Longevity industry systematized for first time

April 02, 2018

UK aging research foundation produces roadmap for the emerging longevity industry in a series of reports to be published throughout the year

The Biogerontology Research Foundation has embarked on a year-long mission to summarise in a single document the various emerging technologies and industries which can be brought to bear on aging, healthy longevity, and everything in between, as part of a joint project between The Global Longevity Consortium, consisting of the Biogerontology Research FoundationDeep Knowledge Life SciencesAging Analytics Agency and Longevity.International platform.

‍GLOBAL LONGEVITY SCIENCE LANDSCAPE 2017

For scientists, policy makers, regulators, government officials, investors and other stakeholders, a consensus understanding of the field of human longevity remains fragmented, and has yet to be systematized by any coherent framework, and has not yet been the subject of a comprehensive report profiling the field and industry as a whole by any analytical agency to date. The consortium behind this series of reports hope that they will come to be used as a sort of Encyclopedia Britannica and specialized Wikipedia of the emerging longevity industry, with the aim of serving as the foundation upon which the first global framework of the industry will be built, given the significant industry growth projected over the coming years.

Experts on the subject of human longevity, who tend arrive at the subject from disparate fields, have failed even to agree on a likely order of magnitude for future human lifespan. Those who foresee a 100-year average in the near future are considered extreme optimists by some, while others have even mooted the possibility of indefinite life extension through comprehensive repair and maintenance. As such the longevity industry has often defied real understanding and has proved a complex and abstract topic in the minds of many, investors and governments in particular.

The first of these landmark reports, entitled ‘The Science of Longevity‘, standing at almost 800 pages in length, seeks to rectify this.

Part 1 of the report ties together the progress threads of the constituent industries into a coherent narrative, mapping the intersection of biomedical gerontology, regenerative medicine, precision medicine, artificial intelligence, offering a brief history and snapshot of each. Part 2 lists and individually profiles 650 longevity-focused entities, including research hubs, non-profit organizations, leading scientists, conferences, databases, books and journals. Infographics are used to illustrate where research institutions stand in relation to each other with regard to their disruptive potential: companies and institutions specialising in palliative technologies are placed at the periphery of circular diagrams, whereas those involved with more comprehensive, preventative interventions, such as rejuvenation biotechnologies and gene therapies, are depicted as central.

In this report great care was taken to visualize the complex and interconnected landscape of this field via state of the art infographics so as to distill the many players, scientific subsectors and technologies within the field of geroscience into common understanding. Their hope was to create a comprehensive yet readily-understandable view of the entire field and its many players, to serve a similar function that Mendeleev’s periodic table did for the field of chemistry. While these are static infographics in the reports, their creators plan to create complimentary online versions that are interactive and filterable, and to convene a series of experts to analyze these infographics and continually update them as the geroscience landscapes shifts. Similar strategies are employed in Volume II to illustrate the many companies and investors within the longevity industry.

These reports currently profile the top 100 entities in each of the categories, but in producing them, analysts found that the majority of these categories have significantly more than 100 entities associated with them. One of their main conclusions upon finishing the report is that the longevity industry is indeed of substantial size, with many industry and academic players, but that it remains relatively fragmented, lacking a sufficient degree of inter-organization collaboration and industry-academic partnerships. The group plans to expand these lists in follow-up volumes so as to give a more comprehensive overview of the individual companies, investors, books, journals, conferences and scientists that serve as the foundation of this emerging industry.

Since these reports are being spearheaded by the UK’s oldest biomedical charity focused on healthspan extension, the Biogerontology Research Foundation is publishing them online, freely available to the public. While the main focus of this series of reports is an analytical report on the emerging longevity industry, the reports still delve deeply into the science of longevity, and Volume I is dedicated exclusively to an overview of the history, present and future state of ageing research from a scientific perspective.

