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Category : Human Longevity

Quorn’s secret to longevity in the meat alternative sector – Food Dive

As far as meat alternatives are concerned, there are few people who have been in the business as long as Tim Finnigan.

He's been working at U.K.-based Quorn and its preceding corporate owners since 1995, and currently works as the chief scientific adviser. Almost 25 years ago, what is now a global meat alternative giant that claims to have served nearly 5 billion meals to consumers in 17 countries, was a project at British food company Rank HovasMcDougal. It dealt with turning mycoprotein, a fermented fungus culture, into food.Finnigan, a food scientist, expected work on the project to last maybe a year or two.

"I just found it a fascination, this whole idea ... was actually rooted back in the '60sand one man's vision, which is ... very inspiring," he said. "To kind of cut a long story short, that's where I've been ever since."

Tim Finnigan

Quorn first entered the U.K. marketplace in 1985, and started being distributed there in 1993. The company's products, which include meat-free burgers, fishless sticks, sausages, deli slices, roasts and cheese cutlets, made it to North American shelves in 2002.Quorn's sales in the U.S. grew 24% in the last year, according to Ben Sussna, the brand's U.S. director of marketing and innovation practice.

Through almost a quarter century at the company and in the meat alternative space Finnigan said he has seen it all. There have been times when consumers weren't necessarily interested in the segment. And now, meat alternatives are the hottest area in food. As the category becomes crowded with upstarts and new products, Quorn, currently owned by Philippines-based noodle powerhouse Monde Nissin, isn't standing still. Finnigan said the company is investing in improving its capacity, technology and knowledge.

The idea that became the company started in the 1960s when futurists projected the human race would run out of protein by the 1990s. J. Arthur Rank, a British industrialist, instructed scientists to work toward finding a non-animal solution to this potential problem. The fungus Fusarium venenatumwas discovered in soil in 1967, and scientists figured out a process to grow, ferment and assemble it into mycoprotein, which is then dried and processed to take on the characteristics of meat.

Mycoprotein is easily adaptable to different textures and tastes, which explains why Quorn has such a wide range of products. Finnigan said part of the reason Quorn has been able to succeed is the attention the company has paid to the variety and quality of its products.

"You quickly become irrelevant if your food doesn't excite and delight the consumer or intrigue chefs. I mean, those are the two must-have things for anybody who wants to win in this space," Finnigan said. "The quality of the food has to be number one."

Quorn's long history, he said, shows the product has endurance on the market. And he hopes the food can speak for itself.

Finnigan recalled an early meeting with a U.S. company he was hoping to do a commercial partnership with about 20 years ago. The people he was presenting to didn't really seem to understand what he was talking about.

"So I stopped the presentation, said, 'Look, let's just try some of the food.' And of course, then, the lights went on and these guys said, 'Yeah, these guys are from the U.K.They've got some kicka-- products.' And the rest was really easy because they thought the food was so amazing.

Tim Finnigan

Chief science officer, Quorn

"So I stopped the presentation, said, 'Look, let's just try some of the food,' " he said. "And of course, then, the lights went on and these guys said, 'Yeah, these guys are from the U.K.They've got some kicka-- products.' And the rest was really easy because they thought the food was so amazing."

While taste is paramount to keeping Quorn on the market, so are the product's sustainability and mycoprotein's health benefits. Finnigan said Quorn promotes its sustainability and health bona fides on a regular basis. After all, the company was founded with the goal of becoming a sustainable source of food for an uncertain future. Quorn puts out annual sustainability reportsto tout its low carbon footprint and water usage. According to the company, Quorn's carbon footprint is 10 times lower than beef and four times lower than chicken. It uses 20 times less water than beef and 6 times less water than chicken.

As for its health benefits, Quorn routinely funds and participates in industry studies. The ingredient itself, the company says, has all nine amino acids, no cholesterol, high fiber and is low fat.

"We can't just separate the impact of the choices we make in our diets from the impact on the health of our bodies and the health of the planet," Finnigan said. "Those two things have to be talked about together ... and I think that that's quite an important thing,as an industry, to start discussing."

Finnigan said younger generations are more ready to discuss this and take these aspects to heart. And as long as the company can show consumers that mycoprotein is good for them and the planet, consumers will be interested. He said many companies aspire to put back more than they take out when it comes to natural resources, and Quorn is trying to show its efforts to get there.


While several newer companies are using fermentation to create protein products including Perfect Day, which makes dairy protein that way, and Future Meat Technologies, a manufacturer of fermented meat Quorn has been at it for decades. And while the process is rather complicated, the company has been proactive in educating consumers on how the products are made.

Finnigan has starred in videos taking consumers through the process while looking right at the fermenters where the product is born. And even though the process is a bit science heavy, it also adds to transparency, something that consumers are clamoring for.

"We have to have the good quality science that actually removes consumer uncertainty," he said.

"We can't just separate the impact of the choices we make in our diets from the impact on the health of our bodies and the health of the planet. Those two things have to be talked about together ... and I think that that's quite an important thing, as an industry, to start discussing."

Tim Finnigan

Chief science officer, Quorn

Although mycoprotein is created through a lengthy process, and is heavily processed in order to become a meat substitute, Quorn's products have a cleaner label than many competitors in the meat alternative space. This is one of its biggest differentiators, Finnigan said, and one that it may not play up enough.

"We're growing our tiny little member of the fungi family, and then we're simply cooking it and freezing it to create the texture," he said. "Whereas if you want to do something like [other popular meat-free alternatives] ... you can end up with a back-of-pack label that does look a bit like a chemistry set."

Quorn also has made efforts to be transparent with its labeling. In recent years, the brand has settled lawsuitsfrom U.S. consumers who said they were misled by package statements describing mycoprotein's origin. One lawsuit, settled last year,is a wrongful death case involving a child with a mold allergy who died of anaphylactic shock after eating a Quorn product. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has advocated to take mycoproten off of the FDA's GRAS list, claims there have been thousands of adverse reactions to the ingredient.

While the meat alternative movement is hot, Quorn is focusing on what's next. Finnigan said the company has a three-year innovation pipeline, and is always looking for new applications for mycoprotein.

Right now, there is some work being done to try to make a drinkable version, playing into the high-protein beverage trend. The company also has been talking to U.K. restaurants about some meat-free product launches.

Finnigan said he is interested in some of the work underway in the sector, including startups such as Sustainable Bioproducts that are producing similar fermented fungal protein items. He said while each company wants profits, the meat alternative segment is more about working together toward a common goal and less about cutthroat competition. The opportunities, he said, are enormous.

"We have to find a way of assuring a sustainable food future through the creation of healthy new proteins with the low environmental impacts. Because if you look at just business as usual with small adjustments, then it doesn't look very pretty," Finnigan said. "So it is important, I think, that the new entrants come. And they bring their energy, and if it's a great food and the consumers are delighted by that, then, you know, that's got in the long term to be a good thing. It might be difficult for some organizations, you know, that are toughing it out in the marketplace, but it's so important that we win, I think, as a sector."

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Quorn's secret to longevity in the meat alternative sector - Food Dive

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

The Longevity of the Ancients Recorded in Genesis – Jewish Link of New Jersey

We all wonder about those long lifespans recorded at the beginning of Genesis. For example, we are told that Adam lived 930 years, that Shet lived 912 years, and that Metushelach lived 969 years. How have Jewish sources understood these numbers over the centuries?

The first Jewish source to address this issue was Josephus (late first century). Here is his statement in Antiquities, book I:

Nor let the reader, comparing the life of the ancients with our own and the brevity of its years, imagine that what is recorded of them is falseFor, in the first place, they were beloved of God and the creatures of God Himself; their diet, too, was more conducive to longevity: it was then natural that they should live so long. Again, alike for their merits and to promote the utility of their discoveries in astronomy and geometry, God would accord them a longer life

Now I will survey the views of our Geonim and Rishonim.

R. Saadiah Gaon (10th cent.) discusses this issue in his introduction to Tehillim. He writes that the longevity of these early generations was part of Gods plan for the rapid proliferation of mankind on the earth. The longer people lived, the more children they could have. It would seem that he believed that everyone in those early generations lived a long lifespan.

