Dr Bryant Villeponteau the formulator of Stem Cell 100 and other Life Code nutraceuticals was recently interviewed by Dr Mercola who owns the largest health web site on the internet. Dr. Villeponteau is also the author of Decoding Longevity an new book which will be released during December. He is a leading researcher in novel anti-aging therapies involving stem cells an area in which he has been a pioneer for over three decades.
Stem cell technology could have a dramatic influence on our ability to live longer and replace some of our failing parts, which is the inevitable result of the aging process. With an interest in aging and longevity, Dr. Villeponteau started out by studying developmental biology. “If we could understand development, we could understand aging,” he says. Later, his interest turned more toward the gene regulation aspects. While working as a professor at the University of Michigan at the Institute of Gerontology, he received, and accepted, a job offer from Geron Corporation—a Bay Area startup, in the early ‘90s.
“They were working on telomerase, which I was pretty excited about at the time. I joined them when they first started,” he says. “We had an all-out engagement there to clone human telomerase. It had been cloned in other animals but not in humans or mammals.”
If you were to unravel the tip of the chromosome, a telomere is about 15,000 bases long at the moment of conception in the womb. Immediately after conception, your cells begin to divide, and your telomeres begin to shorten each time the cell divides. Once your telomeres have been reduced to about 5,000 bases, you essentially die of old age.
“What you have to know about telomerase is that it’s only on in embryonic cells. In adult cells, it’s totally, for the most part, turned off, with the exception of adult stem cells,” Dr. Villeponteau explains. “Adult stem cells have some telomerase – not full and not like the embryonic stem cells, but they do have some telomerase activity.”
Most of the research currently being done, both in academia and industrial labs, revolves around either embryonic stem cells, or a second type called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). Dr. Villeponteau, on the other hand, believes adult stem cells are the easiest and most efficient way to achieve results.
That said, adult stem cells do have their drawbacks. While they’re your own cells, which eliminates the problem of immune-related issues, there’s just not enough of them. Especially as you get older, there are fewer and fewer adult stem cells, and they tend to become increasingly dysfunctional too. Yet another hurdle is that they don’t form the tissues that they need to form…
To solve such issues, Dr. Villeponteau has created a company with the technology and expertise to amplify your adult stem cells a million-fold or more, while still maintaining their ability to differentiate all the different cell types, and without causing the cells to age. Again, it is the adult stem cell’s ability to potentially cure, or at least ameliorate, many of our age-related diseases by regenerating tissue that makes this field so exciting.
Dr Villeponteau believes you can add many years, likely decades, to your life simply by eating right, exercising (which promotes the production of muscle stem cells, by the way) and living an otherwise clean and healthy lifestyle. Extreme life extension, on the other hand, is a different matter.
His book, Decoding Longevity, covers preventive strategies to prolong your life, mainly diet, exercise, and supplements. A portion of the book also covers future developments in the area of more radical life extension, such as stem cell technology.
Now researchers have found a way not just to stop, but, reverse the aging process. The key is something called a telomere. We all have them. They are the tips or caps of your chromosomes. They are long and stable in young adults, but, as we age they become shorter, damaged and frayed. When they stop working we start aging and experience things like hearing and memory loss.
In a recent study published in the peer reviewed journal Nature scientists took mice that were prematurely aged to the equivalent of 80-year-old humans, added an enzyme and essentially turned their telomeres back on. After the treatment they were the physiological equivalent of young adults. You can see the before and after pictures in the videos above. Brain function improved, their fertility was restored it was a remarkable reversal of the aging process. In the top video the untreated mouse shows bad skin, gray hair and it is balding. The mouse with it’s telomeres switched back on has a dark coat color, the hair is restored and the coat has a nice healthy sheen to it. Even more dramatic is the change in brain size. Before treatment the aged mice had 75% of a normal size brain like a patient with severe Alzheimers. After the telomeres were reactivated the brain returned to normal size. As for humans while it is just one factor scientists say the longer the telomeres the better the chances for a more graceful aging.
The formal study Telomere dysfunction induces metabolic and mitochondrial compromise was published in Nature.
Additional information published by Harvard can be found in the following articles.
