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Category : Human Longevity

Nutrition and the Wisdom of Ethnic Cuisine: A Japanese Doctor’s Perspective – Nippon.com

When it comes to healthy eating, one size does not fit all. Japanese cooking, with its emphasis on rice, fish, and vegetables, may not be the best diet for everyone, but it is marvelously suited to the physiology of the Japanese, writes physician and writer Okuda Masako.

The popularity of Japanese cuisine has soared in recent decades, and one reason is undoubtedly its healthful image. The average lifespan of the Japanese people climbed rapidly after World War II. By around 1980, Japan had the highest life expectancy of any country in the world, and it still ranks near the top. (The worlds oldest living person is also a Japanese woman.) Amid a slew of investigations into the secrets of Japanese longevity, attention quickly centered on the benefits of washoku, traditional Japanese cooking.

My research and experience have taught me that the optimal diet depends on a variety of hereditary and environmental factors. But there is no denying that washoku has contributed to the health and longevity of the Japanese people. Let us begin by examining how.

In terms of health and long life, the biggest physiological factor the Japanese have going for them is a low risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when fats and other substances build up along the walls of arteries, restricting or even blocking blood flow. In the brain, such a blockage is known as a cerebral infarction (stroke); in the heart, it is called a myocardial infarction (heart attack). The incidence of myocardial infarction in Japan is among the lowest in the world.

Scientists believe that both genetics and diet play a role in protecting Japanese arteries. One factor is a high level of good cholesterol, or HDL (high-density lipoproteins), in the blood. In a 2008 study, Japanese HDL levels were found to be roughly 10% higher than those of white Americans on average. Another reason is that fish is a big part of the traditional Japanese diet, and fish contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), two polyunsaturated fatty acids that help prevent hardening of the arteries. Since ancient times, the Japanese have been eating oily fish like mackerel, sardines, yellowtail tuna, and eel, which are abundant off the coast of Japan and are rich in EPA and DHA. In a 2015 study, the average concentration of DHA in Japanese maternal milk was determined to be up to six times that found in Western countries and about twice that found in China.

A second major contributor to Japanese health is the gut microbiota, the many and varied microorganisms living in the intestinal tract. A 2016 analysis of the intestinal microbiota of subjects from 12 countries found that the Japanese had the highest counts of beneficial bifidobacteria. (Interestingly, the gut microbiome of the Chinese subjects was closer to that of the Western subjects studied.) This can probably be attributed to the high fiber content of the traditional Japanese diet, with its emphasis on grains and vegetables. Dietary fiber provides a good nutritional environment for beneficial microbes and helps cleanse the gut of the harmful substances that unhealthy bacteria produce. Since it takes a generation or more to permanently alter the gut microbiota, todays Japanese probably owe their intestinal health to the dietary habits of their parents and grandparents.

All of this might lead one to the conclusion that eating washoku will automatically make one healthier. Unfortunately, it is not quite so simple. In general, the traditional diets that developed in various parts of the world were optimally adapted to the local environment and the needs of the native population. The physiology of the native population, in return, adapted to the diet.

There are obvious physical differences between Japanese people and Westerners. But the differences go beyond hair texture and eye color. There are also disparities in musculature, body fat, and body temperature, as well as various factors that affect digestion and metabolism of alcohol: hormone and enzyme secretion, the shape of the stomach, the composition of the gut flora, and so forth. Race is not just skin-deep.

The Japanese stomach is adapted to consumption of grain.

Figure 1 illustrates the stomach shapes typically found in Japanese people on the one hand and people of Westerners extraction on the other. The differences are the result of disparities in the traditional diet.

The Japanese have long relied on rice and other grains as their dietary staple. Grains are a good source of energy, but whole grains in particular take time to digest because of their high fiber content. The Japanese stomach is vertically elongated so as to store, mix, and break down such food before it continues on into the intestines. The intestines, in turn, are rich in the kinds of bacteria that help digest and extract nutrition from starchy foods.