R. Yehudah Ha-Levi (12th cent.) discusses the issue in the Kuzari (sec. 95). He believes that it was only the individuals listed who lived long. Each of the individuals listed was the heart and essence of his generation and was physically and spiritually perfect. The Divine Flow was transmitted from one generation to another through these exceptional individuals.

Rambam, in a famous passage in the Guide to the Perplexed (II, chap. 47) writes: I say that only the persons named lived so long, whilst other people enjoyed the ordinary length of life. The men named were exceptions, either in consequence of different causes, as e.g., their food or mode of living, or by way of miracle.

Ramban (comm. to Gen. 5:4) quotes Rambams view and then disagrees, calling Rambams words divrei ruach. Ramban writes that the individuals with long lifespans named in the Bible were not exceptional in their lifespans. Rather, the entire world had long lifespans before the Flood. But after the Flood, the world atmosphere changed and this caused the gradual reduction in lifespans.

Most of the Rishonim who discussed the issue thereafter followed the approach of either the Rambam or the Ramban. Either way, they were taking the Genesis lifespan numbers literally. (An underlying factor that motivated Rishonim to accept the Genesis lifespan numbers literally was that the count from creation was calculated based on these numbers.)

Josephus had mentioned that one of the reasons that God allowed their longevity was to promote the utility of their discoveries in astronomy and geometry. This idea of longevity to enable the acquisition of knowledge and make discoveries (and write them to be passed down) is also included in several of our Rishonim. See, e.g., the commentary of the Radak to Gen. 5:4 and of the Ralbag to Gen. chap. 5 (p. 136), and the Rashbatz, Magen Avot, comm. to Avot 5:21.

Rashbatz also mentions the idea that the early generations were close in time to Adam and Adam was not born from a tipah seruchah like the rest of us, but was made by God from the earth. Those early generations inherited his superior bodily constitution.

Another idea found in some of our Rishonim is that those early individuals did not chase after taavat ha-guf, which reduces the lifespan. See, e.g., the commentary of the Radak to Gen. 5:4.

But there were some Rishonim who were unwilling to take the Genesis lifespan numbers literally.

The earliest such source that we know of was R. Moses Ibn Tibbon (late 13th cent). He suggests that the years given for peoples lives were actually the years of malkhutam ve-nimuseihim, i.e., the dynasties and/or customs that they established.

Another figure who took such an approach was R. Levi ben Hayyim (early 14th cent.). First he mentions several of the possibilities to explain the longevity, e.g., good and simple food and marrying late (!). But then he concludes that in his opinion the names mentioned were just roshei avot. In other words, the number of years given for each individual reflects the total of the years of the several generations of individuals named for that first individual.

R. Nissim of Marseilles (early 14th century) was another who did not take the numbers literally. He took the same approach as R. Moses Ibn Tibbon. The numbers did not indicate the lifespan of the specific individuals named. Rather, it included the total years of the descendants who followed his customs and lifestyle.

The most interesting approach I saw was that of R. Eleazar Ashkenazi ben Nathan ha-Bavli (14th century), in his work Tzafnat Paneach, pp. 29-30. First, R. Eleazar refers to the view that perhaps the individual numbers were not to be taken literally, and points to other statements in the Torah that were not meant to be taken literally, e.g., 1) the Land of Israel was flowing with milk and honey, and 2) the cities in Canaan were fortified up to the Heaven.

But then R. Eleazar suggests the following creative approach. In listing these individual numbers, the Torah was merely recording the legends about these figures, even though they were not accurate. The important thing was to provide data from which the total years from Creation to Matan Torah could be derived, so that the people would be able to know the length of time between these two periods. Even though the numbers for the individual lifespans were not accurate, the Torah made sure that the total that would be arrived at would be accurate. (In contrast, when it came to events from Avraham and forward, the Torah was careful to preserve a more accurate accounting.)

In modern times, one Orthodox scientist who has written much on this topic is Prof. Natan Aviezer of Bar-Ilan Univ. He discusses this topic in a post at their parshah site for Noach, 1998. There he explains that modern science has figured out that aging is largely caused by genes, and not by a wearing out of our bodies. He then suggests that when God stated at Gen. 6:3 that man would be limited to 120 years, this was when God first introduced the gene for aging into the human gene pool.

If you have not found any of the above answers satisfying, I have some good news. R. Saadiah Gaon writes (Emunot Ve-Deot, ch. 7) that in the era of the redemption the human lifespan will be approximately 500 years. Presumably, at that time we wont be bothered by those long lifespans in Genesis anymore!

I would like to acknowledge that most of the material above came from an article by Prof. D. Lasker of Ben-Gurion Univ. in Din Yisrael, vol. 26-27 (2009-10).

Mitchell First aspires to longevity and hopes his children can tolerate him for that long.

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The Longevity of the Ancients Recorded in Genesis - Jewish Link of New Jersey

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Vulnerability of the industrialized microbiota – Science Magazine

One world, one health

As people increasingly move to cities, their lifestyles profoundly change. Sonnenburg and Sonnenburg review how the shift of recent generations from rural, outdoor environments to urbanized and industrialized settings has profoundly affected our biology and health. The signals of change are seen most strikingly in the reduction of commensal microbial taxa and loss of their metabolic functions. The extirpation of human commensals is a result of bombardment by new chemicals, foodstuffs, sanitation, and medical practices. For most people, sanitation and readily available food have been beneficial, but have we now reached a tipping point? How do we conserve our beneficial symbionts and keep the pathogens at bay?

Science, this issue p. eaaw9255

The collection of trillions of microbes inhabiting the human gut, called the microbiome or microbiota, has captivated the biomedical research community for the past decade. Intimate connections exist between the microbiota and the immune system, central nervous system, and metabolism. The growing realization of the fundamental role that the microbiota plays in human health has been accompanied by the challenge of trying to understand which features define a healthy gut community and how these may differ depending upon context. Such insight will lead to new routes of disease treatment and prevention and may illuminate how lifestyle-driven changes to the microbiota can impact health across populations. Individuals living traditional lifestyles around the world share a strikingly similar microbiota composition that is distinct from that found in industrialized populations. Indeed, lineages of gut microbes have cospeciated with humans over millions of years, passing through hundreds of thousands of generations, and lend credence to the possibility that our microbial residents have shaped our biology throughout evolution. Relative to the traditional microbiota, the industrial microbiota appears to have lower microbial diversity, with major shifts in membership and functions. Individuals immigrating from nonindustrialized to industrialized settings or living at different intermediate states between foraging and industrialization have microbiota composition alterations that correspond to time and severity of lifestyle change. Industrial advances including antibiotics, processed food diets, and a highly sanitized environment have been shown to influence microbiota composition and transmission and were developed and widely implemented in the absence of understanding their effects on the microbiota.

Here, we argue that the microbiota harbored by individuals living in the industrialized world is of a configuration never before experienced by human populations. This new, industrial microbiota has been shaped by recent progress in medicine, food, and sanitation. As technology and medicine have limited our exposure to pathogenic microbes, enabled feeding large populations inexpensively, and otherwise reduced acute medical incidents, many of these advances have been implemented in the absence of understanding the collateral damage inflicted on our resident microbes or the importance of these microbes in our health. More connections are being drawn between the composition and function of the gut microbiota and alteration in the immune status of the host. These relationships connect the industrial microbiota to the litany of chronic diseases that are driven by inflammation. Notably, these diseases spread along with the lifestyle factors that are known to alter the microbiota. While researchers have been uncovering the basic tenets of how the microbiota influences human health, there has been a growing realization that as the industrial lifestyle spreads globally, changes to the human microbiota may be central to the coincident spread of non-communicable, chronic diseases and may not be easily reversed.

We suggest that viewing microbiota biodiversity with an emphasis on sustainability and conservation may be an important approach to safeguarding human health. Understanding the services provided by the microbiota to humans, analogous to how ecosystem services are used to place value on aspects of macroecosystems, could aid in assessing the cost versus benefit of specific microbiota dysfunctions that are induced by different aspects of lifestyle. A key hurdle is to establish the impact of industrialization-induced changes to the microbiota on human health. The severity of this impact might depend on the specifics of numerous factors, including health status, diet, human genotype, and lifestyle. Isolating and archiving bacterial strains that are sensitive to industrialization may be required to enable detailed study of these organisms and to preserve ecosystem services that are unique to those strains and potentially beneficial to human health. Determining a path forward for sustainable medical practices, diet, and sanitation that is mindful of the importance and fragility of the microbiota is needed if we are to maintain a sustainable relationship with our internal microbial world.

