23 September 2009

The Cure for Old Age live

A cure for old ageFinam FM

POLESSKY: Moscow time 20 hours 6 minutes, Monday, September 21, 2009. The beginning of a new working week, which means that the traditional program "Trendonomics" begins on the air of the Finam FM radio station, which together with you follows the most interesting trends and trends. In the studio of the live broadcast Ilya Polessky. Good evening. In 2009, a record number of centenarians in the history of mankind was registered in the world. The number of people over the age of 100 in Japan alone exceeds 40,000. According to various sources, this figure is more than a million people worldwide. For centuries, religion and philosophy have taught us that aging of the body is as inevitable as some natural phenomena, as all natural phenomena. And only alchemists worked on the search for the elixir of eternal youth, a cure for old age, for which they safely burned at the stake. The powerful of this world, who dreamed of immortality, died at the very dawn of their powers. Now almost every month there is news that modern science has discovered one or another way to overcome old age, an elixir of youth or some other fantastic, completely breakthrough medicine has been invented. We are listening to this-we are listening and we are leading to the fact that the Trendonomics program will talk about a cure for aging today. And Natalia Ponomareva, MD, a leading researcher at the Scientific Center of Neurology, is visiting us today. Natalia, good evening.


POLESSKY: Sergey Kiselyov, Head of the Laboratory of Cell Technologies at the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Good evening.

KISELYOV: Good evening.

POLESSKY: And Vitaly Fokin, head of the Laboratory of Age-related Brain Physiology of the Scientific Center of Neurology. Good evening, Vitaly.

FOKIN: Good evening.

POLESSKY: I remind radio listeners that they can call on the air of the Trendonomika program, live, by phone 730-73-70 or write messages via the website finam.fm . On the main page you will see a link, clicking on which you will be able to send a message live. We will definitely read your message, voice it and answer your questions. Dear guests, thank you very much for coming and agreeing to participate in such an interesting program. The trend of the program: "A cure for old age". We will talk about the problems of old age, and even about the problems of immortality in some part of our program. The program traditionally begins with the heading "Trend History", in which we list the events that have caused interest in the topic we are talking about. I will list a few statements that, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many journalists, tell us that the problem of aging and the study of this problem come to the fore among those who are interested in both basic science and those who follow science in a huge number of popular scientific journals. See what statements I have. I call them – you comment on them. First, fundamental advances have been made in regenerative medicine. Secondly, data on the role of certain genes in the regulation of life expectancy are accumulating in an avalanche. Third, new institutions are being opened. Institute of Aging Biology and others. I can name some specifically, but it just highlights the general trend. Public organizations are being created: the Science of Aging Foundation, the Eternal Youth Foundation and a huge number of others. These four points, in my opinion, are the most important in the opportunity to emphasize that this is really a trend. Who will start commenting on my statements and arguing with me? Natalia, come on, start.

PONOMAREVA: I would say that in addition to these factors, there are also and... The very first one you mentioned is the increase in life expectancy in developed countries. In fact, the increase in life expectancy is associated with the degree of economic development of this country. Which strongly suggests that the way we live affects our life expectancy. There is evidence that Japan, which now has a fantastic life expectancy, one of the highest in the world, did not have a high life expectancy in the 50s, it equaled about 55 years, the average life expectancy in Japan. And as economic development progresses...

POLESSKY: Natalia, during what period has such a significant increase been achieved?

PONOMAREVA: In fact, for 20-30 years. And as economic growth increases, as the standard of living increases, respectively, as some programs are introduced that reduce stress levels, regulate the processes of nutrition, people's behavior, life expectancy increases.  

POLESSKY: Oh, Natalia, you named a word that I would really like to take part in our program today – "stress". But I postponed it until the second half of the program. Sergey, I would like to ask you this question. See if there was a situation where life expectancy increased significantly over 20-30 years. Now many scientists who deal with the problem of aging are making statements that in the next 20-30 years humanity will be able to double or even triple its life expectancy. Remembering the history of Japan, I think that this is not really science fiction.

