Welcome to the first issue of Pulse, an exploration of human enhancement today and tomorrow, brought to you by Thrivous! In this newsletter, we will strive to help you navigate the often poorly charted waters of human enhancement products and research, and save your time with timely and readable summaries of all and only the top news as it happens, linked to original sources and valuable commentaries.
But first: what is human enhancement?
If you are reading this with eyeglasses, well, that’s human enhancement. If you take something that makes you feel better, remember better, work better, age better in full health - let’s just say live better - that’s human enhancement. I won’t mention Viagra, but you get the drift.
Our grandchildren, or theirs, could live much better with bodies that have been engineered with CRISPR gene editing technology before birth. Some of them could choose to become post-biological and upload their mind to robotic bodies or virtual realities in futuristic computer systems. That’s also human enhancement.
We will prioritize the here-and-now - what YOU can do TODAY to live better - but without losing sight of visionary great expectations for future generations. There is continuity between today’s first steps on the road to human enhancement and the radically enhanced future envisaged by visionary scientists today.
We will be careful to separate fact from hope, and both from hype. I am a human enhancement enthusiast, but I am also a trained scientist with a sharp b# - sorry, baloney - detector.
OK, let’s plunge right in. Here is a roundup of top news emerged in the last few weeks. In future issues of this newsletter, we will cover top news since the last issue.
You have control over your own aging. Molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, who received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her research on telomeres - structures at the tips of chromosomes that play a key role in cellular aging - has published a new book for a general audience titled “The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer.” Blackburn’s thesis is that you have more control over your own aging than you may imagine. Based on a review of thousands of studies, Blackburn argues that you can actually lengthen your telomeres - and perhaps your life - by following the advice given in the book.
Skin care products win research award. Estée Lauder won the Research and Innovation award (in French) at the Prix d’Excellence de la Beauté Marie Claire 2017 in Paris, France, with three skincare products: Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules, Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Powerfoil Mask, and Revitalizing Supreme+ Global Anti-Aging Wake Up Balm. Perhaps this is no disruptive breakthrough, but a youthful skin feels good.
Natural tooth repair method, using Alzheimer's drug, could revolutionize dental treatments. Scientists from the Dental Institute at King’s College London have found ways to stimulate the stem cells contained in the pulp of the tooth and generate new dentine - the mineralised material that protects the tooth - in large cavities, potentially reducing the need for fillings or cements. The new approach could see teeth use their natural ability to repair large cavities rather than using cements or fillings. The researchers used a drug for Alzheimer’s disease, developed at King’s College, that has been already tested in clinical trials and could get quickly into clinics.
Promising advances in Alzheimer’s disease research. German researchers have discovered a strategy to help the brain remove amyloid plaques that damage brain cells, a characteristic feature of Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists took aged brain tissue from lab mice with Alzheimer’s disease and blended it with tissue from younger brains. The researchers observed that, within a few days, amyloid plaques were starting to clear away. It seems likely his promising research result could find clinical applications in a few years.
Researchers are studying ways to reverse aging in the lab. Scientists at the Salk Institute have rejuvenated human skin cells in a dish as well as lab mice with a premature aging disease, countering signs of aging and increasing the animals’ lifespan by 30 percent. While this is still research work, unlikely to result in clinical applications anytime soon, the research results provide insight into the aging process and possible therapeutic approaches for improving human health and longevity.
Death will be optional - perhaps, someday. To lift your spirit even more, watch this new video where our friend Aubrey de Grey explains that death will be optional. Aubrey has been saying similar things for well over a decade, with mixed reactions. But his research foundation keeps attracting interest and funding, which shows that Aubrey’s visionary ideas are taken seriously in some quarters. And, you know, perhaps he is right. Don’t expect immortality next year though.
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