Our primary focus at senior fitness has, for many years, has been on promoting strategies for "Preserving Fitness into Advanced Age"; there has, so far, been little attention to evolving methods for repairing accumulated damage so as to radically extend the youth-span...
The focus of SeniorFitness.com up til now has been on Strategies to Preserve Fitness into Advanced Age. Advanced Age is a comfortably ambiguous term that could apply to anyone stretching for a little more time on planet Earth without debilitating disabilities. The purposed goal in my mind was to stay “FIT” all the way up to the Point of Death, then quickly drop dead without a lot of fuss and pain.
The whole idea of slowly grinding to a pain-filled, function-less, several year dependency on others to clean me and change my diapers was and is highly repugnant. My understanding that “Everybody Dies” never disturbed me much, and after embracing the Catholic prospective of life’s purpose, troubled me even less. But I’m still of a mind that Later is Better with regard to end-of-life suffering; and I’d just rather not, if morally avoidable.
But what if we develop strategies to repair aging as we go along? What if we can get the body to just repair itself ad-infinitum, or at least for the next four decades or couple of centuries, and meanwhile preserve the physical and mental characteristics of a healthy 30 year-old, but able to grow from experience and accumulate all that wisdom and understanding. Would that be worth doing for you and me?
Many pathways to rejuvenation are being explored; here are some of the promising potential technologies that may result in practical strategies for extending life-span and health-span:
- Glycation Breakers:
Glucose and other sugars accidentally bond to proteins and fats (glycation), destroying the function of those molecules, creating non-functional elements called Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs) that stiffen tissues (such as artery walls) and excite the immune system, ramping up inflammation as we age. If we could develop glycation breakers that would uncouple these disruptive compounds, and allow them to be cleared from our systems, we would reverse many of the visible signs of aging and much of the limits to mobility seen with advanced age. The drug ALT711 promised to do this, but the developer went broke and the drug was abandoned. Glycation is a major mechanism of aging, and the ability to eliminate AGEs will reverse much of aging. No effective alternative has so far been developed.
- Blood Factors:
When the circulatory systems of young and old mice are cross-coupled (Parabiosis), the old mouse appears to get younger and the young mouse ages rapidly. Much research has been done to tease out the factors in blood that cause these changes. Is it youth factors in the young blood or “old” factors in old blood, or is it both? To date, no youth factors have been shown to make that happen. But a recent study showed that replacing 1/2 the plasma in old mice with saline and albumin resulted in rejuvenation to the same degree as Parabiosis. This seems to imply that if we clean out the “old” factors in blood we should regain at least some years of longevity. (Referenced Article) A more recent study explored the possibility that perhaps only the old albumin was the culprit, and found that replacing only 1/2 of the albumin with fresh, undamaged albumin (without replacing plasma) yielded the same result. (Referenced Article)
- Boosting NAD+:
Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) is an enzyme required for energy production in all cells and catalyzes hundreds of metabolic reactions, and it declines with age. As a result, the rate of energy production, repair, healing etc. all decline with age as NAD+ is rationed to support the most immediate needs. Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) and Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (MNM) can both boost NAD+ levels back to youthful levels, and restore energy production like magic. I’ve been using NMN for about 3 years now and nearing 81, never need a nap like when I was 75. This is a no-brainer if we can afford the fairly reasonable cost.
- Senolytics and Senomorphics:
Cellular senescence is a major cause and mechanism of aging. Senescent cells are not passive, idle passengers for life, but can be more like Zombies, adopting a Senescent-Associated-Secretory-Phenotype or SASP, secreting highly damaging, pro-inflammatory signalling chemicals that disrupt surrounding tissues, melting connective tissues and inducing nearby cells to become senescent as well. Senolytics kill senescent cells while Senomorphics are able to restore normal function to some senescent cells; both reduce the impact of the SASP, which otherwise will lead to a fatal cascade of inflammation as the population of senescent cells accelerates. There are existing supplements which can be used as Senolytics and many drug companies are developing drugs for commercial use. Removing senescent cells periodically can perhaps let us live in good health for several decades longer.
- Stem Cells and Culture Medium:
Many clinics have been using stem cells (SCs) taken from our own body fat or bone marrow, cultured to grow in number, and reintroduced to our tissues that need repair, to maybe/maybe not effect an amazing repair. It’s kind of a crap shoot! Results are not always predictable. Over the years they found that the stem cells often did not integrate into the repair; a high percentage of the cells died off, but the repair still happened. The SCs secreted signalling chemicals that actually brought about the repair. Looking at the Medium the SCs were cultured in, they found Vesicles (microscopic membrane-enclosed bags) that SCs secrete held the stew of healing-promoting compounds. Contained in the Culture Medium, these vesicles are not tagged with any Me/Not-Me signal therefore don’t induce source-host rejection as SCs themselves would exhibit. Picture the possibility of vast SC-growing tanks of healthy SCs brewing vats of healing liquid, capable of repairing wide varieties of tissues, organs, joints – perhaps even brains. This may not be the outcome, but it sounds exciting.
- Mitochondrial Transfer:
Studies have shown that mitochondria migrate between cells when needed, have been harvested from cells, transferred to other cells, even between species of cells. Mitochondria are the organelles that generate nearly all of the energy to run life and metabolism of most living species. They have a fragile DNA of their own, inherited from the egg they arose from, a life span, a limited repair capability, and when enough of them die off as in aging, we do likewise. It might be a stretch to suggest that, like stem cells, we might be able to grow harvest-able quantities of free mitochondria and introduce them via IV or injection into our blood stream and coax them to repopulate our own aging cells, thereby regaining the energy production of our youth. Keep your eyes on this possibility – it begins to look possible.