KISELYOV: Probably, this is not science fiction, but still it is necessary to take into account the fact that at the moment the longest life expectancy that has been recorded on Earth is equal to 122 or 124 years. I don't remember exactly now. That is, this is the maximum life expectancy of a person on Earth, which is reliably known, this is the limit to which, probably, we can all strive and, probably, we can all achieve. Moreover, this life expectancy was achieved, I would say, not in the most highly developed country, although, quite developed, in Spain. Thus, we can strive for this limit. As far as we can exceed this limit, in fact, after all, modern biological science puts this age as the maximum age of a person. But, of course, we must strive for it.

POLESSKY: So, the figure of a thousand years is nothing more than a PR move in the mouths of some scientists?

KISELYOV: You see, you started the program with the fact that once upon a time some alchemists, shamans, promised kings some medicines...

POLESSKY: And they still promise!

KISELYOV: Yes. But then your phrase sounded like this: and now every day we hear hundreds, dozens of medicines that promise us a pill for old age. Well, let's just scan the FM band: every 0.1 - a new radio station. Listeners turn to the Internet, by phone, everywhere. That is, the informatization is colossal.

POLESSKY: Sergey, I understand you. This idea is what it is, it goes through all the broadcasts of the Trendonomics program, about the information society, about involvement in information. Of course, of course.

KISELYOV: That's right.

POLESSKY: This was the opinion of Sergey Kiselyov. And I have a question for Vitaly Fokin. Vitaly, I first said that there are certain achievements of fundamental science. Most likely, these are achievements in new fields: in genetics, in gerontology. Can you name some things that have really been a breakthrough over the past 20-30 years that will help us to study the problem of aging more closely?

FOKIN: You know, it seems to me that we now have a very good idea of the aging process itself. Not only externally, but also at the molecular, cellular, and many other levels. That is, we know the manifestations of aging very well. At the same time, it seems to me that there is no unified theory of aging, but there are, as it were, separate theories. Here is one of these concepts, for example, related to your favorite word that you decided to address in the second half, with the word "stress". There is a concept that believes that stress promotes the formation of free radicals, which in turn causes a sequence of actions that leads to cell death. There are other concepts, but since these concepts exist, it is already possible to influence this process. In particular, to influence the processes associated with stress. How to influence? If you want, we can talk later.

POLESSKY: Well, yes, in fact, my favorite word is still not "stress", but "trend", which has become...

FOKIN: The trend, of course.

POLESSKY: Yes, yes. And we're talking about trends. Let's ask this question. You said that the mechanisms of aging are more or less studied.

FOKIN: No, I said "manifestations of aging". But such a single mechanism that causes aging, such a concept, in my opinion, has not yet been created. There is a certain... Well, here you can touch on different sides, both genetic and molecular.

KISELYOV: The main thing is that it is not clear, after all, is aging a disease or a natural process?

POLESSKY: So there is no consensus?

KISELYOV: There is no consensus here yet. And this is just a kind of fundamental thing. If this is a natural process, and a certain program is being executed, then these are the only solutions. If it is a disease, of course, this does not exclude the first solutions, but there should probably be a fundamentally different approach.

FOKIN: In principle, we can discuss what Sergei said. Indeed, if we take ontogenesis, that is, the development of a person in infancy, until adolescence, then we see a rigid sequence of stages of development. If we take the elderly and old people, then we do not see such a clear sequence. And based on this, many believe that the beginning is programmed, but there is no programmed end. But, in fact, there are arguments for and against it. Because, for example, there are such organisms, mainly marine ones, which, say, are considered not to age.

POLESSKY: Sea urchins.

FOKIN: Let's say sea urchins. And at the same time, there are some animals that... Well, in short, each animal has a certain specific life span. It is not necessarily related to the ratio, well, with certain energy characteristics...

KISELYOV: For example, a turtle has a high life expectancy, because its head can be hidden in the shell. Under the shell to remove and no stress.

POLESSKY: Vitaly, let's take a short break now, and then we'll talk about programming aging and programming death.


POLESSKY: The Trendonomics program on the air of the Finam FM radio station today, together with you, dear radio listeners, is looking for a cure for old age. And our guest is Natalia Ponomareva, MD, a leading researcher at the Neurology Research Center. Sergey Kiselyov, Head of the Laboratory of Cell Technologies at the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. And Vitaly Fokin, head of the Laboratory of Age-related Brain Physiology of the Scientific Center of Neurology. That's my question, dear guests. We named a word that I think is one of the key questions that can be asked when discussing the topic of aging. It is assumed, and by many during speeches, in newspaper publications, it is said that aging can be controlled by a genetic program. And those genes that count the life time of humans and animals function somewhere in the brain. What is the share of genetic conditioning of aging processes in general? Who will start answering? Natalia, why don't you?

