Monday, December 21, 2015

Decoding Aging for Making 80 the New 40

The fountain of youth legend goes back to the fifth century BC, appearing in writings by Herodotus, but not until recently did scientists make a real breakthrough in reversing aging.
The Stuart Kim Lab of Stanford University School of Medicine has successfully rejuvenated nematodes. Generally, nematodes live about 20 days. An 18-day-old nematode can hardly move, under normal circumstances. However, the Stuart Kim Lab has managed to double a nematode’s life span and make the 40-day-old stay as active as a 10-day-old!
“The key to the nematode’s rejuvenation is ELT-3, a transcription factor that regulates a large number of downstream genes,” said Dr. Stuart Kim, professor of the departments of Developmental Biology and Genetics at Stanford University.
Dr. Kim explained that ELT-3 declines in the nematode with age, and that subsequently leads to the degeneration of all the cells it regulates. However, once ELT-3 is artificially enhanced in the lab, all the cells are recharged, and the nematode regains its youth.
Can the nematode experience be applied to human beings? According to Dr. Kim, comparable mechanisms have been found in the human brain, heart, muscles, and kidneys.
Wear & Tear vs. Developmental Drift
The discoveries of the so-called “master regulators” in human beings challenge the traditional view of aging which attributes its cause to only wear and tear. The new theory of aging, developmental drift, states that aging happens when master regulators become less functional and organismal development goes awry.
To make the two theories easier to understand, Dr. Kim compares the human body to an automobile.
“An old person doesn’t move very fast, just like an old car,” said Dr. Kim. “The old theory says the car gets old because its parts are worn out, but we think there’s more to it. We’ve found master regulators, each of which can turn on or turn off hundreds of genes.”
“In a car, the master regulator is the gas pedal,” he explained. “In animals and people, the master regulators are transcription factors and growth factors. It’s exciting to know these master regulators. Think about it. With the wear and tear model, we cannot fix all the parts that have been worn out. But if aging is just the gas pedal not being pushed down hard enough, you can push it harder. It’s much easier to fix.”

For Those With Nut Allergies: Morningstar Farms Recall

MorningStar Farms has issued a “voluntary, precautionary” recall of two varieties of bean burgers because there may be peanuts in certain lots of them which are not noted in the products’ ingredient statements, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced.
The varieties are “Spicy Black Bean” and “Chipotle Black Bean.”
No illnesses have been reported to the FDA as of Friday, the federal agency said.
“This product is safe to consume for individuals who do not suffer from a peanut allergy,” Stop & Shop supermarkets said in a news release.
But the news release also said:
“People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts may run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product. Symptoms of food allergies typically appear from within a few minutes to two hours after a person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic. Allergic reactions can include: hives; flushed skin or rash; tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth; face, tongue, or lip swelling; vomiting and/or diarrhea; abdominal cramps; coughing or wheezing; dizziness and/or lightheadedness; swelling of the throat and vocal cords; difficulty breathing; loss of consciousness.”
Some of the MorningStar Farms products were sold to food-service providers in addition to retail stores, so consumers who may eat the bean burgers may not know whether the product was from MorningStar farms, much less that it was the subject of a recall.
Here’s the FDA’s announcement, released Friday:
MorningStar Farms is issuing a voluntary and precautionary recall of certain code dates of Spicy Black Bean Burgers and Chipotle Black Bean Burgers because they may contain undeclared peanut.
MorningStar Farms was notified by a third party supplier that one of the spice ingredients used in Spicy Black Bean Burgers and Chipotle Black Bean Burgers may inadvertently contain peanut, an allergen that is not declared on the products’ ingredient statements. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.