Researchers at UCLA created an algorithm that enabled them to predict HIV breakouts based on people’s Twitter activity. Published in the journal Preventive Medicine, the study collected 550 million tweets between May and December 2012, using an algorithm to pick out words that would suggest drug use or risky behaviors, such as ”sex” or “get high.” These tweets were then plotted on a map and compared to incidences of HIV-related cases. They found a high proportion of these tweets had incidences in areas with reported HIV activity. Sean Young, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-director of the Center for Digital Behavior at UCLA, said in a press release: Ultimately, these methods suggest that we can use ‘big data’ from social media for remote monitoring and surveillance of HIV risk behaviors and potential outbreaks. While similar algorithms have been used to predict influenza outbreaks, this is the first to suggest that Twitter can be used to predict people’s health-related behaviors and as a method for monitoring HIV risk behaviors and drug use. (via How Tweets Can Predict and Prevent HIV Outbreaks - PSFK)
Blood test can predict Alzheimer’s, say researchers
By James Gallagher
A blood test can accurately predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to US researchers.
They showed that testing levels of 10 fats in the blood could predict - with 90% accuracy - the risk of the disease coming on in the next three years.
Their findings, published in Nature Medicine, will now be tested in larger clinical trials.
Experts said the results needed to be confirmed, but such a test would be “a real step forward”.
The number of people living with dementia stands at 44 million around the globe and is expected to treble by 2050.
The disease silently attacks the brain for more than a decade before any symptoms emerge. Doctors think drug trials are failing because patients are simply being treated too late to make a difference.
This is why discovering a test that predicts the risk of dementia is a major priority for the field.
Loss of tissue in a demented brain compared with a healthy one
Scientists at Georgetown University in Washington DC analysed blood samples from 525 people over the age of 70 as part of a five-year study.
They took 53 of them who developed Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment and compared their blood with 53 who stayed mentally agile.
They found differences in the levels of 10 lipids, or fats, between the two groups.
And when the research team looked in the other blood samples, those 10 markers of Alzheimer’s could predict who was likely to enter mental decline in the following years.
Dementia specialist Dr Iracema Leroi explains the significance of the research
Howard Federoff, professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center, told the BBC: “I think there is a huge need for a test.
"But we must look at larger numbers of people before this could be used in clinical practice."
The full power of the test has not been investigated either. So far they know a diagnosis of dementia can be predicted three years ahead of time, but the researchers are now investigating whether the test works even earlier.
It is not clear exactly what is causing the change in fats in the blood, but it could be a residue of the early changes in the brain.
Continue reading the main story
Dementia across the globe
globally have dementia
will have the disease in 2050
will be poor and middle income
global cost of dementia
In the UK, cancer research gets
as much funding as dementia
Source: Alzheimer’s Society
A successful test for Alzheimer’s could transform medical research and treatment drugs could be tested at a much earlier stage in the disease.
Prof Federoff said slowing the pace of the disease could have a huge impact: “Even a short delay of symptoms will have a tremendous economic benefit just in terms of the cost of care.”
Dr Simon Ridley, from the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said the findings were “encouraging” and that a blood test would be a “real step forward”.
Continue reading the main story
What is dementia?
It is an umbrella term that describes about 100 diseases in which brain cells die on a huge scale
All damage memory, language, mental agility, understanding and judgement
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form, affecting 62% of those living with dementia
It gets worse with time and eventually people are left completely dependent on carers
It is incurable
World dementia cases ‘set to treble’
The dementia timebomb
He added: “To test the effectiveness of potential new drugs, it’s important to be able to recruit people to clinical trials in the early stages of the disease, when such treatments are most likely to be effective.
"If confirmed, these results could also aid efforts to develop better tools for diagnosing Alzheimer’s - allowing people with the disease to access crucial support and existing treatments sooner."
The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dr Doug Brown said the test needed to be investigated further, but could pose ethical challenges.
