Friday, December 30, 2016

Removing certain cells may allow elderly people to regrow hair, run faster and live for longer

Scientists may be one step closer to achieving the 'fountain of youth' in humans.

A drug has previously been found to help elderly mice regrow their hair, run faster and live for longer. It works by removing cells in skin tissue that naturally accumulate as the rodents grow older.

But the senescent cells - which are unable to reproduce themselves and prevent tissue growth - are also found in humans.

Many recent studies have focused on removing senescent cells - which can have aging effects on the body. It is believed their long-term secretion of proteins keeps their neighboring cells in a permanent daze. This can cause organs to deteriorate as they won't be continually replaced.  

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, earlier this year found removing them helped older rodents live 25 per cent longer.

Although aging does appear to be able to be halted through drugs, it remains unclear if they can deter age-related diseases such as arthritis and dementia.

But Dr Peter de Keizer, from Erasmus University Medical Center, Netherlands, said more research is needed to find a perfect treatment method.

In a new article published in the journal Trends in Molecule Medicine, he said: 'When bringing in a defective car for repairs it is insufficient to remove the rust and broken parts; you also want to replace these.

A perfect anti-senescence therapy would not only clear senescent cells, but also kick-start tissue rejuvenation by stimulating differentiation of nearby stem cells.

'This may be complementary with, for instance, the exciting approaches recently made in the field of transient expression of stem cell factors.'

And despite anti-senescent drugs already being tested, none of them have yet to be deemed safe on humans.

This is because they have been found to target pathways expressed by non-senescent cells.

Dr de Keizer warned they play a role in the healing of wounds and eliminating them at the wrong time could increase the risk of skin infections.  

He said: 'I would also advise caution for claiming too much, too soon about the benefits of the fast-growing list of therapeutic compounds that are being discovered.

'That being said, these are clearly very exciting times, and I am confident we will find applicable anti-senescence treatments that can counteract age-related pathologies.'

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Shower in the morning to boost creativity and at night if you want to fall asleep

Most of us have a preferred time to shower - first thing in the morning or last thing at night. But a study has revealed how the timing of your bathroom ritual could affect your state of mind.

It found that morning showers can induce creativity and are good for stressed workers while evening showers help those who find it difficult to switch off at night. 

Dr Shelley Carson, a psychology lecturer at Harvard University, said morning showers can help those who are feeling stressed due to work or under pressure to be creative. 

Showering helps you relax but also makes you alert, so washing in the morning can stimulate creativity.  

'Your cognitive processes relax, renew, and regenerate, and your ideas and solutions will effortlessly present themselves,' she said, according to the NZ Herald.

Night-time showers are helpful because they regulate body temperature which can help you fall asleep more easily. 

'That rapid cooling after you get out of the shower or out of the bath tends to be a natural sleep inducer,' said Christopher Winter, MD at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, according to the Herald.

'So it's a nice way to fool your body into thinking it's time to go to bed.'

However, mixing up your shower routine to include both morning and evening cleansing, depending on stress levels and work schedules, could be the solution to get the best of both. 

As well as the timing, the temperature of the shower also has an effect. 

Dr Derek V Chan, a New York-based cosmetic and medical dermatologist, advised patients shower once a day.

And while hot showers feel great, Dr Chan urged people to opt for warm showers as they're better for the skin. 
'Hot showers may feel good, but in general, warm showers are better than hot showers'

'Using very hot water can reduce moisture in the skin and strip away many of the skin's natural lubricants.'

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Millionaire businessman reveals the diets of the world's rich and powerful

An entrepreneur has revealed the secrets of success of the world's rich and famous - and it's all to do with what they eat and drink.

Tim Ferriss, 39, who is himself worth about $20 million, interviewed nearly 200 CEOs, and other business moguls for his new book, Tools of Titans, which exposes the habits, routines and tactics of 'billionaires, icons and world class performers'.