Aspects of lifestyle, including those associated with industrialization, such as processed foods, infant formula, modern medicines, and sanitation, can change the gut microbiota. Major questions include whether microbiota changes associated with industrialization are important for human health, if they are reversible, and what steps should be taken to prevent further change while information is acquired to enable an informed cost-versus-benefit analysis. It is possible that a diet rich in whole foods and low in processed foods, along with increased exposure to nonpathogenic microbes, may be beneficial to industrial populations.

The human body is an ecosystem that is home to a complex array of microbes known as the microbiome or microbiota. This ecosystem plays an important role in human health, but as a result of recent lifestyle changes occurring around the planet, whole populations are seeing a major shift in their gut microbiota. Measures meant to kill or limit exposure to pathogenic microbes, such as antibiotics and sanitation, combined with other factors such as processed food, have had unintended consequences for the human microbial ecosystem, including changes that may be difficult to reverse. Microbiota alteration and the accompanying loss of certain functional attributes might result in the microbial communities of people living in industrialized societies being suboptimal for human health. As macroecologists, conservationists, and climate scientists race to document, understand, predict, and delay global changes in our wider environment, microbiota scientists may benefit by using analogous approaches to study and protect our intimate microbial ecosystems.

Ecosystems change. Seasonal or periodic fluctuations may occur over short time scales, trajectories of lasting change can occur over time, and sudden perturbations can result in instability or new stable states. Ecosystems can also reach tipping points at which biodiversity crashes, invasive and opportunistic species take over, and the services expected of the original ecosystem are lost, which may result in further damage and/or extinctions. Each human is an ecosystem composed of thousands of species and trillions of members, the host body of Homo sapiens being just one of those species. Most of these community members are microorganisms that reside in the gut, which is the focus of this article. Sequencing of the microbiota shows that human microbiomes are composed of a stunning array of species and functional diversity. An intricate set of interactions, just now being mapped, connects microbial species within a microbiota to one another and to human biology and is beginning to show how profoundly these microbes influence our health.

The first steps in human microbiota assembly occur upon birth, with microbes vying to colonize environment-exposed surfaces in and on the body. This process is influenced by many factors, including mode of birth, nutrition, environment, infection, and antibiotic exposure (1, 2). Specific taxa of microbes have codiversified with Homo sapiens, consistent with vertical transmission over hundreds of thousands of generations (3). The millions of years of association have provided ample opportunities for our biology and theirs to coevolve (4).

Intimate connections between the microbiota and the human immune system, nervous system, and metabolism have been revealed over the past decade (59). The specific microbes that first colonize the infant gut and the ensuing succession of the community can irreversibly influence mucosal and systemic immune development (10). Orchestrating the assembly of a health-promoting gut microbiota or manipulating a mature community to alter human physiology has vast therapeutic potential, which has captured the attention of the biomedical community. Beyond the importance of the microbiota to human health, recent research has also demonstrated its vulnerability. This ecosystem is susceptible to change by selective forces (11, 12). For example, a single course of one type of antibiotic can decimate and reshape the gut microbiota (13). Exciting research is racing to identify disease treatments using microbiome manipulation, but less focus has been placed on how to protect the microbiota from damage that may be deleterious to human health (14).

The germ theory of disease, formalized in the 1860s by Louis Pasteur, portrayed microbes as an enemy to be controlled and eradicated. The subsequent war on microbes deploying hand washing, sterile surgical techniques, and antibiotics has saved countless lives. In 1900, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and infectious enteritis were the three leading causes of mortality in the United States, accounting for almost one-third of all deaths (15). By the end of the millennium, these infectious disease killers were replaced by chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which offered evidence of our ability to effectively manage germs. However, the inverse relationship of infectious and chronic disease rates may share a similar underlying cause. Consistent with tenets of the hygiene hypothesis, limited exposure to microbes may result in defects in immune function and/or regulation, leading to an increasing burden of allergic and autoimmune diseases. In light of our new knowledge about the role of the microbiota in health, the war on microbes likely needs to be reconsidered in less combative terms. The profound success of germ-killing techniques and drugs developed in the past century that have minimal acute side effects has led to overuse. The rise of superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics and chemical bactericides reveals that there is a cost to our war on microbes (16). However, the longer-term and less obvious costs to human health of disrupting the microbiota may come from chronic metabolic and immune diseases. Although intimate, the communities that live in our guts are hard to study, and at present we do not fully understand the health impact of the differences in the microbiota observed between human populations.

Microbiota composition, diversity, and gene content in industrialized peoples vary substantially from that of more traditional rural populations and likely from that of our ancient ancestors, indicating that aspects of our lifestyle are changing our resident microbes (4, 1720). Antibiotics are not the only potential contributor to this effect. Other recent changes in practice, including Caesarean section (C-section) delivery, infant formula, and consumption of industrially produced foods, have all been shown to influence the gut microbiota of humans (2123). Although these technological and medical advances have had undeniable benefits (especially for emergency health care), their implementation and widespread use have occurred without an understanding of their impact on our resident microbial communities. At one extreme, microbiota shifts coincident with industrialization may have no impact (or even a beneficial impact, for example, by removing or reducing microbes with pathogenic potential) on human health and longevity. At the other extreme, the microbiota alterations observed in industrialized populations may be a major contributor to the misregulation of the human immune system that drives chronic inflammation (4, 24). Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as stroke, heart disease, some cancers, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and dementias, all of which are fueled by chronic inflammation, are associated with the worldwide expansion of industrialized lifestyles and are predicted to create a global health crisis in the coming century (25, 26).

In many ways, the rapid changes experienced by the microbiota of urban humans are analogous to those observed in macroecosystems throughout the world (27). Over time and with tremendous efforts to generate and analyze data, a global scientific consensus has emerged that human-induced climate change will have a devastating impact on Earths species and ecosystems if not curtailed and reversed (28, 29). Likewise, as we become increasingly cognizant of the importance of the microbiota in dictating the duration and extent of our health, it is vital that we reframe our relationship with microbes and use strategies similar to the sustainability and biodiversity conservation efforts under way around the globe. What steps should we take now to protect resident microbes, given the current data and range of possible outcomes?

That the gut ecosystem would change in response to marked lifestyle alterations is not surprising. What is notable is that the microbiota of traditional populations share taxa that have been lost or reduced in individuals living in the industrialized world, which we have termed VANISH (volatile and/or associated negatively with industrialized societies of humans) taxa (Fig. 1A) (30). A study comparing the industrialized microbiota with that of three Nepalese populations living on a gradient from foraging to farming showed the shift in microbiota composition that takes place as populations depart from a foraging lifestyle (31). Intermediate states of lifestyle change toward urbanization are accompanied by less extreme but evident changes in the microbiota (Fig. 1, B and C).

(A) Aggregation of gut microbiota composition from multiple studies separated by principal component analysis of BrayCurtis dissimilarity of 16S rRNA enumerations [adapted from Smits et al. (33)]. Top panel: The first principal component explains 22% of the variation in the data from 18 populations living lifestyles spanning from uncontacted Amerindians in Venezuela (top) to fully industrialized populations in Australia, the United States, Canada, and Ireland (bottom). Bottom panel: Mapping the relative abundance of bacterial families on PCo1 reveals global patterns in the VANISH taxa, which are associated negatively with industrialized societies, and BloSSUM taxa (bloom or selected in societies of urbanization/modernization), such as the Bacteroidaceae and Verrucomicrobia. (B) Heat map adapted from Jha et al. (31) displaying taxa that change across lifestyles in one geographic location (Nepal) of individuals living as foragers (Chepang), settled foragers (Raute, Raji), or agriculturalists (Tharu) versus industrialized individuals in the United States. (C) Model adapted from Jha et al. (31) of strain loss and/or reduction versus gain and/or increase across a lifestyle gradient. Different patterns of changing abundance correspond with specific aspects of lifestyle that change as populations move away from foraging and toward urbanization. The model could also reflect the historical progression of industrialized humans from foraging (Homo sapiens arose ~200,000 to 300,000 years ago) to agriculture (starting 10,000 to 20,000 years ago) to industrialization (starting 100 to 200 years ago).

