X-Message-Number: 27
From: Kevin Q. Brown
Subject: aging reversal, memory, and Longevity
Date: 29 Sep 1988

Here are three recent news items: (1) a plan to continue research to REVERSE
aging, (2) a summary of several of Thomas Donaldson's articles on memory, and
(3) the (new) Longevity magazine.
                                       - Kevin Q. Brown

A Plan to REVERSE Human Aging
The Sept. 1988 issue of Life Extension Report (the monthly publication of the
Life Extension Foundation, 2835 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, FL 33020) included
the article "The Foundation's Plan to REVERSE Human Aging" by Saul Kent.  The
plan is to continue the work of W. Donner Denckla,
  "[who] showed that rats could be rejuvenated into a state of youthful vigor
  for long periods of time by surgical removal of the pituitary (the master
  gland of the endocrine system) and replacement of several of the hormones
  normally produced by the pituitary"
and the goal of this project is to:
  "isolate the pituitary hormone (or other factor) that accelerated aging
  in Denckla's experiments and (if we succeed) to develop a safe and effective
  therapy to inhibit its action in humans."
Denckla's results are particularly interesting because they accomplished long-
term REVERSAL of aging in ADULT mammals.  Food restriction, which works best
only if begun before sexual maturation, only postpones aging rather than
reversing it.  Vitamins and anti-oxidants only "square" the mortality curve,
rather than extending lifespan.  Other life extension approaches, such as
immune system stimulants and brain cell transplants are being pursued by other
organizations, but nobody is currently following up on Denckla's work.
What is not clear in this article is why nobody else has been following up on
Denckla's work.  Denckla quit several years ago "for personal reasons", but now
Dr. Robert Parker, who worked with Denckla on his experiments, is ready to
start it up again.  Does anyone have any more news on why Denckla quit and why
there has not been greater interest in continuing his work?

Donaldson on Memory
The August 1988 issue of Cryonics has a thirty page set of articles on memory
by Thomas Donaldson.  One thing that quickly becomes clear when reading these
articles is that the mechanisms of memory are quite complex and that we are
just beginning to understand them.  Most of Donaldson's articles point toward
some interesting clues, but no definite, cut-and-dried statement of how memory

does or does not work.  Nevertheless, my impression is that we have a plausible,
though not definitely correct, broad outline of how memory is stored.

Memory comes in several varieties.  One way to classify the types of memory is
by how long they last.  Short term memory lasts only a few minutes whereas
long term memory lasts for years.  Also, at least one intermediate term form
of memory exists, which lasts for several hours or a day.  Short term
sensitization is such an intermediate term memory; impulses at a synapse result
in phosphorylation of a protein at that synapse, which ultimately results in
making it much easier for the synapse to receive an impulse.  (See cryonics
mailing list message #2 for more details.)  Long Term Potentiation (LTP),
which results from repeated electrical stimulation of a synapse, also persists
for hours and seems quite similar (if not the same) chemically as short term
sensitization.  Intermediate term memory does not require production of new
protein because phosphorylation acts to change an existing protein by adding
phosphate.  Long term memory, however, does require new protein and Donaldson
suggests that this may involve changes in the expression of genes in the DNA.
The c-fos gene, which is known to control other genes, may be involved in
memory.  (Some researchers have pointed out that the cell differentiation that

occurs during development of an organism is a type of long-term process (memory)
that involves gene expression.  They suggest that long term memory may be best
viewed as yet another type of development.)

Another way to classify types of memory is by the way in which they are used.
Donaldson mentions the distinction between "declarative" and "procedural"
memory.  The chemistry involved in knowing facts (such as a telephone number)
apparently differs from the chemistry of knowing how to perform a task
(such as dialing the phone number).  People with Alzheimer's disease can learn
to do a new task (procedural memory) but cannot remember new facts (such as
how or when they learned to do the new task).

Longevity Magazine
The publishers of Penthouse and OMNI have just unleashed onto the newsstands
the monthly magazine Longevity, after two years of publishing it as a
newsletter.  While I certainly do not claim that Longevity is an authoritative
source of life extension information, just as I would not claim that OMNI is
an authoritative source of science information, seeing Longevity on the
newsstands is a good sign.  It is a good sign because it means that some people
who are good at making money publishing magazines have apparently concluded
that a sufficiently large market for life extension exists to risk launching
a large circulation life extension magazine.  What was just a few years ago
generally considered "fringe" thinking is now mainstream.  In this first
(magazine) issue, Dr. Robert Butler, founding director of the National
Institute on Aging, says that:
  "We must focus [research] on the basic molecular biology of aging that
  predisposes us to diseases as we grow older."
He is proposing research on aging itself, not just diseases of aging, which
only a few years ago was generally considered a crackpot idea.  Cryonics,
however, is still clearly not mainstream, although it did get mentioned in the

"Outer Limits" section in a short article on Saul Kent and the Dora Kent case in
Riverside, CA.

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