By contrast, the traditional European diet, with its emphasis on meat and dairy products, is considerably higher in protein and fat. Since protein and fat are digested primarily in the intestines, the food needs to move more rapidly from the stomach to the gut. The digestive system evolved to deal with these demands. For example, a large quantity of stomach acid is produced so that the stomach can process the food quickly; comparatively thicker stomach muscles then push it smoothly into the intestines.Plenty of enzymes and other fluids are secreted to aid the digestion of fat and protein inside the intestines.

It has long been known that the ability of adults to digest milk varies by ethnicity and region. The bodys capacity to digest the lactose in milk hinges on continued production of the enzyme lactase. The map in figure 2 shows the global distribution of lactose-intolerant adults in various parts of the world, with higher concentrations indicated by darker shades. While most people in the British Isles and Scandinavia digest milk easily, close to 90% of adults in Southeast Asia and East Asia (including Japan) have trouble with it.

Darker shades indicate regions with higher rates of adult lactose intolerance.

Such differences in physiology can translate into serious health problems when people adopt different diets and lifestyles. One example involves vitamin D, which is essential to bone health, among other things. Vitamin D is produced inside the body when the skin is exposed to the suns ultraviolet rays, but it can also be obtained from dietary sources like oily fish. It has been suggested that Africans, who evolved in a part of the world where year-round UV exposure is high, may be less well equipped to absorb vitamin D from dietary sources, and this may be why African Americans tend to have relatively low vitamin-D levels. Some experts have warned that African Americans need to adjust their diets to avoid health problems resulting from vitamin D insufficiency. The optimum diet for any person depends on genetic makeup, as well as lifestyle and environment.

Genetics also influences the way our bodies accumulate fat. One characteristic of the Japanese constitution is the tendency to accumulate visceral adipose tissue, or fat inside the abdominal cavity, as opposed to the subcutaneous fat that collects under the skin. Unfortunately, visceral fat is the more worrisome kind.

Cross-sections showing the distribution of abdominal fat in representative Japanese (left) and Westerners (right) subjects.

This is a fairly recent phenomenon, mind you. In earlier times, obesity was relatively rare in Japan, and the incidence of chronic diseases associated with visceral fatincluding type 2 diabetes, along with other diseases like breast cancer and colon cancerwas correspondingly low. That began to change in the 1960s to 1980s, as the Japanese diet became increasingly westernized, leading to higher fat consumption and lower intake of fiber. And with more people doing deskwork and leading sedentary lifestyles, lack of exercise contributed to the rise of obesity and the accumulation of visceral fat. The result has been a significant increase in disease, raising concerns for the future.

Extensive studies have revealed that a traditional Japanese dietlow in meat and dairy products, high in soybeans and fish, and high in fiber from grains, vegetables, and seaweedis tied to very low accumulation of visceral fat. In other words, washoku is ideally suited to the physiological traits of the Japanese people, protecting them from their innate tendency to accumulate visceral fat. Without knowing the science, our forebears managed to develop, preserve, and pass down a dietary culture perfectly adapted to our own metabolism.

Washoku has other health benefits as well. Soybeans, green and yellow vegetables, and small fish eaten whole all help to build strong bones. Lifelong consumption of soy foods also contributes to the relativelylow incidence in Japan of diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer, all ailments linked closely to visceral fat levels, as compared with the West

One notable weakness of the Japanese diet as it has developed in the past two or three centuries is the overwhelming preference for polished rice. For the health-conscious, I would recommend brown rice, which has seven times the dietary fiber of white rice and contains substances that help the body burn visceral fat.

In recent years, science has made considerable progress in identifying genetic differences among ethnic groups. In 2016, a Japanese team of researchers released the first Japanese reference genome panel (JRG v1), a whole-genome assembly representing the genes of a typical healthy Japanese. Comparison with the human reference genome has revealed millions of single-nucleotide differences, many of which doubtless reflect significant differences in nutrition physiology. We need to abandon the one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and consider what diet works best for each ethnic group.

Nowadays, the Japanese people are able to enjoy delicious cooking from every part of the world. That is a splendid thing, as long as we keep in mind that washoku is the bedrock of our much-admired health and longevity.