And many of them said it was their very specific eating habits that gave them the energy and drive to earn their riches.

Some of the diet tricks are easy to replicate - but others will require some investment and a hunt for obscure ingredients. 

For Ferriss, the bestselling New York author of The 4-Hour Work Week, his top tip is to drink 'Titanium Tea' - a blend of his own creation.

The tea is a mix of the aged black tea Pu'er, longjing or dragonwell green tea, coconut oil as well as a concentrated MCT oil (which stands for medium-chain triglycerides, a form of fatty acids) and a blend of turmeric and ginger.

Ferriss likens the tea's smell to 'a wet horse's a**' but says it is 'rocket fuel for the brain'.

He told Thrillist: 'The fat loss and energetic benefits consistently blows me away.'

When Ferriss interviewed bestselling author, public speaker and entrepreneur Seth Godin, it was revealed that Godin eats the same thing for breakfast every single day.

For a man who managed to start up two new businesses while writing his self-help books, Godin said having the same meal everyday saved him valuable time as it's 'one more decision I don't [have to] make'.

And his breakfast of choice is a smoothie of frozen bananas, hemp powder, almond milk, dried plums, and walnuts.

Ferriss, who also has a successful podcast, also reveals that despite busy schedules and working all hours, the world's most successful tend not to drink coffee for an energy boost.

He says you don't have to cut it out all together - but that if you find you have more than four cups a day, try switching to matcha or green tea instead.

The bizarre sounding goat whey protein was another food item that Ferriss reveals is also the key to his success.

This protein from goats can be bought in powder form - and added to smoothies and other drinks.

'Goat whey protein, which sounds horrifically gross, is actually very innocuous,' Ferriss told Thrillist. 'It was recommended to me by Charles Poliquin, a famed strength coach, who's worked with Olympic medalists in more than 20 sports.'

Ferriss also recommends consuming plenty of exogenous ketones - a dietary supplement - if you want to be successful.

Ketones are a fuel source and an alternative to glucose. 'You can mix up a cocktail that tastes like lemonade,' Ferriss told Thrillist. 'The brain and heart, among others, love ketones as an alternate fuel source.' 

Billionaires need sleep just like the rest of us - but insomnia can be a problem among the rich and famous.

Ferriss said he was taught a clever trick to cure sleeplessness with one simple recipe by the late Seth Roberts, a professor emeritus at Berkeley University.

He advises insomniacs to mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, with one tablespoon of honey into hot water - and says it has worked for 'thousands' of his fans. 

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Superfood: Health benefits of sweet potatoes

Although they're soft and creamy enough to be put in pies and called dessert, sweet potatoes are also a surprisingly nutritious vegetable. 

For a humble root vegetable, the sweet potato sure does have a lot going for it. The orange tuber packs 438% of your daily value of infection-fighting vitamin A and, like carrots, sweet potatoes are a major source of skin-protecting beta-carotene. While bananas are often touted as the go-to source of potassium, a medium sweet potato has 28% more potassium than a banana.

Some sweet potato history

  • Sweet potatoes have been grown in Central and South America for at least 10,000 years by the Inca and Aztecs. Sweet potato samples have been found in the Neolithic Period and perhaps to the end of the last Ice Age, or 8000 B.C. in Peru according to the National Potato Center.
  • Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes to Spain after his first voyage in 1492 introducing them to the gardens of Europe.
  • History mystery: Polynesians were growing sweet potatoes as early as 1200 A.D.
  • Spanish explorers are said to have taken the sweet potato to the Philippines and East Indies. Then they made their way to India, China and Malaya by Portuguese voyagers in the late 16th century and the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • They were grown in Virginia in 1648 and perhaps earlier, and then were taken to New England in 1764.

And now that we know where our beloved sweet potato comes from here are the health benefits:

They are high in vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked with degenerative diseases, including heart attacks.

