Interdisciplinary bio-hacking team finds genetic stability key to turning off ageing

A group of scientists led a life extension world record holder has determined that stabilising gene networks is key to switching off the process of ageing.

The team, from Hong Kong-based biohacking company Gero, comprises experts from a vast array of different scientific backgrounds, alongside Professor Robert J Shmookler Reis, the current world record holder in life extension for model animals, and has just published research on the subject in the journal Scientific Reports.

“In our work, we analyzed the stability of a simple gene network model and found that gene networks describing most common species are inherently unstable,” explained Dr Peter Fedichev, CSO of Gero.

“Over time, it undergoes exponential accumulation of gene regulation deviations leading to diseases and death.

“We conjectured, that the instability is the cause of aging. However, should the repair systems be sufficiently effective, the gene network can stabilize so that the damage to the gene regulation can remain constrained along with mortality of the organism.”

mole-rat

This theory is supported by the genetic networks of animals that do not experience a decline in function or a rise in mortality as they get older. The team gave the example of naked mole rats, which are negligibly senescent – ie they barely age – and have highly stress-resistant tissue due to the stability of their gentic networks.

By contrast, humans’ genetic networks are very unstable, resulting in a decline in human tissue’s ability to reproduce, regenerate and resist stress, resulting in our increase in mortality and decline in function as we age.

These differences are caused by a small number of major factors, including how effective genes are connected as a network, the rate DNA repairs itself, the turnover of proteome – the proteins expressed by a gene – and genome size, and the team at Gero believes that lifespan can be altered by ‘hacking’ any of these aspects.

This has already been achieved in a type of worm – C. elegans – creating a lifespan ten times the norm with a single gene mutation, and it is thought that it can be achieved in other creatures with further work.

The genes of the worm C. elegans were successfully altered to significantly improve its lifespan.

The genes of the worm C. elegans were successfully altered to significantly improve its lifespan.

Gero is working with the intention of creating anti-ageing treatments, and believes that this approach is key to creating such therapeutics.

“We want to create a drug that will significantly extend a healthy and happy human life,” said the company on their website.

“The relation between stresses, stress resistance and aging is analyzed and demonstrates that damage to gene regulation from stresses encountered even at a very young age can persist for a very long time and influence lifespan,” explained the company in a media release to accompany the publication of the research.

“That is why we believe that further research into the relation between gene network stability and aging will make it possible to create entirely new therapies with potentially strong and lasting effect against age-related diseases and aging itself.”

New research claims a video game can improve doctors’ ability to recognise severe trauma in patients

New research has concluded a specifically-designed video game improves doctors’ ability to recognise when patients need to be transferred to a severe trauma centre.

The research, by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and published today in the BMJ, revealed the game Night Shift was better at preparing doctors to recognise patients who needed higher levels of care than reading traditional educational materials.

This was the case even though doctors who were made to play the game, in which doctors play as a fictitious, young emergency physician treating severe trauma patients, enjoyed it less than those who were asked to read relevant materials.

“Physicians must make decisions quickly and with incomplete information. Each year, 30,000 preventable deaths occur after injury, in part because patients with severe injuries who initially present to non-trauma centres are not promptly transferred to a hospital that can provide appropriate care,” said the game’s creator Deepika Mohan, MD, MPH and assistant professor in Pitt’s departments of Critical Care Medicine and Surgery.

“An hour of playing the video game recalibrated physicians’ brains to such a degree that, six months later, they were still out-performing their peers in recognising severe trauma.”

Night Shift was designed by Mohan to tap into the part of the brain that uses pattern recognition and previous experience to make snap decisions by using subconscious mental shortcuts – a process called heuristics.

Doctors in non-trauma centres typically see only about one severe trauma per 1,000 patients. As a result, their heuristic abilities can become skewed toward obvious injuries such as gunshot wounds, and miss equally severe traumas such as internal injuries from falls.

On average, 70% of severely injured patients who present to non-trauma centres are under-triaged and not transferred to trauma centres as recommended by clinical practice.

“There are many reasons beyond the doctor’s heuristics as to why a severe trauma patient wouldn’t be transferred to a trauma centre, ranging from not having an ambulance available to a lack of proper diagnostic tools,” said Mohan.

“So, it is important to emphasize that recalibrating heuristics won’t completely solve the under-triage problem and that the problem isn’t entirely due to physicians’ diagnostic skills. But it’s heartening to know we’re on track to develop a game that shows promise at improving on current educational training.”

For the study, Mohan recruited 368 physicians from across the US who did not work at hospitals specialising in severe trauma. Half were assigned to play the game and half were asked to spend at least an hour reading the educational materials.

Participants then responded to questionnaires and completed a simulation that tested how often they “under-triaged,” or failed to send severe trauma patients to hospitals with the resources necessary to handle them.

Physicians who played the game under-triaged 53% of the time, compared with 64% for those who read the educational materials.

Six months later, Mohan reassessed the physicians and found that the effect of the game persisted, with those who played the game under-triaging 57% of the time, compared to 74% for those who had read the educational materials.

Multimedia courtesy of Schell Games.

Researchers believe modified CRISPR could be used without editing DNA

Researchers from the US' Salk Institute have used CRISPR as a switch that turns genes on and off and allows harmful mutant genes to be disabled without affecting the structure of their DNA. Until this development gene editing using CRISPR carried the risk of causing unintended effects.

Source: Gizmodo

Nissan to trial robo-taxis in Japan next year

The carmaker Nissan is is partnering with Japanese software company DeNA to test self-driving taxis on Japanese roads from March next year. The free trials will be held over a two-week period in March in Yokohama, and Nissan believes the service could be officially launched in Japan in the early 2020s.

Source: BBC

Apparently, gaming can save your brain

Research participants who played 3D platforming games like the iconic Super Mario 64 had more gray matter in their hippocampus after playing, That part of the brain transforms short-term memories into long-term ones and maintains the spatial memory that helps us navigate the world around us.

Source: Inverse

San Francisco votes to restrict delivery robots

San Francisco officials have voted to restrict where delivery robots can go in the city, amid concerns about the safety of pedestrians, particularly elderly people and children. Start-ups will now have to get permits to use such bots, which will be restricted to less crowded urban areas.

Source: BBC

Steam stops accepting Bitcoin

When Valve first started accepting Bitcoin in April 2016 it was trading around $450 per coin. Today, with Bitcoin surging past $12,000 per coin, Valve has announced that "Steam will no longer support Bitcoin as a payment method on our platform due to high fees and volatility in the value of Bitcoin."

Source: Ars Technica

The maker of Budweiser beer reserves 40 Tesla electric trucks

Budweiser beer maker Anheuser-Busch has reserved 40 Tesla all-electric Semi trucks as it seeks to reduce fuel costs and vehicle emissions. The reservation is one of the largest publicly announced orders Tesla has received, while production of the trucks is scheduled to begin by 2019.

Source: Reuters