While scientists are not yet able to accomplish the same results in humans we believe we have developed a nutraceutical to help prolong youth and possibly extend life until age reversal therapy for humans becomes available.
New evidence that adult stem cells are critical to human aging has recently been published on a study done on a super-centenarian woman that lived to be 115 years. At death, her circulating stem cell pool had declined to just two active stem cells from stem cell counts that are typically more than a thousand in younger adults. Super-centenarians have survived all the normal diseases that kill 99.9% of us before 100 years of age, so it has been a mystery as to what actually kills these hardy individuals. This recent data suggest that stem cell decline may be the main contributor to aging. If so, stabilizing stem cells may be the best thing one can do to slow your rate of aging.
There are many theories of aging that have been proposed. For example, damage to cells and tissues from oxidative stress has been one of the most popular fundamental theories of aging for more than half a century. Yet antioxidant substances or genes that code antioxidant enzymes have proven largely ineffective in slowing aging when tested in model animals. Thus, interest by scientists has shifted to other hypotheses that might provide a better explanation for the slow declines in function with age.
Stem cells provide one such promising mechanism of aging. Of course, we all know that babies are young and vigorous, independent of the age of their parents. This is because adults have embryonic stem cells that can generate young new cells needed to form a complete young baby. Indeed, these embryonic stem cells are the product of continuously evolving stem cell populations that go back to the beginning of life on earth over 3.5 billion years ago!
In adults, the mostly immortal embryonic stem cells give rise to mortal adult stem cells in all the tissues of the body. These adult stem cells can regenerate your cells and tissues as they wear out and need replacement. Unfortunate, adult stem cells also age, which leads to fewer cells and/or loss of function in cell replacement. As functional stem cells decline, skin and organs decline with age.
The somatic mutation burden in healthy white blood cells (WBCs) is not well known. Based on deep whole-genome sequencing, we estimate that approximately 450 somatic mutations accumulated in the nonrepetitive genome within the healthy blood compartment of a 115-yr-old woman. The detected mutations appear to have been harmless passenger mutations: They were enriched in noncoding, AT-rich regions that are not evolutionarily conserved, and they were depleted for genomic elements where mutations might have favorable or adverse effects on cellular fitness, such as regions with actively transcribed genes. The distribution of variant allele frequencies of these mutations suggests that the majority of the peripheral white blood cells were offspring of two related hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) clones. Moreover, telomere lengths of the WBCs were significantly shorter than telomere lengths from other tissues. Together, this suggests that the finite lifespan of HSCs, rather than somatic mutation effects, may lead to hematopoietic clonal evolution at extreme ages.
Scientists at McMaster University have discovered how to make adult sensory neurons from human patients simply by having them roll up their sleeve and providing a blood sample.
Specifically, stem cell scientists at McMaster can now directly convert adult human blood cells to both central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) neurons as well as neurons in the peripheral nervous system (rest of the body) that are responsible for pain, temperature and itch perception. This means that how a person’s nervous system cells react and respond to stimuli, can be determined from his blood.
The breakthrough, published online today and featured on the cover of the journal Cell Reports, was led by Mick Bhatia, director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Human Stem Cell Biology and is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. Also playing a key role was Karun Singh, a co-author in the study and holder of the David Braley Chair in Human Stem Cell Research.
Currently, scientists and physicians have a limited understanding of the complex issue of pain and how to treat it. The peripheral nervous system is made up of different types of nerves — some are mechanical (feel pressure) and others detect temperature (heat). In extreme conditions, pain or numbness is perceived by the brain using signals sent by these peripheral nerves.
“The problem is that unlike blood, a skin sample or even a tissue biopsy, you can’t take a piece of a patient’s neural system. It runs like complex wiring throughout the body and portions cannot be sampled for study,” said Bhatia.
“Now we can take easy to obtain blood samples, and make the main cell types of neurological systems — the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system — in a dish that is specialized for each patient,” said Bhatia. “Nobody has ever done this with adult blood. Ever.
“We can actually take a patient’s blood sample, as routinely performed in a doctor’s office, and with it we can produce one million sensory neurons, that make up the peripheral nerves in short order with this new approach. We can also make central nervous system cells, as the blood to neural conversion technology we developed creates neural stem cells during the process of conversion.”