They are a good source of vitamin C

Forget about oranges — one sweet potato contains 35 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C. While most people know that vitamin C is important to help ward off cold and flu viruses, few people are aware that this crucial vitamin plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation. It helps accelerate wound healing, produces collagen which helps maintain skin’s youthful elasticity, and is essential to helping us cope with stress. It even appears to help protect our body against toxins that may be linked to cancer.

They are a good source of vitamin D

Vitamin D is critical for immune system and overall health at this time of year.  Both a vitamin and a hormone, vitamin D is primarily made in our bodies as a result of getting adequate sunlight. You may have heard about seasonal affective disorder (or SAD, as it is also called), which is linked to inadequate sunlight and therefore a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D plays an important role in our energy levels, moods, and helps to build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth, and it supports the thyroid gland.

They are one of the best sources of vitamin A

A large one contains more than 100 percent of the daily recommended intake, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Vitamin A is an antioxidant powerhouse, and is linked to anti-aging benefits, cancer prevention and the maintenance of good eyesight, according to the National Institutes of Health.

They are a source of potassium

Believe it or not, sweet potatoes have more potassium than bananas. Potassium is one of the important electrolytes that help regulate heartbeat and nerve signals. Like the other electrolytes, potassium performs many essential functions, some of which include relaxing muscle contractions, reducing swelling, and protecting and controlling the activity of the kidneys.

They contain iron and support a healthy immune system

Most people are aware that we need the mineral iron to have adequate energy, but iron plays other important roles in our body, including red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, proper im­mune functioning, and the metabolizing of protein, among other things.

They are a good source of choline 

Sweet potatoes are a good source of choline, a micronutrient in the B-vitamin family. While choline is readily available in meat and eggs, good plant-based sources are harder to come by — but sweet potato can be counted as one of them. Choline helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory, among other things, but it is also important in reducing chronic inflammation.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral

Magnesium is necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function, yet experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of the popula­tion in North America may be deficient in this important mineral.

They are an excellent source of fiber to keep your digestion running and help beat disease

One medium sweet potato with skin provides roughly between 4 to 6 grams of fiber, which doesn’t make them the highest fiber source from the plant world, but they pack a nice punch and are commonly included with foods recommended as good sources of the stuff. The National Institute of Medicine set the Dietary Reference Intake for fiber at 21 to 25 grams a day for women while men should get 30 to 38 grams per day. Most people don’t reach these levels. Fiber appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease and constipation.

Sweet potatoes help ward off cancer 

Their rich orange color indicates that they are high in carotenoids like beta carotene and other carotenoids, which is the precursor to vitamin A in your body.  

Studies at Harvard University of more than 124,000 people showed a 32 percent reduction in risk of lung cancer in people who consumed a variety of carotenoid-rich foods as part of their regular diet.

Another study of women who had completed treatment for early stage breast cancer conducted by researchers at Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) found that women with the highest blood concentrations of carotenoids had the least likelihood of cancer recurrence.

Meanwhile, a Japanese study revealed that beta carotene may decrease the risk of colon cancer. Sweet potatoes have the highest amount of beta carotene of all fruits and vegetables.

They’re a prize for the eyes

All that beta carotene is great for the eyes as well. Ophthalmologist Jill Koury, M.D., says that vitamin A deficiency causes the outer segments of the eye's photoreceptors to deteriorate, damaging normal vision. Sweet potato’s high antioxidant levels from vitamins C and E are also very kind to the eyes and may prevent degenerative damage.

Carotenoids help boost our immunity to disease, they are powerful antioxidants that help ward off cancer and protect against the effects of aging.

They could help conquer PMS blues

While huge amounts of manganese aren’t healthy, experts estimate that up to 37 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of manganese in their diet. Along with promoting good bone health, one study found that boosting manganese intake from 1 mg to 5.6 mg of dietary manganese per day helped women with PMS to have fewer mood swings and cramps. 