Similarly, a longitudinal study of individuals immigrating from a Thai refugee camp to the United States showed a loss of VANISH taxa within months of immigrating (32). The longer the immigrants lived in the United States, the more profound the changes. In addition to changes in microbial membership, functional differences in the microbiota correspond to lifestyle. Traditional populations such as the Hadza, a hunter-gatherer group living in Tanzania, like the immigrants from Southeast Asia, harbor microbiota with a larger and more diverse collection of carbohydrate active enzymes (CAZymes) than their industrial counterparts. CAZymes digest complex plant polysaccharides, characteristic of traditional dietary fiber intake (32, 33). By comparison, the microbiota of U.S. residents are enriched in CAZymes that degrade host mucus, which serves as a backup food source for gut microbes when dietary fiber is limited, a hallmark of the industrialized diet (33, 34). The selection of mucus-utilizing bacteria in industrialized populations is evident in the enrichment of Akkermansia muciniphila (a mucin-loving bacterium in the phylum Verrucomicrobia) that was found in a worldwide comparison of industrialized and nonindustrialized microbiomes (Fig. 1A) (33). Whether the loss or reduction of VANISH taxa cause or contribute to the growing burden of NCDs in humans remains to be determined. However, determining the potential importance of VANISH taxa to human biology will require efforts to maintain their diversity before it is lost (35, 36).

We must not forget how the attempted eradication of pathogenic microbes with antibiotics, increased sanitation, and medicalized birth has saved countless lives. Other features of industrialized life, such as the Western diet and infant formula, have added convenience, increased human productivity and met the food demands of a growing population. The development and widespread implementation of these technological advances occurred before there was an understanding of their effect on the microbiota and the significance of the microbiota to human health. One difficulty in understanding the effects of different aspects of industrialization on the human gut microbiota is that so many lifestyle factors covary. Below, we summarize studies that have sought to disentangle facets of the industrialized lifestyle that change the microbiota.

The development and use of antibiotics have accompanied human population growth, industrialization, and rapid technological advances. Antibiotics have become the prototypic factor associated with industrialization that negatively affects the gut microbiota. Antibiotic resistance and increased susceptibility to enteric pathogens are well-known negative effects of antibiotic use. Accumulating data also show that oral antibiotic use has long-term effects on the composition of the gut microbiota (37). Just 5 days of ciprofloxacin was shown to decimate the gut microbial community, which only recovered slowly over the ensuing weeks and months (13). Recoveries were individualized, were incomplete, and differed in their kinetics (13). Similarly, other studies have shown that antibiotics can have a long-term impact on the microbiotaperhaps we should not be surprised because most of these medicines were originally designed to have broad-spectrum effects (38).

For most of human existence, humans consumed food and water laden with microbes, some of which caused disease. But humans also routinely consumed benign bacteria, both through incidental environmental exposure (e.g., from dirt or unsanitized food or on the skin) and from fermented foods (39). The recent shift to consuming largely sterile food and water has likely also influenced the microbiota. For example, the source of drinking water was significantly associated with microbiota composition in the cross-sectional study of Nepalese individuals living on a lifestyle gradient, as well as the Hadza (31). As industrial populations removed microbes from drinking water, the burden of diseases such as cholera and other waterborne illnesses decreased. Recent studies in mice suggest that sanitization in the form of cage cleaning does exacerbate extinctions in the microbiota after perturbation (40). The industrialized human microbiota also bears the hallmarks of sanitation, showing greater interindividual differences in microbiota composition (an indication of less microbe sharing between people) compared with traditional human populations in Papua, New Guinea, where individuals share more bacterial species with one another (20). Risking increased infectious diseases by reducing standards of sanitation would be misguided, but a better understanding of how hygienic practices shape our microbiota and the resulting impact on human health is needed. Restoring the consumption of nondisease-causing microbes may ameliorate diseases that are common among populations that consume sterile food and water (41).

Antibiotics and sanitation are intended to limit exposure to pathogenic microbes, but other practices such as the Western diet and C-section births that are not targeted at microbe control may nevertheless be having a profound effect on the microbiota.

Diet is a major driver of the composition and metabolic output of the microbiota (4244). Humans have shifted from a diet of exclusively wild animals and gathered foods to one of domesticated livestock and agricultural produce (10,000 to 20,000 years ago) to a more recent shift to industrially produced foods, including chemically managed livestock and produce and sterilized, ultraprocessed foods containing preservatives and additives (45, 46). These shifts have resulted in a food supply capable of supporting a growing human population, but perhaps at the cost of the populations health (47).

One notable change to foodstuffs is the unintentional depletion of a major form of sustenance for the microbiota: microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs; the complex carbohydrates found in the dietary fiber of edible plants such as legumes, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, etc.) (42). A high-MAC diet was commonplace when humans exclusively foraged for nutrition, and low-MAC diets have been associated with lower microbiota diversity and poor markers of health in humans and in animal models (4850). The paucity of MACs in the industrialized diet was compensated for by additional protein, simple carbohydrates, and fat, which had the effect of altering the composition and functional output of the microbiota (43, 51). The use of additives such as emulsifiers and non-nutritive sweeteners is pervasive in industrialized food. Both have been shown to alter microbiota composition and promote intestinal inflammation. In addition, emulsifiers promote adiposity and non-nutritive sweeteners alter the metabolic output of the microbiota toward one that resembles that of type 2 diabetics (21, 52).

Small changes to the microbiota have the capacity to amplify over generations. For example, mice fed a low-MAC diet showed reduced microbiota diversity that compounded over generations. Restoration of a high-MAC diet was not sufficient to regain microbiota diversity, which indicated that species within the microbiota had gone extinct during the four-generation length of the experiment (50). In another study, antibiotic treatment of pregnant mice altered the microbiota of the offspring and resulted in metabolic derangement that predisposed the pups to diet-induced obesity (53). Similarly, C-section delivery in humans results in colonization of the infant with microbes derived from skin instead of the mothers vaginal microbiota (54). Acute perturbations from diet, antibiotics, and medical practices could have been propagated over generations and synergized with heightened hygiene and sanitation to result in the population-wide ecosystem reconfigurations observed today. The effects of other factors associated with an industrialized lifestyle on the microbiota, including increased sedentary behavior, stress, exposure to new chemicals (e.g., plastics, herbicides, and pesticides), and social isolation, have only begun to be explored (5557).

It is not a given that the microbiota found in traditional populations, which likely shares more commonality with that of our ancient ancestors, would improve the health of a person living in an industrialized society (4). For example, several members of a traditional gut microbiota, such as parasites, are frank pathogens. Some functions of a traditional microbiota may have beneficial effects in the context of a traditional lifestyle but may not in a more urbanized context. We have simplified these points and recognize that some parasites may confer benefits to human health, but how benefit is defined may depend on context and the individual. For example, parasites that protect against intestinal inflammatory diseases may cause opportunistic infections in immunocompromised individuals (58).

While remaining agnostic about broad connections between change in the microbiota and human health, it is worth considering underlying evolutionary principles that might predict whether microbiota changes are likely to be beneficial, deleterious, or neutral. A very conservative view is that until we have a good understanding of which microbes or communities are beneficial or deleterious, including how context determines this answer, we should recognize that (i) our resident microbes have the potential to affect our health in profound ways and (ii) individual lifestyle and/or medical choices and population-level lifestyle, medical, and dietary choices can change these communities. Similar to early, albeit insufficient, steps to address climate change before the full scope of the problem was understood, such as developing renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, a hedge against potential catastrophe seems warranted. In the case of our gut microbes, acting to minimize unintended loss of biodiversity is likely a wise strategy until we know more. We discuss possible strategies below.

