rafael just celebrated his 145th birthday last night. prior to the evening’s semi-formal event, he met his son for a game of tennis, and although he lost in two sets, he told himself that it was likely due to the fact he ran in that half marathon a week before.
since the beginning of civilization, humans have attempted to extend their lifespan. potions, elixirs, diets, and amulets, along with some more or less benign forms of occultism, did little when compared to the revolution triggered by fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin. since then, advances in anesthesia (i.e. duration one can be “under the knife”), anti-hypertensives (think heart attacks and stroke), and diagnostics (mri and ct) added an extra 30 years to our lifespans. in the late 1980s, the idea for immune modulating therapies (eg. car-t) was born and over the next three decades a powerful weapon was added to the armamentarium in the fight against cancer, a top killer in any aging population.
starting in the second decade of the 21st century, the price and accessibility of exponentially improving graphics cards has brought large amounts of computing power to any developer in the world capable of using python. a subgroup of these individuals decided to develop neural network models that attempt to assess and predict the structure and behavior of proteins (googles alpha fold). this is a step in the direction of computer-generated designer drugs. others, like the team at holo.ai (holosurgical inc) decided to use similar principles to teach the computer anatomy, thus revolutionizing the relationship between the surgeon and the machine. the next question was, once your teach the computer anatomy, will it see more (and see it more rapidly, potentially reducing the time to precise diagnosis) on a brain mri then the trained eye of an experienced neuro-radiologist (inteneural networks inc)
in 1990 michael crichton, a medical doctor by education, published jurassic park, a futuristic vision of the capabilities of genetic engineering and their ability to bring creatures extinct for hundreds of millions of years back to life. as of 2021 there were no fewer then five companies, one of them publicly traded, that were actively developing technologies that if successful, would have mammoths once again roaming the tundra and long extinct plants producing exotic scents for the fragrance industry. synthetic biology, applies knowledge gained from the human genome project, cell chemistry and biology, techniques developed for genetic engineering, dna synthesis, and advanced computing to design and build new biological parts, devices, and systems, or to re-design existing, natural biological systems (dystrogen therapeutics). capital, both human and pure cash, flowing into this space has transformational potential allowing for the creation of hla recipient matched organs (pigs with humanoid kidneys), self-healing implants, personalized treatments and therapeutics, as well highly sensitive and specific diagnostics. this forms a closed loop and allows for an individualized approach to treating the patient (patient specific tailor made therapeutic) and their disease (genetic makeup) versus the current off the shelf one size fits all (it does not) pill with a resulting wide spectrum of potential efficacies.
as humans, in the course of a typical day, we generate a lot of data - shopping habits, travel patterns, heart rate, blood pressure, steps walked, and hours sitting - are all collected via an array of smart devices. what does this say about us? do we shop more when healthy and sit less when anxious? do the hours slept affect our ability to type and what is the significance of this on our cognitive capacity (ie brain health)? what does our data look like when we are labeling ourselves as happy versus when we are feeling sick or miserable (biometryks llc) . does the numerical data correlate with circulating neurotransmitter levels and if yes then can we stop taking blood draws? finally, can we modify and alter our behavior (externally or via direct biological modification) in order to decrease stress, reduce blood pressure and circulating cortisol levels? will sensors become embedded permanently and subcutaneously to provide real time data streams analyzed by cloud based machines monitoring our health, like the flight path of a commercial jet. storms ahead, divert course…