(Originally written in Japanese. Banner photo: Dairy and meat products figure heavily in the Western diet, while the traditional Japanese diet has much to offer in the area of human health. Pixta.)

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Nutrition and the Wisdom of Ethnic Cuisine: A Japanese Doctor's Perspective - Nippon.com

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A Russian-born startup based in Singapore uses AI to penetrate the mysteries of human longevity – bne IntelliNews

Can artificial intelligence and machine learning help mankind address diseases related to ageing, and delay mortality? Gero, a Singaporean company with Russian roots, believes so. To address this biological and technological challenge, Gero has teamed up with the National University of Singapore, conducting experiments involving aged animals, reports East-West Digital News (EWDN).

These works demonstrated mortality delay (life-extension) and functional improvements after a single experimental treatment, says Gero.

Gero believes this new drug could enable patients to recover after a stroke and help cancer patients in their fight against accelerated ageing resulting from chemotherapy. Geros platform is also used to develop drugs in other areas including potential therapies for Covid-19.

Commenting on Gero, Dr. Nir Barzilai said that their research provides answers to the most important practical questions and translates the received knowledge into medical technologies to combat ageing. A professor of medicine and genetics, Dr. Nir Barzilai is director and leading aging researcher at the Einstein-Institute for Aging Research in New York City.

The company has just secured $2.2mn from an investor pool led by Belarusian fund Bulba Ventures. Gero previously raised more than $5mn, including through an undisclosed seed round in May last year, which also involved Bulba.

8 years of R&D Founded in Russia in 2012, Gero initially pursued a larger goal developing a computational technology to facilitate the discovery of small drug molecules.

We identified a series of drug candidates in-house and via partnerships, company founder Peter Fedichev told East-West Digital News.

For example, Fedichevs team identified a small molecule inhibitor of novel HIV targets as well as inhibitors for proteinprotein interactions TLR4 antagonist.

The company created a spinoff dedicated to metabolic reprogramming of neurons in excitotoxicity conditions. Another project to be announced later this year was developed with a leading US university, said Fedichev.

During these years, Gero also studied ways to use AI/ML approaches to tackle ageing.

This field became the exclusive focus of the startup in 2015. Gero gained access to large biobanks, aiming to develop next-gen modeling platforms for anti-aging targets and aging biomarkers identification.

We discovered and tested multiple life-extending interventions based on the predictive capacities of our platform, said Fedichev.

While the most promising therapeutic modalities in this field are currently under development, experiments with mice were prerequisites for future clinical trials. Such experiments were first conducted in France, then at the National University of Singapore at a much larger scale.

A single shot provides the systemic rejuvenation and mortality delay (life- extension), which is a definitive milestone for drug discovery AI, Fedichev told EWDN.

In 2019, the team published a research paper in Nature Research Journal about the application of machine learning techniques to big omics data as a means to discover anti-aging drugs. This became one of the most popular papers in the field of cell and molecular biology, notes Fedichev.

Asias anti-ageing appeal Why didnt Gero pursue its development from Russia? Fedichev points several reasons for moving to Singapore three years ago: First, this is a great place for doing business, and some of our investors were familiar with the jurisdiction. Second, we started a critically-important collaboration with the National University of Singapore. Finally, says Fedichev, it appears that the Singaporean government is ahead of the curve when it comes to ageing. It is very aggressive in tackling the related [health and wellness] challenges. The Singaporean authorities fund cutting-edge projects in this field, and contemplate innovative clinical trial strategies. Thus, Singapore is asserting itself at the forefront of ageing science and biotech developments, believes Fedichev. Asia is going to be hit hard by a silver tsunami, he notes, with 250mn senior citizens by 2025 in China only.

In 2016, researchers from Oxford Economics and AARP estimated the volume of the annual US longevity market alone at $7.1 trillion. They forecast that by 2032 this figure will almost double to $13.5 trillion.

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Award-winning Austrian supplement containing "spermidine" is now available to consumers in the US – Newswise

DENVER, Sept. 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --TLL The Longevity Labs GmbH, an Austrian-based life sciences company, and its wholly-owned, US subsidiary, Longevity Labs Inc., announce the market-launch of sales in the US of its award-winning dietary supplement,spermidineLIFE.spermidineLIFE is the world's first naturally extracted and clinically tested dietary supplement to promote cellular renewal. The active ingredient, spermidine, is considered key to slowing down the cellular aging process.