The consortium of organizations behind these reports anticipate them to be the first comprehensive analytical report on the emerging longevity industry to date, and hope to increase awareness and interest from investors, scientists, medical personnel, regulators, policy makers, government officials and the public-at-large in both the longevity industry as well as geroscience proper by providing a report that simultaneously distills the complex network of knowledge underlying the industry and field into easily and intuitively comprehensible infographics, while at the same time providing a comprehensive backbone of chapters and profiles on the various companies, investors, organizations, labs, institutions, books, journals and conferences for those inclined for a deeper dive into the vast foundation of the longevity industry and the field of geroscience.

It is hoped that this report will assist others in visualising the present longevity landscape and elucidate the various industry players and components. Volume 2, The Business of Longevity, which at approximately 500 pages in length aims to be as comprehensive as Volume 1, is set to be published shortly thereafter, and will focus on the companies and investors working in the field of precision preventive medicine with a focus on healthy longevity, which will be necessary in growing the industry fast enough to avert the impending crisis of global aging demographics.

These reports will be followed up throughout the coming year with Volume 3 (“Special Case Studies”), featuring 10 special case studies on specific longevity industry sectors, such as cell therapies, gene therapies, AI for biomarkers of aging, and more, Volume 4 (“Novel Longevity Financial System”), profiling how various corporations, pension funds, investment funds and governments will cooperate within the next decade to avoid the crisis of demographic aging, and Volume 5 (“Region Case Studies”), profiling the longevity industry in specific geographic regions.

These reports are, however, only the beginning, and ultimately will serve as a launching pad for an even more ambitious project: Longevity.International, an online platform that will house these reports, and also serve as a virtual ecosystem for uniting and incentivizing the many fragmented stakeholders of the longevity industry, including scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, regulators and government officials to unite in the common goal of healthspan extension and aversion of the looping demographic aging and Silver Tsunami crisis. The platform will use knowledge crowdsourcing of top tier experts to unite scientists with entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs to investors, and investors to policy-makers and regulators, where all stakeholders can aggregate and integrate intelligence and expertise from each other using modern IT technologies for these types of knowledge platforms, and all stakeholders can be rewarded for their services.

THE SCIENCE OF PROGRESSIVE MEDICINE 2017 LANDSCAPE

The consortium behind these reports are interested in collaboration with interested contributors, institutional partners, and scientific reviewers to assist with the ongoing production of these reports, to enhance their outreach capabilities and ultimately to enhance the overall impact of these reports upon the scientific and business communities operating within the longevity industry, and can be reached at info@longevity.international

This article was originally published by:
http://bg-rf.org.uk/press/longevity-industry-systematized-for-first-time

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The world’s largest reforestation effort in history is underway

April 02, 2018

The largest tropical reforestation effort in history aims to restore 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon by 2023.

The multimillion dollar, six-year project, led by Conservation International, spans 30,000 hectares of land—the equivalent of the size of 30,000 soccer fields, or nearly 70,000 acres.

The effort will help Brazil move towards its Paris agreement target of reforesting 12 million hectares of land by 2030.

“This is a breathtakingly audacious project,” Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, said in astatement. “Together with an alliance of partners, we are undertaking the largest tropical forest restoration project in the world, driving down the cost of restoration in the process. The fate of the Amazon depends on getting this right—as do the region’s 25 million residents, its countless species and the climate of our planet.”

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, home to indigenous communities and an immense variety and richness of biodiversity. The latest survey detailed 381 new species discovered in 2014-2015 alone.

But this precious land has been threatened by decades of commercial exploitation of natural resources, minerals and agribusiness, as Conservation International editorial director Bruno Vander Velde writes, “leading to about 20 percent of original forest cover to be replaced by pastures and agricultural crops, without securing the well-being of the local population.”

“The reforestation project fills an urgent need to develop the region’s economy without destroying its forests and ensuring the well-being of its people,” he notes.

Fast Company reports that instead of planting saplings—which is labor- and resource-intensive—the reforestation effort will involve the “muvuca” strategy, a Portuguese word that means many people in a small place. The strategy involves the spreading of seeds from more than 200 native forest species over every square meter of deforested land and allowing natural selection to weed out the weaker plants. As Fast Company notes, a 2014 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization and Bioversity International found that the muvuca technique allowed more than 90 percent of native tree species planted to germinate. Not only that, they especially resilient and suited to survive drought conditions for up to six months.