They are a boon for childbearing

Plant-based iron, like that found in sweet potatoes, can potentially promote fertility, according to the Harvard Medical School. The vitamin A from sweet potato’s beta carotene is also important for hormonal health during pregnancy and lactation.

Reduce the chances of stomach ulcers

Not only are sweet potatoes great for curing digestive issues, but they are also known to be an ideal preventative measure against stomach ulcers due to the presence of B-complex vitamins, beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium and potassium — all substances that have healing power when it comes to curing stomach ulcers.

Functional Foods in Health and Disease did a study in 2012 on how effective sweet potatoes were in healing an ulcer. The sweet potato had a potent ulcer healing effect!

They help control diabetes

Sweet potatoes rank low on the glycemic index scale and current research suggests that they may have a chance at decreasing the frequency of low blood sugar and insulin resistance episodes that occur in people with diabetes. The high levels of fiber also assist with type 1 diabetics to  decrease blood glucose levels and individuals with type 2 diabetics could have more stable blood sugar, insulin and lipid levels.

Sweet potatoes do not cause blood sugar spikes

Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet-tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.

Beauty Food

Sweet potato, apart from vitamins A & C, also contains vitamin E, which is known to be beneficial for the health of the skin. It improves the complexion, thus providing flawless skin. These vitamins (A, C & E) comprised together are known to be ‘beauty food’ for the skin.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Eating broccoli, spinach and egg yolks can preserve your memory in old age

Adults who have high levels of lutein are better able to recall skills and information they learnt many years ago, a new study found.

The protective compound can be found in a range of green leafy vegetables and helps to preserve 'crystallized intelligence'.  

It is believed to accumulate in the brain, where it has a protective effect on the region responsible for memory.

Researchers from the University of Illinois tested 122 adults between the age of 65 and 75 on their crystallized intelligence. 

Blood samples were also collected to determine levels of lutein and MRI scans were conducted to analyse brain structures.

They focused on parts of the temporal cortex, a brain region that other studies suggest plays a role in the preservation of crystallized intelligence.

They found participants with higher blood serum levels of lutein tended to do better on the tests.

While they also tended to have thicker grey matter in the brain region that crystallized intelligence can be found - the parahippocampal cortex.

Lead researcher Aron Barbey said: 'We can only hypothesize at this point how lutein in the diet affects brain structure.

'It may be that it plays an anti-inflammatory role or aids in cell-to-cell signaling.

'But our finding adds to the evidence suggesting that particular nutrients slow age-related declines in cognition by influencing specific features of brain aging.'

Previous research has found lutein also helps to ward off vision loss.

A Florida International University study found it helps to prevent age-related macular degeneration - the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. 

While it is also believed that the compound helps to ward off wrinkles as people grow older by keeping the skin flexible and hydrated. 

The new study was published in the journal Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience. 

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Friday, December 16, 2016

New cell treatment could help us live a third longer

A treatment that could turn back the ravages of time is edging closer as scientists have discovered how to ‘reprogram’ cells to stop them growing old.

The process involves taking skin cells and making them partly revert to how they were in the embryo.

Mature mice that underwent the process were found to appear younger, had better functioning hearts and lived 30 per cent longer. Translated to humans it would mean - potentially, at least - the average human lifespan would reach 108.

Although women tend to outlive men, the average life expectancy in currently 81 in the UK, and 78 in the US. 

Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, author of the study, said: ‘Our study shows that aging may not have to proceed in one single direction. 

'It has plasticity and, with careful modulation, aging might be reversed.’

Professor Belmonte, of the Salk Institute in California, explained that the cell is reprogrammed by altering genetic factors that change it to become like a stem cell – ‘universal’ cells present in the embryo that can transform into any cell in the body.

Alejandro Ocampo, first author of the paper, said: ‘What we and other stem-cell labs have observed is that when you induce cellular reprogramming, cells look younger.

‘The next question was whether we could induce this rejuvenation process in a live animal.’

