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;


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


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


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


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


Can Google solve death?   Cover story, Time, September 30, 2014,9171,2152422,00.html#ixzz2fMq3cHhF


Live forever: Scientists say they’ll soon extend life “well beyond” 120. The Guardian, January 11, 2015;


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


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


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




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.

"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.

"Bioengineer: the heart is one of the easiest organs to bioprint, we'll do it in a decade"--Wired UK

Organ regeneration, bioartificial organs, regenerative medicine, and the related possibility of 3-D printing of replacement human organs are all grist in my science technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH: Playing God with body, soul, and biotech.

The artitle, "Bioengineer: the heart is one of the easiest organs to bioprint, we'll do it in a decade"--in Wired UK, by  Liat Clark, focuses on work led by Dr. Stuart K. Williams at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute at the University of Louisville. The team has already bioengineered arteries and other blood vessels within the heart. Now they are at work on producing a complete heart, which he estimates can be done within a decade.

Here's his overview of the process (as it would work a decade or so from now):  "a patient enters the operating room and tissue is removed (we think fat is the best source) and regenerative cells isolated. The cells are then mixed with solutions that contain extracellular matrix molecules and other factors and placed in the bioprinter. The bioprinter then prints the heart."
A week or so later the bioprinted heart is ready to be implanted in the patient.
We've alredy written in these pages about other ways in which 3D printers are being used to print replacement human organs.
Here's one article, which also internally links to a second
Also, check "Categories" in the sidebar of this blog to see several other posts here to bio-printing human body parts, as well as the use of human stem cells as one of the input materials.

Rejuvenating blood by reprogramming stem cells

"Lund University researchers have succeeded in rejuvenating the blood of mice by reversing, or reprogramming, the stem cells that produce blood."-- this from Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence News.

I'll leave it to you to follow the link if you want to know more.  The research is still early, so best to wait and see how things work out.

"How would you like to invest in immortality?" -- Fortune Magazine

"How would you like to invest in immortality?" is just out in Fortune's on-line tech blog  (and likely in the paper edition when it arrives).

Briefly, this coming June, 32 year -old Russian tech entrepreneur/billionaire Dmitry Itskov will be announcing his launch of a venture to "allow investors to bankroll research into neuroscience and human consciousness..."

The aim is to set up a "push to understand human consciousness and ultimately how to transfer it from human bodies into robotic avatars." (Yes, that does align with Ray Kurzweil's program.)

But, Dmitry, sorry to tell you this, but this has already been done! (Albeit fictionally) in my technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH: Playing God with body, soul and bio-tech.

Only REMEDY does it better (I modestly propose). I mean, who'd want to come back to find their mind transferred into a robot? A robot, good grief!  Wouldn't rich elite folks want to come back into, as one of rich guys in REMEDY puts it, into  "healthy, horny 21-year-old bodies complete with all of our  accumulated savvy from this first lifetime?"

No, seems to me that moving a "brain," a "mind," a "conscious essence" (the jargon  I use in  REMEDY) into a robot or a robotic avatar is not the way to go . . . not with all that's opening up in the fields of bioartificial organs, organ fabrication, regenerative medicine, growing body parts, and even transgenic and transhuman possibilities.

In short, wouldn't those rich elite folks really prefer to come back into a complete new body (as their present  one was in its prime), with all their present learning and experience?

Another thing:  the Fortune article suggests that  Itskov's  methodology will, "by 2025 . . .place a human brain into a working robot and have that person's consciousness (memories, personality, and everything else that makes up the 'self') transfer along with it."

But . . . um . . . how're you going to manage that? Plunking a brain into a robot (or into some kind of tank) is easy enough, but how do you get that -- dare I say the word "person" -- to turn on and come alive?  And how does that brain in the machine get to smell the flowers and do all the other little things that make life worth living?

How?  again, modestly,  I suggest you check out my technothriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH: Playing God with body, soul and bio-tech.  Probably won't get all the questions answered, but I hope it will give food for thought.

"Red wine in a pill"-- will it slow aging?

According to London's DAILY MAIL, the pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline is testing synthetic versions of resveratrol, which is found in red wine, and seems to have the effect of reversing the aging process, even serving as an anti-aging method.

Why, you  might ask, bother with developing a "quasi- red wine" pill?  Why not just drink the red wine itself?  Because you would have to drink something on the order of 15,000 glasses per day.  (This not from the Mail, rather via my memory from another article I can't put my finger on at the moment.)