An important question is whether loss or reduction of resident, codiversified microbes and associated functions could have a negative health impact on humans. Some properties of the human microbiota appear to have been stable during much of human evolution before industrialization. It is expected that the combined biology and genome of the human body and its commensal microorganisms would have coevolved to maximize human reproductive success (fitness) during that time (59). Because industrialized humans are interested in a long, healthy life, it is worth asking whether long life is consistent with the reproductive success of early humans. The reproductive success of modern hunter-gatherers corresponds to being long lived (as demonstrated by evidence supporting the patriarch hypothesis); therefore, the components of the microbiome that lived within humans throughout most of our existence as a species likely promote biology consistent with a long, healthy life (60).

From the microbial point of view, a bacterial species is chiefly concerned with making more of itself. Therefore, it is worth considering whether it is possible for members of the microbiota that increase host health and longevity to arise. In other words, the question is not only whether the interests of host and microbiota are aligned (i.e., to promote a long, healthy life of the host), but whether microbes that promote the health and longevity of their hosts are retained and favored over evolutionary time.

Gut-resident microbes that improve host health and life span are most likely to arise when the health-promoting function does not incur a short-term fitness cost to themselves (61, 62). For example, imagine a microbial pathway that not only generates energy for the microbe by fermenting a dietary complex carbohydrate but also produces a fermentation end product that can be absorbed by the host and play beneficial metabolic and/or regulatory roles. These microbes would contribute to host health without incurring a fitness cost and could be selected over time as a result of host fitness, longevity, and transmission to offspring and other individuals. We might expect that loss of these coevolved microbes and associated functions would have a negative health impact.

The industrialized microbiota could be considered better adapted to an industrialized host lifestyle by harboring more resistance to antibiotics and being less proficient at dietary fiber degradation. However, such a microbiota may not be optimized for our health.

Learning how to minimize harm to an ecosystem is an easier prospect than rebuilding one that has deteriorated; however, the realization of an ecosystems importance often only becomes apparent after major change has taken place. In the case of the gut microbiota, we may have to confront the daunting task of reconfiguring an ecosystem that we are just beginning to understand. Biodiverse ecosystems are characterized by complex networks of interactions; delete or add one node and the cascade of changes through the network of interactions can be difficult to anticipate. Predicting ecosystem changes from species reintroduction, such as wolves into Yellowstone National Park, is a challenge long faced by conservation biologists (63, 64) (Fig. 2A).

(A) Gray wolves were introduced into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 to control the swelling elk population (105). The rewilding of Yellowstone set off a trophic cascade that resulted in a decreasing elk population (thereby promoting new growth in aspens), an increase in berries available to bears, and stream morphology changes caused by increased woody plants (64). This provides an example of how wildlife management can be used to restore a more diverse and perhaps functional ecosystem, as well as how reintroduction of species into a habitat can lead to unanticipated changes to that ecosystem. (B) Rewilding of a C. difficileinfected microbiota by FMT results in largely predictable outcomes in host health, but the specifics of the resulting microbiota composition are difficult to predict. (C) Long-term strategies for managing the microbiota include precision approaches of adding defined cocktails of microbes, engineered bacterial species, and improving ecosystem habitat quality. For example, increasing dietary MACs encourages commensal growth and provides fermentation end products such as butyrate to the epithelium, which can help keep oxygen tensions lower in the gut and prevent the growth of facultative anaerobes with pathogenic potential (106).

Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an example of how ecosystem remodeling through multispecies rewilding can be applied to the gut microbiota. In this procedure, all of the bacterial species of a healthy human donors stool microbiota are introduced into a diseased recipient in an attempt to reconfigure a maladaptive ecosystem (Fig. 2B) (65). FMT has been highly effective in treating Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) refractory to conventional antibiotic-based treatment (66). Although this procedure cures CDI, the addition of hundreds of microbial species into an equally complex, although disrupted, ecosystem results in an unpredictable community that is composed of strains from the donor, recipient, and other sources (67, 68). CDI represents an extreme case of ecosystem disruption; therefore, the lack of precision in dictating the resulting community after ecosystem rewilding is clinically tolerable, as almost any resulting microbiota configuration lacking or minimizing C. difficile is preferred. However, FMTs are not an ideal long-term solution for the treatment of many diseases. In many cases, they are simply ineffective, and in others, the unintended consequences may include transmission of antibiotic-resistant microbes or other infectious agents and the transference of unwanted phenotypes from the donor (69). Gut microbiota rewilding through FMT has currently only been consistently successful for C. difficile cases. Similar to cases of animal reintroduction in macroecosystems, success as defined by the ability of these reintroduced species to thrive has been mixed (70).

Targeted rewilding through discrete changes in habitat quality or the introduction of specific species chosen based on known interactions may be a more predictable and successful approach to ecosystem management in a disrupted gut microbiota. Habitat quality is a key element of success in macroecosystem restoration and is also an important consideration in the gut (71). Ecosystems are made up of interacting species and their physicochemical environment. Factors that influence the suitability of the gut habitat, including temperature, pH, osmolality, redox status, water activity, and chemical and nutrient availability, will likely affect the success of microbiota reconfiguration efforts. Mice chronically infected with C. difficile can be effectively treated using a diet containing MACs. This simple change to habitat quality enabled the recovery of a robust indigenous community and reestablished important functions such as short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production (72). Diet can also create a niche for a newly introduced microbial strain to colonize. For instance, feeding mice the seaweed polysaccharide porphyran allowed engraftment of a porphyran-utilizing Bacteroides strain (73). This example of engrafting a new species into a microbiota may provide a strategy that can be extended to help targeted rewilding (Fig. 2C).

An additional challenge to managing ecosystems is identifying the features within an ecosystem that are beneficial and thus worthy of conservation. One strategy used by ecologists is to assess the services provided by an ecosystem. Ecosystem services, popularized in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, enable value to be placed on different components of an ecosystem (74). For example, if a lake provides fresh drinking water and recreation (swimming, fishing), then pollution of that lake would put those services in jeopardy. Likewise, we can consider the ecosystem services supplied by the gut microbiota (75) (Fig. 3). However, determining whether a microbiota ecosystem service is beneficial is difficult enough in itself, and establishing whether this benefit is universal or specific to a subpopulation of people or even only one individual, a developmental period of life, or during disease or reproduction adds complexity. For example, extraction of calories was an important microbiota ecosystem service rendered in the preindustrialized world, but when eating modern, calorie-dense foods, this service becomes less important.

Identifying the benefits provided by the gut microbiome to human health is one way to determine when the ecosystem is functioning well. (A) List of benefits provided by the gut microbiota. This list is not intended to be comprehensive, and the categorization is only one of many possibilities, but it is presented as a potentially useful framework for conceptualizing how to value specific features of microbiota. (B) Current data suggest that, along with the shift in the composition of the industrialized microbiota, certain services may be lost or out of balance, resulting in suboptimal states of host physiology or disease. A more nuanced understanding of which services are beneficial and in what context will be enabled by longitudinal high-dimensional profiling of microbiome and host biology combined with long-term monitoring of health in humans.

Studying microbiota configurations in different contexts may reveal associations that are positive for human health. For example, work on the gut microbiota in individuals undergoing immunotherapy to treat cancer has shown associations between specific microbiota components and improved outcomes (76). Although many specifics remain to be determined, these findings are consistent with the ability of different microbiotas and their services, such as SCFA production, to alter host immune status and function. Unfortunately, such observational work is usually conducted on people living in industrialized countries and therefore is limited in the microbiota configurations and features that are queried.

If humans have developed a dependence upon microbiota services that have been lost during industrialization, then might reintroduction of these services be analogous to complementing a lost portion of human biology and provide broad benefit? Even if this is not the case, given the recent success of prophylactic antibiotics in low- and middle-income countries in improving health and reducing mortality in children, rewilding the microbiota after treatment using defined key strains may become a standard treatment to aid in ecosystem recovery (77). Should this be the case, then considerations of how to make reintroductions self-sustaining, especially in the face of spreading industrialization, will be important.

The goals of a managed microbiota should be to optimize ecosystem services to prevent disease and improve health and longevity. Optimization requires precise, targeted approaches that consider an individuals genotype, microbiome, or subcategory of disease. Given the large global health impact, strategies to protect the microbiome in all populations should be considered to maximize the palette of microbial and molecular tools available. Efforts are under way to archive the microbial diversity found in the gut of humans around the globe (35, 36). Whether these efforts will result in new therapeutics remains to be seen, but at the very least they provide a time capsule of microbial diversity in a rapidly industrializing world. Industrialization of the microbiome, and its accompanying loss or reduction of certain species, can occur on a time scale of months within an individual, creating some urgency for the banking of vulnerable species (78). An additional challenge is navigating the changing restrictions on the distribution of bacterial strains for research and therapeutic development while protecting the rights and recognizing the contribution of the people from which they came (79, 80).