His team’s revolutionary, patented direct conversion technology has “broad and immediate applications,” said Bhatia, adding that it allows researchers to start asking questions about understanding disease and improving treatments such as: Why is it that certain people feel pain versus numbness? Is this something genetic? Can the neuropathy that diabetic patients experience be mimicked in a dish?
It also paves the way for the discovery of new pain drugs that don’t just numb the perception of pain. Bhatia said non-specific opioids used for decades are still being used today.
“If I was a patient and I was feeling pain or experiencing neuropathy, the prized pain drug for me would target the peripheral nervous system neurons, but do nothing to the central nervous system, thus avoiding non-addictive drug side effects,” said Bhatia.
“You don’t want to feel sleepy or unaware, you just want your pain to go away. But, up until now, no one’s had the ability and required technology to actually test different drugs to find something that targets the peripheral nervous system and not the central nervous system in a patient specific, or personalized manner.”
Bhatia’s team successfully tested their process using fresh blood, but also cryopreserved (frozen) blood. Since blood samples are taken and frozen with many clinical trials, this allows them “almost a bit of a time machine” to go back and explore questions around pain or neuropathy to run tests on neurons created from blood samples of patients taken in past clinical trials where responses and outcomes have already been recorded.”
In the future, the process may have prognostic potential, explained Bhatia, in that one might be able to look at a patient with Type 2 Diabetes and predict whether they will experience neuropathy by running tests in the lab using their own neural cells derived from their blood sample.
“This bench to bedside research is very exciting and will have a major impact on the management of neurological diseases, particularly neuropathic pain,” said Akbar Panju, medical director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care, a clinician and professor of medicine.
“This research will help us understand the response of cells to different drugs and different stimulation responses, and allow us to provide individualized or personalized medical therapy for patients suffering with neuropathic pain.”
Animals fed a high fat diet were limited to time restricted feeding during an eight hour period each day. The mice consumed the same number of calories as those allowed to eat all day and night yet they did not develop obesity or other health problems associated with the unrestricted mice. The time restricted feeding mice even developed improved motor coordination. The regimen also improved CREB, mTOR and AMPK anti-aging pathway functions and oscillations of the circadian clock and their target genes’ expression. These changes in catabolic and anabolic pathways altered liver metabolome, improved nutrient utilization and energy expenditure. The study demonstrated in mice that the time restricted feeding regimen is a non-pharmacological strategy against obesity and associated diseases.
Improvements were found in the time restricted feeding group in the following areas:
- Fatty acid metabolism, body weight and liver health
- Glucose metabolism and tolerance
- Overt rhythms and attenuated body weight gain
- CREB, mTOR and AMPK activities and in circadian oscillator
- Diurnal rhythms in metabolic regulators and the circadian oscillator
- Hepatic glucose metabolism
- Lipid homeostasis
- Bile acid production, adipose tissue homeostasis and inflammation alleviation
The published study can be viewed at Cell Metab. 2012 Jun 6; 15(6): 848–860
Ever wonder how much working out contributes to anti-aging? A new study on identical twins published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise explores exactly that, and the results are dramatic.
In the study, Finnish researchers looked at 10 pairs of identical twin men. Each set of twins was in their mid-30s, and each had been brought up in the same household. Since they were identical, they also shared the same DNA. The only difference was that though they had maintained the same level of physical activity for most of their lives, one twin had cut way back on exercising in the past few years due to work or family pressure; on average, the active twin worked out at least twice a week, while the less active twin exercised less than twice a week. The research team put each twin through a host of medical tests to get a sense of their overall health.
The results revealed big differences between each twin. While the more active twins had lower body fat percentage (20.7 versus 24), better endurance levels, and normal insulin sensitivity, the sedentary twins had about seven more pounds of body fat, worse endurance, and insulin sensitivity that showed signs of early metabolic disease. Not only were their bodies different; their brains diverged as well. The athletic twins had more gray matter (the information processing part of the brain), particularly in areas that controlled balance and motor function.
The study was small, but the takeaway is clear: Quitting your fitness routine can trigger body and brain changes that mess with your cardio fitness and strength and set you up for chronic conditions such as diabetes, says Jordan Metzl, M.D., sports medicine physician and author of The Exercise Cure. (Metzl was not part of the study.) And considering that the less active twins in the study had only recently become couch potatoes, these changes can sneak up on you a lot sooner than you’d think. “Muscles begin to atrophy after just a few days of being sedentary,” says Metzl. “Organ damage and changes in overall functioning will follow.”