Back to the Mail: "The work proves that a single anti-ageing enzyme in the body can be targeted, with the potential to prevent age-related diseases and extend lifespans."

Sounds great.  But then some of the reader follow-ups raise another side: (a) what if a miracle drug--this or another--extends human life, but doesn't really help the ills of aging: creaky joints, wrinkled skin, memory and eye problems?

And (b) where will the 150-year olds live, given the continuing influx of "young-uns."

And a point I didn't see in those viewer comments but is raised in my technothriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH: Playing God with Body, Soul, and Bio-tech-- what if this breakthrough is reserved only for the elite?  That is, the super-rich, powerful political types, and those who are willing to play along, follow the elites' orders, do whatever?

Johns Hopkins Doctors Grow New Ear On Woman’s Arm

Organ regeneration--developing bio-artificial replacement organs-- was the subjcct of a three-part New York Times series last week (which mentioned in an earlier post here), and there are related items to come on other instances of real-world organ regeneration, tissue engineering, and other forms of regenerative medicine to come in this blog.

This week news of  a bioartifical organ, in this case an ear, being developed and implanted at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins.  From the CBS report:

"The discovery of a rapidly-spreading basal cell cancer in her ear in 2008 required the removal of part of her ear, part of her skull and her left ear canal. But now, in a groundbreaking and complicated set of surgeries, Johns Hopkins doctors have attached a new ear made from Walters’ own tissue.

“I thought of this exact strategy many years before and really was looking for the right patient to try it on,” said renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Patrick Byrne.

Byrne used cartilage from Walters’ ribs to stitch together a new ear matching her right ear. He then implanted it under the skin of her forearm, where it grew for months.

“We started making jokes just to try to get used to it and I was like, `Can you hear me? Can you hear me?’ said Sherrie’s husband, Damien."

Given that the family is comfortable enough now to joke, let me add this one:  You've heard the old saying about wearing your heart on your sleeve?  Well, here's a case of wearing your bio-artificial ear on / under your sleeve. 


On the topic of using the body to grow its own spare parts, you can find a different take in the third in the New York Times series: "Body Builders: One Day, Growing Spare Parts Inside the Body." As the title suggests, these tissue engineered parts were grown internally within the patient's body. That was the third in that Times series on regenerative medicine and tissue engineering


Organ regeneration, the New York Times series, and "A Remedy for Death," a technothriller

Organ regeneration ("bio artificial" replacement organs) and tissue regeneration were the subject of a three-part series in the New York Times this week. (All by Henry Fountain, under the broader heading, "Body Builders.")

Organ regeneration and other aspects of regenerative medicine form one of the strands in my technothriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH.

Just how organ regeneration (also termed tissue engineering) fits into A REMEDY FOR DEATH I'll skip here now, but it is interesting to see the Times picking up on the possibilities--- which I've been following for quite a long time.  (Since way back 20-plus years ago when  I first got the idea for the book.)  I'll be posting more of my research and idea sources here in various posts.

 In the first article in that NYTimes series link to that NYTimes article,  "A First: Organs Tailor-Made With Body's Own Cells," the focus is on how a bioartificial windpipe was generated for a patient in Iceland. (The work was primarily done at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, heaed by Dr. Paolo Macchiarini.)

The tissue engineering project began by creating a "scaffold" to hold the stem cells that would be implanted. (In a dozen or so earlier tissue regeneration projects, windpipes from cadavers were implanted to serve as the scaffold. But there are problems with that approach, among them finding the right size windpipe.)

So in this case, they created a synthetic scaffold, using plastic polymers. It was a perfect fit, as it had been custom-created for this patient. But that was only part of the challenge.

The next part was getting tissue to grow around that scaffold. I'll leave you to the article for that, except to say that they used the patient's own stem cells as "seeds", which worked well, and hence there was no need to use drugs to fight off rejection, as there would have been had cells from another person been used.

That part went well, but not exactly as planned. Organ regeneration -- tissue growth -- proceded, but in a different way than expected. Dr. Macchiarini, leader of the project, said, "We are far away from understanding the process. Far, far away."

Dr. Macchiarini's "ultimate dream is to eliminate even the synthetic scaffold. Instead, drugs would enable the body to rebuild its own scaffold."  As he put it, the ideal would be if we "don't touch the patient. Just use his body to regenerate his own organ. It would be fantastic."

That New York Times article again.

 My technothriller via Amazon,  A REMEDY FOR DEATH   -- Playing God with Body, Soul, and Bio-tech.