Gene therapy to engineer healthy longevity
Apr 10 , 2019

Gene therapy to engineer healthy longevity

TEDxOxford Liz Parrish: Gene Therapy To Engineer Healthy Longevity

Liz Parrish is the CEO of BioViva USA Inc, a company committed to increasing health span and combatting the biggest diseases of our time, the diseases of aging.

TEDxOxford Liz Parrish
Gene Therapy To Engineer Healthy Longevity

TEDx Talks YouTube Channel

I’m part of a battle, a war, if you will. My enemy is cellular degeneration. Over time, cellular degeneration leads to the diseases called dementia, heart disease, type two diabetes and cancer. It’s a scourge to society and I have joined a battle to try to defeat it.

I believe that we can actually have massive success in this battle because we have gone to battle before with great gains with infectious disease. Before the 20th century. The average lifespan of humans was around 30 years of age due to childhood and infectious disease that vastly limited people growing older.

With the introduction of antibiotics, immunizations, and sanitation, we were able to extend human health span and lifespan. To put things into perspective in 1900 and the USA, the average lifespan was around the age of 45 and 53% of the population died of infectious disease. Today in the USA, 3% of the population die of infectious disease and the average lifespan is 78!

We had a massive expansion of lifespan, but of the 30 so years that we gained globally, about 10 of those are spent in chronic illness with the diseases of aging.

Did you know that your age is the biggest risk factor for death and mortality? It sounds very common sense, but a lot of people don’t realize that today noncommunicable diseases are the biggest killer on the planet. The World Health Organization has put them in the top 10 risks for global health for 2019 citing that 70% of the population die of these diseases, and of the 41 million people who will die of this disease this year, 15 million of those will die prematurely between the age of 30 and 69.

Every day a hundred thousand people die of biological aging.

No one so far has escaped this enemy, but we’re working on advances to actually make that a reality. Medicine traditionally looks to cure one disease at a time.

And we know how that’s worked out for the diseases of aging. There is no cure because cellular degeneration, the process of biological aging is intertwined into all of the diseases of aging and therefore is driving each and every one of them in parallel. As a matter of fact, if you’re over the age of 65 you’re 80% likely to have two or more diseases of aging.

Science is now turning its focus on the aging cell because curing aging has the ability to cure all the diseases at one time. All species have self preservation, but no other species has the command of science like humans.

And 2003 the first human genome was a fully sequenced and we had the first glimpse at the a t c and g building blocks of the genes in ourselves. And as a matter of fact, the ATC and g’s are the building blocks of all life that we know on the planet. Same building blocks, different recipe.

With this knowledge, we now understand many of the processes that are happening with this biologically. These genes code for what we look like and they also code for our disease risk and the genes can also cure us.

So what is gene therapy?

Gene therapy is my method. It is my weapon against biological aging.

With gene therapy, we target certain genes that give you an advantage. We put them into a delivery method. We inject them into your bloodstream. They then go to the target itself and they up-regulate a protein. You are made of proteins. When we are treating biological aging, we look at proteins that will up-regulate regeneration of cells. So degeneration equals disease. Cellular regeneration equals health, longevity. These are very exciting times.

We had our first glimpse that aging in fact might be malleable and the 1980 [inaudible] and 1990s through researchers like Michael class, Cynthia Kenyon, and Michael Rose, we had our first glimpse of what are called the Methuselah organisms. Methuselah was a biblical figure that lives up to almost a thousand years and even though these organisms don’t live to a thousand years, we have vastly increased their lifespan and their health span over the last 25 years.

This gives us a glimpse that aging is indeed ___ and can be achieved in every organism. Let’s look at the power of the gene, just the gene. Bring this down to a single focus. Right here we see a wild mouse. A wild mouse can live to about 8 months. If you put that mouse into a protective cage. You give it an optimal diet and optimal exercise, we call that now a lab mouse. That mouse can live to 18 months.

Now there’s something called calorie restriction that only works in certain breeds of mice, but under calorie restriction, we limit the amount of calories the mouse can have. We maximize the exercise. We can get lifespan changes up to 30 months. So this sort of emulates lifestyle, what we should be doing and emulating in our regular lives in order to create, and increase our lifespan and health span.

