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Weekly reads: anti-aging tricks & treats, stealthy stem cells, Mammoth de-extinction milestone – The Niche

Anti-aging might already be the big regenerative medicine story of 2024 and it’s only early March.

Anti-aging hype going to the dogs?

One of my 20 stem cell and regenerative medicine predictions for 2024 was that longevity would continue to make big news including in some not-so-great ways. In just over two months there has been a mass of media stories on longevity.

Hype, pseudoscience, profiteering…these things are rampant in the anti-aging space these days. How to separate out the signal from the noise and hype?

Just this week we saw Harvard Professor David Sinclair at it again with hype over supposed reversal of aging in dogs. I highly recommend the STAT piece I linked to in the previous sentence from Megan Molteni. It’s great stuff and has quotes from diverse aging researchers, almost all of whom are negative about Sinclair’s actions and words in this situation. One referred to the statements as “95% hype.”

Jeffrey Flier, the former Dean of Harvard Medical School, posted this harsh tweet (see below). He also had other tough words for his colleague.

The bottom line is that the data don’t really back up his claim on Twitter. The preprint on this doggie data said the dog treat contained a senolytic.

Longevity research Morgan Levine of Altos Labs is quoted being skeptical about the anti-aging preprint and how it doesn’t actually show almost anything.

Pura Munoz-Canoves
Longevity researcher Pura Munoz-Canoves leads a team at Altos Labs.

More balanced perspectives on longevity research.

I’ve said this before, but generally Altos Labs researchers seem appropriately cautious about longevity research and claims.

Check out this interview. Pura Muñoz, biologist: ‘It is possible to reverse aging, to go back in time’, El Pais. Muñoz, also at Altos Labs, has good common sense things to say in this interview about longevity and anti-aging efforts. She’s hopeful but appropriately cautious for a serious researcher.

El Pais has been regularly covering this space and interviewed another Altos Labs scientist: Steve Horvath: ‘I’d like people to have the choice of whether they want to die, as opposed to it being prescribed by nature’. Here’s one of the key quotes:

“Q. What do you think about the proliferation of companies that offer biological age estimation?

A. I went to a conference on longevity and rejuvenation, and there was a speaker that said that half of all longevity clinics and health clinics now measure methylation age. I had two emotions about it. First I was actually happy because, I mean, that was my dream in 2011 when we developed these saliva epigenetic clocks, that people would find it useful. Also, I’m a big believer in empowering people to measure things. I people to have access to this information. But the second emotion was fear. My fear is that some of these measurements are simply misleading, anybody can offer an age measure, but maybe it’s not scientifically validated.”

He’s right about that concern. One of the things I like so much about this interview is that many of the questions are ones I would have wanted to ask too. Measuring human biological age consistently and accurately in large populations is not ready for primetime.

We’ll see how statements about longevity research seem for the rest of 2024 but I have a feeling it’ll be mostly more like the dog treat stuff than the cautious optimism.

Other recommended reads