The last two posts on this blog identified Giuliano’s Law of Anti-Aging and discussed how I see it applying to my personal aging. This post discusses why I think the law or a close variant of it is valid. Again, the Law is:
· Starting now, every seven years will see the emergence of practical age-extension interventions (ones that have a potential of leading to extraordinary longevity) that double the power of the interventions available at the start of the 7 year period. That is, on an average basis, the practical anti-aging interventions available at the end of a seven-year period will enable twice the number of years of life extension than did the interventions available at the start of the period. Life extension is measured in years of life expectancy beyond those actuarially predicted for a given population.
This law is valid for the same reason Moore’s Law for integrated electronics is valid – the law that the number of transistor elements on a chip at a given price point doubles roughly every two years. This law has held for 40 years and is responsible for the corresponding increase in cost-effectiveness of computers, cell phones and all other electronics. This law was the result of a strong positive feedback relationship between societal need, market, economic contribution, market vehicles, user applications, marketing channels, changes in user expectations advancement in the relevant basic science, advancement of technology, advancement of manufacturing capability and an entrepreneurial environment. Each has promoted each other and continues to do so today. The same factors apply to the technology of life extension. I touch on each of these here.
Societal need, market, marketing channels and economics: “Baby Boomers,” those born during the 15-20 years of very high birthrates after the end of World War II, are in their 50s and 60s now with many retiring. Increasingly being beset with the diseases of age like cancers and cardiovascular problems, many are becoming painfully aware of their mortality and desirous of being in good health. Keeping elderly people healthy and productive could yield unbelievable economic benefits, not only in reduction of runaway health care costs but in gained productivity. Extending longevity is essentially the preservation of human capital(ref). Life extension in good health of just 10 years would extend the productive working years from about 40 years to 50 years , an increase of 25%. That shift alone would be worth trillions of dollars of benefit to our society(see references).
Changes in user expectations: Older people increasingly want to remain healthier longer. Right now that pressure is felt by the health care industry but that industry is mainly devoted to trying to fix problems that come with aging after they have occurred and often when it is too late to do much good. Today there is much discussion of “preventive medicine,” mainly focused on educating people to avoid habits which create disease and early mortality like smoking, obesity and living on saturated fats. Anti-aging programs go the next step and are more proactive in protecting against diseases and causes of mortality, As older people become more educated about the longevity options available to them they can be expected to tke advantage of them.
Market vehicles, user applications, marketing channels: Wellness, closely associated with longevity, is a collection of industries including dietary supplements, health clubs and resorts, fitness and exercise machinery, etc. Dietary supplements alone represents a $22.5 billion industry. And that does not include the institutionalized health care industry, the largest industry in the US and among the fastest growing and accounting for about 15 million jobs and about 600,000 establishments. The Federal Government, State Governments, communities, and HMOs all have a vested interest in the longevity of their memberships assuming that longevity translates into longer healthy lives and postponement of the diseases of old age. It is in the interest of these groups to promote longevity. Increasing longevity may be the single best available way of enhancing the productivity and economic well being of our society.
Advancement in the relevant basic science: How an organism ages is intrinsic to its essential design on a molecular biology, genetics, proteomics, transcriptomics and epigenomic basis. Each species be it Galapagos giant tortoises, humans or fruit flies has its own design and typical life span. Understanding the basic mechanisms of living organisms is therefore essential to understanding aging; there are no short-cuts. So the good news is that there is a vast amount of research in the basic life sciences that is highly relevant to aging although it may be motivated by other goals such as finding cures for cancers or AIDS. I think the most basic discoveries related to life extension in the coming will be by-products of such other life sciences research. The budget of the National Institutes of Health has been $28 billion and is going up and that is a fraction of the world-wide total. Researchers working directly in the field of aging will play important integrative roles but their contributions will be relatively minor.
We know that living organisms consist of extremely complex interacting systems and subsystems based on molecular messaging and we are slowly developing understanding of some of those signaling systems, one at a time. Many of these systems are already known to offer intervention points that might potentially allow extension of longevity, but the issue is how to do this without messing up other related systems. For example, somatic stem cell proliferation can be promoted by inhibiting expression of the P16 protein; however P16 is an important restrainer of cancers. The trick is to find interventions that provide some life extension without compromising something else, a problem akin to applying a patch that does not create its own bugs to a very complex computer program written in an unknown language. I therefore see discoveries that enhance longevity as likely to be incremental over decades rather than a mega-breakthrough that finds The Fountain of Youth.
Advancement in technology: Advances in life sciences research and development technology are proceeding at an exponential rate and these are empowering the rising rate of discovery. What do we have today that we did not have 7 years ago? Here is a starter list: * immense highly accessible data bases in the areas of genomics, epigenetic, proteomics including protein interactions and folding * vastly improved data mining and system modeling software,, * computers 20 times faster and more powerful, greatly improved Internet networking among researchers, * gene and protein chips with at least 10-100 times the capacity (Moore’s Law works for those chips too), sequencers and bio-chip scanners of all kinds with at least 10 times the power. What will be have 7 years from now? Probably an additional order-of-magnitude improvement in each of these areas plus new additional research facilities. Genetic profiling of individual humans is likely to become commonplace, for example.
Advancement in manufacturing: The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries have developed sophisticated bio-manufacturing capabilities and stand ready to manufacture and sell any products that show promise of having a market and potential for profits. The biotechnology industry has revenues of about $100 billion a year, can raise capital as needed, and is on the lookout for new products.
Entreprenurial environment: Universities and venture people appear to be ready to invest in startup ventures that show promise for longevity. Among the small companies engaged in longevity-related R&D are Geron, Sierra Pharmaceuticals, Elixir Pharmaceuticals, Centagentix, Sirtuis, DeCode Genetics, 23andMe, Juvenon, Rejuvenon, Roche Diagnostics, and Alteon. The list is likely to grow much longer.
I have covered the factors that drive the operation of Giuliano’s Law. I am fairly certain the growth will be exponential. The one factor in the law that I am least certain of is the 7 year period for doubling. Why not 2 years as for Moore’s Law or 5 years? I picked 7 years for two reasons: First, to be conservative. The doubling time could be less especially given the large new emphasis on health sciences research and preventive medicine in President Obama’s stimulus package. Second, I estimate that the power of my anti-aging firewall roughly doubled in the last 7 years. In 2002 my list of anti-aging supplements did not include alpha-lipoic acid, acytl-l-carnitine, resverarol, concentrated curcumin, large doses of vitamin D3, or astragaloside IV. Either the objective research supporting the uses of these substances did not exist or they were not available. Also the knowledge relating inhibition of NF-kappaB to longevity and to 33 dietary supplements in the firewall didn’t exist then. And also, during those years I have honed my lifestyle eating and exercise patterns to be more healthy as relevant large-population studies have been published.
So, I want to reserve the right to reduce the doubling period in Giuliano’s Law as time plays out.