PONOMAREVA: You know, I would like to say, maybe not about the role of genes in the development of a multicellular organism. Because this question can undoubtedly be considered proven, the genetic contribution to the aging process can be considered indisputable, but perhaps more interesting is what has been shown at the cell level to date. Because at one time, about 30 years ago, the Russian scientist Alexey Matveevich Olovnikov proposed such a theory about the mechanisms of cell aging. Because cells do not divide indefinitely, they have a certain Hayflick limit, after which the cell culture dies. And so he suggested that with each division, a small section is bitten off from the chromosome of cells, and when it comes to functionally significant fragments of the chromosome, the cell begins to function worse and dies. Moreover, this idea was confirmed by subsequent experiments, moreover, one of the interesting mysteries of aging was solved about why parents of different ages have children without genetic breakdowns. Because we accumulate the results of various breakdowns throughout our lives. But children are born without them. It turned out that there is an enzyme telomerase, which at the birth of a new organism restores fragments of chromosomes that were lost. And for cells, this telomerase mechanism and cell aging are associated with the fact that their chromosomes are shortened, which is undoubtedly one of the fundamental laws of aging. As for the multicellular organism, it is clear that genes play an essential role, because we all know that long-lived parents often have long-lived offspring, and besides, I still hold the view that aging is associated with diseases, with diseases of aging. This is not the flu – these are other diseases: atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, this is the plan of the disease. Accordingly, it is now shown for most of these diseases which genes are responsible for the fact that this disease will develop, and life expectancy will decrease from this.

POLESSKY: That is, the idea is the accumulation of some breakdowns, some defects, which lead to the appearance of senile diseases. Natalia, since we have such a mini-dialogue, I think the guests will forgive us, so tell me, please, which is more important – to prolong youth or increase life expectancy? What do you think?

PONOMAREVA: Actually, these are related processes. Because there is a certain stage when the body lives and feels well, it is healthy, the next stage is functional disorders, the next stage is organic disorders that precede death. That is, the longer we have a relatively healthy stage of existence, the longer our life expectancy will be. 

POLESSKY: As a good lawyer, you answered this question to me.

KISELYOV: We need a healthy old age. After all, Vitaly has already told us that the beginning of the development of the body occurs according to a certain program. It remains unknown how programmed the end of the organism is. Speaking of genetics, it is very well known that such studies have been conducted in Japan, where people who are over 105 years old were studied, compared with another control group, and differences were clearly found in these groups of people who are over 105 years old or more.

POLESSKY: At the genetic level?

KISELYOV: At the genetic level. Moreover, a certain commercial company appeared for a short time, which offered everyone to undergo such genetic testing before getting married in order to predict what children will be like, how long they will live, how good it is. Of course, ethical issues immediately arise here, a number of ethical issues, and this has not received further development. Nevertheless, there are such opportunities, and we clearly know that we are genetically different, long-lived from short-lived. Why some live longer and others live shorter is still quite unclear. But it is clear that we can separate the right from the left, the long from the short. Speaking of whether we can prolong youth, eternal youth. Well, probably, it's only in milk, boiling jelly, like Ivanushka...

POLESSKY: By the way, they sell well. And milk, and jelly, and others.

KISELYOV: Well, why not? In our age of informatization and technology, it is possible to sell everything, if only the buyer was actually appropriate. So here, probably, it is more profitable to sell a healthy old age after all. Because... Actually, the demands for life extension arise from that cohort of people who have worked all their lives, earned a normal, healthy, let's call it the happiness of old age, and wants to spend this old age with dignity. As a rule, these are people who are socially well-off, socially well-established, socially received. They represent a special group of people – in many countries this is a large number of votes and so on. That is, this is exactly the appeal that we hear from this category of people. Nevertheless, in this group of people there are, as Natalia has already said, diseases associated with aging processes that occur more often in this group. These are neurodegenerative, vascular, and oncological diseases.

