Ted Anton wrote the book The Longevity Seekers and speaks to Jason on some of the interesting developments that have happened in the longevity industry. He believes insulin is a huge predictor as to whether you’ll live in your 100s or die in your 50s and explains how you can change the expression of your genes.

Key Takeaways:
1:40 – Lab researchers discovered that they can extend the life of mice, worms, and flies by up to six times.
3:15 – Why can’t we do this with humans?
8:50 – Ted believes the next major breakthrough will be in the next 25 years.
10:00 – If you eat right and exercise, you can change the expression of your genes.
11:45 – Ted lists some helpful resources that can help you stay up to date with the latest clinical trials.
15:40 – The highest thing you can do for your health is to have a strong circle of friends.

Mentioned In This Episode:
www.clinicaltrials.gov
http://www.asaging.org/
http://www.aarp.org/
http://www.pipeline.corante.com/
Nevery Say Die by Susan Jacoby
Quest for Immortality by Jay Olshansky
Frankenstein’s Cat by Emily Anthes
http://www.tedanton.com/
http://www.eurekalert.org/
http://www.cochrane.org/

Tweetables:

“Researchers working on mice and worms discovered that you could extend their live span up to six times.”

“Resveratrol has been shown that it has some deleterious effects and a lot of it was over hyped.”

“If you supplement things like HGH, maybe your body will stop making it and you could lead to a bigger problem.”

Transcript

Jason Hartman:
It’s my pleasure to welcome Ted Anton to the show. He is the author of The Longevity Seekers: Science, Business, and the Foundation of Youth, noticeably not the fountain of youth. Ted, welcome, how are you?

Ted Anton:
Great, great, Jason. How are you?

Jason:
Well, you are a professor and Associate Chair of the English department at the DePaul University in Chicago and Chair of the Age Studies Executive Committee of the Modern Language Association. So, you’ve got quite a resume and I really like the approach you’ve taken to this book where you’ve done kind of a nice big broad overview, I think, and I’m looking forward to hearing about that. There’s a lot of implications to this for the environment, for the economy, and you know, for our individual lives as well, so let’s kind of dive in. Where would you like to start?

Ted:
Well, I can tell you a little bit about the basic take home message of the book, which is that starting in the early 1990s, researchers, pure lab researchers working on mice and worms and flies discovered that if you just tweak the single gene that you could extend their live span to three, up to six times, and this was a healthy life span and immediately people began thinking of course about humans and about a drug to extend or improve our longevity, so in theory it works, it worked over and over again in the lab and it became a white hot area of science.

Jason:
Okay, so this was just doing it with, what, cells or mice or what?

Ted:
So, they would take mutations so they could take these animals and bred them with certain gene mutations and the tools were improving all the time if they work on it, so there was a tool called RNA interference, which would allow you to selectively turn on and off a gene and then they would see how long they lived and so their behavior, it was always the time lag, but some of these animals are somewhat short lived. Anywhere from three weeks for the worms to two years for the mice and so they were working with whole animals.

Jason:
Wow. That’s amazing. So, why can’t we just do this with humans and live for three or four hundred years?

Ted:
Yeah, that’s a billion dollar question.

Jason:
Maybe it’s more than, maybe it’s a trillion dollar question, actually.

Ted:
Really, I think so, I think you’re right. Certainty some investors think so. Well, you know, it’s not that easy, like most wonderful interesting research and bio-medicine you can cure massive cancer, but it’s very, very hard to treat a human. Our live spans are much longer, we’re much more complicated, it’s very hard to control our behavior, and it’s difficult to really try these out, you know, the proper protocols and ethics, so there’s certainty a ton, more than a 1,000 different trials going on right now, but it’s going to take a little while.

Jason:
So, Ted, this is quite fascinating. You know, what are the most promising areas in longevity science or are there just a whole bunch of different areas that may converge or maybe the one key.

