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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Human Longevity
Posted: August 25, 2017 at 3:38 am
By Austin Lombard Special to In Motion
My cellphone. Its so much more than just a device.
I use it to call people. I use it to navigate in the car. I use it to look up recipes in the kitchen. I use it as my shopping list in the grocery store. I use it to read the news.
Smartphones like mine and electronics like the computer Im using to write this are so ubiquitous in modern lives that few question where they come from or where they go. Electronics are so essential to civilization that we take them for granted.
But the amount of resources that go into making these devices is staggering. Manufacturing a single computer and monitor requires at least 530 pounds of fossil fuels, 50 pounds of chemicals and 3,000 pounds of water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also lists copper, silver, gold and palladium as just a few of the valuable metals contained in our electronics.
Even so, the cost of sourcing and manufacturing electronics cannot strictly be measured in mineral resources. All along the supply chain and manufacturing, human labor is required to make them possible. Over the last decade, the ethical implications of sourcing and manufacturing electronics has come into sharp scrutiny, particularly because of its contrast with the exorbitant wealth the industry brings to the engineers living in technology-driven economies in cities like Cupertino, Calif. and Bellevue, Wash.
Electronics dirty secret
In 2010, manufacturing giant Foxconn experienced a rash of suicides at its Shenzhen campuses in China, prompting the company to install nets around the manufacturing plant to prevent employees from taking their own lives. The New York Times reported that one 19-year-old victim there worked over three times the legal limit of overtime in the month before his death. In 2015, Reuters news agency reported that South Korean electronics company Samsung agreed to create an $86 million fund to compensate workers who contracted cancer working with hazardous materials at its manufacturing facilities.
Sourcing materials can come at a heavy human cost. Awareness of conflict or blood diamonds hit the U.S. mainstreams attention when Kanye West released his song Diamonds from Sierra Leone in 2005. The music video contrasted images of wealthy Europeans and himself wearing diamonds, with images of child slaves mining those diamonds under the watch of armed rebel guards.
What didnt gain as much attention, however, were other valuable metals with less shine: minerals like copper and cobalt. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes 2011 report on Organized Crime and Instability in Central Africa cited those two minerals as a serious source of funding for organized crime in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most of us probably own less diamonds than Kanye, but we all have a cell phone.
News reports have prompted electronics industry leaders such as Intel and Apple to establish initiatives to audit their supply chains and manufacturing sites for human rights violations. While a step in the right direction, these measures are not a complete solution. Even Intels 2017 Conflict Minerals White Paper a corporate communication detailing its efforts to eliminate conflict minerals from its supply chain admits that Conflict-free sourcing is not fully resolved, even after a decade of diligence. To this day, manufacturing sites draw controversy. Yet, other electronics companies have not bothered to establish official missions to eliminate human rights abuses from supply chains and manufacturing processes.
Our problems with electronics, unfortunately, do not end at manufacturing. The most difficult problem of all lies in the disposal of obsolete or broken electronics, or e-waste. E-waste from printers, monitors, computers and phones contains high levels of toxins, such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Because these toxins can seep out of e-waste and contaminate water sources, it is illegal to send them to landfill in the United States. Because of this, all government agencies urge consumers to recycle used electronics. But thats the problem
The Basel Action Network and Massachusetts Institute of Technology worked in partnership to conduct a study: GPS devices were attached to discarded electronics and given to certified recyclers. In the Basel Action Networks press release, it was reported that about 40 percent of the deliveries were exported, mostly to China. Recycling operations in developing countries are typically carried out by people living in abject poverty, using practices that disregard the safety of the laborers and the environment because they are unaware of the dangers the materials pose.
Yuan Chun Li and Banci Lians book, E-waste: Management, Types, and Challenges, describes approximately 1.6 million tons of e-waste sent to the junkyard town of Guiyu annually. The air there is thick with lead fumes from de-soldering operations, plastics and flame retardant chemicals are burned in the open with no breathing protection, and runoff from gold reclamation makes water so acidic that merely touching it will burn your skin. Children are stillborn or born with defects at a high rate. Farming villages are transformed into toxic wastelands.
