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  • Youth Pills Start To Go Mainstream And The World Yawns

    April 12, 2015: by Bill Sardi

    Bet On Poor-Man Anti-Aging Technologies

    I wrote on this topic just a little over a month ago, but the pace of change in the anti-aging field is so fast that it seems like a decade ago. [ Feb 15, 2015]

    The focus of my report last month was more about breakthrough developments and commercialized products now available that address what would be considered the greatest challenge that mankind has ever faced – the quest to conquer mortality.

    No excitement

    But just when anti-aging pills look like they are about to go mainstream the world responds with a big yawn. What would have been considered a miracle just a century ago is now ho-hum in a technological world gone crazy with adoption of cell phones over anti-aging pills.

    This was all predicted by an MIT survey conducted over a decade ago now that showed the public preferred biodegradable plastic, self-driving cars and totally automated homes over an anti-aging pill.

    How much would an anti-aging pill company be worth?

    But just imagine, if Apple’s market capitalization is three-quarters of a trillion dollars selling I-phones, just how high would the valuation of a bona fide anti-aging pill company go?

    You might be surprised to learn the current answer to that question is “next to nothing.” Despite the fact in recent times some start-up high-tech firms have raised billions of dollars before they reached profitability, if any of the anti-aging technologies now being embraced by the likes of MIT, Harvard and Big Pharma were launched an initial public offering today my guess is they would be hard-pressed to find investors.

    Prestigious sources now back the idea

    MIT has its NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) boosting pill. [MIT Technology Review Feb 3, 2015. Novartis pharmaceuticals promotes its TOR (target of rapamycin) inhibitor pill. [Bloomberg News Feb 12, 2015; Oncotarget March 31, 2015] Glaxo-Smith-Kline has its synthetic Sirtuin-1 survival gene activator (SRT-1720) that was first developed to out-perform the red wine molecule resveratrol at Harvard Medical School. [Nature World News March 1, 2014] So prestige is not lacking, nor is the science.

    Billionaires join the effort

    Modern-day billionaires propose to conquer the unconquerable– the scourge of aging — but not with any existing anti-aging technologies but rather ones of their own invention. The not-invented-here dictum predominates.

    Author Adam Gollner writes about five billionaires pouring money into longevity research in his latest written work entitled “The Book Of Immortality.” []

    Google Ventures Bill Maris thinks humans can live 500 years and he is not being ridiculed over this. [Daily Mail UK March 9, 2015] Billionaire contrarian Peter Thiel has also joined the quest for a youth pill. [ April 6, 2015]

    An award of $1 million has now been offered to the first person that lives 123 years, a year older than Jean Calment of France, the world’s longevity record holder. [Daily Mail UK April 10, 2015]

    What these elitist venture capitalists are saying is that any technology that is adopted must be high technology, synthetically produced, garner worldwide patents, and generate, well, maybe even trillions of dollars. What is good for the pocketbooks of the elites will have to be good for the health of the masses. For a resveratrol pill that replaces more than 20 classes of prescription drugs Big Pharma would likely charge more than statin drugs ($3/tablet) or Viagra ($7/tablet) when they were first introduced.

    Affordability not considered

    Given that three-quarters of the world’s human population exists on $4/day or less, it is difficult to imagine any age defying technology being broadly adopted by human populations. Not only are world economies not keeping pace to make technological developments affordable but it may be a stretch to believe humans would rapidly embrace the idea of living 120+ years given their concerns about over-population, running out of retirement funds and frankly, the aversion to the very idea of growing that old.

    Cosmetically young: passing the mirror test

    The mental image of a millennitarian (I may be the first to use such a term to describe the world’s first one-thousand year old man) is widely loathed. To get the masses to broadly adopt any life extension technologies they would not only have to be affordable but also withstand the mirror test. Long lifespans without long youth-spans would be a difficult sell. There is no reward in looking older.

    Just consider how much money is spent on looking younger with contact lenses, plastic surgery, hair implants, hair dyes, skin creams versus living longer.

    How many more years did you say?

    The credibility of such anti-aging technologies doesn’t seem to be in question. In fact, the only argument seems to be over how long humans can live, not if the introduction of anti-aging pills will be just another unfulfilled promise.

