allow us to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.  That means everything from bionic limbs to uploading our entire brains on to memory sticks and carrying them around with us as back-up."

 Well, while there are times I'd like to have my, uh--what's the word? Ah, memories!-- on a stick, the reality is I'd probably forget where I put it.

Here's another excerpt, this looking at some of the down-sides:

"The whole project throws up very difficult ethical and philosophical challenges. Is an uploaded mind still human? Should we give "human rights" to an artificial intelligence with a superior intellect to a human? Then there’s the bread-and-butter social problems. Presumably, human enhancement technologies would be disproportionately available to those with greater financial resources, creating a genetic divide. And if you lived forever, are you taking up the place of another generation? What about the more mundane things: what would be a fair prison sentence for murder if we could all live for 200 years? Or the right retirement age. I’m guessing it won’t be 70 if we can all make thirty score and ten. Above all: are we happy about all of this, and can we stop it?"

Here's the link to the Telegraph article.   It's by Jamie Bartlett, Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think tank Demos.


"Stem cells" created in less than 30 minutes in "groundbreaking" discovery--London Daily Telegraph

"Scientists have turned adult cells back to their embryonic form in under 30 minutes by simply treating them with acid in a breakthough which could revolutionise personalised medicine"-- this from the sub-head of the article by Sarah Knapton in London's Daily Telegraph.

This has so far only been done with the cells of mice. But there seems to be no reason why it should not work equally well with human cells.  And if it does? Well, one possibility is using those stem cells as the basis for skin grafts.  Or in regenerating organs (which is already being done by other methodologies.)  

Here's a link to other blog posts here on human stem cells.

Also apropos this, my recent post on "  "Vampire therapy"  experiments on using transfusions of fresh young blood to rejuvenate oldsters. (These "oldsters" are mice. But maybe before long . .  . who knows?)

And another related link on experiments in Sweden on "rejuvenating the blood of mice by reversing, or reprogramming, the stem cells that produce blood."  This from the Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence News.


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.)