Adults who closely followed the Mediterranean diet were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease over a 10-year period compared to similar adults who did not closely follow the diet, according to a study to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego.
Among the study’s participants, adherence to the Mediterranean diet was more protective than physical activity. The study, conducted in Greece, bolsters evidence from earlier studies pointing to the diet’s health benefits and is the first to track 10-year heart disease risk in a general population. Most previous studies have focused on middle-aged people.
“Our study shows that the Mediterranean diet is a beneficial intervention for all types of people–in both genders, in all age groups, and in both healthy people and those with health conditions,” said Ekavi Georgousopoulou, a Ph.D. candidate at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, who conducted the study along with Demosthenes B. Panagiotakos, Ph.D., professor at Harokopio University. “It also reveals that the Mediterranean diet has direct benefits for heart health, in addition to its indirect benefits in managing diabetes, hypertension and inflammation.”
The study is based on data from a representative sample of more than 2,500 Greek adults, ages 18 to 89, who provided researchers with their health information each year from 2001 to 2012. Participants also completed in-depth surveys about their medical records, lifestyle and dietary habits at the start of the study, after five years and after 10 years.
Overall, nearly 20 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women who participated in the study developed or died from heart disease, a suite of conditions that includes stroke, coronary heart disease caused by the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries, acute coronary syndromes such as heart attack, and other diseases. Other studies have shown Greeks and Americans have similar rates of heart disease and its risk factors.
The researchers scored participants’ diets on a scale from 1 to 55 based on their self-reported frequency and level of intake for 11 food groups. Those who scored in the top-third in terms of adherence to the Mediterranean diet, indicating they closely followed the diet, were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease over the 10-year follow-up period as compared to participants who scored in the bottom-third, indicating they did not closely follow the diet. Each one-point increase in the dietary score was associated with a 3 percent drop in heart disease risk.
This difference was independent of other heart disease risk factors including age, gender, family history, education level, body mass index, smoking habits, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, all of which the researchers adjusted for in their analysis.
The analysis also confirmed results of previous studies indicating that male gender, older age, diabetes and high C-reactive protein levels, a measure of inflammation, are associated with an increased risk for heart disease.
While there is no set Mediterranean diet, it commonly emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, olive oil and even a glass of red wine. Earlier research has shown that following the traditional Mediterranean diet is linked to weight loss, reduced risk of diabetes, lower blood pressure and lower blood cholesterol levels, in addition to reduced risk of heart disease.
“Because the Mediterranean diet is based on food groups that are quite common or easy to find, people around the world could easily adopt this dietary pattern and help protect themselves against heart disease with very little cost,” Georgousopoulou said.
Among study participants, women tended to follow the Mediterranean diet more closely than did men. Despite the fact that Greece is the cradle of the Mediterranean diet, urbanization has led many Greeks to adopt a more Western diet over the past four decades, he said.
The study was limited to participants living in and around Athens, Greece, so the sample does not necessarily reflect the health conditions or dietary patterns of people in more rural areas or the rest of the world. However, previous studies have also linked the Mediterranean diet with reduced cardiovascular risks, including the Nurses’ Health Study, which included nearly 75,000 American nurses who were tracked over a 30-year period. Additional studies in other adult populations would further advance understanding of the diet’s influence on heart disease risk.
The study, “Adherence to Mediterranean is the Most Important Protector Against the Development of Fatal and Non-Fatal Cardiovascular Event: 10-Year Follow-up (2002-12) Of the Attica Study,” will be presented on March 15 at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego. The meeting runs March 14-16.
Another study about diet to be presented at ACC.15 suggests cardiologists and other doctors may not be prepared to counsel patients on heart healthy diets, so efforts to help patients adopt healthier diets may fall short.
