Longevity highlights for 2011

Recent analysis of a bisphosphonate treatment for osteoporosis, or age-related loss of bone mass and strength, has turned up an intriguing finding – the treatment considerably improves life expectancy in the recipients. It’s not often that an effect of this magnitude turns up out of the blue in humans in this day and age.
Five extra years of life is a good half the expected effect of regular exercise.
Australian clinical researchers have noted an extraordinary and unexpected benefit of osteoporosis treatment – that people taking bisphosphonates are not only surviving well, better than people without osteoporosis, they appear to be gaining an extra five years of life. … Out of a total cohort of around 2,000, a sub-group of 121 people were treated with bisphosphonates for an average of 3 years. When compared with other sub-groups taking other forms of treatment, such as Vitamin D (with or without calcium) or hormone therapy, the longer life associated with bisphosphonate treatment was marked and clear.
Resveratrol and indeed the whole sirtuin endeavor has fallen out of favor in the last year – looking like yet another dead end to add to the annals of overly optimistic pharmaceutical development. I would expect to see much more of this sort of thing until the research community switches more of their focus to working on SENS program goals. Try to fix the damage, not just dig up drugs that alter metabolism a little bit.
Tissue engineering in 2011 has been a matter of leaps and bounds – too many to mention. There has been pancreas regeneration, more engineered trachea transplants, building of urethras, blood vessels, and mouse teeth. Which is not to mention small intestine sections, decellularized lungs, and the construction of a working sphincter. And more; this is what an energetic, well funded field looks like.
The naked mole rat genome was sequenced earlier in the year. This is a big step forward for the contingent of researchers agitating for the genetic comparison of long-lived mammals. Why are they long-lived? What can we learn? The mole rat genome is doing the rounds, and researchers will refine their present investigations of the species’ noteworthy longevity and cancer resistance.