Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Contest to Sequence Genome of Centenarians

NatureNews reports on the Archone Genome X Prize to sequence the genomes of centenarians. The video above describes the contest. A sample from Nature's news item:

The first competitor has swaggered up to the starting line for a contest that aims to push the limits of genome-sequencing technology. The X Prize Foundation of Playa Vista, California, is offering a US$10-million prize to the first team to accurately sequence the genomes of 100 people aged 100 or older, for $1,000 or less apiece and within 30 days. Ion Torrent, part of Life Technologies of Carlsbad, California, believes that its semiconductor-based technology gives it a shot, and on 23 July it announced that it will compete.

The Archon Genomics X Prize competition, to be held in September 2013, is intended to spur technology, boost accuracy and drive down costs — currently $3,000–5,000 per genome. Peter Diamandis, the X Prize Foundation’s chief executive, says that the contest will help to establish a standard for a “medical grade” genome, with the high accuracy needed to diagnose or treat a patient. Eventually, says Michael Snyder, a geneticist at Stanford University in California, “I do see a world where you’ll have a funny-looking mole and they’ll pull that off and want to sequence its genome.”


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Main Menu (July 2012)

Friday, July 13, 2012

JRSM Essay on Positive Biology

My essay entitled "Why the NIH Should Create an Institute of Positive Biology" has been accepted for publication in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Here is the abstract:

The creation of a new NIH Institute dedicated to the study of exemplar positive phenotypes could help stimulate the development of novel interventions that lead to significant improvements in human health, happiness and prosperity. The creation of an Institute of Positive Biology would help divert some of the focus away from understanding the shortcomings of our evolutionary history (e.g. our susceptibility to specific diseases) to appreciating the importance of understanding exceptional healthy aging, the positive emotions and happiness, etc. By transcending the intellectual constraints imposed by the fixation on pathology, we may be able to develop novel interventions that significantly improve the life prospects of the populations living in the twenty-first century.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

NatureNews Report on Gene that Protects Against AD

NatureNews reports about a genetic mutation that protects against AD and cognitive decline. A sample from the story:

The mutation seems to put a brake on the milder mental deterioration that most elderly people experience. Carriers are about 7.5 times more likely than non-carriers to reach the age of 85 without suffering major cognitive decline, such as memory loss. They also perform better on the cognitive tests that are administered thrice yearly to Icelanders who live in nursing homes.

For Stefánsson, this suggests that Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline are two sides of the same coin, with a common cause — the build-up of amyloid-β plaques in the brain, something seen to a lesser degree in elderly people who do not develop full-blown Alzheimer’s. “Pathologists have always suspected that there was a substantial overlap between Alzheimer’s disease and normal age-related changes,” says Stefánsson. A drug that mimics the effects of the mutation, he says, would have the potential both to slow cognitive decline and to prevent Alzheimer’s.

The study which the news piece focuses on is published in latest issue of Nature here.


Friday, July 06, 2012

Journal of Gerontology Paper Now Published

My paper titled "Biogerontology and the Intellectual Virtues" is now published in the latest issue of the Journal of Gerontology: BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES.

Here is the abstract:

The case for prioritizing the study of the biology of aging can be persuasively made by making explicit its connection to the exercise of the intellectual virtues needed to realize well-ordered science. These intellectual virtues include a range of attitudes and dispositions integral to all areas of science (e.g. sensitivity to details, adaptability of intellect, the detective's virtues), but the so-called “teaching virtues” are especially important for biogerontology. Without the foresight to anticipate how their audience will likely respond, biogerontologists risk marginalizing the field's importance to well-ordered science as the general public are likely to dismiss, or underestimate, the health and economic benefits of an intervention that retards the rate of biological aging.