I have covered much of the “low hanging fruit” of the longevity sciences in the 304 existing blog entries written over the last two years. Yet, developing a comprehensive understanding of the key aspects of aging requires harvesting fruit from ever-higher in the research-knowledge tree, from areas of science more complex and arcane. Many of the new topics being covered in this blog are fruit higher-up on the tree of longevity sciences, sometimes delicious fruit but fruit more difficult to harvest. More research and learning is required to deal with those topics on my part so it is taking me longer to crank out blog entries for them. My new blog entries have therefore been coming less frequently. At the same time, many of my more-recent postings are tending to be more comprehensive in their depth of coverage.
Also, I have been attending major conferences related to longevity sciences – four of them so far this year. These conferences enable me to be aware of yet-unpublished research and to interact directly with some of the key researchers involved. I have just returned from a 3-day Colloquium on the Biology of Aging held at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole on Cape Cod. And I am still working on digesting the information from 41 rapid-fire presentations on the latest aging research sponsored by the Ellison Medical Foundation. Some 1,300 slides were flashed on the screen in the course of the presentations, many shown for only a few seconds but full of technical details. I managed to photograph most of these slides and am now going through the images for additional insights. Though there were several topics surfaced at the colloquium that I want to look into further, this knowledge-digesting process has also slowed down my writing productivity.
Here are some of the blog entries I am currently working on or planning for the near future. I have been thinking about some of these for a long time, at least one was pointed out by a blog reader in a comment, and others surfaced in the Woods Hole conference.
1. About Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – an interesting rapidly-acting form of leukemia that affects young children as well as older adults and about what we might learn from this disease relating to malignant disease processes.
2. PGC-1alpha and exercise- about a transcriptional co-activator protein involved in the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and many other body processes and that appears to be the mediator of the health-producing effects of exercise.
3. Curcumin and neurogenesis – additional properties of this remarkable herb and its potential for helping to maintain mental acuity and preventing/treating dementia.
4. The dendritic function of tau protein – based on recently-reported ground-breaking research that could possibly, this time for real, lead before long to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
5. The unfolded protein response – multiple mechanisms cells use to protect themselves against improperly folded proteins, an essential form of genomic quality control.
6. Another look at antagonistic pleiotropy – there seems to be good evidence for the operation of this classical theory (evolution favors protecting the young and does not care about the old), but there is also good emerging evidence that we may be able to selectively engineer our way around it.
7. A further look at klotho, WNT signaling and aging – key pathways relevant to accelerated cellular senescence, stem cell differentiation, and the aging process.
8. The dynamic balance between DNA damage and repair – how genomic mutations and epigenomic changes occur much more frequently than once thought and the various strategies used by cells for error and problem detection, quality control and damage repair.
9. Great news for curing diseases and longevity – if you are a mouse – how our knowledge of what goes on in mouse models is running way ahead of what we know about humans.
These are in various stages of development and, as of the present, I can’t say for sure which ones will be available when. Items 1 and 2 are in the pipeline now but items 3 and 4 are much simpler and I might green-light them for sooner publication. In any event, I expect the next substantive blog entry will be available in a day or two. Also, I want to respond to a number of thoughtful comments posted by readers in the course of the last week. I welcome suggestions from readers as to setting priorities or other topics of interest.