POLESSKY: I see. This is the opinion of Sergey Kiselyov, head of the Laboratory of Cellular Technologies at the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. That is, it turns out that life itself leads us to the need to prolong life. That is, we have been in a hurry all our lives to have children, get an education, get a good job, earn money, and, in general, there is no time left for all this...

KISELYOV: Who was in a hurry, and who was counting quite clearly and clearly on what, what period of time he could spend.

POLESSKY: I see. That is, the cure for old age is such a trend of our time. Yes, Vitaly...

FOKIN: I would like to add just two words. After all, when we talk about the fact that there is a group of people who live long and who live short, then I would like to talk about this second group, about the short-lived one. Still, we can partially say that these people are predisposed to certain diseases. And early genetic diagnosis could help in this case, because... Well, of course, there are such diseases that are still hopeless, I will not name them. But, there are such diseases when a change in diet, a change in lifestyle could transfer people from this short-lived group, say, to a group of medium-lived, and maybe even more. Therefore, early genetic diagnosis is very important.

POLESSKY: I see. It was Vitaly Fokin. Indeed, I agree that it is impossible to study the problems of old age without simultaneously curing some diseases and understanding the mechanisms of their course. Let's listen to the radio listeners. Good evening.

LISTENER: Good evening. My name is Sergey. I have two questions. The first question is about Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov's hypothesis that the normal life expectancy of a person is 170 years. How much does it deserve attention now? And in this regard, one more question. After all, Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov was a notable phenomenon of domestic science and world science. And I have a question in this regard: to what extent is the population of Russia now in the trend that you spoke about at the very beginning? And how much can our domestic science help us in this trend to be at least somewhere in the middle, not to trail in the tail?

POLESSKY: I see. Thank you very much for the questions, Sergey. We have a little over a minute before the news. Natalia, let's give you the floor. The figure is 170 years old.

PONOMAREVA: Yes, I am familiar with this figure. But it seems to me that this is some kind of optimistic forecast, which may be such a distant goal. But still...

POLESSKY: I see. Natalia, that's not what we need to talk about, I understand. Of course, journalists want to hear more here...

KISELYOV: There should be such a trend! To live up to 170, and you need to listen to everyone in this regard when there is a good trend...

FOKIN: You know, I wanted to say literally one word about the fact that domestic gerontology. I believe that we have certain strong scientific figures in this regard. For example, Emmanuel, who proposed his concept of free radical aging associated with the intensification of free radical oxidation. Olovnikov, for example, who talked about telomerase. Well, and many others. That is, the Mechnikov case is quite developing here. Another thing, maybe, is not as intensive as it is necessary, not as technologically advanced as it is in other places.

POLESSKY: I see. This is the opinion of Vitaly Fokin. We have news now, and then the Trendonomics program will continue.


POLESSKY: The Trendonomics program returns to the air of the Finam FM radio station. Today, the trend we are discussing is "A cure for old age." And we have a guest: Natalia Ponomareva, MD, Leading Researcher of the Scientific Center of Neurology; Sergey Kiselyov, Head of the Laboratory of Cell Technologies of the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Vitaly Fokin, Head of the Laboratory of Age-related Brain Physiology of the Scientific Center of Neurology. Good evening once again, dear sirs. I would like to explain myself before the 30th minute of our broadcast. Of course, journalists want to hear all sorts of big words: "cell suicide", "stress as the main cause of diseases". However, there are serious things about the aging problem. And let's try to talk about them a little bit. The question I'm going to ask you now is very important in the light of many fundamental scientific studies. They say and write that cancer is also a kind of program in the body, and the problem of aging, and the problem of cancer, they go in parallel ways. How correct is it to put them on the same level for study? Sergey?