"If this does develop in the future people must be given a choice about whether they would want to know, and fully understand the implications."
This aging population is spurring new fields and job openings for those in their 50s to 70s to care for those who are 80 and older.
“Retirement is a very diverse process for older Americans, with some combination of phased retirement and bridge jobs being the norm among older career workers,” according to Kevin E. Cahill, an economist with the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College.
“About 60 percent of the career workers take on a part-time job after exiting their main career,” Mr. Cahill said. “And many older Americans not only change occupations, but in large numbers they also transition from wage-and-salary employment into self-employment.”
Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) Launched to Promote Healthy Aging Using Advances in Genomics and Stem Cell Therapies
HLI is Building World’s Largest Genotype/Phenotype Database by Sequencing up to 40,000 Human Genomes/Year Combined with Microbiome, Metabolome and Clinical Data to Develop Life Enhancing Therapies
HLI has Purchased Two Illumina HiSeq X Ten Sequencing Systems
SAN DIEGO, CA (March 4, 2014)—Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy, high performance human life span, was announced today by co-founders J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., Robert Hariri, M.D., Ph.D., and Peter H. Diamandis, M.D.
The company, headquartered in San Diego, California, is being capitalized with an initial $70 million in investor funding.
HLI’s funding is being used to build the largest human sequencing operation in the world to compile the most comprehensive and complete human genotype, microbiome, and phenotype database available to tackle the diseases associated with aging-related human biological decline. HLI is also leading the development of cell-based therapeutics to address age-related decline in endogenous stem cell function. Revenue streams will be derived from database licensing to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic organizations, sequencing, and development of advanced diagnostics and therapeutics.
“Using the combined power of our core areas of expertise—genomics, informatics, and stem cell therapies, we are tackling one of the greatest medical/scientific and societal challenges—aging and aging related diseases,” said Dr. Venter. “HLI is going to change the way medicine is practiced by helping to shift to a more preventive, genomic-based medicine model which we believe will lower healthcare costs. Our goal is not necessarily lengthening life, but extending a healthier, high performing, more productive life span.”
HLI has initially purchased two Illumina HiSeq X Ten Sequencing Systems (with the option to acquire three additional systems) to sequence up to 40,000 human genomes per year, with plans to rapidly scale to 100,000 human genomes per year. HLI will sequence a variety of humans—children, adults and super centenarians and those with disease and those that are healthy.
HLI is uniquely positioned to identify therapeutic solutions to preserve the healthy, high performing body by focusing on some of the most prevalent and actionable areas. HLI is concentrating on cancer, diabetes and obesity, heart and liver diseases, and dementia with its team of expert scientists and clinicians. The company has established strategic collaborations with Metabolon Inc., University of California, San Diego, and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI).
HLI is focusing its initial clinical sequencing efforts on cancer. While many are tackling this area using gene sequencing and other advanced technologies, there has not been a comprehensive clinical effort to combine germ line, human genome and tumor genome sequencing along with comprehensive biochemical information from each patient.
HLI and UC San Diego have signed a collaborative research agreement to develop protocols and procedures to enable whole genome, microbiome and tumor sequencing and analysis of consenting UC San Diego research patients. The goal is to analyze, utilize and share the data generated with the objective of enhancing diagnostic abilities and improving patient outcomes. The collaboration has begun with the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center led by Director Scott Lippman, M.D. The company will seek to extend this type of agreement and program with UC San Diego to other clinical centers worldwide.
Human Genotype and Phenotype Database Development: Microbiome and Metabolome Data
Along with the genomic data gleaned from the sequencing of complete human genomes, HLI will also be generating microbiome data for many of these individuals through its Biome Healthcare division, under the leadership of Karen Nelson, Ph.D. Nelson and her team led the first human microbiome study on the human gut which was published in the journal Science in 2006.