Until recently, fasting has been considered the most efficient method to trigger the critical cellular renewal process, called "autophagy;" however, European aging scientists have discovered that autophagy is also triggered through a substance found in the human body, called spermidine. As the body ages, spermidine levels decrease, along with the self-renewing power of its cells. In search of a way to offset the effects of decreasing spermidine levels, Longevity Labs developed a method to isolate spermidine from plants (wheat germ) and to make it available to humans as a dietary supplement -spermidineLIFE.

TLL The Longevity Labs GmbH ("TLL") launched its first flagship product,spermidineLIFE in the EU 2019, bringing the first commercially available, safety-tested, lab-verified, spermidine-rich supplement to the global market. Quickly becoming a phenomenon in Austria and Germany, in September 2020, TLL has begun distribution ofspermidineLIFE in the United States, through its subsidiary, Longevity Labs Inc., via its US website atwww.spermidinelife.us.

"We began with a common vision to support healthy aging. Spermidine was completely unknown in Austria but the scientific research, quality of our product and its effectiveness convinced the public.spermidineLIFE was voted one of the top 3 OTC product innovations in Austria in 2019 and interest has only continued to grow worldwide," says Vedran Bijelac, CEO of Longevity Labs Inc and Director of Sales and Marketing of TLL.

"We are proud to be the first scientifically tested and naturally-extracted spermidine supplement," says Daniel Dietz, COO of Longevity Labs Inc. "Not only do we want to present the health benefits of spermidine to the American population, we also want to find additional research partners. We are already working with more than 10 research institutions in Europe but the opportunity to work with top US scientists is very exciting."

spermidineLIFE is naturally extracted from European non-GMO wheat germ using TLL's proprietary extraction process in its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Graz, Austria.spermidineLIFE is lab-tested to ensure consistently rich spermidine content and has been tested for safety and tolerability in humans.

spermidineLIFE is available to consumers via its website via a monthly subscription model starting at $99. The supplement will also be available for one or more monthly package orders starting at $109. Wholesale pricing is available for practitioners.

For additional information or questions, please contactcontact@spermidinelife.com.

For more information aboutspermidineLIFE or to place an order, please visitwww.spermidinelife.us.

About TLL The Longevity Labs, GmbHTLL The Longevity Labs, GmbH is based in Graz, Austria. With the goal of translating scientific findings into natural solutions for a longer and healthier life, TLL worked with european university research partners to develop its novel productspermidineLIFE, with EU sales launching in 2019 and expanding worldwide. TLL continues to perform best-in-class research on life-extending products and services to bring to the global marketplace. For more information, visitwww.spermidinelife.com(global) orwww.spermidinelife.us(United States).

No governmental agency has reviewed, approved or disapproved the content of this news release.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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Award-winning Austrian supplement containing "spermidine" is now available to consumers in the US - Newswise

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Comprehensive Report on Adrenomyeloneuropathy Treatment Market Set to Witness Huge Growth by 2026 | Ascend Biopharmaceuticals, Novadip Biosciences,…

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Global Adrenomyeloneuropathy Treatment Market Research Report 2020

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Chapter 7 Global Market Analysis by Application

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Comprehensive Report on Adrenomyeloneuropathy Treatment Market Set to Witness Huge Growth by 2026 | Ascend Biopharmaceuticals, Novadip Biosciences,...

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Cellular Reprogramming Tools Market: COVID19 Impact- Recent Industry Developments and Growth Strategies Adopted by Top Key Players:Human Longevity,…

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AKG Supplement Promoted Healthy Aging & Longevity In Animal Study – Anti Aging News

Mice given alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) supplements were reported to be healthier as they aged, and female mice lived longer than those not given the supplement, according to the researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

The big thing about this is that its safety profile is so good, says the University of North Dakota aging researcher Holly Brown-Borg, who was not involved with the study. It has potential and should be explored further, for sure.

