Brian’s Column: Something Old, Something New

Human rejuvenation technology on the doorstep
by Brian Wright

Strange (but completely understandable) that the mainstream media (MSM) has not drawn more attention to a recent development in life extension science and tech. In the June 2010 issue of Life Extension Magazine, under a modest title: “Immortal Stem Cells for Anti-Aging Therapies,” Dr. Gregory Fahy and Saul Kent interview Dr. Michael West about a stunning breakthrough in regenerative medicine:

Using genes that grant human reproductive cells the the potential for immortal growth, researchers have shown that they can reverse “developmental aging” of adult human somatic cell systems of any kind. In this astounding article, Dr. West explains the technical foundations of the new capability.

Regenerative medicine came from work in the fields of genomics and DNA technology back in the 1990s. Bill Haseltine, then of Human Genome Sciences—who is credited with coining the term ‘regenerative medicine’—learned that researchers in aging were making progress on turning back the aging clock in human cells through cloning, and then creating young cells that could potentially regenerate or repair all the tissues of the aged human body. West defines “regenerative medicine as that collection of technologies that uses embryonic pluripotent stem cells and their derivatives to regenerate tissues in the body ravaged from disease, primarily degenerative disorders associated with aging.”

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Fahy: The implication of the term [regenerative medicine] is that we’re actually going to be able to regenerate or regrow parts of the aging human body because of this ability to turn back the clock of cellular aging [in targeted organs and tissues].

West: Yes….

And there we are. The remainder of the article describes the latest advances in the field, including what West and his team(s) at BioTime—with presumably other relationships in life extension science and industry—had been noting in the laboratory. [According to the article in Life Extension Magazine, the breakthrough demonstration was published in the journal Regenerative Medicine. Talk about a rabbit hole! Good luck finding that reference on the Web. And the bibliography doesn’t include the item. Obviously, a healthy skepticism is in order for these matters, as others.]

Most important: Goodbye cloning! West: “Therapeutic cloning was controversial because of the need to clone human embryos. In addition the difficulties of getting a sufficient number of human egg cells and the technical challenge of implementing cloning made advances in that field slow and difficult. What we desperately needed was to find a means to make all these therapies we’d been talking about possible on a scalable and affordable platform that would allow them to be implemented commercially for millions of patients.” [emphasis mine]

The next paragraphs describe the new technology: “induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells).” West: “iPS cell technology is a way of using just a handful of genes to coax a cell back in time without using egg cells or cloning. And this is the exciting part: the technology works.” [emphasis mine]

Wow, as I’m reading the emphasized phrasings above, I’m thinking that in the boardrooms of Big Pharma, in the hallways of major hospital systems, and in the fiefdoms of the FDA, etc., indecently powerful men are excreting frisbees the size of coffee tables: “What, you mean by inserting a few cells with tricked-up genes, all diseases are cured… INCLUDING AGING?!!!” I expect to read about waves of heart attacks afflicting the imperious potentates of Obamacare et al. “This means the filthy, ungrateful peasants won’t be needing us anymore.” I expect Kevin Trudeau will be turning cartwheels… except with the newfound ability of anybody to grow younger at a fraction of the cost of health insurance, it isn’t going to be as important to dodge all the environmental threats Trudeau warns about to our bodies and minds.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. From what I’m reading in the Life Extension piece, and gathering from a cursory surf of the Web, the magic bullet is here. Or certainly, the radical and immediate cure for arthritis, diabetes, cancer, asthma, heart disease, sagging skin, and male pattern baldness—every cellular disease and deterioration, including aging—has arrived in the building. Seeing between the lines, the cures can be available technically to large numbers of persons at modest expense within a year or two. That’s what I glom. Please read the article, yourself, and tell me what you think.

Oh Happy Day!

No more need for dialysis for my mother, because for a few ducats she can rejuvenate her kidney cells so the organs are cyst free. Put them in, coach! Then when they’re through with that, let’s take care of the skin… for everyone. Or at least everyone who wants to “deshriv.” I have a dear lady friend who suffers from a horrible nerve disease called Trigeminal Neuralgia. Let’s fix that, highest priority. Also a good friend who has degenerative lung disease. The list is getting longer quickly! I’m willing to give these friends of mine priority. Point is, let’s get cracking! People are suffering and they no longer need to. Right?

Well that’s a big for sure, good buddy.

But we all know the major barnacles on the ass of human progress—the aforementioned horror brew of Big Pharma, Big Med, and Big Government —aren’t simply going to step aside. They’ll do everything they can to destroy and obstruct anything profoundly humane: it’s their job:

Kent: When to you anticipate that the initial therapies based on iPS cell technology will be available to humans?

West: In the United States, with its stringent regulatory burden of approval, it could take many years. [Read “20 years or more.”] In other countries, such as China and India… I believe these technologies will be implemented in a fraction of the time…

So, “Fountain of Youth” vs. “Obedience to Corporate-Government?”
Decisions, decisions.

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