The small study, based on a survey of 236 cardiologists and internal medicine physicians and trainees at a large tertiary academic medical center, found that although physicians rate nutrition to be as important as statins in terms of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, only 13.5 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they were adequately trained to discuss nutrition with patients. The 28-question online survey was administered to identify gaps in nutritional knowledge and assess physician attitudes and practices related to nutrition for cardiovascular disease prevention. Two out of three fact-based questions were answered correctly. Cardiologists and internal medicine physicians scored about the same. Nearly all (89.7 percent) knew the Mediterranean diet was shown to reduce cardiovascular disease in randomized controlled trials, but less than half (45.5 percent) knew that low-fat diets had never been shown to do so.
What was surprising to researchers was how many physicians surveyed were not equipped to give practical recommendations for choosing heart healthy foods. For example, while the physicians knew about the blood pressure lowering effects of fruits and vegetables and LDL-cholesterol lowering effects of soluble fiber (81.7 and 87.6 percent, respectively), a much smaller percentage of respondents were able to correctly identify foods high in soluble fiber or an oily fish (69.5 and 30.8 percent, respectively).
“It’s one thing to know an oily fish is a good thing, but being able to advise patients on which types of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acid is another,” said Eugenia Gianos, M.D., assistant professor of medicine in the Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Authors say the study underscores the need for additional training in nutrition for cardiologists and other physicians, as well as more opportunities to educate patients. Nearly two out of three doctors spent less than three minutes counseling patients about diet and lifestyle modifications. “In some ways we were pleased to see that most doctors were spending any time discussing diet and exercise given how short medical appointments are these days, but we would have liked to see more referrals to dieticians,” Gianos said.
The data are limited due to the low response rate (26.7 percent) and that it was limited to a single center. Still, Gianos said she believes there is great potential to improve patient care through physician education with more extensive emphasis on diet in their core curriculum, self-learning opportunities, and collaboration with dietitians or other health care professionals. She said this type of survey should be fielded at other medical centers.
The American College of Cardiology has identified heart healthy diets as critical for cardiovascular disease risk reduction and recommends physicians provide dietary guidance to those at risk for or with established disease.
A new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even if the diet is not meticulously followed, according to a paper published online for subscribers in March in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Rush nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, and colleagues developed the “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” (MIND) diet. The study shows that the MIND diet lowered the risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.
“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for AD,” said Morris, a Rush professor, assistant provost for Community Research, and director of Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology. “I think that will motivate people.”
Morris and her colleagues developed the MIND diet based on information that has accrued from years’ worth of past research about what foods and nutrients have good, and bad, effects on the functioning of the brain over time. This is the first study to relate the MIND diet to Alzheimer’s disease.
“I was so very pleased to see the outcome we got from the new diet,” she said.
The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, both of which have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Some researchers have found that the two older diets provide protection against dementia as well.
In the latest study, the MIND diet was compared with the two other diets. People with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also had reductions in AD — 39 percent with the DASH diet and 54 percent with the Mediterranean diet — but got negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets.
The MIND diet is also easier to follow than, say, the Mediterranean diet, which calls for daily consumption of fish and 3-4 daily servings of each of fruits and vegetables, Morris said.
The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” — green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine — and five unhealthy groups that comprise red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.
With the MIND diet, a person who eats at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snacks most days on nuts, has beans every other day or so, eats poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week and benefits. However, he or she must limits intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three), to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of AD, according to the study.
Berries are the only fruit specifically to make the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris said, and strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.
The MIND diet was not an intervention in this study, however; researchers looked at what people were already eating. Participants earned points if they ate brain-healthy foods frequently and avoided unhealthy foods. The one exception was that participants got one point if they said olive oil was the primary oil used in their homes.
The study enlisted volunteers already participating in the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), which began in 1997 among residents of Chicago-area retirement communities and senior public housing complexes. An optional “food frequency questionnaire” was added from 2004 to February 2013, and the MIND diet study looked at results for 923 volunteers. A total of 144 cases of AD developed in this cohort.
AD, which takes a devastating toll on cognitive function, is not unlike heart disease in that there appear to be “many factors that play into who gets the disease,” including behavioral, environmental and genetic components, Dr. Morris said.
“With late-onset AD, with that older group of people, genetic risk factors are a small piece of the picture,” she said. Past studies have yielded evidence that suggests that what we eat may play a significant role in determining who gets AD and who doesn’t, Morris said.