AKG is naturally made in both mice and human bodies, and it is already considered to be safe by regulators. It is part of the metabolic cycle that cells use to make energy from food; sometimes it is used to treat osteoporosis and kidney disease, along with some bodybuilders to bulk up.

In 2014 researchers discovered that this molecule may have an anti-ageing possibility when a study published in Nature reported that it helped to extend the lifespan of C. elegans by more than 50%; and other studies showed it improving lifespan in fruit flies.

AKG levels will gradually decline with age, as such the researchers are looking for ways to restore levels to those seen in younger years. In this study published in Cell Metabolism 18-month-old mice, which is the equivalent of around 55 human years, were given AKG as 2% of their daily feed until they died or for up to 21 months, recording all changes.

Within a few months: They looked much blacker, shinier, and younger than control mice, says Azar Asadi Shahmirzadi, a postdoc at the Buck Institute who did the experiments as a graduate student. Animals in the AKG group also scored on average 40% better on tests of frailty as measured by 31 physiological attributes including walking gait, grip strength hearing, and hair colour. Additionally, female mice in the AKG group lived a median of 8-20% longer than the controls. It was noted that the mice in the AKG group did not perform better in tests for heart function or treadmill endurance, and they did not test for cognitive improvement.

Female mice in the AKG group were found to produce higher levels of a molecule that fights inflammation. Although these effects on health and longevity were smaller for AKG than for some other anti-ageing compounds, some of the other compounds have had safety issues, for example, rapamycin can suppress the immune system and may promote diabetes.

The researchers plan to test AKG in human volunteers in the near future, possibly in a group of people between the ages of 45-65 to investigate whether the molecule will improve ageing-related biomarkers such as inflammation, arterial hardening, and chemical signatures on DNA that are associated with ageing.

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15 new groups of molecules to fight against aging and protect our cells; one step closer to staying healthy longer, new study shows – Canada NewsWire

A Concordia researcher, supported by Idunn Technologies, discovers new natural compounds that could promote longevity in health and reduce the incidence of associated diseases

MONTREAL, Sept. 9, 2020 /CNW/ - The recent pandemic has highlighted the importance of staying healthy so that you can better fight an infection or disease, if necessary. A Concordia University researcher has discovered 15 new plant extracts that help fight, not against infection, but against aging. These natural molecules could help prevent all the diseases associated with aging, not one at a time, but all at the same time. It is therefore a question of reducing the incidence of common ailments such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. This approach has already been called "the ultimate preventive medicine" in the prestigious journal, Science.

Vladimir Titorenko, professor of biology at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Concordia, has been collaborating since 2013 with ric Simard, president of the company, Idunn Technologies, to discover new anti-aging molecules. This work has just been published in the scientific journal, Oncotarget. The TransBIOTech research center and the Cgep de Lvis-Lauzon also participated in these studies.

The recently published results were obtained from specific plant extracts, already recognized for various health benefits. Professor Titorenko's team identified the new anti-aging molecules from a long list of extracts from different parts of the plants studied. The new positive extracts (PE for "plant extract") are numbered as follows: PE26 (Serenoa repens), PE39 (Hypericum perforatum), PE42 (Ilex paraguariensis), PE47 (Ocimum tenuiflorum), PE59 (Solidago virgaurea), PE64 (Citrus sinensis ), PE68 (Humulus lupulus), PE69 (Vitis vinifera), PE72 (Andrographis paniculata), PE75 (Hydrastis canadensis), PE77 (Trigonella foenumgraecum), PE78 (Berberis vulgaris), PE79 (Crataegus monogyna), PE81 (Taraxacum erythrospermum) and PE83 (Ilex paraguariensis).

"We now have a large number of anti-aging plant extracts that may reduce the incidence or progression of age-related diseases in humans," said Dr. Vladimir Titorenko. This researcher devotes his efforts to understanding the molecular mechanisms that allow cells to resist aging.

Dr. Titorenko states that "With the aging of the population, the possibility of keeping people healthy longer constitutes a major advance which could have repercussions, not just in economic terms, but for the quality of life of the population and the capacity of the health care system in general."