According to Rodrigo Medeiros, vice president of Conservation International’s Brazil office, priority areas for the restoration effort include southern Amazonas, Rondônia, Acre, Pará and the Xingu watershed. Restoration activities will include the enrichment of existing secondary forest areas, sowing of selected native species, and, when necessary, direct planting of native species, Medeiros said.

The Brazilian Ministry of Environment, the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank, the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund, and Rock in Rio’s environmental arm “Amazonia Live” are also partners in this effort.

This article was originally published by:
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/11/the-worlds-largest-tropical-reforestation-project-has-begun-in-the-amazon

Prosthetic memory system successful in humans

April 02, 2018

Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the University of Southern California (USC) have demonstrated the successful implementation of a prosthetic system that uses a person’s own memory patterns to facilitate the brain’s ability to encode and recall memory.

In the pilot study, published in today’s Journal of Neural Engineering, participants’ short-term memory performance showed a 35 to 37 percent improvement over baseline measurements.

“This is the first time scientists have been able to identify a patient’s own brain cell code or pattern for memory and, in essence, ‘write in’ that code to make existing memory work better, an important first step in potentially restoring memory loss,” said the study’s lead author Robert Hampson, Ph.D., professor of physiology/pharmacology and neurology at Wake Forest Baptist.

The study focused on improving episodic memory, which is the most common type of memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and head injury. Episodic memory is information that is new and useful for a short period of time, such as where you parked your car on any given day. Reference memory is information that is held and used for a long time, such as what is learned in school.

The researchers enrolled epilepsy patients at Wake Forest Baptist who were participating in a diagnostic brain-mapping procedure that used surgically implanted electrodes placed in various parts of the brain to pinpoint the origin of the patients’ seizures. Using the team’s electronic prosthetic system based on a multi-input multi-output (MIMO) nonlinear mathematical model, the researchers influenced the firing patterns of multiple neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in making new memories in eight of those patients.

First, they recorded the neural patterns or ‘codes’ while the study participants were performing a computerized memory task. The patients were shown a simple image, such as a color block, and after a brief delay where the screen was blanked, were then asked to identify the initial image out of four or five on the screen.

The USC team led by biomedical engineers Theodore Berger, Ph.D., and Dong Song, Ph.D., analyzed the recordings from the correct responses and synthesized a MIMO-based code for correct memory performance. The Wake Forest Baptist team played back that code to the patients while they performed the image recall task. In this test, the patients’ episodic memory performance showed a 37 percent improvement over baseline.

In a second test, participants were shown a highly distinctive photographic image, followed by a short delay, and asked to identify the first photo out of four or five others on the screen. The memory trials were repeated with different images while the neural patterns were recorded during the testing process to identify and deliver correct-answer codes.

After another longer delay, Hampson’s team showed the participants sets of three pictures at a time with both an original and new photos included in the sets, and asked the patients to identify the original photos, which had been seen up to 75 minutes earlier. When stimulated with the correct-answer codes, study participants showed a 35 percent improvement in memory over baseline.

“We showed that we could tap into a patient’s own memory content, reinforce it and feed it back to the patient,” Hampson said. “Even when a person’s memory is impaired, it is possible to identify the neural firing patterns that indicate correct memory formation and separate them from the patterns that are incorrect. We can then feed in the correct patterns to assist the patient’s brain in accurately forming new memories, not as a replacement for innate memory function, but as a boost to it.

“To date we’ve been trying to determine whether we can improve the memory skill people still have. In the future, we hope to be able to help people hold onto specific memories, such as where they live or what their grandkids look like, when their overall memory begins to fail.”

The current study is built on more than 20 years of preclinical research on memory codes led by Sam Deadwyler, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist, along with Hampson, Berger and Song. The preclinical work applied the same type of stimulation to restore and facilitate memory in animal models using the MIMO system, which was developed at USC.

The research was funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Story Source:

Materials provided by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

This article was originally published by:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180327194350.htm