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.”

Valve’s ‘Knuckles’ controller brings individual finger control to VR

With a prototype first revealed at the company’s Steam Dev Days conference last October, Valve’s new ‘Knuckles’ controller is now being shipped to developers as a prototype, while a blog post unveils a few more of the specs.

What’s important about the new controller is that it on only utilises an ‘open hand’ design that will mean you don’t have to spend your entire time gripping the controller like a weapon, but  it also features basic tracking for individual fingers.

The device is similar to the current HTC Vive motion controller, positioning in 3D space via Steam’s Lighthouse tracking system, but looks to build to the next stage of what can be done with motion control in VR. Specifically, Valve is looking to bring a much greater presence of your virtual hand into the market.

Moreover, they’re looking to make that virtual hand feel far more natural. With the controller able to grip onto your hand – think somewhat similar to securing your Wiimotes to your wrist – you’ll be able to operate in the virtual space with an open hand. While it may seem a small thing, it brings a whole new realism to any kind of grabbing or catching motion.

In addition, the ability of the Knuckles to track the movement of individual fingers could prove a real game-changer to virtual reality experiences.  Using a number of capacitive sensors to detect the state of your hands when your finger is on a button, or particular part of a controller, the controller will, according to the dev post, “return a curl value between zero and one, where zero indicates that the finger is pointing straight out and one indicates that the finger is fully curled around the controller”.

In essence, this means that the controller will be able to sense fine gradations of movement in each of your fingers, rather than relying on a binary “open” or “closed” status. Beyond lending a more organic feel to the use of your virtual hand, this will also allow users to make use of a range of hand gestures currently unavailable with VR controllers. A screenshot from a new version of SteamVR Home displays the possibilities with a Knuckles user’s avatar throwing up devil horns.

Images courtesy of Valve

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a perfect tracking system. While farther along than, for example, the Oculus Touch controllers, which allow you to slightly open your fingers while tracking the three non-index fingers together via an analog trigger, the Knuckles aren’t exactly ‘full’ finger tracking. Ideally, controllers will reach the point of knowing where your fingers are at all times with pinpoint precision. Until then however, the Knuckles are no small step forward.

The current Knuckles controller dev kit reportedly has a battery life of three hours and requires an hour of USB Micro charging to fill up (if accurate, these numbers put it roughly in the same realm as Vive controllers in regards to battery). We’ll have to wait on confirmation of this and other details,

Elon Musk speaks to LA's mayor about his Boring Company

Elon Musk said this week that he has held “promising conversations” with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, regarding the potential of bringing his recently formed Boring Company to the city. One of the ideas reportedly under consideration would see an express line to LAX airport from LA’s Union Station being built.

Source: Tech Crunch

Atari is back with a new console

Last week, Atari began teasing a new product called the Ataribox. Now, in an exclusive interview with GamesBeat Atari CEO Fred Chesnais has confirmed that the pioneering video game company is working on a new game console. “We’re back in the hardware business,” said Chesnais.

Source: Venture Beat

Nasa find 10 planets that could potentially host life

Nasa has added a further 219 candidates to the list of planets beyond our solar system, 10 of which may be about the same size and temperature as Earth, and may host life. Scientists found the candidates in a final batch of Nasa’s Kepler Space Telescope observations of 200,000 sample stars in the constellation Cygnus.

Source: The Guardian

Tesla Model S told driver to put his hands on the wheel before fatal crash

Federal regulators said on Monday, the driver of a Tesla Model S, who was killed in a collision while the car was in autopilot mode, did not have his hands on the steering wheel for a prolonged period of time despite being repeatedly warned by the vehicle that having his hands on the wheel was necessary.

Source: Ars Technica

Uber founder Travis Kalanick resigns

Having last week said that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence, Uber boss Travis Kalanick resigned as chief executive of the company this week after pressure from shareholders. His resignation comes after a review of practices at the firm and scandals including complaints of sexual harassment.

Source: BBC

Facebook defends against injunction to remove Oculus Rift from sale

Facebook and Oculus want a federal judge to let them continue selling Rifts despite a jury deciding Oculus stole another company’s computer code. Lawyers for Facebook said halting the sale of Oculus Rifts “would serve no one but ZeniMax, who would use it only as leverage to try to extract money from Oculus”.

Source: Bloomberg