The results of this research have clearly demonstrated that the beneficial effects observed on longevity are linked to the slowing of aging in yeast cells. "The identification of these new modulators could allow the development of new specialized products for healthy aging." explains Professor Titorenko.

A Quebec company, Idunn Technologies, is working to develop a large number of applications of these research results for human health. ric Simard is the co-editor of the article, CEO of Idunn Technologies and author of 4 books on healthy longevity (www.esimard.com). He explains that the company decided to market the fruits of this research by focusing on the optimization of natural products targeting the main health problems related to aging. These more effective products are marketed under the Vitoli brand (www.vitoli.ca).

The results presented also include analyses of the metabolic activity of mitochondria, the oxidation of membrane lipids, as well as the oxidation of proteins, DNA from mitochondria, and DNA from the cell nucleus. These anti-aging extracts, also called geroprotective or caloric restriction mimetics, increase the resistance of cells to oxidative stress and temperature. Improved cellular functioning reduces damage to cells while increasing their resistance to difficult situations. "Reduce wear and increase maintenance and cellular resistance; that's the secret to health longevity." concluded Dr. Simard.

This study was supported by a joint ARD-CRD (Applied Research and Development - Cooperative Research and Development) grant from Canada's Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). The work was also funded by the Concordia University Research Chairs Fund, a Concordia University Graduate Scholarship, and a Concordia University Excellence Scholarship.

Read the full report of the study: Discovery of fifteen new geroprotective plant extracts and identification of cellular processes they affect to prolong the chronological lifespan of budding yeast.

SOURCE Idunn Technologies

For further information: Interviews in English with Vicky Lutchman, M.Sc. researcher (among the authors of the study: 514-887-7520)

L’entreprise

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15 new groups of molecules to fight against aging and protect our cells; one step closer to staying healthy longer, new study shows - Canada NewsWire

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How to live longer: Scientists discover enzyme which could be used to boost longevity – Express

The secret to long life expectancy lies in the details. Tiny tails at the ends of chromosomes called telomeres erode with age but can be lengthened. Deep inside a persons cells DNA-based clocks slowly tick away and determine ones "biological age." By tweaking this cell, could humans be able to boost their longevity? Researchers from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology were able to dial up and down creatures' lifespans by altering protein activity levels.

The enzyme "tweaked" by researchers allows roundworms to convert sugar into energy when cellular energy is running low - the team found a way to "control it". Humans also have these proteins, offering up the possibilities of developing longevity-promoting drugs, according to the researchers.

The roundworms used in the study experienced a boost in longevity when researchers tinkered with a couple of proteins involved in monitoring the energy use by its cells.

Using a range of different biological research tools, including introducing foreign genes into the worm, a group of researchers were able to dial up and down the activity of the gene that tells cells to produce the VRK-1 protein.

Control worms lived about 16.9 days on average typically roundworms only live about two to three weeks.

However, the first line of worms who had elevated levels of VRK-1 lived about 20.8 days.

A second line lived about 23.7 days on average. Seung-Jae Lee is a professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and the paper's senior author.

He spoke of how longevity could switch by activating "a key cellular energy sensor and anti-ageing protein" called AMPK.

The key to activating AMPK is VRK-1 and this enzyme is found in worms but also has a close relative in human cells.

"We showed that the activation of AMPK by VRK-1 occurs in human cells as well as in the roundworm C. elegans," says Professor Lee.

"Therefore, it is possible that this mechanism can be applied to promoting human longevity in the future." Metabolic disorders involve the disruption of chemical reactions in the body, including diseases of the mitochondria.

But before metabolic disorder therapeutics or longevity drugs can be contemplated by scientists, further research still needs to be carried out to better understand how VRK-1 works to activate AMPK, the team explained.

They said they also need to figure out the precise mechanics of how AMPK controls cellular energy.

The study team notes that inhibiting mitochondrial respiration "increases life span in Drosophila and mammals" though some scientists argue that this is part of a bigger, more complicated picture.

This is only a small experiment on roundworms and a few human cells.