Converting large numbers of the body’s cells back into stem cells could lead to organ failure or death, the authors said.

The team used DNA reprogramming methods in live mice with progeria, the premature aging disease progeria, which also affects humans.

Compared to untreated mice, the reprogrammed mice looked younger.

Their cardiovascular and other organ function improved and - most surprising of all - they lived 30% longer, yet did not develop cancer. The process also worked in normal, disease-free mice which experienced improvement in the regeneration capacity of the pancreas and muscle tissue.

Professor Belmonte said: ‘Obviously, mice are not humans and we know it will be much more complex to rejuvenate a person.

‘But this study shows that ageing is a very dynamic and plastic process, and therefore will be more amenable to therapeutic interventions than what we previously thought.’

He said it could be 10 years before a clinical trial is ready to take place in humans.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Want to improve your memory? Then go for a morning jog

Going for an early morning run could help to keep you alert for the rest of the day, scientists claim.

Part of the brain responsible for decision-making and planning is activated during a jog, a study found.

It is known that playing a musical instrument can stimulate the same region - the frontal cortex - but this is the first time scientists have linked it to running.

While the new research also found it helped to improve memory, attention spans and kept the senses sharp. 

Researchers from the University of Arizona studied 11 competitive, male runners aged between 18 and 25 and another 11 young men who said that they had not exercised in the past year. 

They focused on men because it is difficult to study women due to the effects of the menstrual cycle on their minds and bodies.

Questionnaires and mathematical formulas were used to figure out the men's physical activity levels and estimate their aerobic fitness. 

They then had each volunteer lie in an MRI scanner while the machine measured levels of activity in their brains.

It turned out that the runners' brains showed increased connectivity in areas of the brain needed for higher-level of thought.

But the brains of inactive men didn't show quite the same levels.

Increased connectivity between brain regions is known to improve memory, the ability to multi-task.

And interestingly, there was less brain activity in the part of the runners' brains that indicate lack of focus and mind wandering.

'To me, this suggests that running may not be such a simple activity after all,' said Professor Gene Alexander, who co-led the study. 

'It requires complex navigational skills plus an ability to plan, monitor and respond to the environment, juggle memories of past runs, and also continue with all of the motor activities of running, which are very complicated.'

The study cannot prove that running actually caused the differences in the men’s thinking, only that runners had certain patterns of thought.

And it is unclear whether running, alone, has these effects, or if other endurance sports, like cycling and swimming, would be similar.  

The findings were published in the journal, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.  


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Friday, December 9, 2016

Teens who drink heavily have less gray matter

Teens who drink heavily are more likely than their peers to have less gray matter, an important brain structure that aids in memory, decisions, and self-control, according to a Finnish study.

The study was observational, so it is impossible to say whether heavy drinking caused this stunted brain development. 

People may have less brain matter due to genetic factors, and this abnormality may make them more likely to abuse alcohol, the researchers write in the journal Addiction.

'Substance use has been found to be connected to social exclusion, mental health problems and lower educational attainment,' said lead author Noora Heikkinen of the University of Eastern Finland.

Having less gray matter may cause similar problems, as gray matter contains most of the brain's neurons and plays an important role in memory, emotions, decision-making, and self-control.

'Brain structural changes might be one factor that contributes to the social and mental problems among substance-using individuals,' Heikkinen told Reuters Health.

To explore the effect of alcohol use on developing teenage brains, the researchers studied 62 young adults who were participating in the Finnish Youth Wellbeing Study.

Between 2013 and 2015, the participants filled out questionnaires, answering questions about how often they drank and how many drinks they consumed.

The participants had all completed similar questionnaires five and 10 years earlier, starting at age 13.

As teens, 35 of the participants fell into the category of heavy drinkers. 

For example, they drank four or more times a week, or they drank less often but when they did, they drank heavily. 

The other 27 young adults in the study were considered light drinkers.

