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September 25, 2007

More on the SENS3 conference

Matthew S. O’Connor (okee, a.k.a. Dr. Okie) reports on the SENS3 conference on life extension at the Ouroboros website. Okee is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley, Bioengineering Department in the laboratory of Dr. Irina Conboy.

Biomedical remediation (essentially the brain-child of Aubrey de Grey) is moving along quickly.
Two teams have identified strains of bacteria capable of using 7-ketocholesterol (one precursor of the poorly defined lipofuscin) as energy. The next goal is to clone the genes. After that they want to purify the enzyme responsible and feed it to people and see if it will break down our lipofuscin.


Okee's issue:
is that they are trying to solve a problem that hasn’t been proved to be a problem yet. Lipofuscin accumulation has long been associated with aging in many tissues, but never (as far as I am aware) proved to be responsible for any illness, ailment, or disease. Now, don’t get me wrong, Aubrey makes an excellent argument for this being a serious problem with no traditional biomedical solution in sight, but it’s still just theory.


In Okee's opinion:
wound healing and artificial repair was the most provocative and promising aspect of the research at SENS 3.

Cato Laurencin has an approach called “regenerative engineering.”

Okee's comment:
It was amazing, however, to see someone actually using a few in something practical! In my opinion, this is the reality of regenerative medicine: an innovative surgeon combining technology and knowledge of biology to partially repair injuries such that they will heal as well, or better than they started.


Dr. Laurencin showed results from his work on 3D absorbable poly L-lactide (PLLA) scaffolds that seem to promote recovery from surgery much more efficiently than traditional methods. This is a microsphere-based scaffold, which promotes efficient invasion and engraftment of osteoblasts to help repair bone. He is also investigating surfaces with nano-scale grooves, which are more conducive to mesenchymal stem cell proliferation.


There is scarless repair of brain tissue using nanofibers to accelerate the healing:
Rutledge Ellis-Behnke spoke on his work with SAPNS: Self Assembling Peptide Nanofiber Scaffold. Essentially, he squirts a solution containing these nanofibers into wound sites and reportedly achieves amazing results. He reports dramatic recovery from serious brain injury: both scarless repair of bulk brain tissue removal and reinnervation. In addition, he claims that the nanofibers can dramatically stop bleeding in wounds (he showed video of this). These results are so dramatic that they are almost unbelievable.


From the research paper [they are stopping bleeding in the brain in 15 seconds]:

This novel therapy stops bleeding without the use of pressure, cauterization, vasoconstriction, coagulation, or cross-linked adhesives. The self-assembling solution is nontoxic and nonimmunogenic, and the breakdown products are amino acids, which are tissue building blocks that can be used to repair the site of injury. Here we report the first use of nanotechnology to achieve complete hemostasis in less than 15 seconds, which could fundamentally change how much blood is needed during surgery of the future.


Two groups and three speakers addressed the issue of aged muscle, muscle regeneration, and muscle stem cells.

One of the groups work supports the idea that muscle stem cells remain intrinsically young, even while their tissue ages around them. Another group revitalized old muscle stem cells.

A startup company, Sangamo, has developed gene editing, which different from gene therapy. It’s not introducing exogenous DNA into your cells, it’s editing your genomic DNA.

One drawback for Dr Cui GIFT method of cancer treatment is that it requires 10 donors for every recipient. I speculate, we will probably need to use telomeres and culturing of cells to increase the volume of cells for donation.

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