To really prove that VRK-1 can trigger these longevity-related changes in AMPK, the team will have to replicate their findings in other mammals, like mice.

Though mouse studies are still steps away from human ones, they provide clearer parallels to human beings that worm studies do, says Lee.

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How to live longer: Scientists discover enzyme which could be used to boost longevity - Express

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial paused after ‘unexplained’ illness in participant. What does it mean? – THE WEEK

Pharmaceutical major AstraZeneca, who is developing a coronavirus vaccine in association with Oxford university, has paused their trials after a participant fell ill due to a "suspected adverse reaction", the company stated, as reported by medical journalStat News. "As part of the ongoing randomised, controlled global trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, our standard review process was triggered and we voluntarily paused vaccination to allow review of safety data by an independent committee. This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials."

"In large trials, illnesses will sometimes happen by chance but must be reviewed independently. We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimise any potential impact on the trial timeline," according to the statement.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the most advanced one in the world, well into the third and final phase of human trials. The Moderna vaccine candidate is a close second.AstraZeneca's US-traded shares fell more than six per cent in after-hours trading following reports of the trial being paused.

Vaccine testing is a four-stage processpre-clinical testing on animals; Phase I clinical testing on a small group of people to determine its safety and to learn more about the immune response it provokes; Phase II trials, or expanded safety trials, where dosage and frequency will be tested across wider cross-sections of the population; Phase III large-scale tests where the vaccine is administered to thousands of people to confirm its efficacy. Phase I and Phase II are the early trials, which will then be followed by a rigorous, intensive Phase III clinical testing, where the longevity of the vaccine response (whether the vaccine will last for long periods of time) will be analysed.

What does an 'adverse event' mean?

According to United States Food and Drug Safety Administration (FDA), 'adverse events' are not necessarily side effects caused by vaccination. An adverse event is a "health problem that happens after vaccination that may or may not be caused by a vaccine". These events may require further investigation.

By definition, a side effect has been shown to be linked to a vaccine by scientific studies. While most vaccine trials induce some form ofpain at the injection site, hyperthermia, headache, asthenia (weakness or lack of energy), and muscle and joint pain in its participants, an adverse event would equate to something slightly more serious, possibly requiring hospitalisation.

On the flip side, temporary holds of large medical studies aren't unusual, and investigating any serious or unexpected reaction is a mandatory part of safety testing. AstraZeneca pointed out that it's possible the problem could be a coincidence; illnesses of all sorts could arise in studies of thousands of people.

During the third and final stage of testing, researchers look for any signs of possible side effects that may have gone undetected in earlier patient research. Because of their large size, the studies are considered the most important study phase for picking up less common side effects and establishing safety.

Dr Ashish Jha of Brown University said via Twitter that the significance of the interruption was unclear but that he was "still optimistic" that an effective vaccine will be found in the coming months. "But optimism isn't evidence," he wrote. "Let's let science drive this process."

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University in New York, tweeted that the illness may be unrelated to the vaccine, "but the important part is that this is why we do trials before rolling out a vaccine to the general public".

How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine candidateAZD1222, according to AstraZeneca, uses a "replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold (adenovirus) virus" that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack COVID-19 if it later infects the body.

AstraZeneca has struck a deal with Europe's Inclusive Vaccines Alliance to supply up to 400 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement struck Saturday aims to make the vaccine available to other European countries that wish to take part.

Late last month, AstraZeneca began recruiting 30,000 people in the US for its largest study of the vaccine. It also is testing the vaccine, developed by Oxford University, in thousands of people in Britain, and in smaller studies in Brazil and South Africa.

Two other vaccines are in huge, final-stage tests in the United States, one made by Moderna Inc. and the other by Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech. Those two vaccines work differently than AstraZeneca's, and the studies already have recruited about two-thirds of the needed volunteers.

The "adverse reaction" came the same day that AstraZeneca and eight other drugmakers issued an unusual pledge, vowing to uphold the highest ethical and scientific standards in developing their vaccines. The announcement follows worries that President Donald Trump will pressure the US Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine before it's proven to be safe and effective.

