[GRG] Strategy proposed for preventing diseases of aging

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Contact: Jim Dryden
jdryden@wustl.edu
314-286-0110
Washington University School of Medicine

Strategy proposed for preventing diseases of aging

AUDIO: Some researchers are proposing that changing how medical
care is delivered could help prevent multiple chronic diseases and
extend healthy lifespan. The idea, they argue, would be to target
the…

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Medicine focuses almost entirely on fighting chronic diseases in a
piecemeal fashion as symptoms develop. Instead, more efforts should
be directed to promoting interventions that have the potential to
prevent multiple chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespans.

Researchers writing in the journal Nature say that by treating the
metabolic and molecular causes of human aging, it may be possible
to help people stay healthy into their 70s and 80s.

In a commentary published July 24 in Nature, a trio of aging
experts calls for moving forward with preclinical and clinical
strategies that have been shown to delay aging in animals. In
addition to promoting a healthy diet and regular exercise, these
strategies include slowing the metabolic and molecular causes of
human aging, such as the incremental accumulation of cellular
damage that occurs over time.

The researchers, at Washington University School of Medicine in St.
Louis, Brescia University in Italy, the Buck Institute for Aging
and Research and the Longevity Institute at the University of
Southern California, write that economic incentives in biomedical
research and health care reward treating disease more than
promoting good health.

“You don’t have to be a mathematician or an economist to understand
that our current health care approach is not sustainable,” said
first author Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and
nutrition at Washington University and Brescia University. “As
targeting diseases has helped people live longer, they are spending
more years being sick with multiple disorders related to aging, and
that’s expensive,” said

The diseases of old age — such as heart failure, diabetes,
arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease — tend to come as a
package, the researchers write. More than 70 percent of people over
age 65 have two or more chronic diseases. But, they noted, studies
of diet, genes and drugs indicate that interventions targeted to
specific molecular pathways that delay one age-related disease
often stave off others, too.

IMAGE: This is Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD.

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“Heart failure doesn’t happen all at once,” Fontana said. “It takes
30 or 40 years of an unhealthy lifestyle and activation of aging-
related pathways from metabolic abnormalities such as high blood
pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes to give a person
heart failure in his 60s. So we propose using lifestyle
interventions — such as a personalized healthy diet and exercise
program — to down-regulate aging pathways so the patient avoids
heart failure in the first place.”

His own research has highlighted potential benefits from dietary
restriction in extending healthy life span. He has found that
people who eat significantly fewer calories, while still getting
optimal nutrition, have “younger,” more flexible hearts. They also
have significantly lower blood pressure, much less inflammation in
their bodies and their skeletal muscles function in ways similar to
muscles in people who are significantly younger.

Fontana and his co-authors also point out that several molecular
pathways shown to increase longevity in animals also are affected
by approved and experimental drugs, including rapamycin, an
anticancer and organ-rejection drug, and metformin, a drug used to
treat type 2 diabetes.

Numerous natural and synthetic molecules affect pathways shared by
aging, diabetes and its related metabolic syndrome. Also, healthy
diets and calorie restriction are known to help animals live up to
50 percent longer.

But it’s been difficult to capitalize on research advances to stall
aging in people. Fontana and his colleagues write that most
clinicians don’t realize how much already is understood about the
molecular mechanisms of aging and their link to chronic diseases.
And scientists don’t understand precisely how the drugs that affect
aging pathways work.

Fontana and his colleagues contend that the time is right for
moving forward with preclinical and clinical trials of the most
promising findings from animal studies. They also call for
developing well-defined endpoints to determine whether work in
animals will translate to humans. They are optimistic on that front
because it appears that the nutrient-sensing and aging-related
pathways in humans are very similar to those that have been
targeted to help animals live longer and healthier lives.

But challenges abound. The most important change, they argue, is in
mindset. Economic incentives in biomedical research and health care
reward treating diseases more than promoting good health, they note.

IMAGE: Aging experts urge more focus on disease prevention to
promote a long and healthy lifespan. Strategies include a healthy
diet, exercise and possibly manipulating molecular pathways that
slow aging.