KISELYOV: Well, you know, put it on one step for studying... In fact, humanity acquired this knowledge that aging and oncological diseases go side by side from observing itself. And this is the fact that we have now found, when really good statistics have appeared. When the records of the medical history are reliably kept. Well, for example, over the past 40 years, despite all our efforts and increasing the effectiveness of the fight against oncological diseases, which have increased, the effectiveness has improved by 20 percent, the incidence of oncological diseases has increased by 50 percent. Moreover, half of this figure is due to the fact that the population has aged 20 years. That is, this is the medical fact that is given to us. Yes, indeed, with the aging of the population, the problem of tumor disease is becoming more acute. This is probably really in genetics and in biology, most likely, of any species that lives on earth. In fact, practically no species is socially organized like a person, he does not live to his natural old age. In the wild, of course, it dies earlier, so we do not meet with oncological diseases in one or another group of the living world that surrounds us. Moreover, it was found out that many mechanisms that we would like to activate, such as telomerase, which was mentioned, which was discovered by our compatriot Alexey Olovnikov, that if we activate this enzyme telomerase, then we greatly increase the risk of tumor transformation of the cell. That is, you see, these are two sides of the same coin – we can fight aging, try to fight, but the mechanisms of aging and the oncological process are quite close. And by fighting aging, we can stimulate oncological diseases, and they go in parallel with aging. Thus, probably, in order to prolong youth or make old age healthy, it is probably realistic now for humanity to step up its attempts and try to find certain methods of combating oncological diseases. If this problem is solved, then, according to the forecasts of American scientists, it can extend the average age of a person by about 7-8 years.

POLESSKY: That is, there are some approaches to the study of the problem of aging, the authors of which – Aubrey de Grey, for example – say that it is possible to extend the age of active human activity to a thousand years. I'm back to my amazing emotional numbers.

KISELYOV: Yes, yes, yes. This is an emotional person, and they look very original, I would say. He was last engaged in genetics somewhere in the early 90s...

POLESSKY: Sergey, but he says a very good thing that without knowing the fundamental causes of aging, you can still take up the solution to this problem.

KISELYOV: Of course, of course. We have been drinking aspirin for a long time, not knowing how it works. Only recently have we found out what the mechanism of its action is. Of course, you can, if it really helps. There is no dispute. Only it has to be proven that it helps. And here, of course, it is worth basing on the opinion of the majority of certain scientists, and not on the opinion of some individuals who are building projects. It seems to me that Aubrey de Grey, of course, is an interesting figure, but you should not focus so much on him anyway - he compares a person with a car. Man created a car, not the other way around. Therefore, I would not like to be compared to a car that someone will change the wheels there. After all, a person is a little more complicated than a car.

POLESSKY: I see. Sergey Kiselyov, Head of the Laboratory of Cell Technologies at the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Vitaly...  

FOKIN: No, I agree that not everyone likes to feel like a car. For example, maybe it would be more comfortable to feel like a computer somehow. In fact, I think I essentially agree with what Sergei said, the only thing I want to say is what the merit of this di Gray is. In the fact that they have attracted, albeit in a fantastic way, attracted attention to this problem. And he suggested that the use of, let's say, biotechnologies can solve a number of problems that have not been solved by traditional methods.

KISELYOV: I object, I object! His prize of the Methuselah Society for the longest-lived mouse was awarded to the mouse that ate little. This is not a biotechnological problem, this is a problem that can solve the problem of hunger in the world – there is less to eat. By the way, Japan, which had a restriction in nutrition, they began to live for a long time, now they will experience problems due to the fact that the composition of their food has changed, it has become more rich in proteins, and, I think, age may decrease there.

PONOMAREVA: I would also like to comment on the food problem. The fact is that in neurology, and in life simply, vascular diseases occupy a large place, and this is the main cause of death of people. Studies have been conducted that were aimed at lowering cholesterol levels in people with statins – well-known such medications. And these studies had to be stopped somewhere in the middle, because it turned out that it is an indisputable fact that lowering cholesterol levels reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. By the way, so is Alzheimer's disease. But the authors of the study who took part in this work, they drew attention to the fact that with the help of a diet, you can achieve the same result as with these drugs, but only traditional diets are far from these standards.

POLESSKY: Well, it's clear. Buckle up in the car, don't smoke, try to be an optimist, and then you'll live to...

KISELYOV: And diet. And this is stress. That's what you say, stress.

POLESSKY: Well, come on, since we're talking about stress like that. The Trendonomics program talks about a cure for aging. 730-73-70 – live broadcast phone number. If someone wants to join the conversation and talk about aging. I will ask this question to our audience: what is the limit, to what limit do you want to live – up to 100 years, up to 200? Please call live, comment on a specific figure, and explain why you want to reach this age. Vitaly, we talked about diets, we touched on the topic of stress. That's where science is now looking for a cure for old age, in what area? Is it really in the study of the problem of stress or is it still more serious?.. Is it possible to single out such a search direction?

