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Happy holidays! The winter break is here, and LEAF too will shift to a lower gear for a little while, but on the plus side, our readers get the Rejuvenation Roundup early! Before we leave you to unwrapping presents and having dinner with the family, let’s recap what has been going on in the field of rejuvenation during the last month of the year.

LEAF news

Team and activities

Project4Awesome. This year, too, our charity participated in Project4Awesome, an event by the vlogbrothers to help out awesome charities around the world. Anyone can participate, and all it takes is to make a brief video to explain the world why you support a certain charity. Traditionally, the competition takes place in December, and the winners are announced in January. While we wait to see if LEAF was among the lucky winners this month, you can have a look at the videos made by our supporters in case you missed them. Whether we win or not, we sincerely thank everyone who made a video and voted for us!

LEAF talks at EHA. As you probably remember, last month, the Fourth Eurosymposium for Healthy Ageing took place in Brussels, and Nicola and Elena from LEAF were also there; they each gave a talk, both of which have been published to our blog earlier this month. Check them out! You can also watch the talks by Anastasia Egorova (Open Longevity) and Daria Khaltourina (International Longevity Alliance) on our Youtube channel.

School of Longevity Journalism. On December 12th, Elena Milova attended a press conference dedicated to the opening of the Media Institute for Public Health, an initiative that is supported by the Russian Ministry of Health and aimed at improving the quality of health coverage in mass media. LEAF is joining the initiative with a set of lectures on the topic of aging research.

Journal Club. The last Journal Club of the year was livestreamed on December 18, and the topic was this open-access paper on fisetin and its potential as a senolytic.

The Rejuvenation Roundup Podcast hosted by Ryan O’Shea from the Future Grind show returns for the festive season.

Lifespan.io interviews

Jan Gruber. In October, we published an article on a study showing that specific combinations of anti-aging drugs were more effective than other combinations or single compounds in nematodes; in December, thanks to LEAF volunteer Tam Hunt, we published an interview with Dr. Jan Gruber, the lead scientist of this specific research project.

Aubrey de Grey. Laura Sanz Olacia brought us an interview of Dr. de Grey from the Longevity World Forum held last November in Valencia, Spain. In the new interview, Dr. de Grey talked about the possibility of having most rejuvenation therapies in early clinical trials within five years.

Reason. Our second interview of the year with Fight Aging!‘s editor and Repair Biotechnologies co-founder Reason was published by LEAF volunteer Tam Hunt, who asked Reason about his views on aging theories, the first therapies to get to the clinic, future plans for Repair Biotechnologies, and more.

Daniel Muñoz-Espín. In this very detailed interview, Dr. Daniel Muñoz-Espín from the Oncology Department of the University of Cambridge told us about the new delivery system for senolytics that he developed with his team as well as his views on theories of aging and the future of rejuvenation biotechnologies.

Valery Novoselov. A world-first in the English-speaking world, LEAF got the chance to talk to Russian geriatrician Valery Novoselov, who has reason to suspect that the record-breaking 122-year lifespan of Mme Jeanne Calment might, in fact, have been a fraud. While nothing has been proven or disproven for certain, the case deserves attention.

Research roundup

Mitochondrial dysfunction

The number of mtDNA copies correlates with self-reported health. According to a study on a cohort of nearly 1,000 patients, people with more mitochondrial DNA copies in blood cells had better self-rated health independent of age; the study also found out that older patients tend to have fewer mtDNA copies and that the number is lower in men than in women.

Loss of proteostasis

The secrets of the proteasome. Thanks to a new technique called cryo-EM, which earned its creators the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, Scripps Research scientists managed to capture “snapshots” of the proteasome at work, unveiling important details of the protein degradation process, in which the proteasome is a central player.

Stem cell exhaustion

Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy reduces frailty. CRATUS, a series of stem cell studies on the effect of MSC transplantation in patients suffering from age-related frailty, showed that the therapy is both safe and somewhat effective in that it improves the physical ability of patients and reduces the burden of chronic inflammation for at least some months. The news has also been reported by Fight Aging!