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“But public money must be invested in extending healthy lifespan by
slowing aging. Otherwise, we will founder in a demographic crisis
of increased disability and escalating health care costs,” they
write in Nature.

“The combination of an aging population with an increased burden of
chronic diseases and the epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes
could soon make healthy care unaffordable for all but the richest
people,” Fontana added.

###

Fontana, L. Kennedy BK, Longo V. Treat ageing: prepare for human
testing. Nature, vol. 511 (7510), pp. 405-406. July 24, 2014

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and
volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-
Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine
is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care
institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by
U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-
Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine
is linked to BJC HealthCare.

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About Johnny Adams

My full-time commitment is to slow and ultimately reverse age related functional decline to increase healthy years of life. I’ve been active in this area since the 1970s, steadily building skills and accomplishments. I have a good basic understanding of the science of aging, and have many skills that complement those of scientists so they can focus on science to advance our shared mission. Broad experience Top skills: administration, management, information technology (data and programming), communications, writing, marketing, market research and analysis, public speaking, forging ethical win-win outcomes among stakeholders (i.e. high level "selling"). Knowledge in grant writing, fundraising, finance. Like most skilled professionals, I’m best described as a guy who defines an end point, then figures out how to get there. I enjoy the conception, design, execution and successful completion of a grand plan. Executive Director Gerontology Research Group (GRG). Manages Email discussion forum, web site, meetings and oversees supercentenarian (oldest humans, 110+ years) research. CEO / Executive Director Carl I. Bourhenne Medical Research Foundation (Aging Intervention Foundation), an IRS approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit. http://www.AgingIntervention.org Early contributor to Supercentenarian Research Foundation. Co-Founder Geroscience Healthspan Forum. Active contributor to numerous initiatives to increase healthy years of life. Co-authored book on conventional, practical methods available today to slow the processes of aging – nutrition, exercise, behavior modification and motivation, stress reduction, proper supplementation, damage caused by improper programs, risk reduction and others. Fundamental understanding of, and experience in the genomics of longevity (internship analyzing and curating longevity gene papers). Biological and technical includes information technology, software development and computer programming, bioinformatics and protein informatics, online education, training programs, regulatory, clinical trials software, medical devices (CAT scanners and related), hospital electrical equipment testing program. Interpersonal skills – good communication, honest, well liked, works well in teams or alone. Real world experience collaborating in interdisciplinary teams in fast paced organizations. Uses technology to advance our shared mission. Education: MBA 1985 University of Southern California -- Deans List, Albert Quon Community Service Award (for volunteering with the American Longevity Association and helping an elderly lady every other week), George S. May Scholarship, CA State Fellowship. BA psychology, psychobiology emphasis 1983 California State University Fullerton Physiological courses as well as core courses (developmental, abnormal etc). UCLA Psychobiology 1978, one brief but fast moving and fulfilling quarter. Main interest was the electrochemical basis of consciousness. Also seminars at the NeuroPsychiatric Institute. Other: Ongoing conferences, meetings and continuing education. Aging, computer software and information technology. Some molecular biology, biotech, bio and protein informatics, computer aided drug design, clinical medical devices, electronics, HIPAA, fundraising through the Assoc. of Fundraising Professionals. Previous careers include: Marketing Increasing skill set and successes in virtually all phases, with valuable experience in locating people and companies with the greatest need and interest in a product or service, and sitting across the table with decision makers and working out agreements favorable to all. Information Technology: Management, data analysis and programming in commercial and clinical trials systems, and bioinformatics and protein informatics. As IT Director at Newport Beach, CA based technology organization Success Family of Continuing Education Companies, provided online software solutions for insurance and financial professionals in small to Fortune 500 size companies. We were successful with lean team organization (the slower moving competition was unable to create similar software systems). Medical devices: At Omnimedical in Paramount CA developed and managed quality assurance dept. and training depts. for engineers, physicians and technicians. Designed hospital equipment testing program for hospital services division. In my early 20’s I was a musician, and studied psychology and music. Interned with the intention of becoming a music therapist. These experiences helped develop valuable skills used today to advance our shared mission of creating aging solutions.
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