But to test the same treatments in people, we would have to do clinical trials for decades, which would be very difficult and extremely expensive. So it’s looking for chemical clues in the blood or cells that might reveal how fast a person is aging. Quite a few “aging clocks” have been developed, which aim to give a person’s biological age rather than their chronological age. But none are reliable enough to test anti-aging drugs, yet.
When I leave to go back in my own slightly less fancy but still beautiful hotel, I am handed a gift bag. It’s full of anti-aging supplements, a box with a note saying it contains an AI longevity assistant, and even a regenerative toothpaste. On the face of it, I have no idea if any of it is based on sound science. They may be nothing more than placebos.
Ultimately, of all the supplements, drugs, and various treatments touted here, exercise is the one most likely to work, judging by the evidence we have so far. It goes without saying, but regular exercise is key to gaining healthy years of life. Workouts designed to strengthen our muscles seem to be particularly beneficial for keeping us healthy, especially in later life. They may even help keep our brains young.
I’ll be writing a proper write-up of the conference when I get home, so if you’re curious, stay tuned for that next week! In the meantime, here’s some related reading:
- I wrote about what aging clocks can and cannot tell us about our biological age earlier this year.
- Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid. The idea is that by rejuvenating the immune system, we could protect vulnerable elderly people from serious illness.
- Longevity scientists work to extend the lifespan of companion dogs. There will be benefits for animals and their owners, but the ultimate goal is to extend human life, as I wrote in August.
- The Saudi royal family could become one of the biggest investors in anti-aging research, according to this article by my colleague Antonio Regalado. The family’s Hevolution Foundation plans to spend $1 billion a year to understand how aging works and how to extend healthy life.
- While we’re on the subject of funding, most of the investment in the field has gone into Altos Labs—a company that focuses on ways to deal with aging by reprogramming cells to a younger state. The company has received financial support from some of the richest people in the world, such as Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner, explains Antonio.
From all over the web
An experimental Alzheimer’s drug appears to slow cognitive decline. That’s huge news, considering the decades of failed attempts to treat the disease. But full details of the study have not yet been released, and it’s hard to know what impact the drug might have on the lives of people with the disease. (STATE)
Bionic pancreas could successfully treat type 1 diabetes, according to the results of a clinical trial. The credit card-sized device, which is worn on the abdomen, can constantly monitor a person’s blood sugar levels and deliver insulin when needed. (MIT Technology Review)
We are headed for an epidemic of dementia in America’s prisons. There is a growing number of elderly inmates and the American penal system does not have the resources to care for them. (Scientific American)
Unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to develop monkeypox disease than those receiving the Jynneos vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the organization does not yet know how the vaccine affects the severity of the disease in those who are unwell, or whether there is any difference in protection for people who receive fractional doses. (The New York Times $)
Don’t call them mini brains! In last week’s review, I covered organoids: small groups of cells intended to mimic adult organs. They’ve been used primarily for research, but we’ve started implanting them in animals to treat disease, and humans are next. Without a doubt, the best-known organoids are those made from brain cells, which have been called mini-brains. A group of leading scientists in the field say this wrongly implies that cells are capable of complex mental functions, such as the ability to think or feel pain. We are asked to use the less catchy but more accurate term ‘neuronal organoid’. (Nature)
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!