No one in either group showed symptoms of depression or other serious mental illnesses. 

Heavy and light drinkers had similar rates of anxiety, personality disorders, and drug use. Heavy drinkers were significantly more likely to smoke cigarettes than light drinkers, however.

But when participants underwent brain scans to look at gray matter and other brain structures that may be affected by alcohol use, the heavy drinkers had smaller volumes of gray matter in several brain areas when compared with the light drinking group.

Specifically, those areas are known as the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, the right orbitofrontal and frontopolar cortex, the right superior temporal gyrus and the right insular cortex.

The frontal section of the brain, which helps people plan and make decisions, continues developing until people reach their early 20s, said Samantha Brooks, a lecturer at the University of Cape Town in South Africa who studies the effects of drinking on adolescents.

During this period of brain development, teens are in a 'vulnerability window' where they may be more likely to develop substance use problems, said Brooks, who was not involved in the study. 

In addition, if teens drink heavily during this sensitive time, they may cause damage to their brains that can make their drinking behavior worse and cause other problem behaviors like missing school or having unsafe sex, Brooks said.

'Parents and teachers must be alert to the vulnerability window during adolescence, and seek help as early as possible, to prevent more serious damage to the brain,' Brooks said by email.

Stopping alcohol use can increase gray matter volume when it is done early enough, Heikkinen noted. 'However, when alcohol use has continued for a long time, some structural changes become irreversible,' Heikkinen warned.

'Teenage years are very important for brain development, and alcohol can tamper with this process,' Heikkinen said.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Positive thinking can fend off cancer, heart disease and infection for 8 years

Having a more positive outlook on life may help people live longer.

A new study has revealed that women who are optimistic are less likely to die from cancer, heart disease, stroke, infection, and several other major causes of death.

The positive health effects for the women were shown to last over eight years.

The researchers suggest that public health professionals should begin pushing positivity in patients alongside a healthy diet and exercise.

'The link between optimism and health is important to study because it can be changed, and so can easily help people,' said lead-author of the study and Social and Behavioural Sciences expert Dr Eric Kim.

'It's something that not many people think about.'

'A lot of modern healthcare is about sick care and not optimism.

'But actually by enhancing patients' optimism, as well as their diet and exercise regime, we could see plenty of health benefits,' he said.

Though the study only investigated women's health, the researchers say that their results likely apply to men as well.

And Dr Kim has some tips to leading a more optimistic life.

'Good optimistic habits include writing down everything kind you have done for other people, or writing down everything you're grateful for every day for a week.' 

'There is also a "best possible self" exercise, in which you visualise your ultimate goal in important aspects of your life, such as your work or love life.

'Over the next seven days, try to visualise what needs to be done to achieve this outcome.'

The Harvard study analysed data from 2004-2012 from 70,000 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study.

This long-running study has biannually tracked women's health via surveys for 40 years.

The team looked at participants' levels of optimism alongside other factors that might play a role in mortality risk, such as race, high blood pressure, diet, and physical activity.

The most optimistic women had a nearly 30% lower risk of dying from any of the diseases analysed compared with the study's least optimistic women.

The most optimistic women had: A 16% lower risk of dying from cancer, 38% lower risk of dying from heart disease; 39% lower risk of dying from stroke; 38% lower risk of dying from respiratory disease; and a 52% lower risk of dying from infection.

The positive health effects for the women were shown to last over eight years.

Optimism - a general expectation that good things will happen - has previously been shown to improve people's health by inspiring healthy behaviors, such as exercising regularly and eating healthily.

But the new research, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, found that these healthy behaviours only partially explain the lower risk of death in optimists.

The Harvard team speculate that there is actually a direct, intrinsic biological link between positivity, happiness, and health. 

While other studies have linked optimism with reduced risk of early death from cardiovascular problems, this was the first to find a link between optimism and reduced risk from other major causes.