Reshaping ingrained aspects of industrialized societies to moderate practices that have negative impacts on the microbiota will be a challenge but will be more practical than reversion to preindustrial practices (see Box: Sustainable ecosystem management approaches). Antibiotic use will remain an important aspect of industrial life; however, regulation in clinical and agricultural settings is needed to maintain efficacy and to protect the microbiome. Similarly, rationally engineered microbial cocktails or fermented foods could offer safe microbe exposure to compensate for sanitization. Government subsidies similar to those provided for certain crops could be justified to make MAC-rich and fermented foods cheaper and more widely available. Until food policy reflects the findings of biomedical research, short-term solutions, such as supplementing processed foods with MACs or probiotic bacteria, could provide a gradual progression toward health-optimizing food systems in industrialized countries.

Expanding cohort and interventional studies in humans from a wide representation of humans while simultaneously documenting microbiome and health changes is key for healthy, sustainable microbiota. Numerous associations have been made between the microbiota and human disease, but additional microbiome datasets from longitudinal, prospective observational and interventional studies of humans will provide insight into causal relationships. High-resolution measurements of host biology, including omics approaches and high-dimensional immune profiling, will be important to elucidate the specific lifestyle practices that lead to the most meaningful microbiome changes for human health (44, 81, 82). Animal models informed by human-derived data can be used to perform controlled studies with the goal of developing strategies to rebuild and maintain a healthy microbiota (83).

Some of the specific forces that are bad for Earth appear also to harm our microbiota. For example, animal meat production removes forest habitat for pasture and results in increased methane production. Excessive meat consumption has been coupled to trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) production by the microbiota, and TMAO is a risk factor for cardiovascular events (84). It may be wise to approach climate and health and microbiota sustainability simultaneously to identify solutions that align Earth and human health (i.e., One World, One Health) (85). Given that environmentally sustainable agricultural practices are compatible with producing food generally recognized to promote health, solutions for the planet and human health may be compatible (86). As Earths microbes adapt to our changing environment, we can expect our bodys ecosystem to reflect our external environment in ways that are difficult to anticipate. Determining microbial or molecular equivalents of rewilding will require a much better understanding of community dynamics and hostmicrobiota interactions than we presently have. Continually monitoring and managing a healthy internal ecosystem may be an effective strategy to combat and prevent the litany of chronic diseases that are currently spreading with industrialization.

As we continue to learn of the multitude of benefits afforded by our microbial symbionts, developing alternative strategies to manage microbial ecosystems will enable us to promote short- and long-term public health priorities simultaneously (87). Listed here are a few examples of successes in using beneficial microbes to manage microbial ecosystems.

Sterility in skin-injury repair has been viewed as an important factor in effective wound healing. However, maintaining a sterile wound-healing environment is a difficult prospect considering the exposure of most wounds to the environment (88). Recent evidence suggests that populating wounds with commensal microbes can reduce infections after surgery and minimize the need for antibiotic treatment (89). Similar strategies are also being tested in treating skin conditions including atopic dermatitis (clinical trial NCT03018275) and acute wounds (90).

Health careassociated infections are pervasive in both high- and low-income countries and are a leading cause of death in the United States (91). Germicidal treatments of hospital surfaces are not completely effective, leaving behind dangerous pathogens, some of which can inhabit surfaces for months and also lead to increasing antibiotic resistance. The use of probiotic-containing cleaners can be an effective, alternative method to decontaminate hospital surfaces that does not select for antibiotic-resistant strains (92).

Concerns over increasing antibiotic resistance, consumption of antibiotic-laden meat, and antibiotic-induced reduction of natural resistance to pathogens have led to the exploration of alternatives to antibiotics in livestock. Probiotic use in chickens has resulted in better growth rates, reductions in pathogen load and antibiotic resistance genes, and improved egg quality (93, 94). Probiotics have also been used to prevent infections and improve milk production in dairy cows and to aid growth in beef cattle (95). Use of probiotics is also beneficial in aquaculture, improving water quality, resistance to pathogens, and growth (96).

There is growing evidence that the use of beneficial bacteria is a promising path forward for managing pathogenic microbes in humans (97). Probiotics can reduce the duration and severity of infectious diarrhea and may be an effective alternative to antibiotics in the treatment and prevention of bacterial vaginosis (98, 99). A synbiotic mixture of Lactobacillus plantarum and fructo-oligosaccharides reduced the incidence of sepsis and lowered rates of respiratory tract infection in a cohort of infants from rural India (100). The use of bacteriophage to control pathogens, especially those that are resistant to multiple antibiotics, is another emerging alternative with recent success (101).

Antibiotics are commonly used in cancer treatment to minimize the risk of infection in a patient population with a disrupted immune system. However, in animal models, antibiotic treatment can alter the microbiota in ways that reduce treatment efficacy (102, 103). In fact, specific manipulation of the microbiota improved immunotherapy-based tumor control in a mouse model of melanoma (102, 103). Optimization of the microbiota to optimize immune status, whether augmenting immunotherapy or enabling bone marrow transplantation, will likely be integral to the future treatment of diseases such as cancer.

Given newly acquired data about the importance of early microbiota assembly in the health of the infant, a rethinking of medicalized birth is warranted. A recent pilot study showed that infants delivered by C-section who were seeded with their mothers vaginal microbes developed microbiota more closely resembling those of vaginally delivered infants (104). Future studies are required to determine whether vaginal seeding after C-section delivery provides any lifelong health benefit to the infant.

Acknowledgments: We thank members of the Sonnenburg lab and collaborators for helpful discussions. Funding: This work was supported by the NIH (R01-DK085025 and DP1-AT00989201). J.L.S. is a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator. Competing interests: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Vulnerability of the industrialized microbiota - Science Magazine

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Thinking deep thoughts has impact on life span – Mother Nature Network

Are you always deep in thought, thinking nonstop about the world around you? You might want to cut back on that. Researchers at Harvard Medical School just published a study in the journal Nature comparing the brains of people who had died in their 60s and 70s to those who had died over the age of 100.

They found that all roads lead to REST (RE-1 Silencing Transcription), that is, a protein that helps to calm your brain. This protein is enormously important to our brain health: Defects in REST have been linked to Huntington's disease and epileptic seizures, and it's also found in reduced amounts in elderly people with Alzheimer's disease.

REST has been found to quiet brain activity, and it can also protect those with dementia and other stresses.

It is currently not possible to measure REST in a living brain, so scientists relied on donated brain tissue from hundreds of people who died from ages 60 to over 100.

Study author Bruce Yankner, professor of genetics at Harvard, found that the differences in brains were immediately compelling: The longest-living people had lower expression of genes related to neural excitation. REST regulates these genes, and the centenarians' brain cells contained higher amounts of the protein than those who died younger.

It was extremely exciting to see how all these different lines of evidence converged, says study co-author Monica Colaicovo, also a professor of genetics at Harvard.

Socrates would likely disagree with the notion that too much deep thinking can lead to an earlier death. (Photo: DIMSFIKAS [CC by SA 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons)

While the brain's neural activity has long been explored in issues like dementia and epilepsy, this is the first evidence to reveal how it affects human longevity.

An intriguing aspect of our findings is that something as transient as the activity state of neural circuits could have such far-ranging consequences for physiology and life span, says Yankner.

Besides looking at hundreds of human brain tissue samples, the Harvard team also experimented with worms and mice by decreasing and increasing their mental activity. All of these experiments found that changing neural excitations affected life spans and creatures without the precious protein REST in their brain died at a faster rate.

It's still unclear how a person's exact thoughts, feelings or behavior can affect their longevity. Numerous studies have linked optimism to a longer life, and suggested a positive outlook can even affect your body's chemical balance.