Ted:
Well, that’s a great question, Jason. I think certainty this is the insulin pathway, which is you want to be insulin sensitive, the opposite of diabetes is one of the most promising pathways, there is a gene and a transcription factor found in long-lived humans from anywhere from Anasazi Jewish population to Hawaiians and Japanese descendant, which companies are investigating very actively, but then there are several other that I would say subsidiary pathways, so stem cells, cell stress defense, even the famous red wine claims. So, it really hasn’t converged, in fact it’s kind of diverging, which is to say, which is to be expected when you go from something very simple like a mice or a worm to something very complicated like a human being.

Jason:
So, that sort of, I’ve always wondered about that, you know, not being a scientist myself, but why is a human being more complicated than a mouse, I mean, the only thing that seems very different from just my layman’s point of view is our cerebral cortex and the new brain, but other wise, they have kidneys, we have kidneys, they are sort of the same organs we do, right? Or our organs that much more complicated than theirs?

Ted:
You know, that’s a great question, really, because it looks so promising all through these discovering going into the early 2000 and you’re exactly right. They’re very, very similar. In fact, genetically really, really close, but I guess it’s in those differences. First of all, life span, they live two years in the wild and we live about 70, so right there we’ve got a lot more going on developmentally. It takes us 18 years to grow to adult hood, we have a much longer reproductive span up to age 60. So, I suppose, just right there the timing mechanism is much slower in humans and brings into play I think a lot more different factors like the immune system, like the circulation system, like musculature, like dementias, just as you mentioned, the heart. Mice don’t get heart disease because they don’t really live long enough.

Jason:
So, what in your eyes is the most promising thing? It doesn’t seem like the red wine, I mean, you can’t drink enough red wine to make that work, you’ve got to take, what is it, resveratrol, I think is the name of the substance. You gotta take that in pill form, where is this breakthrough going to come from, is it going to be stem cells, what it’s going to be and how soon is it going to be? It seems like a lot of prognosticators are saying, you know, if you can live another ten years in a healthy fashion, you may live a long, long time after that.

Ted:
You know, that’s a great question, you’re exactly right. I would not take that pill. It’s been shown that, it has some deleterious effects and a lot of it was over hyped, so I do think it has to do with insulin and insulin sensitivity, because, you know, we know that we’re in a global epidemic of diabetes and obesity. We live a sedentary lifestyle and centenarians, the people who live healthy, long lives all are insulin sensitive, all have this particular suite of characteristics that goes along with some of the genetic makeup and if you could somehow, I mean, there are compounds for example something that suppresses the immune system called rapamycin, which are also affecting the insulin pathway and then – so I would look there and I would look at the people, humans, I would look at long-lived humans, look at their lifestyle and I think their is the breakthrough and maybe in the next 25 years. So, if you can make it 25 years, maybe you’ll be around.

Jason:
So, just the good old basic of, you know, healthy eating, healthy living, that’s pretty boring.

Ted:
I know! Just what your doctor tells you.

Jason:
I was hoping to hear about the magic pill.

Ted;
Magic pill, me too. Well, there’s two companies that – there was a series of failed companies in the 2000s, a lot of hype and a lot of money and a lot of brilliance, but we’re now in the second generation and 1.5 billion dollars is going in from Google. I mean, if you were immensely rich, what would you invest in? You’d invest in your health. So, that’s chemical called Calico, California life extension company with some of these top researches signed up and they’re on the web. I’ll give you the resources and another one called the Human Longevity Institute from Craig Venter. A gnome pioneer with a similar capitalization and I would look at them and their work with insulin and also something called EPI genetics, which is that if you do exercise and eat well, you can change the expression of your gene and this is white, hot area where that maybe you can even pass it on to your offspring.

Jason:
That’s amazing so literally, you know, it’s kind of like forming a habit or an addiction where when we think things or do things, we create new neuro pathways, so we can actually change our genetics and the genetics of our offspring by eating right and exercising?

Ted:
Yes and we know that for a fact because people raised in times of great hunger during the second World War, their kids, you know, exhibited the manifestation of being diabetic and having heart disease because they were basically raised under starvation condition and learned to make the most of their calories, so this was a big problem in Poland and in Holland and the actress Audrey Hepburn was a child of this famine and she attributed her life long depression to being raised under those conditions and they, some change engineering – we now know the genetic changes and we know that they are passed on to your office spring.