FOKIN: You know, I can't say that any one area of research has been singled out right now. At the same time, you see, the problem of stress personally seems to me to be central. Why? Because, firstly, it has its manifestations both at the cellular level and at the organizational level. The fact is that stress seems to permeate the entire body – all systems are included in this phenomenon. Then, it is a kind of universal reaction of the body's adaptation to changing conditions. That is, it is a kind of, if you will, phenomenon that accompanies a person all his life.

POLESSKY: We had a separate program dedicated to stress.

FOKIN: It's a pity we weren't there, we could have been here!

POLESSKY: Well, you see, I said that aging and cancer go parallel paths, but it turns out that the cure for aging is the trend of today's program – and stress, they also go parallel paths.

FOKIN: I would say stress and oncology. She's coming close enough, too. You see, this is a kind of universal, I would say, direction. Of course, in this direction or next to it, separate ones can be distinguished... Well, for example, say, stem cell therapy systems...

POLESSKY: Yes, I will explain to radio listeners: we were just talking about stem cells and their role in the pause. They say that stem cells will just be a pharmacy for the treatment of old age.

FOKIN: Maybe they did?

POLESSKY: I saw the last publications for August-September of this year.

KISELYOV: Well, it's the same as discussing the question: how much stress is associated with aging, with oncology. Yes, everything in this world is interconnected. Actually, in the same niche lies, well, if not a problem, then the boom and the attention that is attracted to stem cells, as you correctly said. Indeed, they are predicted to have a very great future, very great efforts are thrown at studying this type of cells. However, today it is still the therapy of tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, although promising.

POLESSKY: Sergey, tell me, answer me this question: is it possible to say that nature is now more protective of its secrets? It was assumed that nanotechnology, the study of stem cells, that this would significantly help solve problems that humanity has not been able to solve for the last 20-30 years, but there is no breakthrough.

KISELYOV: You see, nature does not protect its secrets, nature is what it is. We try to bend her slightly under us, but she, in general, stubbornly resists, and wants to remain exactly the same as she really is. Of course, all those things, those new directions that are emerging... Well, yes, we are also putting some small brick, making some small movement. Nanotechnology, how much can they solve something? Well, nanotechnology is here in Russia, they appeared yesterday, but in the world they have existed for more than a dozen years in fact. And they are developing at one speed or another. And if we look, so to speak, at the development of nanotechnology in the field of living systems, that is, what is connected with biological things, then we can see that there were very big promises at the beginning of the XXI century, at the end of the twentieth century. Great hopes were pinned on nanotechnology, but so far, just like with stem cells, we are at about the same level, in a period of some disappointment, I would say. Because there were high expectations. It's a normal thing – scientists are faced with nature, with normal nature, and it must somehow be solved, adapted to themselves. We won't be able to break it, we won't be able to break it either, but we probably have to adapt it to ourselves somehow.

POLESSKY: Thank you. This is the opinion of Sergey Kiselyov, head of the Laboratory of Cell Technologies at the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Pause for "Finam FM", and then we will continue the program.


POLESSKY: The Trendonomics program is broadcast on Finam FM radio. The trend of today's program: "The cure for old age". Together with my guests, we are looking for ways to develop this topic, and we are trying to understand how close humanity has come to deciding whether aging can be postponed by 20, 30, 100, or even 1000 years. Let me ask you a question from the website, we received a message from our radio listener. I will quote him: "The elixir of youth and immortality has been sought since time immemorial and no one has found it yet. It seems to me that nature is not in vain arranged so that each species on the planet has its own service life. If you interfere in this process, you can shake and generally disrupt all the mechanisms of the existence of the biosphere. A logical question arises: why are scientists doing this at all?" Here is such a philosophical one...

KISELYOV: In fact, in short, I want to give the floor to my colleagues. Scientists generally do not understand what. Scientists do what they are interested in doing. And what consequences this will lead to when a scientist starts doing this, he does not even see yet. It's the surrounding people, such attentive listeners and readers, who are just starting to ask these questions, and just after that the bumps begin to fall on scientists.

POLESSKY: I see. Science is like eating chicken – it may have an end result, but we are not doing it for this.


POLESSKY: Let's give the floor to our colleagues. Natalia?