Sustainability key to success
So if recycling is a poor option, what can we do? Some of you might be familiar with the three Rs of sustainability: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. These three Rs are listed in order of importance. We need to look at reducing the amount of electronic waste we generate. We can start to do this by taking care of our electronics and by repairing and upgrading devices. When a part breaks or becomes obsolete, we should replace only that part, rather than throwing the entire device away and buying a new one. IFixIt.com is a wiki-styled website with user-contributed repair guides, as well as staff teardowns and reviews that rate devices on the ease with which they can be repaired. New enterprises like Fairphone put human rights, repairability and device longevity first. The first stirrings of change are in the air, if you know where to look.
The ugly burden of our digital age is a complicated problem. Fully solving it requires electronics corporations to change the way they do business. Environmental regulations must be created and enforced to prevent unscrupulous dumping of toxic waste on the impoverished people of our world. Ultimately, laymans attitudes on electronics need to shift to sustainability, using a device until it cannot be repaired, rather than upgrading every time a new device comes out on the market.
For most of us these requirements may seem out of our hands. But by choosing products built for repairability and longevity, ordinary people can influence the market to produce sustainable products. As business strategist and sustainability expert Brian Moore states in his book, IT Sustainability for Business Advantage, one of the biggest factors in promoting sustainability within business is simply that it matters to stakeholders and consumers.
Only when consumers, shareholders, and voting citizens like us begin to refuse to ignore the blood and lead staining our hands, will business and government follow suit.
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Big names, big companies back a cell therapy startup run by a high-profile regenerative med expert – Endpoints News
Posted: at 11:30 pm
One of the best known names in regenerative medicine is launching a new biotech with assets and cash coming from a range of marquee companies that includes Celgene.
The founder of the Warren, NJ-based upstart is Robert Hariri, a co-founder at Craig Venters Human Longevity. Hariri ran Anthrogenesis when Celgene bought it out 15 years ago, then headed Celgene Cellular Therapeutics for a period. Along the way he developed projects using stem cells derived from human placentas and inked collaborations between some of the key players, including Celgene.
Now, Hariri says he has gathered together preclinical assets related to immuno-oncology as well as regenerative tech for chronic and degenerative diseases. He raised an unspecified amount of money from a group that includes Sorrento Therapeutics, United Therapeutics and Human Longevity.
San Diego-based Sorrento passed along some IP on cell therapies and I/O, while United CEO Martine Rothblatt and Venter both have expressed an avid interest in anti-aging technologies.
Sorrento CEO Henry Ji
While stem cell R&D has gone through its boom and bust period, a number of prominent players are taking what theyre learned and headed back to the clinic, looking to succeed where others have failed. Adding I/O to the mix will also help enhance its image.
Hariri clearly wants to start out with some big names on the board, which includes former FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach.
Sorrento CEO Henry Ji noted:
The potential for regenerative therapies in treating a wide array of chronic degenerative conditions is well known. We see important synergies for the oncology field and the potential to enhance our fight against malignant cancers. Celularitys technologies, assets, and resources will help advance selected Sorrento cellular therapy programs and potentially transform autologous cellular therapies into affordable and accessible allogeneic cell therapies.
Full-text daily reports for those who discover, develop, and market drugs. Join 17,000+ biopharma pros who read Endpoints News by email every day.
This 23-year-old just closed her second fund which is focused on aging with $22 million – TechCrunch
Posted: at 11:30 pm
Laura Deming is not your typical venture capitalist. Then again, she isnt typical in many ways.
For starters, the 23-year-old, New Zealand native was home schooled, developing along the way a love of math and physics and, perhaps most interestingly, the biology of aging. In fact, she became so preoccupied with the latter that at age 11, Deming wrote to Cynthia Kenyon, a renowned molecular biologist who specializes in the genetics of aging, asking if she could visit Kenyons San Francisco lab during a family trip to the Bay Area. Kenyon said yes. When, soon after the visit, Deming asked if she could work in the lab, Kenyon said yes again.