The microbiome consists of all the microbes that live in and on the human body that contribute to health and disease status of an individual. By better understanding a person’s microbiome (gut, oral, skin, lung, and other body sites), the company anticipates developing improved probiotics and other advanced diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to improve health and wellness.
Along with the microbiome data, HLI will capture and analyze each individual’s metabolomic data. The metabolome is the full complement of metabolites, biochemicals and lipids circulating throughout the human body. HLI has signed an agreement with Metabolon Inc., a diagnostic products and services company offering the biochemical profiling platform, to capture this information from each of the genomic samples that HLI is collecting. Metabolomics is important because quantifying and understanding the full picture of circulating chemicals in the body can help researchers get a clearer picture of that individual’s health status, and provide markers and pathways associated with drug action.
Stem Cell Therapies
The company will be embarking on an ambitious multi-pronged effort utilizing stem cell therapy advances to enhance and improve the healthy life span. HLI’s work is premised on the theory that as the human body ages many biological changes occur, including substantial changes and degradation to the genome of the differentiated, specialized cells found in all body tissues. There is also a depletion and degradation of healthy regenerative stem cell populations in the body over time. HLI will monitor the genomic changes which occur during stem cell differentiation, normal aging, and in association with the onset of disease.
“The global market for healthy human longevity is enormous with total healthcare expenditures in those 65 and older running well over $7 trillion,” said Dr. Hariri. “We believe that HLI’s unique science and technology, along with our business leadership, will positively impact the healthcare market with novel diagnostics and therapeutics.”
Other Strategic Collaborations
HLI is establishing a collaboration and research services agreement with the JCVI covering proteomics, infectious disease diagnostics, and the human microbiome. Dr. Venter is founder and CEO of JCVI, leaders in human, microbial, and synthetic genomics. HLI will be licensing intellectual property from JCVI.
“Between 1910 and 2010 improvements in medicine and sanitation increased the human lifespan by 50 percent from 50 to 75 years,” said Dr. Diamandis. “Today with the emergence of exponential technologies such as those being pioneered and advanced by HLI we have the potential to meaningfully extend the lifespan even further.”
About Human Longevity Inc. (HLI)
HLI, a privately held company headquartered in San Diego, CA was founded in 2013 by pioneers in the fields of genomics and stem cell therapy. Using advances in genomic sequencing, the human microbiome, proteomics, informatics, computing, and cell therapy technologies, HLI is building the world’s most comprehensive database of human genotypes and phenotypes as a basis for a variety of commercialization opportunities to help solve aging related disease and human biological decline. HLI will be licensing access to its database, and developing new diagnostics and therapeutics as part of their product offerings. For more information please visit, www.humanlongevity.com
Some of the poorest seniors in Texas live in Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley.
Many only speak Spanish and don’t have access to the basics, like food or medical care. But a Texas A&M professor and his team of community health workers – or “promotoras de salud” – are trying to find ways to help seniors along the border improve those conditions.
"Older adults prefer non-medication approaches when they’re available, and it’s particularly sad when low-income older adults for whom medication isn’t effective are given that as the treatment and not given the option to do something that would be their preference," Wilson says.
The seniors in their study got psychotherapy through a computer screen at home, using video conferencing technology like Skype.
In the beginning, some doubted the success of this method.
"They said older adults don’t use technology and it’s not gonna work," Choi recalls. "And when we were talking to our participants, most said I hope I’ll get in-person sessions rather than tele-sessions."
At the end of the six-week study, some still disliked it. But 94 percent of the participants praised the experience.
Interactive demographics globally.
In the race to be Calico? J. Craig Venter, previously worked on the human genome project, sets his labs on aging.
This is barely relevant to HH, but relevant, nonetheless, I think. Incidentally, you can get a “stigmatized apartment” in Tokyo for about 200 a month, (apts in Japan are generally cheaper than here, but still, that’s a pretty incredible deal…)
The older Population in the United States 2010 to 2050