Selling long life

Journal name:
Nature Biotechnology
Volume:
33,
Pages:
31–40
Year published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/nbt.3108
Published online
Corrected online
Corrected online

A new generation of commercial entities is beginning to explore opportunities for new types of interventions and services in a graying world.

At a glance

Figures

  1. Going to extremes.
    Figure 1: Going to extremes.

    Genes and pathways that distinguish long lived species or individuals from their shorter-lived counterparts could point the way to interventions to forestall some of the diseases of aging. The ocean quahog species Arctica islandica, holds the record for life span among noncolonial creatures. A member of that species, Ming—so called because it was alive during the Ming Dynasty—lived to 550 years, and only died when it was killed in order to determine its age. The species is resistant to oxidative stress and has lower levels of accumulated macromolecular damage. This is consistent with an early theory of aging that proposed that oxidative damage caused by reactive oxygen species led to mutations and faulty proteins accumulating. This line of research spawned a multibillion dollar supplements market in various anti-oxidant preparations (Box 5). Another oddity is the naked mole-rat, (Heterocephalus glaber), neither a mole nor a rat, which lives roughly ten times longer than its fellow rodents. George Church's group peered into the transcriptome of mole-rats and found greater expression of several age-related genes (protease inhibitor, alpha-2 microglobulin and mitochondrial complex II subunits), as well as one associated with cancer (epithelial cell adhesion molecule).

  2. Increase in life expectancy at birth with elimination of disease.
    Figure 2: Increase in life expectancy at birth with elimination of disease.

    (Source: modified from ref. 2.)

  3. Molecular targets for caloric restriction and interventions against premature aging.
    Figure 3: Molecular targets for caloric restriction and interventions against premature aging.

    (Reprinted with permission from ref. 3.)

  4. The wellderly.
    Figure 4: The wellderly.

    Okinawans may have the highest ratio of centenarians in the world, with 50/100,000. In the United States, that number is believed to be 10–20.

  5. Pope Innocent VIII died in a rejuvenation attempt in 1492.
    Figure 5: Pope Innocent VIII died in a rejuvenation attempt in 1492.

Change history

Corrected online 14 January 2015
In the version of this article initially published, the caption for Figure 5 read “Pope Innocent VIII, likely the first patient to undergo parabiosis.” In fact, he did not undergo parabiosis, but a blood transfusion. The caption should have read “Pope Innocent VIII died in a rejuvenation attempt in 1492.” The errors have been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.
Corrected online 30 April 2015
In the version of this article initially published, Retrotope Inc. was included in Table 1 in the “Walking dead” category. Nature Biotechnology has since been informed by Retrotope management that the company raised $10 million in seed funding in 2014. Retrotope has been removed from Table 1. The error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.

References

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  10. Stipp, D. The Youth Pill: Scientists at the Brink of an Anti-Aging Revolution (Current, New York, 2010).

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Affiliations

  1. Christopher Thomas Scott is a Contributing Editor at Nature Biotechnology

  2. Laura DeFrancesco is a Senior Editor at Nature Biotechnology.

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