Demings family moved to the U.S. to make it possible, and its highly doubtful they regret the decision. Indeed, by age 14, Deming was a student at MIT, and two years after that at the tender age of 16 she was a college drop-out, having been accepted into Peter Thiels two-year-old Thiel Fellowship program, which gives $100,000 to young people who want to build new things.
Often, those new things evolve along the way. Not for Deming, who pitched the idea of a venture fund that would support aging-related startups, and has since turned that early concept intoLongevity Fund, an early-stage venture outfit that just closed its second fund with $22 million.
Earlier today we caught up with Deming to learn more about her path and which technologies shes betting on to extend the human lifespan.
TC: Its incredible that this all started with an email to a UCSF professor.
LD: [Cynthia Kenyon] is the most amazing person Ill ever meet.
TC: What did you do in her lab, exactly?
LD: We were working with tiny, see-through worms. You put them on a plate of jelly and you see what happens if you change their genetic material. Do they live longer or die faster? If you starve them, they live longer. If you starve worms and also turn off certain genes, could you get them to live even longer? I was nave, but I really wanted to make the longest-living worms ever. [Laughs.]
TC: What did you study at MIT?
LD: I majored in physics actually, but I continued to work in a couple of labs, including [one overseen by] Lenny Guarente [a biologist known for his research on lifespan extension]. It was a lot of fun. I thought Id be a scientist, but a grad student familiar with the Thiel fellowship told me I should apply and I did. Its funny, one of the directors of the [Thiel] program told me recently that he thought Id fail, even though he was very supportive. After we closed the first fund, he was like, I never thought that would work out.
LD: In part because not long ago, if you talked with most VCs about aging, they didnt think there was anything there. I think aging is such a young science, they hadnt heard about it. Meanwhile, I care a lot about it, and though we dont know if itll work or not, its not unlike [biotech companies trying to tackle] cancer in that way, and if you believe in cancer companies, you should also care about aging companies.
TC: How much did you raise for that first fund?
LD: A grand total of $4 million, and I was very proud of this. To be honest, Id assumed $100,000 was enough to build a fund until I arrived in San Francisco and realized it was really enough to live on for two years. When I started fundraising, I was 17 too young to legally sign contracts. Id never managed money before. But I could talk to people about the science and got them on board with that. In the end, we had great anchor investors come together, and we invested in five companies that kind of proved out the strategy.
TC: Were one of those anchor investors Peter Thiel?
LD: We dont really talk about our LPs.
TC: You say we, though youre the sole general partner of Longevity. Is that correct?
LD: Yes, but I have a lot of back-office support. The way Longevity is structured, Im also able to pull in the best people who have expertise from different domains, so its not one person who looks at all the deals.
TC: And these advisors get a stake in the company?
LD: Sometimes. Others especially grad students like to be paid up front. Well find the best incentive for that individual and work with that.
TC: One of your portfolio companies is Unity Biotechnology, a company thats trying to reverse aging through therapeutics. Didnt it just raise a giant Series B round this week?
LD: It did. All of the companies in that portfolio have [at least] raised Series A rounds of $30 million or more to get to that proof of concept.
TC: Given the amounts involved, is the plan to form special purpose vehicles, or SPVs, around your break-out winners?
LD:We like to help LPs follow on, so we look to do that in whatever way makes sense for both parties. With Unity, we put in money as early as possible because Ned Davis, who runs the company, is amazing and we thought its aging thesis would succeed.
TC: How many companies do you expect to fund with your newly closed fund?
LD: Eight to 10 companies.
TC: Do you think your work will be harder, given that investors seem to be paying much more attention to aging suddenly?
LD: No. With our first fund, we spent up to six months with each deal, tracking the company before it was even raising. Its something LPs really value from us; they know when they invest in something that they dont need to re-do the diligence, that weve already looked at a bunch of stuff and we know this is the best possible investment in [a particular vertical].