    However, most believers in human life extension don’t go as far as Aubrey de Grey who says the first human beings who will live to be 1,000 years old have already been born. [Varsity Cambridge University Feb 7, 2015]

    If you think de Grey’s claim is improbable, Russia’s Dmitry Itskov, founder of the 2045 Initiative, wants to achieve human immortality within the next three decades. There goes religion. But that is another long bet.

    Reports of anti-aging technologies may reach exponential levels

    Noted journalist Bill Gifford scans the field of anti-aging elixirs in his new book Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (Or Die Trying). []

    Reports of new anti-aging technologies may reach exponential levels given the pace they are being published today. Just imagine what will we be reading about next year?

    It’s difficult to believe that an article published just a year ago claimed the advent of an anti-aging pill “may be premature.” [National Health Service UK Feb 28, 2014]

    Who could imagine anyone would be even talking about a man who now wants to submit himself to a surgical operation that would trump all other quests for longevity — that of surgically attaching his head to the body of a younger adult? [New Scientist Feb 25, 2015] Of course, the body might look and operate at youthful levels but the brain would be old.

    Parabiosis: blood plasma exchange from young to old

    Another approach to superlongevity is parabiosis, the infusion of blood from a young animal or human into an old subject. [Science May 4, 2014] It is already being called “The vampire cure for aging.” [] And it is gaining traction. A California company, Alkahest, is already exploring blood plasma-based therapies. []

    Readers of this column may be surprised to learn that experiments involving blood plasma exchange from young to old animals were first reported by Cornell researcher Clive McKay in the 1950s. [Bulletin NY Academy Medicine Feb 1956] Successful life extension via parabiosis was again demonstrated in 1972. [Transactions New York Academy Sciences Nov 1972] A historical review of parabiosis and longevity is available. [Aging Cell June 2013]

    Blood plasma exchange or varieties of the same appear to have a strong chance of succeeding because scheduled human trials are not far off in the future and because this procedure-oriented treatment cuts doctors into the profit equation.

    Resveratrol mimics the beneficial effects of blood plasma transfer from young to old. The scientific rationale for this has been published. [ May 5, 2014]

    What would superlongevity look like?

    Can you imagine what could happen in the not too distant future if this promising treatment is proven to youthify the aged? Droves of decrepit old people will line up for treatment of almost everything that ails them. Disorders of premature aging such as progeria might also be treated in this manner.

    But who would pay for repeated treatments for literally tens of millions of senior-adult Americans? Medicare now covers 54 million Americans. Imagine the cost of a blood plasma treatment that would be performed six times a year @$1000 per treatment. Treat 40 million of those Medicare enrollees and the bill amounts to $240 billion/year. Where would the money come from given that Medicare is underfunded by 23 trillion dollars.

    Scientists recently found that the injection of a molecule known as Growth Differentiation Factor-11 (GDF-11) appears to work almost as well as the blood plasma transfusions. [Science May 9, 2013] This approach may be more practical and affordable for health insurance pools. But don’t bet on modern medicine offering the most cost-effective treatment for aging.

    Best-tested anti-aging agents

    Three existing molecules, the anti-diabetic drug metformin, the immune drug rapamycin and the red wine molecule resveratrol are the most studied candidates that may someday materialize as anti-aging pills. [ Sept 30, 2012]

    The most affordable and available of these is resveratrol, which exhibits many superior properties over metformin and rapamycin. [ May 31, 2011]

    If betting on life-prolonging technologies, bet on “poor man” technologies. Not because you will make a killing on the stock market but because they work. The hidden objective of modern medicine now is to suppress, muddy and even demonize resveratrol as it stands in the way of the profit-making objectives of physicians and pharmaceutical companies. [ April 10, 2014]

    A recent survey shows the public wants a pill that cures one hundred diseases. [] Resveratrol is that pill.

    What would be convincing evidence?

    What would be convincing enough evidence for the public to adopt a resveratrol pill into their daily health regimen? Probably the public is going to do what doctors prescribe and what Medicare pays for. Very few doctors take resveratrol pills themselves and those who do often do not recommend them for their patients. The public is oblivious at efforts within modern medicine to obfuscate this great discovery.

    Short of God dropping out of the sky to validate resveratrol pills, I wouldn’t bet on res pills either. Historically, at least God did partake of a limited calorie diet via fasting and also consumed a molecular mimic of a limited calorie diet as the unfiltered red wine produced at that time provided 30 times more resveratrol than modern wines. — ©2015 Bill Sardi,

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