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.”

Russia announces testing of country-wide drone control network, paving way for commercial boom

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, has announced that it will begin testing a vast drone control network that will run across the nation.

The network, which is based on the country’s extensive existing satellite system, will allow small UAVs to safely operate in massive numbers within Russian airspace.

Once established, it will likely lead to an explosion in the commercial use of drones in the country, with drone deliveries in particular becoming viable on an unprecedented scale.

The announcement was made at Navitech 2017 in Moscow yesterday by experts from Russian Space Systems, a space hardware company owned by Roscosmos. Outlining the details of the system, they said that testing would begin this year, but did not provide a precise date for its start.

Each drone in the network will follow a route determined by the system, with ground-based infrastructure continuously receiving real-time data about its location and flight parameters.

This will immediately be processed and disseminated across the network, to ensure that large numbers of drones can be safely flown at any time, without interfering with both each other and traditional airspace traffic.

The network will not require the establishment of major new infrastructure, as all data will be transmitted through a combination of existing systems: FM transmitters, the country’s established cellular communication systems and GLONASS, Russia’s global satellite navigation system, which has provided 100% coverage of the country since 2011.

The system will also provide real-time data about no-fly zones, allowing routes to be adjusted immediately in response to changing information, and will offer a “platform of integrated applications” to UAV operators, content providers and insurance companies.

Roscosmos believes that the system will significantly reduce operating costs for drone owners by limiting the risks involved with running a commercial drone operation, as well as creating the conditions for new industries to emerge.

Among the industries the space agency expects to blossom through the adoption of the network are drone insurance, cloud software that would increase the capabilities of drones and what it calls “convenient services” – a term that likely refers to drone deliveries.

If the platform does deliver on this hope, it is likely Russia would become the first country with an extensive drone delivery network, realising a dream that was first brought to prominence by Amazon back in 2013. However, the US-based company is unlikely to become the main player in the Russian market, having as yet shown little interest in the country for its Prime Air operations.

As with many countries, drone deliveries are currently a rare occurrence in Russia, with notable exceptions including DoDo Pizza, a Syktyvkar-based company that began delivering pizzas to local residents back in 2014.

NFL players’ union signs historic deal that will enable players to sell their own performance data and make them “healthier and wealthier”

The NFL players association (NFLPA) has signed a landmark deal with human performance company WHOOP that will give players access to, ownership of and the option to sell their individual health data.

All current and future NFL players will be issued with a WHOOP Strap 2.0, which allows them to, without interference from their clubs, monitor their own performance, recovery and sleep.

WHOOP’s strap contains five sensors that measure data 100 times per second and automatically transmit it to accompanying mobile and web apps. WHOOP has also developed a Team Dashboard, which it says has “27 levels of privacy to ensure sharing data is completely secure and comfortable for all parties involved”.

“Our mission at WHOOP is to empower athletes. This partnership with the NFLPA is truly the first of its kind in that athletes will finally become both healthier and wealthier by collecting, controlling, and ultimately having the ability to sell their own health and performance data,” said Will Ahmed, founder and CEO at WHOOP.

“We applaud the NFLPA’s vision and share its commitment to work with athletes to better monitor their recovery and enable longer careers.”

Image and featured image courtesy of Alan Kotok

The partnership between the NFLPA and WHOOP is the first of its kind and was secured through the OneTeam Collective, which is an initiative designed to give companies like WHOOP the opportunity to leverage the NFLPA’s exclusive player rights.

WHOOP has hinted at seeking further partnerships with players’ unions in future.

In addition to owning their own data, as part of the agreement NFL players can design custom licensed bands for the WHOOP Strap, which will be made available commercially and allow players to further monetise the arrangement between the two parties.

“Every day, NFL players produce data that can translate into physiological and financial opportunities. We see partnering with WHOOP as the first step in harnessing this exciting technology,” said Ahmad Nassar, President of NFL Players Inc.

“We are excited to have WHOOP and its innovative, holistic monitoring technology serve as our first OneTeam Collective deal. Together, we’re paving the way towards a new frontier where athletes are empowered by data.”

Russell Okung playing for the Denver Broncos in 2016. Image courtesy of By Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 4.0

Along with the commercial opportunities WHOOP will offer players, the partnership also promises to help players optimise training and recovery, improve performance and reduce injuries.

The NFLPA and WHOOP will both study the effects travel, sleep, scheduling and injuries have on recovery and generate reports for players aimed at boosting athletic performance.

“WHOOP and the NFLPA are putting the power of data directly in the players’ hands. I want to recover faster, avoid injuries, and have a longer career. This partnership has the potential to contribute to my health, which is imperative to my career in football,” said Russell Okung of the Los Angeles Chargers.