Earlier, our biggest challenge was getting other investors on board and convincing them that aging has become a place to play. Now thats a non-issue, which is great. Our job is to help the companies get other investors on board, so its wonderful to see excitement in the space begin to build.
TC: You look at a lot of technologies. I have to ask: do you find these new blood transfusion startupsas interesting as the writers of HBOs Silicon Valley?
LD: [Laughs.] While scientifically interesting, I think they get a little over-discussed in the press because of that vampirism. Its not as sexy to talk about new genetic regulatory elements that control the aging process. Thats not going to get as many clicks as a story about drinking the blood of your five-year-old.
Human hot air balloon Doug Gottlieb thinks everyone is being too easy on Tom Brady – WEEI.com (blog)
Posted: at 11:30 pm
Tom Brady appears to be confident heading into the 2017 season. In a recent interview with Fox Sports Jay Glazer, Brady said some aspects of football are easier for him now than ever before. Thats not a ludicrous statement, considering Brady has won two Super Bowls over the last three years and played some of the best football of his career.
But human hot air balloonDoug Gottlieb, who now yaps on Fox Sports Radio, isnt buying it. Gottlieb called out Brady Friday, citing the Patriots quarterbacks poor first half against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. If the Patriots didnt come back and defeat the Falcons, Gottlieb says, we would view Brady differently right now. Brady threw one interception and posted a 78.1 quarterback rating in the first three quarters of the game.
“I watched the Super Bowl. In the first half, he was bad, Gottlieb said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.He did throw a pick-six. While we want to remember only that they came from behind, if the Atlanta Falcons had just taken a knee, if they had just run the football into the ground and not fumbled it, made one field goal up 28-3 after Julio Jones catch. This narrative changes dramatically. Im not talking about the, Is he the greatest of all-time? narrative. Im talking about, think of how we view the New England Patriots camp and Tom Bradys longevity. Now you have people saying, Look, he could go forever.
Gottlieb is correct: the Falcons choked away Super Bowl LI. But the Patriots were able to capitalize on every mistake, largely thanks to Bradys otherworldlyperformance. He completed 22 of 28 passes for 246 yards and one touchdown (115.2 QBR) to lead the Patriots to the historic come-from-behind victory.
But Gottlieb disregards those numbers in his rant, focusing entirely on Bradys early mistakes. The truth is, as accomplished as he is, as experienced as he is, he did not look good at all, Gottlieb explained. He was rattled. And I will grant you, they didnt have Rob Gronkowski, whos his best target. Hes one of the elite players in the NFL. They didnt have him for that entire game, and that would cause any quarterback to be a little bit scattered with where they wanted to go with the football. But if you want to tell me, ‘Ive seen everything, Im better now, its easier than it used to be.’ Well, why wasnt it easier against the Atlanta Falcons?
Perhaps Gottlieb stopped watching the game early, much like President Donald Trump. Thats one of the only plausible explanations for his disregard of Bradys play in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The other one is that Gottlieb didnt want to let the facts get in this way of his attention-seeking screed. As a frequent offender myself, I know that strategy when I see it.
Posted: August 16, 2017 at 5:46 pm
407 0 Posted on Aug 16, 2017, 6 a.m.
He and close associates with some of the best connections in biotech are launching a new company – with plans to make a big splash in anti-aging research.
Billionaire Jim Mellon and his close associates have invested in a new joint venture that will lay the foundation for future anti aging research. With big connections in the biotech field, the new company named Juvenescence has big plans to increase human longevity. The hope is that combining artificial intelligence in the development of new drugs will pave the way for treatments to counter the negative effects of aging. This is one of the largest deals in this field of research but in order for success, repetitive financing in the millions is required for the project.