'We don't know for sure, but we think that positivity could reduce inflammation and raise antioxidants levels,' said Dr Kim.

'Studies have shown that these things cut people's risk of various diseases.
'It could also boost the immune system.'

In future, Dr Kim and his team at the Boston-based Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness, hope to further explore the direct biological pathways between optimism and health.

And whilst positivity can help with health, Dr Kim warns against victim blaming.

'Some people might not want to become more optimistic, and it's important we respect that as a society.'

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The AI that could uncover the secret of eternal youth

Scientists have revealed a new plan to find the key to eternal youth – and artificial intelligence will be leading the way.

Using computer simulations to screen hundreds of compounds, researchers have developed a tool that can identify geroprotectors, the substances responsible for extending healthy life.

GeroScope can compare changes in the cells of young and old patients and search for the drugs that counteract the processes.

The project is led by scientists from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and Insilico Medicine Inc, commissioned by the Center for Biogerontology and Regenerative Medicine.

According to the researchers, using computer modelling techniques can help to cut down time and cost in the development of age-combating drugs.

‘The aging of population is a global problem,’ said Alexey Moskalev, a corresponding member of the RAS and head of the Laboratory of Genetics of Aging and Longevity.

‘Developing effective approaches for creating geroprotectors and validating them for use in the human body is one of the most important challenges for biomedicine.

‘We have proposed a possible approach that brings us one step closer to solving this problem.’

The researchers previously studied cancer-related processes using the Oncofinder, an algorithm designed to compare cancerous and healthy cells, along with tissue samples.

They’ve now used a similar approach for GeroScope.

The team first analyzed transcriptomic data – that which is read from DNA and transcribed into RNA – in tissue samples from donors aged 15-30 years old, and donors over the age of 60.

This was used for advanced computer modelling to identify and re-construct the molecular pathways associated with aging.

These are the reaction sequences that lead to changes in a cell.

The tool was able to model molecular pathways and analyze the cell reaction to various substances, choosing 70 compounds from a database of geroprotective drugs previously published by the team.

Then, they used the new algorithm to identify 10 substances that could have life-extending potential.

The researchers then conducted laboratory experiments on the ten substances, using stem cell lines of human fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) to study two effects: cell ‘rejuvenation’ and survival.

First, they took measurements of the cells, including size, shape, and complexity of the internal structure.

The cells were then mixed with a substance and growth medium, and held in this state for 6, 12, and 18 days.

After this time had passed, the researchers measured the same features as before, along with levels of beta-galactosidase, a marker of aging.

The experiments revealed the 10 substances had different results across the human cells.

A substance called NDGA was found to have no effect on rejuvenation, but can decrease short and long-term survival.

While NAC has a mild rejuvenating effect, it dramatically decreases survival.

Myricetin, they found, has a mild rejuvenating effect, and EGCG has a strong rejuvenating effect.

But, a substance called PD-98059 was found to have a very strong rejuvenating effect, and increases both short and long-term survival.

In cell cultures of the human fibroblasts, the predictions made by the computer model were confirmed across the latter four substances.

According to the researchers, some of these are already sold as dietary supplements.

Future with is now needed to determine the effects of these compounds, and provide insight on the combinations that could be used to maximize the benefits while minimizing any side effects.

‘For computer modelling this is a very good result,’ said Alex Zhavoronkov Ph.D., head of the Laboratory of Regenerative Medicine at the D. Rogachev Federal Research and Clinical Center for Pediatric Hematology, Oncology, and Immunology, an adjunct professor at MIPT, and head of Insilico Medicine Inc.
‘In the pharmaceutical industry, 92 percent of drugs that are tested on animals fail during clinical trials in humans. 

'The ability to simulate biological effects with such a high level of accuracy in silico is a real breakthrough.

‘PD-98059 and NAC proved to be the strongest geroprotectors. 

'We hope that some of these drugs will soon be tested on people using biologically-relevant biomarkers of aging.’ 


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