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Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial paused after 'unexplained' illness in participant. What does it mean? - THE WEEK

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Across the world, trees are growing faster, dying younger and will soon store less carbon – The Conversation UK

As the world warms and the atmosphere becomes increasingly fertilised with carbon dioxide, trees are growing ever faster. But theyre also dying younger and overall, the worlds forests may be losing their ability to store carbon. Thats the key finding of our new study, published in the journal Nature Communications.

In a world without humans, forests would exist in equilibrium, taking roughly as much carbon out of the atmosphere as they lose. However, humans have disturbed this equilibrium by burning fossil fuels. As a result, atmospheric CO levels have increased leading to an increase in temperature and fertilising plant growth. These changes have stimulated tree growth over the past decades, even in intact, old-growth forests that have not experienced recent human disturbances. This in turn has allowed forests to take up more carbon than they release resulting in large net accumulation whats often called the carbon sink.

Earth scientists like us often wonder how long forests can continue to be a sink. The extra CO will benefit trees everywhere, and temperature increases will help them grow in colder regions. So you could expect forests to continue soaking up much of our carbon emissions and that is exactly what most earth system models predict.

However, possible changes in tree lifespan may throw a spanner in the works. A few years back when studying old-growth Amazon forests, we noted that initial growth increases were followed by increases in tree mortality. We hypothesised that this could be due to faster growth reducing how long trees live for. If true, this means predictions that the carbon sink will continue may have been overly optimistic, as they did not take into account the trade-offs between growth and longevity. Our new findings provide evidence for this hypothesis.

To study the relationship between tree growth and longevity, we used tree ring records. The width of each ring tells us how fast the tree grew, while counting rings provides information on age and allows us to estimate its maximum lifespan. We analysed more than 210,000 individual tree ring records belonging to more than 80 different species from across the globe. This large undertaking has been possible thanks to decades of work by dendrochronologists (tree ring specialists) from across the world, who made their data publicly available.

Our analysis shows that trees that grow fast, die young. It has been known for a long time that faster growing species live shorter. A balsa tree, for example, grows quickly to 20 metres or more but will live for only a few decades, while some bristlecone pine trees have been growing slowly and steadily for nearly 5,000 years.

We found that this is not only true when comparing different species, but also within trees of the same species. It was a surprise to find that this trade-off occurs in nearly all types of trees and ecosystems, from closed-canopy tropical forests to the hardy trees that brave the Arctic regions. A slow growing beech tree may be expected to live several decades longer than its fast-growing relatives. It is very much like the story of the hare and the tortoise slow but steadily growing trees are the ones that live longest.

In order to study the implications of this we compared how much carbon would be accumulated under two tree simulation models. One simulation included this grow-fast, die-young trade-off, and the other used a model in which trees lived equally long, regardless of their growth rates. We found that trees growing faster and dying younger initially caused the overall level of biomass to increase, but it also increased tree mortality several decades later.

Therefore, eventually the forest starts to lose biomass again and return to the same level as in the beginning, but with faster growing and shorter-lived trees. Our models indicate that faster growth results in faster tree death, without real long-term increases in carbon storage. Some researchers predicted this long ago, and our results support their prediction.

These model predictions are not only consistent with observed changes in forests dynamics in the Amazon but also with a recent study reporting an increase in tree death across the globe.

An intriguing question is why the fast-growing trees, the rock stars of the forest, live much shorter lives. We dont yet have a conclusive answer, but we have looked at some potential mechanisms. For example, it could be that higher temperatures and other environmental variations that stimulate faster growth, also reduce tree lifespans. However, we find that reductions in lifespan are the result of faster growth itself.

One simple hypothesis is that trees die once they reach a certain maximum potential size, and the faster a tree reaches this size the younger it dies. Other possible explanations are that fast growing trees simply make cheaper wood (in terms of energy expenditure), and invest fewer resources in fighting off diseases and insect attacks, or are more vulnerable to drought. Whatever the cause, this mechanism needs to be built into scientific models if we want to make realistic predictions of the future carbon sink and thus how much CO will be in the atmosphere.

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Across the world, trees are growing faster, dying younger and will soon store less carbon - The Conversation UK

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