Scientists are demystifying aging — funding could add decades to our lives (The Hill, July 16, 2021)
This article, by my friend Matt Kaeberlein, makes the economic case for targeting aging. The Biden administration recently proposed the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H for short, with a price tag of $6.5 billion, “to develop breakthroughs—to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.” One of the flaws in this strategy, Matt argues, is that focusing on treating individual diseases is like treating our bodies as if they were commercial aircraft, “skipping maintenance and waiting until the engine is on fire at 35,000 feet before you take action.” Instead of going after the most prevalent and deadly diseases that are strongly associated with aging separately, why not target the molecular causes of aging itself? Matt refers to this as a geroscience moonshot: an effort to better understand the biological aging process and seek ways to attenuate it. He points to a recent estimate suggesting the cost savings from an intervention that increases healthspan by just one year is in the ballpark of $38 trillion per year, nearly a 6,000-fold ROI on ARPA-H’s $6.5 billion budget. What do we know about the molecular mechanisms of aging, what are their contributions to disease risk, and what can be done about them? Stay tuned because Matt and I address these questions in great detail in an upcoming podcast episode.
As I alluded to in an email a few weeks ago, at the request of many of our listeners we are experimenting with taking off one new episode release per month during the summer to give listeners a chance to catch up. As such we will not have a new episode come out tomorrow. While the complete episode archive is always available to help the selection process, I have selected two episodes for you to (re)visit, having to do with metformin life-extension research and what I believe every doctor and person interested in heart health needs to know about: Lp(a).
In my conversation with Nav, we discuss metformin, and how it may impact the hallmarks of aging to extend lifespan. Our conversation begins with one of the most informative discussions I have had on mitochondria, which is Nav’s preliminary research interest. We discuss his study of mitochondrial function, how the organelle relates to aging, and his experimental work targeting organelle inhibition in the context of cancer therapy.
The lipoprotein “little a,” or Lp(a), deep-dive elucidates the role of the lipoprotein in cardiovascular health and disease. In addition to (what is a bit more than) an introduction to Lp(a), the discussion also covers lipoprotein lab tests, lipid-lowering therapies, and a pragmatic discussion around lifestyle interventions to modify Lp(a) levels.