Accelerating Anti-Aging Research with Artificial Intelligence
CEO of Juvenescence Greg Bailey was an early backer of the biotech company Medivation, which was sold to Pfizer for $14 billion. Former Pfizer exec Declan Doogan will join the new venture alongside Bailey and Mellon. The game plan at Juvenescence is to develop new drugs for the treatment of aging. Another joint venture is Juvenescence AI setup by Mellon and scientist Alex Zhavoronkov, and they believe the AI technology Zhavoronkov developed will give the anti-aging project a better chance of success.
Zhavoronkov is an advocate for the use of artificial intelligence in drug research and is making alliances with some major pharmaceutical companies. They have raised $7 million in the new AI technology already. Robust AI computers will be needed to identify particular molecules in cells with specific properties. The data churned out by the computers will help the researchers understand cellular pathways and how to change the heart of cells (the mitochondria) to slow down or stop aging. Also, as we grow older senescent cells (cells that cease to divide) accumulate and a method is needed to clean away these cells as they contribute to the aging process.
Healthy Aging is the Key to Longevity
Investors have seeded millions of dollars into the project but as much as $50 million is expected to be raised by wealthy family and friends of Mellon, Bailey, and Doogan. The team plans to recruit individuals whose responsibility is to manage specific projects with a staff of 10 or fewer people. Small biotech companies like these rely on significant outsourcing of work. However, they will also cover broader fields such as conventional drug development, diagnostics, and ideas on engaging the end consumer.
According to Doogan, the key to longevity is healthy aging to live a longer, healthier life is the objective. Greg Bailey notes that focusing on age-related diseases like Osteoarthritis or the drug Everolimus which helps inhibit cell growth can be used as models as they begin work. Anti-aging research is still in its early days but billionaire Jim Mellon says it’s now time to invest in longevity as it is certain to grow into the world’s most lucrative industry.
Posted: at 5:46 pm
Theres a moment in the finale when the characters get a chance to breathe. To take it all in and take stock of their lives and the circumstances that brought them to that one specific instance. For a show as high concept as Orphan Black, with its clones and genetic mutants and world wide conspiracies of eugenics, its remarkable how little the concept itself ultimately mattered. From its schlocky scifi framework these actors, led by the incomparable Tatiana Maslany, built something excruciatingly human.
And, as Helena notes, it all begins with her sister Sarah, who stepped off a train and saw herself.
Thats how the show began. Sarah, a British con artist, arrived in Toronto and saw a woman with her face jump in front of a train. She quickly learned that the dead woman was one of many, all with her face, and that they were Ledas, clones developed, and owned, by a nefarious eugenics movement known as Neolution. She and her sisters joined together to steal back their autonomy, break down the system, and have a few clone dance parties on during down time.
The best parts were when the clones interacted (or when they impersonated one another). Seeing nurture versus nature exposed and explored through the lens of a con artist, housewife, bioengineer, and assassin made the concept far more entertaining.
Yet our heroine Sarah was always the weak link in the narrative chain of Orphan Black. She was lashed to a Neoloution conspiracy plot that might have been afforded the most time on air, but was normally the part fans (on Tumblr in particular) cared for the least. She stopped feeling like any kind of person (outside of the mannerisms Maslany gave her), and became simply a plot device constructed to root out the conspiracy. Yet the finale, once it neatly wraps up the conspiracy plot, settles into her character. Shes given room to breathe and were reminded that shes more than a self-serving con artist drawn into the lives of these other characters. She is, very clearly, the mother of the group.
Which is why shes the one who guides Helena through having the twins that it feels like shes been pregnant with for years. The finale picks up where last week left off, Helena and Sarah are trapped in an abandoned lab with the architects of Neolution, who want to take Helenas babies in those hopes that studying them can allow Neolution to unlock the secret of human longevity. The women, with an assist from their detective friend Art, have to dodge and murder Neolutionists while Helena delivers her baby. It all happens quickly. In the forty minute episode maybe twenty minutes is devoted to the conspiracy. The other twenty are about saying goodbye.
