Delaware’s futurist offers a glimpse into anti-aging industry


Delaware’s only futurist took a look at anti-aging research at a Wednesday night meeting of the Delaware Technology Forum.

“Nobody want to die of old age, but nobody wants to die young. We’d all rather be age 30 for the next 60 years of our life. That’s because aging is no fun whatsoever.” James Lee said. Lee heads Stratfi,an investment firm that focuses on future trends.

Lee started out by noting that most animals have 1 billion heartbeats during their lives. Humans get two billion.

He noted that a billion dollars has been invested in anti-aging research, mainly by wealthy individuals like Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos.

Lee said extending one’s lifespan can be as simple as eating less.

Drugs are now available that can lower caloric intake, but come with side effects, such as digestive problems.

The next frontier, according to Lee, is genetic engineering as a way to extend life.

One focus involves “zombie cells” that are not fully functioning and send bad signals to nearby cells. Research indicated that killing zombie cells mice could extend their lives by up to 25 percent.

Work is underway to gather genetic information, analyze that information and actual gene engineering(CRISPR). Delaware-based Christiana Care is doing research with CRISPR.

Businesses such as 23 and Me and are gathering a substantial amount of data, with customers now working to determine what the data means, Lee said That has led some women with a family history of breast cancer and unfavorable genetic markers to considera mastectomy, even if the risk is fairly small

Lee noted that protections are in place to guard genetic information from being used by insurers to determine rates.

Coming at some point is replacing organs through stem cells. While no yet available to humans, replacement organs for dogs are already available at a high price.

The industry faces hurdles that include human testing. One industry executive decided to become a patient in an effort to prove that genetic engineering can extend life. (See photo).

Lee said clues to longevity can be found around the world and center on getting exercise, don’t overeat and mainly eat plants.

On a lighter note hemoderate consumption of wine isgood for health as long as it is consumed with friends. Social networks are also important.

It was the fifth year that Lee has given the presentation before Delaware Technology Forum, a group for people and companies with an interest in technology.

Further information on Tech Forum is available here.

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