PONOMAREVA: To a large extent, the fight against aging is still associated with the treatment of certain serious diseases. Therefore, looking at this patient when you see him and not helping is somewhat unethical, I would say. It seems to me that such drugs are appearing, and in this sense there will undoubtedly be progress, but it is unknown with what speed and how seriously he will be able to push back the line of death that we now have. In fact, we can say that this is unpredictable, because the appearance of brilliant thoughts is always a process that cannot be predicted in a day that it will happen.  

POLESSKY: I see. Vitaly, I will expand our listener's question a little by adding my own. Look, by improving living conditions, medical, hygienic measures, it was possible to increase the average life expectancy, that is, to reduce death from accidental causes, pathologies and infections. Some scientists insist that work in this direction should be continued, because the cost of a person-year is much lower here than in the case of studying the genetic mechanisms of aging. How would you comment on that?

FOKIN: You know, I would say that I absolutely agree with this. In fact, many people, including us, shorten their own lives. After all, in fact, it is enough to know certain characteristics, parameters of the body at a young age, and to know these characteristics for the current, say, date. And try to correct this by staying within the limits of normal aging. How to adjust? Here you were absolutely right to say: reducing, say, stress, proper nutrition, proper daily routine, and so on. Well, it can be done at the level of an individual, but if there were such a state policy, for example, which would...

POLESSKY: National program?

KISELYOV: Well, it is necessary, it is necessary...

FOKIN: Probably necessary. I would say that a slightly different mentality is needed here. You see, the thing is, people with disabilities and the elderly need to be treated differently than healthy people, they need to be helped. That is, a more humane attitude certainly prolongs life expectancy, increases life expectancy.

POLESSKY: I see. This was the opinion of Vitaly Fokin. Let's try to be futurologists in the final 8 minutes of our program, which is what we traditionally do in the Trendonomics program. I'm going to ask you this question. I remembered here the American film "I am a Legend" with Will Smith, which has absolutely nothing to do with science. Which was based on the moment that the study of genetics, the study of genes led to the fact that a person received some uncontrolled processes. Here Vladimir Skulachev, also one of the authoritative researchers of the problem of aging, is categorically against knockout of human genes. I will quote it from a publication in one of the journals. "We know this topic too poorly, if something is wrong with our substance, we just stop giving it, stop giving this drug. And if we change the gene, we won't be able to turn it back." That's how you think, is the right attitude to the study of genetics?

KISELYOV: You know, this is not related to the study, but to a certain declaration of use.

POLESSKY: Unfortunately, yes, I'm sorry.

KISELYOV: Therefore, it is not a scientist who speaks here – this is clearly visible, but a certain declaration of use is being made. Probably, when the knowledge is still small, it is not worth doing it. On the other hand, right now there are 10 people in Spain with Fanconi anemia, they are just waiting for the permission of the Spanish government to be injected with blood stem cells with a knockout, incorrect gene in order for them to get rid of this terrible disease. You see, it's probably possible to declare such things, and probably you don't need to knock out some gene for every sneeze, if you have the flu. It is important to maintain a balance in order to... balance common sense. It is probably clear from the history of the development of science at the moment that it is unlikely that we will ever completely overcome either old age, or oncology, or some other disease we will completely overcome. But this does not mean that at any given moment we should not help people who are sick with this disease. These are completely different things. It's one thing to make declarative statements, another thing is the specific assistance provided in some case.

POLESSKY: Sergey Kiselyov. I think you answered very succinctly and fully.

FOKIN: In my opinion, that's right, yes.

POLESSKY: Then such a question. There is another journalistic topic in the framework of studying the problem of aging, which is understood by the word "cryobiology". As far as I understand, this is more about transplantology, organs and so on. Do you think there is a process of studying in this area in Russia?

FOKIN: In my opinion, it is certainly happening.

POLESSKY: How well did I bring this topic here at all?

FOKIN: It seems to me that this is one of the technological directions.

POLESSKY: Or is it also commercial?

FOKIN: Well, no, of course, everything that journalists talk about has a certain commercial value. Therefore, this issue also has a right to exist, but there, as far as I know, the problems of water crystallization are still unresolved. If possible, then for sure they will be solved.