And theyre about finally make Sarah a character again. As she delivers Helenas fat little babies she flashes back to her own introduction to motherhood, arguing with her foster mom Mrs. S (who we havent seen since she was killed two episodes earlier) over having an abortion, and then choosing to keep the baby (who ends up being her daughter Kira). Juxtaposing her own inauguration into motherhood with Helenas ends up being a powerful moment, because its not just about two women becoming biological moms. Its about Sarah finally donning the mantle Mrs. S has worn since the pilot, and becoming the mother of the group.
Its a fitting end to the character. In fact everyone who survives to the finale gets a fitting end. Reformed villain Rachel is alone with nothing but a glass eye to show for her troubles, reformed villain Helena is a mother living in Donnie and Allisons backyard, Allison has found peace in music and Donnie in work, and Cosima and Delphine are traveling the world healing clones and being stupidly in love. It borders on saccharine, and while it might seem too sweet and neat these characters and their familial relationships were what made Orphan Black such an engaging show.
It was never about the conspiracy.
That made this plot-heavy final season frustrating. Characters were thrust into a world that was half exploitation and half those really boring X-Files episodes. Things got graphic, bizarre and deeply convoluted. By the end of this season Sarah and her extended family had discovered that P.T. Westmorland, the founder of Neolutionthe movement that thought up the experiment that would become the sister cloneswas alive and living on an island like a better dressed Dr. Moreau. Part of the season was focused on whether or not he was a mad scientist who had unlocked the secret of eternal youth.
It was a bold decision to focus so much of the final season on the mystery of Westmorland, particularly as he was just a misogynist conman who was revealed to be a hundred years younger than he claimed. It wasnt some grand science fiction/fantasy schemeit was a just a jerk with money and a vision of co-opting womens bodies for his own purposes.
And thats totally okay. I mean, coopting womens bodies for research into immortality for the wealthy is not okay. Thats very bad, but the shows decision to make Westmorland an ultimately mundane (and a little boring) villain was fine, because as the end of the day no one tuned into this show for conspiracies and a deep dive into this one dude wed never spent that much time befores evil plan.
The audience was there week after week to watch the show explore, in intricate detail, the concept of nature versus nurture. Are we a product of our genetics or the world around us. Orphan Black, posited, and arguably proved, that we are what our families and friends and environments make us. The best parts of the show were watching clones fail to impersonate each other well, despite the fact that, genetically, they were identical. If nature has that strong a hold, Orphan Black asked, how are these clones so different? And Orphan Blacks answer was, essentially, that we rise up or we strike out because of the people around usnot because of any polynucleotides.
The experiment of how we develop when this one has money or that one has an overbearing mother that one has a debilitating disease was always the most importantand most entertainingaspect of Orphan Black. Some parts of us might be a constant (like all the clones having a crush of Delphine), but much of who we are is what we make of ourselves. The best science fiction of Orphan Black wasnt the stuff that was way out there, it was the exploration of clones as people, not pawns in a conspiracy.
And the woman of Orphan Black (all played by one woman) made themselves into a family that could make you laugh with Parent Trap antics and cry with their communal grief. Sarah, Helena, Cosima, and Allison might have been clones, but they chose to be sisters. And it was that, and not any convoluted conspiracy mystery, that made Orphan Black worth watching.
Continue reading here:
The Big, Over-Arching Plan Was Never the Best Part of Orphan Black – Gizmodo
Posted: at 5:46 pm
(By Tom Purcell/Tom Purcell is a nationally syndicated humor columnist. Send your comments to Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com)
A 125-year life expectancy for human beings? I have zero desire to stick around that long.
Ah, yes, you speak of a debate among scientists over human longevity. I read about it at Business Insider. Some scientists argue that the maximum age humans may live is 115 years, whereas others argue that 125 years is possible.
A hundred and twenty-five years of watching Republicans and Democrats going at it? The heck with that.
Living is rife with challenges, to be sure. But living a long life has its upsides. Wouldnt you want to visit your parents and other family members for a lot more years than most of us are able? Wouldnt you like to see them all at a Sunday dinner several more times than most human beings are able?
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Originally posted here:
Purcell:Living to 125 too much of a good thing? – The Independent