When the researchers in the new study left out of the analyses those participants who changed their diets somewhere along the line — say, on a doctor’s orders after a stroke — they found that “the association became stronger between the MIND diet and [favorable] outcomes” in terms of AD, Morris said. “That probably means that people who eat this diet consistently over the years get the best protection.”
In other words, it looks like the longer a person eats the MIND diet, the less risk that person will have of developing AD, Morris said. As is the case with many health-related habits, including physical exercise, she said, “You’ll be healthier if you’ve been doing the right thing for a long time.”
Morris said, “We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study. The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials.” That is the best way to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the MIND diet and reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, she said.
The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging. All the researchers on this study were from Rush except for Frank M. Sacks MD, professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Department of Nutrition, at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Sacks chaired the committee that developed the DASH diet.
Author Bryant H. McGill asserts that: “It is better to have a meaningful life and make a difference than to merely have a long life.” But increasingly one can have both, courtesy of scientific advancement. Extending life and its quality are clearly within our reach.
Life expectancy in industrialized nations has risen from age 47 in 1900 to 80 today, mainly due to breakthroughs in curing childhood illnesses. And while age-related illnesses like heart disease, cancer, stroke and Alzheimer’s are very prevalent, progress in curing — or effectively managing— them has been remarkable. Eighteen months ago Google launched Calico (California Life Company) to reverse engineer the biology that controls lifespan, while a year ago technology entrepreneurs Craig Venter and Peter Diamindis created Human Longevity with plans to create a database of one million human genome sequences by 2020.
There are a host of treatments and remedies, both natural and pharmacological, nutritional and kinesiologic, that can extend longevity. Unquestionably, one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in recent times has been in stem cells. Research in this area is clearly revolutionizing health care. Everybody has stem cells in their body.
The main purpose of these cells is to repair and maintain tissue. The concept of stem cell therapy is to harness your body’s own healing potential. Scientists can isolate cells from a patient, enrich them and then direct them to areas of disease. In this case, the stem cells may actually heal tissue or replace damaged cells with functioning cells instead of only masking symptoms. The ability to combat disease without the negative side effects of pharmaceuticals is going to revolutionize medicine.
Adult stem cells are frequently used in medical therapies, with treatment investigations for diabetes, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. But stem cell therapies for heart disease are extremely promising and vitally important, given that heart disease kills 1 of every 4 Americans each year and is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
Florida is one of the fastest growing bioscience regions in the world. With a strong base of biotechnology, medical devices and pharmaceutical companies, world-class research universities and some of the leading non-profit research institutes in the world, Florida has built a resource base to be a top bioscience destination.
With nearly 5,500 bioscience establishments and 40 percent located in Southeast Florida the state is generating over $16 billion in economic output and average compensation two-thirds greater than other industries. Florida’s biotech industry has grown more than 75 percent over the past six years. Florida’s research universities conducts over $12 billion in bioscience related research and development on a yearly basis, with most of the state’s research universities involved directly or indirectly in stem cell research.
llustrative is Bioheart, a Sunrise-based biosciences firm that offers huge promise with its MyoCell therapy, composed of muscle cells that are injected into the scar tissue that has formed in the hearts of patients suffering from heart failure. Clinical trials worldwide have been shown to lead to improved cardiac function and an improved quality of life. With a steady stream of positive clinical outcomes worldwide, Bioheart launched a new facility in South Africa, a stem cell institute, last fall.
What could the state do to build on its existing biosciences infrastructure and enhance its national competitiveness in stem cell research and development?
Clearly, Florida could establish something similar to the grant programs offered by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. This could help create new treatments as well as create high tech jobs for the state.
Extending life and improve the quality of one’s existence are clearly within our grasp. Stem cell research and therapies vividly attest to the fact that the future is now. Florida’s bioscience ecosystem has a major role to play in this exciting transformation, not just regionally but nationally, as well. With collaboration between business, academe, scientists, clinical practitioners, and the State (including funding), Florida can surely become an important beacon for medical advancement.
If you’re looking to improve your heart health by changing your diet, when you eat may be just as important as what you eat. Previous research has found that people who tend to eat later in the day and into the night have a higher chance of developing heart disease than people who cut off their food consumption earlier. “So what’s happening when people eat late?” asked a biologist whose research focuses on cardiovascular physiology. “They’re not changing their diet, just the time.”