KISELYOV: The main thing is that tomorrow, in the future, they can be solved. Maybe. Therefore, freeze yourself today, and tomorrow your great-grandchildren will thaw you. And maybe, like a frog, you will be fine.

POLESSKY: Yes, maybe by that time humanity will have invented everything that is needed.

KISELYOV: Sure. And it is on this principle that the science of cryonics is based.

FOKIN: No, after all, there are serious scientific studies.

KISELYOV: Here we mean a slightly different kind of research. Although, there is such a thing in nature that a decrease in temperature, falling into suspended animation, and this period is, as it were, subtracted from the life of a living being. Indeed, these things are observed in nature.

FOKIN: By the way, falling into a lethargic sleep also pushes back the aging process.

POLESSKY: That's why I remembered about cryobiology? I just want to ask you a question: at the expense of which direction do you think it is possible to achieve a radical, big leap in the issue of prolonging human life? Let's each of you speak out, who thinks what? Natalia?

PONOMAREVA: It seems to me that this is a question of a genetic program, so research at the genetic level will bear fruit.


KISELYOV: An exceptionally comprehensive approach. Naturally, genetics, naturally and the environment, that is, nutrition, stress. No problem has at least one platform. After all, this is a problem of a living being, this is not a problem of a mechanism. If there is no gasoline, the car does not go; if there is no oil, the engine has broken down. A biological being is more complicated, so in order to solve the problems of a biological being, a comprehensive approach is needed. And genetics, and the environment, and social factors.

POLESSKY: This is the opinion of Sergey Kiselyov. Vitaly?

FOKIN: Well, I can add something. Of course, a comprehensive scientific, fundamental approach is absolutely necessary. I won't say anything new here. But I think that certain biotechnological innovations will be added that will help speed up these studies. Maybe they will somehow modify in the future...

KISELYOV: And synthesize a pill for old age.

FOKIN: Not a pill, not necessarily a pill. Maybe it will be something else.

POLESSKY: I think most people want a pill, plus 50 years. The audience that writes to us through the website tries to ask us more philosophical questions than practical ones from the field of genetic or other fundamental research. Let me quote now: "If old branches are cut off on a tree, then new ones will begin to grow. Question: to what extent is it possible to cut branches – is it known to science?" It reminds me of the question from the program "What? Where? When?"

FOKIN: Well, to the root, so to speak, if you cut it down, then already, in my opinion...

KISELYOV: Well, it depends on which tree! If the tree is cut down to the root, it will not grow. It all depends on who to chop off and who is chopping. If with love, then you can chop for a long time.

POLESSKY: Sergey, Vitaly, we have two minutes left. There is a very important thing in studying the problem of aging that we did not have enough time to cover today. Natalia Petrovna Bekhtereva said that with the power of thought she could prolong life. That's how you feel?.. I understand that this is a serious question, and the question of training the intellect, and the question of the brain is one of the fundamental in the study of the processes taking place in the body in general. How much attention should be paid to this.

FOKIN: Well, it seems to me that the power of thought can certainly shorten life. We know, there are known cases. It can also partly lengthen, because, well, certain meditative practices and everything else, they also reduce stress levels, so they can also be effective.


POLESSKY: Yes, Natalia, of course!

PONOMAREVA: This is an interesting enough topic for me.

POLESSKY: We have one minute left, so let's be brief. At the end of the program, I touched on a very interesting topic, it happens to me often.

PONOMAREVA: The fact is that those brain structures that are responsible for memory and intelligence, they simultaneously inhibit stress, so people, including those who have well-developed intelligence and memory, they live longer, including by this mechanism. In principle, the development of many diseases is inhibited if a person has a good education and constantly trains the brain – this is an indisputable fact.

KISELYOV: Accordingly, belonging to a certain social group.

POLESSKY: I see. Thank you very much. Today, the Trendonomics program was trying to find a cure for old age, talking about the "Cure for Old Age" trend. We had a visit: Natalia Ponomareva, MD, Leading Researcher of the Neurology Research Center; Sergey Kiselyov, Head of the Laboratory of Cell Technologies of the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Vitaly Fokin, Head of the Laboratory of Age-related Brain Physiology of the Scientific Center of Neurology. Thank you so much for participating in the program. Ilya Polessky was on the air. The Trendonomics program is with you again next Monday. See you.

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