Debating the existence of heart stem cells. Whether or not cardiac stem cells—cells residing in the heart and capable of regenerating muscle tissue—exist has been a hotly debated topic for a long time; recently, a study suggested that such cells might, unfortunately, not exist.

Genomic instability

Epigenetic signature common to several cancers found. Researchers from the University of Queensland have discovered an epigenetic signature common to a variety of cancers, including prostate, breast, and colorectal, that can easily and cheaply be detected. The technology utilizes gold nanoparticles that instantly change color if the signature is present in a sample, and it has proved to be up to 90% accurate.

Telomere attrition

High-performing centenarians have longer telomeres. A paper published on Aging Cell found that a number of genes controlling for telomere length might be biomarkers of aging. In the study, it was observed that high-performing centenarians who manage to stave off serious diseases for longer than other centenarians have longer telomeres in their T cells and higher telomerase activity. Further commentary is available on Fight Aging!

Other

A possible way to eradicate CMV. Cytomegalovirus, a member of the herpesvirus family, is an extremely common virus among humans. It lies dormant in nearly every one of us for most of our lives but contributes to the weakening of our immune systems as we age. Now, researchers might have found a way to eliminate it from the body, which has thus far been impossible.

News Nuggets

30 years of aging research. Thankfully, long gone are the days when anti-aging science wasn’t taken seriously by scientists themselves; in the early 90s, aging research was seen as crazy, whereas today aging is “one of the most interrogated fields of inquiry in biology”, according to Buck Institute President Eric Verdin. Early in December, the Buck Institute celebrated 30 years of aging research, a field that, Verdin continued, “will revolutionize medicine.”

SRF news. The application time for SENS Research Foundation’s 2019 Summer Scholars Program has now started and will end on February 4, 2019, 12 pm PST. Be sure to apply on time if you’re interested!  Additionally, SRF’s Postbaccalaureate Fellowship Program website has been updated to 2019, with more information on research project options coming on January 7. In other news, SRF’s winter fundraiser currently stands at over $342,000, pushing closer and closer to the $500,000 goal! If you wish to donate to SRF, you can do so here.

UNITY to expand senolytic human trial. UNITY Biotechnology has announced the addition of the sixth cohort of patients to test the safety and tolerability of a higher dose of its candidate senolytic drug UBX0101 intended to treat knee osteoarthritis. The additional cohort will push the expected date of availability of the results to the second quarter of 2019. The company, which has recently welcomed Dr. Margo Roberts to its board of directors, launched the UBX0101 trial in late June of this year. Ned David, co-founder of UNITY, will be giving a talk about senolytics at Undoing Aging 2019.

Life Biosciences expands the board of directors. Life Biosciences, a company focusing on nearly all the hallmarks of aging through its daughter companies, has recently announced the addition of Mr. Bracken Darrell to its board of directors. Co-founded by Dr. David Sinclair, the company’s mission is “to create a future where age-related decline is not a fact of life.”

A very special letter to Santa Claus. The old man on the sleigh is probably more used to bringing toys and candies and stuff like that as Christmas gifts than what little Elena asked for in her own letter to Santa this year: global awareness that biological aging is a health problem amenable to medical intervention.

Coming up in January

Longevity Therapeutics Summit. On January 29-31, in San Francisco, the Longevity Therapeutics Summit will take place; the event will feature several leading speakers from the industry as well as from academia and is a great networking and learning opportunity. You can read more about it in our article here.

That was all for December; thank you very much for spending yet another month—and another year!—in our company! We wish you a lovely holiday time, and remember to check out our blog around the end of the year because our yearly roundup will be published by that time!

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About the author

Nicola Bagalà

Nicola is a bit of a jack of all trades—a holder of an M.Sc. in mathematics; an amateur programmer; a hobbyist at novel writing, piano and art; and, of course, a passionate life extensionist. After his interest in the science of undoing aging arose in 2011, he gradually shifted from quiet supporter to active advocate in 2015, first launching his advocacy blog Rejuvenaction before eventually joining LEAF. These years in the field sparked an interest in molecular biology, which he actively studies. Other subjects he loves to discuss to no end are cosmology, artificial intelligence, and many others—far too many for a currently normal lifespan, which is one of the reasons he’s into life extension.
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