In a new study published today in Science, researchers at San Diego State University and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that by limiting the time span during which fruit flies could eat, they could prevent aging- and diet-related heart problems. The researchers also discovered that genes responsible for the body’s circadian rhythm are integral to this process, but they’re not yet sure how.
Previous research has found that people who tend to eat later in the day and into the night have a higher chance of developing heart disease than people who cut off their food consumption earlier.
“So what’s happening when people eat late?” asked Girish Melkani, a biologist at SDSU whose research focuses on cardiovascular physiology. “They’re not changing their diet, just the time.”
Melkani, one of the paper’s senior authors, teamed up with Satchidananda Panda, a circadian rhythms expert at the Salk Institute, to address whether changing the daily eating patterns of fruit flies could affect their heart health. Fruit flies have long been used as model organisms to identify the genetic basis of human disease, including cardiovascular disease.
Shubhroz Gill, a postdoctoral researcher in Panda’s lab and now at the Broad Institute in Boston, was the lead author on this study. Hiep D. Le of the Salk Institute also contributed to the study.
In their experiments, one group of 2-week-old fruit flies was given a standard diet of cornmeal and allowed to feed all day long. Another group was allowed access to the food for only 12 hours a day. Over the course of several weeks, Melkani and Gill recorded how much food the flies were eating and tested a battery of health measures related to their sleep, body weight and heart physiology.
After three weeks, the results were clear: Flies on the 12-hour time-restricted feeding schedule slept better, didn’t gain as much weight and had far healthier hearts than their “eat anytime” counterparts, even though they ate similar amounts of food. The researchers observed the same results after five weeks.
“In very early experiments, when we compared 5-week-old flies that were fed for either 24 hours or 12 hours, the hearts of the latter were in such good shape that we thought perhaps we had mistaken some young 3-week-old fruit flies for the older group,” Gill said. “We had to repeat the experiments several times to become convinced that this improvement was truly due to the time-restricted feeding.”
What’s more, another set of experiments revealed that the benefits of a time-restricted diet weren’t exclusive to young flies. When the researchers introduced these dietary time restrictions to older flies, their hearts became healthier, too. (The average lifespan of a fruit fly is about 60 days.)
“Even if you introduce time-restricted feeding very late, you still have some benefit,” Melkani said.
Some degree of heart protection persisted even for flies that went back to eating whenever they wanted, he added.
Next, the researchers sequenced the RNA of the flies at various points in the experiment to find which of their genes had changed as a result of time-restricted feeding. They identified three genetic pathways that appear to be involved: the TCP-1 ring complex chaperonin, which helps proteins fold; mitochondrial electron transport chain complexes (mETC); and a suite of genes responsible for the body’s circadian rhythm.
Melkani and Gill repeated their experiments using mutant strains of flies with nonfunctional versions of the TCP-1 and circadian rhythm genes. In these flies, time-restricted feeding granted no health benefits, strengthening the case that these genetic pathways play key roles.
Conversely, in mutant flies with altered mETC genes, the flies showed increased protection against cardiac aging.
“If and how these three pathways all work together, we don’t yet know entirely,” Melkani said.
Nix the late-night snacks
The results complement earlier research from Panda’s lab showing benefits of time-restricted feeding for obesity, metabolic diseases and type-2 diabetes in rodents.
“All together, these results reinforce the idea that the daily eating pattern has a profound impact on both the body and the brain,” Panda said.
Gill noted that there are some hurdles to clear before extrapolating this research to humans.
“Humans don’t consume the same food every day,” he said. “And our lifestyle is a major determinant of when we can and cannot eat. But at the very minimum, our studies offer some context in which we should be pursuing such questions in humans.”
Melkani is optimistic that the results could one day translate into cardiac- and obesity-related health benefits for humans. “Time-restricted feeding would not require people to drastically change their lifestyles, just the times of day they eat,” Melkani said. “The take-home message then would be to cut down on the late-night snacks.”
A similar study by Panda published in 2012 involving mice showed that when they were limited to eating only 8 hours out of 24 they had much less obesity even though they consumed the same high fat diet and the same number of calories.