Perhaps most striking about the study is that it contradicts many long-held popular beliefs about our brains and aging. Doctors have stressed that keeping your mind active, whether it's with brain-training games or a daily crossword puzzle, can also help you live longer. But this study's findings suggest that not all thoughts are equal.

The completely shocking and puzzling thing about this new paper is brain activity is what you think of as keeping you cognitively normal. Theres the idea that you want to keep your brain active in later life, neuroscientist Michael McConnell told The Washington Post.

The researchers hope this study will encourage more research on neural overactivity and what types of therapeutic interventions are possible. But until then, just to be safe, it's probably best not to think too hard about it.

Thinking deep thoughts has impact on life span

A recent Harvard study finds that neural activity is a new player when it comes to human aging.

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MicroRNA Expression Tied to Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in Latin America – Cancer Network

A grouping of 17 microRNA genes and their level of expression, can be used to distinguish between different cases of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), according to the findings of a study published inOncotarget.The results could also further explain the patterns of tumor development among certain ethnicities.

The study looked into the genomics of patients with cancer from Brazil. Fifty-four samples of non-treated primary breast tumors collected from the pathology tumor bank at the Hospital Nossa Senhora das Graas, in Paran. Those samples were split between patients with TNBC and those with other tumor forms.

The panel of miRNAs identified demonstrated the impact of CNAs in miRNA expression levels and identified miRNA target genes potentially affected by both CNAs and miRNA deregulation, the authors wrote. These targets, involved in critical signaling pathways and biological functions associated specifically with the TNBC transcriptome of Latina patients, can provide biological insights into the observed differences in the TNBC clinical outcome among racial/ ethnic groups, taking into consideration their genetic ancestry.

The DNA and RNA were isolated, purified, and quantified. Ancestral analysis was performed on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using the SNP chip, Illumina Infinium QC Array.

Genome-wide copy number profiling was made possible by array-CGH using the SurePrint G3 Human CGH Microarray made by Agilent. The Global miRNA expression profiling was then performed using the NanoString nCounter technology Human v2 miRNA Expression Assay. The 2 data sets were integrated, especially through the identification of copy number alterations (CNAs), according to the study results.

The final tally produced a 17-microRNA panel which showed elevated expression in the patients with TNBC. Whats more, the majority of the target RNA molecules were significantly correlated with the aggressiveness of the tumor, including its advanced grade and stage.

The panel of miRNAs we identified indicate potential, critical cancer-related pathways and gene networks that could be targeted for the treatment of TNBC in Latinas, once our findings are validated by larger studies, said Luciane Cavalli, the lead author, of Georgetown Lombardi, in a statement released Tuesday.

The findings could eventually prove actionable for screening, and in the clinic added Cavalli.

Targeting these genetic alterations, that represent the unique biology of their tumors, may lead to more efficient treatments, which could increase the longevity of Latina women who do not have many therapeutic options to fight this very aggressive disease, she said.

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Global Longevity & Anti-Senescence Therapy Market Review 2017-2018 and Forecast to 2023 – – Business Wire

DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The "Global Longevity and Anti-Senescence Therapy Market" report has been added to's offering.

Global longevity and anti-senescence market will witness rapid growth over the forecast period (2018-2023) owing to an increasing emphasis on Stem Cell Research and increasing demand for cell-based assays in research and development.

An increasing geriatric population across the globe and rising awareness of antiaging products among generation Y and later generations are the major factors expected to promote the growth of global longevity and anti-senescence market. Factors such as a surging level of disposable income and increasing advancements in anti-senescence technologies are also providing traction to the global longevity and anti-senescence market growth over the forecast period (2018-2023).

Senolytics, placenta stem cells and blood transfusions are some of the hot technologies picking up pace in the longevity and anti-anti-senescence market. Companies and start-ups across the globe such as Unity Biotechnology, Human Longevity Inc., Calico Life Sciences, Acorda Therapeutics, etc. are working extensively in this field for the extension of human longevity by focusing on the study of genomics, microbiome, bioinformatics, and stem cell therapies, etc. These factors are poised to drive market growth over the forecast period.

The report provides analysis based on each market segment including therapies and application. The therapies segment is further sub-segmented into Senolytic drug therapy, Gene therapy, Immunotherapy, and Others. Senolytic drug therapy held the largest market revenue share in 2017. The fastest growth of the gene therapy segment is due to the Large investments in genomics.

Report Scope

The scope of this report is broad and covers various therapies currently under trials in the global longevity and anti-senescence therapy market. The market estimation has been performed with consideration for revenue generation in the forecast years 2018-2023 after the expected availability of products in the market by 2023.

The global longevity and anti-senescence therapy market has been segmented by the following therapies: Senolytic drug therapy, Gene therapy, Immunotherapy and Other therapies which includes stem cell-based therapies, etc.

Revenue forecasts from 2028 to 2023 are given for each therapy and application, with estimated values derived from the expected revenue generation in the first year of launch.

The report also includes a discussion of the major players performing research or the potential players across each regional longevity and anti-senescence therapy market. Further, it explains the major drivers and regional dynamics of the global longevity and anti-senescence therapy market and current trends within the industry.

The report concludes with a special focus on the vendor landscape and includes detailed profiles of the major vendors and potential entrants in the global longevity and anti-senescence therapy market.

The report includes:

Key Topics Covered

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Summary and Highlights

Chapter 3 Market Overview

Chapter 4 Global Longevity and Anti-senescence Market by Therapy

Chapter 5 Global Longevity and Anti-senescence Market by Application

Chapter 6 Global Longevity and Anti-senescence Market by Region

Chapter 7 Industry Structure in Longevity and Anti-senescence Market

Chapter 8 Company Profiles

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Global Longevity & Anti-Senescence Therapy Market Review 2017-2018 and Forecast to 2023 - - Business Wire

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LyGenesis Closes $4 Million Convertible Debt Financing to Begin Clinical Development of its Liver Regeneration Technology – PRNewswire

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- LyGenesis, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on organ regeneration, announced today that they have completed a total of $4 million in private financing of convertible notes from Juvenescence, Ltd. and Longevity Vision Fund. Their technology uses lymph nodes as bioreactors to regrow functioning organs within a patient's own body. This financing will enable LyGenesis's lead program in liver regeneration to transition into clinical development, beginning with a Phase 2a clinical trial for patients with end stage liver disease in 2020.

"We have advanced our liver regeneration program through preclinical trials and this financing will help us to rapidly transition into a clinical-stage biotechnology company," said Michael Hufford, PhD, Co-Founder and CEO of LyGenesis. "Our ability to use the lymph node as a bioreactor for organogenesis is also generating interest from partner companies looking for an enabling technology so that their genetically modified cell therapies are able to engraft, proliferate, vascularize, and produce a therapeutic effect in patients."

"We are thrilled to continue our financial support of LyGenesis as they transition into clinical development," said Greg Bailey, MD, Co-Founder and CEO of Juvenescence, and a member of LyGenesis's Board of Directors. Sergey Young, founder of Longevity Vision Fund, said "The ability to regenerate functioning ectopic organs was science fiction just a few short years ago. The progress of LyGenesis's technology is emblematic of the rapid advances we are witnessing as biotechnology transitions from bench research, to preclinical models, and now into the clinic."

About LyGenesis, Inc.LyGenesis is a biotechnology company with an organ regeneration technology platform enabling a patient's lymph nodes to be used as bioreactors to regrow functioning ectopic organs. LyGenesis's lead allogeneic cell therapy program is focused on liver regeneration for patients with end stage liver disease. Its drug development pipeline includes thymus, pancreas, and kidney regeneration. Privately held, LyGenesis is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To learn more, please visit

About Juvenescence, Ltd.Juvenescence Limited is a life sciences company developing therapies to increase healthy human longevity. It was founded by Jim Mellon, Dr. Greg Bailey and Dr. Declan Doogan. The Juvenescence team are highly experienced drug developers, entrepreneurs and investors with a significant history of success in the life sciences sector. Juvenescence will create, partner with or invest in new companies with longevity-related therapeutics, by in-licensing compounds from academia and industry, or forming joint ventures to develop therapeutics for longevity. Juvenescence believes that recent advances in science have greatly improved our understanding of the biology of aging and seeks to develop therapeutics with the possibility of slowing, halting or potentially reversing elements of aging. To learn more, please visit

About Longevity Vision FundLongevity Vision Fundis a $100M life extension-focused investment fund dedicated to making longevity affordable and accessible to all. Founded by Sergey Young, the fund accelerates breakthroughs in longevity by investing in start-ups and companies that develop technologies, products, and services that extend human lifespans and overcome the negative effects of aging. The Fund provides funding to biotech and life extension-focused companies developing early diagnostics, AI in healthcare, and therapies addressing age-related diseases. To learn more, please visit

Media Contact:Michael Hufford,

SOURCE LyGenesis, Inc.