But what if we change one gene? We double the lifespan of the lifestyle mouse. We don’t have to worry about diet and we don’t have to worry about exercise. That’s the power of the gene before us. We have what I call the phylogenic grocery store. It’s millions of years of evolution of gene technology that we can potentially adapt into humans.

Look at another species. See its advantages. Adopt that technology is gene technology. It’s all in the genes. So why don’t we go shopping?

Our favorite thing to do.

The Mexican salamander or the axial has the ability to regenerate its brain. And if you cut off a limb, very cruel thing to do. it can regenerate the whole limb down to the fingers. How could this help people with spinal injuries, brain damage and amputations?

In the middle, we see the tardy grade. This little creature can survive boiling water, intensive radiation and freezing conditions. If we take one gene from the tardigrade called damage suppressor or d sub for short, we injected into human cells, they become radiation resistant and they heal faster.

And finally we have the very adorable naked mole rat. The naked mole rat never gets dementia or cancer and it outlives its closest relative by a number of years. The rat two to three years. The naked mole rat over 20.

We know species that live for hundreds of years without cancer. We know species that can see billions of colors instead of the mere millions that we see. Does this sound a long way away?

Patients with retinitis Pigmentosa that leads to blindness have already been injected with the genes of light sensing LG.

The future is here closer to humans. We know humans that are resistant to coronary heart disease.

We know genes associated with intelligence and strength and in the lab we’ve reversed aging and cells and we can actually create embryonic cells from very old people’s skin. I got involved in treating biological aging after 2013 when my son was diagnosed with type one diabetes.

I was actually trying to cure childhood disease, what I ran into the technology of treating biological aging because treating biological aging creates several cures for childhood disease.

And, where it doesn’t, it creates the technology to bridge the gap to cure the other diseases. We have over 100,000 people dying of biological aging every day. These are people who could stand up, participate, advocate, and share information; ensure that we get there in response to seeing all of these devastating illnesses. While I was in the hospital and all of these parents suffering with their children. A really rude wake up call. I created a company called Bioviva. It allows patients access to technology that otherwise would not be accessible anywhere else on the planet and being the person I am, and I believe this to be a fact, for every company out there that runs a biological drug. Being the CEO of the company, I took our two first or first two gene therapies to treat biological aging myself.

They were the first on the planet to be used in a human in combination to do this, and it was the first time one of them had ever been used in a human. I wanted to prove they were safe. I wanted to prove that we were sitting on technology. We let people die when we’ve already proved that these technologies are safe and effective in animals over and over again. The first gene therapy I took was to increase my muscle mass. This will help an aging population stay sustainable, live on their own, be active. It also treats children with muscular dystrophy and it could help a whole population with type two diabetes. You increase muscle mass, you increase insulin sensitivity, proven.

Will the gene therapy work? We need to see. The other gene therapy that I took had never been used in humans. It was to lengthen telomeres, the caps at the ends of my chromosomes. Your telomeres shorten with every cellular division. They’re correlated with every one of the diseases of aging as well as in a childhood disease called Progeria. It’s accelerated aging. These kids die really young in their teen years of all the diseases that we die of in our eighties and nineties

There are over 10,000 scientific papers written about this enzyme and it had reversed aging and several animal models and in human cells and yet no one was using it. Since then my bio markers are positive. We didn’t cure biological aging; I’d like to say we did. The cure for biological aging will actually be a multitude of genes and we’re working right now to get those genes into one delivery method, but we have to vet them. People need to participate, advocate and share information, and then we can get the human data that drives them forward because we have enough animal data and we have enough people dying without access to technology. Your time is your most precious and powerful asset.

I want you to live long. I want you to be strong. We have to break the myths that we live by the impede our chances of success.

Stop postulating that dying of aging is a natural process and somehow should be preserved. We actually believe the same thing about cancer 60 some years ago, and when we changed our mindset, we now have people who have lived decades past diagnosis. And I bet there’s someone out here, right in this audience that has challenge, defines us. It sets us apart from every other species.

We have been, and we will continue to define our future ourselves on the back of ingenuity and innovation. What will you do to survive? I asked you to join my war. Let’s fight.

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Adam Alonzi

Adam Alonzi is a writer, biotechnologist, documentary maker, futurist, inventor, programmer, and author two novels. He is an analyst for the Millennium Project, and Head of Social Media and Content Creation for BioViva Sciences. Listen to his podcasts here. Read his blog here.