Child Mortality - Then and Now
Figure: A dramatic reduction in child mortality in 1800 vs in 2015.
The 9 Mechanisms of Aging:
*This section was adapted from CB INSIGHTS: The Future Of Aging.
Longevity, healthcare, and aging are intimately linked. With better healthcare, we can better treat some of the leading causes of death, impacting how long we live.
By investigating how to treat diseases, we’ll inevitably better understand what causes these diseases in the first place, which directly correlates to why we age.
Following are the nine hallmarks of aging.
Genomic instability: As we age, the environment and normal cellular processes cause damage to our genes. Activities like flying at high altitude, for example, expose us to increased radiation or free radicals. This damage compounds over the course of life and is known to accelerate aging.
Telomere attrition: Each strand of DNA in the body (known as chromosomes) is capped by telomeres. These short snippets of DNA repeated thousands of times are designed to protect the bulk of the chromosome. Telomeres shorten as our DNA replicates; if a telomere reaches a certain critical shortness, a cell will stop dividing, resulting in increased incidence of disease.
Epigenetic alterations: Over time, environmental factors will change how genes are expressed, i.e., how certain sequences of DNA are read and the instruction set implemented.
Loss of proteostasis: Over time, different proteins in our body will no longer fold and function as they are supposed to, resulting in diseases ranging from cancer to neurological disorders.
Deregulated nutrient-sensing: Nutrient levels in the body can influence various metabolic pathways. Among the affected parts of these pathways are proteins like IGF-1, mTOR, sirtuins, and AMPK. Changing levels of these proteins’ pathways have implications on longevity.
Mitochondrial dysfunction: Mitochondria (our cellular power plants) begin to decline in performance as we age. Decreased performance results in excess fatigue and other symptoms of chronic illnesses associated with aging.
Cellular senescence: As cells age, they stop dividing and cannot be removed from the body. They build up and typically cause increased inflammation.
Stem cell exhaustion: As we age, our supply of stem cells begins to diminish as much as 100 to 10,000-fold in different tissues and organs. In addition, stem cells undergo genetic mutations, which reduce their quality and effectiveness at renovating and repairing the body.
Altered intercellular communication: The communication mechanisms that cells use are disrupted as cells age, resulting in decreased ability to transmit information between cells.
Over the past 200 years, we have seen an abundance of healthcare technologies enable a massive lifespan boom. Now, exponential technologies like artificial intelligence, 3D printing and sensors, as well as tremendous advancements in genomics, stem cell research, chemistry and many other fields, are beginning to tackle the fundamental issues of why we age.
In next week's blog, Peter will dive into how genome sequencing and editing, along with new classes of drugs, are augmenting our biology to further extend our healthy lives.
What will you be able to achieve with an extra 30 to 50 healthy years (or more) in your lifespan? Personally, I’m excited for a near-infinite lifespan to take on Moonshots.
Join FutureLoop: Over the past 2 years, Peter has built a machine-learning algorithm that scrapes the world’s news, science journals and social feeds every day to understand how exponential technologies are impacting specific topics & industries. It’s called FutureLoop.
Last month, he launched "FutureLoop Pandemic Special Edition," a daily comprehensive update on the impact of exponential technologies (AI, Robotics, Drones, Cellular Medicine, CRISPR, Networks & Sensors) on the COVID-19 pandemic.
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