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LyGenesis Closes $4 Million Convertible Debt Financing to Begin Clinical Development of its Liver Regeneration Technology - PRNewswire

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Opinion: Entrepreneurs and Their Startup Businesses Need San Diegos Support – Times of San Diego

Share This Article:Startup teams at an EvoNesus incubator in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris JenneweinBy Duane Cameron

Everyone in business and economic development agree that startups are great for citiesbut how can communities and leaders do more than just tout the benefits of startups, and actually help pave the way for entrepreneurs to bring their business ideas to life?

Support Times of San Diego's growthwith a small monthly contribution

One way of getting behind San Diego startups is through celebrating the innovation and creativity being brought to our region. This month Cox Business, Tech Coast Angels and the San Diego Venture Group are doing exactly that by sponsoring and organizing the John G. Watson Quick Pitch Competition.

The Quick Pitch Competition on Oct. 29 gives 10 local startups the opportunity to compete for grants of up to $50,000 to further develop their idea. Its one of several others like it throughout the year here in our region.

However, we can always do more to support our startup ecosystemespecially if we want to hang on to our distinction as one of the best cities in America to launch a business. Moreover, San Diego in particular has a number of very good reasons to do so:

Small businesses, including startups, are the backbone of our regional economy. Small businesses, defined as those with 100 employees or fewer, employ697,000 people, or 59 percentof San Diegos workforce. If we were to attract fewer talented entrepreneurs, opportunities for both our long-time residents and recent transplants would dry up, and our economy would suffer.

Theyve given us our reputation as a life sciences and biotechnology innovation hub. Aside from the San Francisco Bay Area and the Boston-Cambridge region, were one of the top cities for manufacturing, testing and research in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Several of the top employers in this area are, of course, large companies like Illumina, but a vast majority of the more than 1,100 life and sciences biotech businesses in San Diego began life as small startups with an idea.

They encourage competition. Competition is a good thing and spurs innovation, and a competitive business ecosystem makes our city stand out as a dynamic source of tech solutions. As Ben Yoskowitz, an angel investor and founding partner at Year One Labs puts it, Any reasonably good idea has 10,000 people working on it right now.

A few local startups have made it big already. Thanks to our large pool of talent both local and transplanted (the perks of being a major center for universities) as well as a good network of accelerators that coach startups on how to prepare for a successful launch, many of our startups have emerged as major players on the national scene. Think GoFundMe, Classy, Brain Corp, and Human Longevity. Imagine how many more ideas like these are currently incubating among San Diegos startup founders.

They employ talent from other tech hubs, especially recent graduates. The job market may have improved greatly since the 2008-2009 recession, and unemployment may be low, but its still challenging to get your foot in the door as a recent college graduate. In cities like San Diego, though, where theres a strong pool of startups, these young professionals can easily find employment that develops them professionally into the future talent that our city will need to continue to grow.

San Diego has steadily climbed higher on lists of top U.S. cities for startups over the past few years, but that didnt happen in a vacuum. Every big company started small, and its important that larger companies encourage startups, and help provide funding through programs such as the Quick Pitch Competitionespecially if theyre in your field. Its good for business and for everyone who lives and works in Americas finest region.

Duane Cameron has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. He is vice president for Cox Business, helping to bring innovative products and services to Southern California businesses.

Opinion: Entrepreneurs and Their Startup Businesses Need San Diegos Support was last modified: October 17th, 2019 by Editor

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Opinion: Entrepreneurs and Their Startup Businesses Need San Diegos Support - Times of San Diego

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Media Advisory: Artificial Intelligence in Health Care, Healthy Longevity, and Human Genome Editing Among Topics at Meeting of Nation’s Top Health…

Artificial Intelligence in Health Care, Healthy Longevity, and Human Genome Editing Among Topics at Meeting of Nations Top Health Leaders and Scholars Oct. 21

The National Academy of Medicines (NAM) 49th Annual Meetingwill include a scientific symposium Oct. 21 featuring a keynote address by Keith A. Wailoo, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, and panel discussions on data sharing and patient privacy; artificial intelligence in health care delivery; and the ethics and governance of human genome editing.

Following the symposium, NAM President Victor J. Dzau will moderate a Presidents Forum on the societal implications of emerging science and technology in health and medicine and the need for a future multisectoral, collective governance framework to guide the development and adoption of new technologies. The forum begins at 4:30 p.m. EDT and willfeatureremarks byRobert Cook-Deegan(Arizona State University),Scott Gottlieb(American Enterprise Institute),Vivian S. Lee(Verily),Alondra Nelson(Institute for AdvancedStudy), andElias A. Zerhouni(Johns Hopkins University).

Beginning at 6 p.m. EDT, NAM will celebrate the launch of its Healthy Longevity Global Competition, a multiyear, multimillion-dollar international competition hosted jointly by the National Academy of Medicine and global collaborator organizations. The competition will seek breakthrough innovations to extend human health and function later in life and will follow a unique model built on a foundation of catalyst and proof-of-concept awards to attract bold ideas and to advance successful pilots and prototypes, followed by major inducement prizes. In addition to Dr. Dzau, speakers at the reception include:

Details:Monday, Oct. 21, 10:15 a.m. - 7 p.m. EDT, Fred Kavli AuditoriumNational Academy of Sciences building2101 Constitution Ave., N.W.Washington, D.C.Agenda|WebcastReporters who wish to attend the meeting in person should register in advance.

Contact:Dana Korsen, Media Relations ManagerOffice of News and Public Information202-334-2138; e-mail

Twitter: @theNAMedicineFacebook: @NAMedicineInstagram: thenamedicineFollow the conversation using #NAMmtg

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Media Advisory: Artificial Intelligence in Health Care, Healthy Longevity, and Human Genome Editing Among Topics at Meeting of Nation's Top Health...

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Overthinking Can Shorten Your Life, Says New Study – International Business Times

Although it is one natural ability of human beings to think and it is what sets us apart from animals, but when you get overboard with thinking, it can get detrimental. A new study suggests that overthinking can shorten your lifespan.

The study conducted by the researchers at Harvard Medical School has found that excessive brain activity could decrease ones lifespan. It involved individuals aged 60-70 years whose brains were compared to those who lived until they were 100 or more.

Their findings suggested that people who died at younger ages had significantly lower levels of the protein REST (RE-1 silencing Transcription)- one that silences your brain activity. Precisely, the study showed that overthinking causes excessive brain activity which in turn leads to depletion in ones REST protein levels and shortened lifespan. And that suppressing such overactivity extends life. Several other studies have also proved that REST protein offers protection against Alzheimers disease.

This is the first study to prove that the activity of the nervous system affects the longevity of human beings. Though several studies have previously reported the phenomenon among animals, the role of neural activity in human aging has remained murky until now.

The lead author Bruce Yankner, professor of genetics at HMS and co-director of thePaul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Agingsaid,An intriguing aspect of our findings is that something as transient as the activity state of neural circuits could have such far-ranging consequences for physiology and life span. He added that they now have several individuals enrolled in such studies to partition the aging population into genetic subgroups. He also opines that this information is invaluable and makes it evident as to why it's so important to support the future of human genetics.

The study has paved the way for designing new therapies for health conditions that are associated with neural overactivity including Alzheimers disease and bipolar diseases. The study results also create the possibility that meditation or medicines that can target REST protein could extend the human life span by modulating neural activity.

"The possibility that being able to activate REST would reduce excitatory neural activity and slow aging in humans is extremely exciting," said the study co-authorMonica Colaicovo, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Overthinking Photo: Jambulboy, Pixabay

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Overthinking Can Shorten Your Life, Says New Study - International Business Times

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