Jason:
Yeah, amazing. Amazing. What can one do now or what can one look forward to now, you know, in terms of what might be coming down the pike here. What should be following, what should we be looking at?

Ted:
Well, there’s a lot of great resources on the web and, you know, programs like yours. I would pay attention to, you can, all of us can check out the clinical trials by our www.clinicaltrials.gov and look at each one of these compounds including your resveratrol and see what trials are being done and what the results are, our tax payer money pays for that. I would follow the websites of the American Society of Aging, the America – AARP, and there’s a good website on pharmaceutical insider news called In The Pipe Line. I would check that out if you really want to be on the cutting edge. Now, there’s also several books that I would recommend. I would look at a book called Never Say Die by an author named Susan Jacoby. There’s a scientist, Jay Olshansky and his book the Quest for Immortality, I think is a good one and an author I like a lot who writes with a sense of humor, Emily Anthes wrote a book Frankenstein’s Cat, which is about the strange bio-tech creations in our current world of science and business and business investment.

Jason:
One of the things I like about your book is you have some good resources like the longevity genes, the list of them and the longevity gene timeline. Tell us about that a little.

Ted:
Yeah, thank you very much. Those were, I really felt like, you know, I had to give you the reader take home message. It’s really complicated and it’s hard for even the scientists to keep straight and so I really worked hard, all the scientists reviewed the timeline and the list of longevity genes to give you a kind of a crib sheet, you know, baseball score card, so the reader could check these out on the web at some of these websites we’ve mentioned or some of the podcasts we mentioned and they got a lot of traction. A good nature biotechnology is using just this month the longevity timeline in a new article reviewing some of these most recent discoveries since my book came out.

Jason:
When you talk about the insulin issue, what does that mean? What should someone do with that? You mentioned that was a big one.

Ted:
Okay, stay away from sodas, stay away, you know, from a lot of empty carbs, things that you know, things that all of us know. Meats are fine, actually. Fish is fine. Something like a chicken salad, Caesar chicken salad, that’s fine, but we should definitely get up and move around. Take a walk everyday, half hour, 45 minutes, and I would pay attention to also basically reading and keeping your mind active and being a part of a social group of friends, because we do know having friends makes you live longer.

Jason:
I wonder why that is.

Ted:
Yeah, I know. I think they probably keep us straight and narrow and there’s nothing like, this is one thing I scientist told me, he was a planet searcher and he received a long phone in my interview and he apologized afterward and I said, oh, must be neat that, he said it was an old girlfriend, and I said oh, must be neat, now you’re a famous scientist to hear from old girlfriends and he said, well, you know, that’s just planets, this is friends. I always thought that was a great line. I think probably the highest thing you can do is have a circle of friends. It’s a gift, as they say, that you give yourself.

Jason:
Yeah, right. Good stuff, good stuff. Give out your website if you would, Ted, and tell people where they can find out more about your work.

Ted;
www.TedAnton.com and the book is on Amazon and you can find me also at my university DePaul University in Chicago.

Jason:
Are there any of these programs that you might recommend or be familiar with, even, like we had the Synergetics people on the show before, you know, there’s a lot of people totting, come in with these doctor’s offices and so forth and we’ll give you hormone replacement therapy and Suzanne Somers got some books out about that and all these sort of different things. My fear is with that is that if you supplement things like HGH, you know, maybe your body will stop making it and you could lead to a bigger problem.

Ted;
You’re absolutely right. I mean, you got to stay away from HGH, absolutely. It’s proven to shorten the animal’s lives, but certain adults beyond the age of 80, under a doctor’s care, it’s indicated, but for you and me or the movie star and the actor and the athlete, they really should stay away from it. I would look at, first of all, shows like yours, there’s a great website with called EurekAlert.org, which gives the latest findings on some of the research on things like you just mentioned. There’s also something called a Cochrane Collaboration, which will give you the low down on some of these clinical trial claims, which are suspect.

Jason:
Well, hey, thank you so much for joining us. That’s Ted Anton, The Longevity Seekers: Science, Business, and the Foundation of Youth. I appreciate having you on the show, Ted.

Ted:
Thank you, Jason.

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