Latest LyGenesis News
May 3, 2021
| Membership (fee-based) getty As founder of Longevity Vision Fund, I am often asked about the most promising life extension breakthroughs, from early cancer diagnostics to human avatars and everything in between. The simple answer is that there are many — but that’s probably not the kind of answer you were looking for! Instead, let’s look at the latest longevity breakthroughs working on each of the five major levels of biological organization (cell, tissue, organ, organ system and organism) and what they each aim to accomplish. 1. Cells: Reprogram Biologists classify cells as the simplest level of organization in a living organism. Aging — on a cellular level — is often defined as the accumulation of destructive changes caused by changes to gene expression that gradually shift our cells to aged state. This is why it’s particularly exciting that a new study demonstrated that it is possible to partially reprogram old cells, allowing them to regain youthful function. Led by a team of researchers including the legendary Dr. David Sinclair, scientists used cellular reprogramming to reinstate youthful function and successfully rejuvenate old cells in the eyes of mice — successfully restoring vision in a mouse version of glaucoma. MORE FOR YOU 2. Tissue: Regenerate Numerous cells working together toward one common goal are called tissue. Tissue and organ regeneration company LyGenesis has shown that it can regrow functioning ectopic organs in a patient’s lymph nodes using cellular therapy. LyGenesis co-founder Dr. Eric Lagasse first demonstrated that allogeneic hepatocytes, injected into lymph nodes of mice with diseased livers, would regenerate and take over normal liver functions. The study was also conducted in larger mammals with equally impressive results: Liver tissue grown in pigs’ lymph nodes could treat genetic liver diseases. Dr. Lagasse and his team believe this method could ultimately help people with various liver diseases, including end-stage liver disease (ESLD) — with clinical trials in humans set to begin later in 2021. With almost 114,000 people in the United States on the waiting list for an organ transplant, LyGenesis could relieve suffering for many. Instead of one donor organ treating one patient, LyGenesis could allow tissue from one donor organ to treat many patients. The company, whose investors include Juvenescence and my organization, Longevity Vision Fund, also has plans for kidney, pancreas and thymus regeneration. LyGenesis’ achievements are a crucial step toward whole organ regeneration that could, along with other upcoming technologies, allow us to live to 200 (or at least beyond the commonly accepted maximum of 120 years). 3. Organ: Rewire The brain is the body's most complex organ, with an impressive 86 billion neurons in the human brain (all of which are in use). Neuralink, a company founded by Elon Musk, wants to make it even more functional. The company is developing a brain-computer interface that will potentially give us the ability to control computers and smartphones with our minds! Neuralink has already demonstrated that it can record a rat’s brain activity via thousands of tiny electrodes implanted in its brain. Musk has also unveiled a pig with a coin-sized computer chip, which he described “kind of like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires." While a “Fitbit in your skull” may seem fun but hardly essential, imagine what the company could do for patients with severe age-related neurological conditions, such as dementia or Parkinson’s. Neuralink is preparing for human trials and, if successful, first plans to use their devices to help paraplegics with tasks such as making mouse clicks on a computer. 4. Organ System: Reverse (The Epigenetic Clock) An organ system is a group of organs working together to perform one or more biological functions. Our bodies are made up of 11 basic organ systems that include the nervous system, cardiovascular system and more. Dr. Greg Fahy has shown (for the first time in humans!) that it may be possible to reverse biological age. Participants in the trial reduced their biological age by two and a half years (on average) after one year of treatment. In addition to the reduction in biological age, the participants also showed signs of immune system rejuvenation. The reduction in the biological age was measured by world-renowned scientist Steve Hovarth’s epigenetic clock. This clock works by analyzing gene expression alterations (that change throughout our lifespan in a predictable manner) to estimate a person’s biological age. 5. Organism: Rewrite We are entering an era where discovery of diseases is more often conducted at the genome level and where a growing number of studies are finding overlap between "common" and "rare" human diseases, further enhancing our understanding of the ways in which they develop. So, wouldn’t it be nice if we could find a "cure for all and any diseases" and be done with it already? It looks like we are close. Prime editing (a new generation of genome editing) can, in principle , put 89% of human diseases in purview. Prime editing may allow researchers to edit more types of genetic mutations than current "state of the art" CRISPR. Since prime editing doesn’t rely on the ability of cells to divide to help make the desired changes in the DNA (unlike CRISPR), it could be used to correct genetic mutations in cells that often don't divide — such as those in the nervous system. This could provide a cure for a number of previously untreatable diseases, such as Parkinson's and Huntington's. The search for a single cause — and, therefore, cure — for aging has been replaced with the view that it is a highly complex and multifactorial process. Therefore, the longevity breakthroughs listed above are complementary to (rather than in competition with) each other in our quest to put an end to age-related diseases.