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Book review of Jean Hebert’s “Replacing Aging,” part 1: Why gerontology is not the solution

Replacing aging

The title of Jean M. Hébert’s recently published book, Replacing Aging, fits the book nicely. Another title that would fit even better (but wouldn't sound so appealing) would be "Replacing Anti-aging Research." In the first part, Professor Hébert of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine essentially dismantles all major...

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  • Profile picture of Michael Pietroforte

    Gary, thanks! To make sure that it is not wishful thinking I recommend to make pictures (close-ups) once a week under the same light conditions. After a few months, you can show them to friends and ask them which skin looks younger.

  • Michael, thanks for this review, I am a middle aged man with sun damage as a retired Army officer – lots of time in the desert… I started using OS-01 a couple of weeks ago and have used as directed, application twice daily; morning and night. I have seen some mild changes in skin texture along with mild lightening of sun spots. It could be perceived/placebo/psychosomatic, but I also noticed a slightly more youthful appearance so this topical may be different. There seems to be something else going on besides the standard peel and replenishment of the upper epidermal layer as you see with retinol products. Like I said, it may be wishful thinking, but I don’t think so. As a side note, I do take resveratrol and NMN daily as well, which I just started a month ago, so I have a couple of experiments at play. I enjoy reading your articles, very insightful, nice to see a counterpoint being made once in while.

  • Profile picture of Michael Pietroforte
  • Profile picture of Michael Pietroforte

    The title of Jean M. Hébert’s recently published book, Replacing Aging, fits the book nicely. Another title that would fit even better (but wouldn’t sound so appealing) would be “Replacing Anti-aging Research.” In the first part, Professor Hébert of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine essentially dismantles all major approaches to finding a cure for aging. According to Hébert, all drug-centric attempts (as he likes to call biochemical-based efforts) are prone to fail and need be replaced with a new approach, which he outlines in the second part of the book. In this first blog post, I will discuss his arguments against the gerontological approach, and in my next article, I will outline Hébert’s alternative.

  • Profile picture of Michael Pietroforte

    Peter Diamandis has pitched the new product of OneSkin Technologies, a company that claims to be able to reverse the biological age of your skin by clearing senescent cells. In this post, I summarize the science behind this new approach to skin anti-aging.

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  • Profile picture of Michael Pietroforte

    In my last post, I outlined David Sinclair’s anti-aging levels 1 and 2. Whereas levels 1 and 2 can, at best, slow the aging process, level 3 has the potential to provide a real cure for aging. At level 3, at least in theory, we can completely reverse the age of an entire organism by introducing the Yamanaka factors.

  • Nice! I know Aubrey but I have never read about his theory in detail, only very superficially. I agree that the Yamanaka factors seem to be the most promising ones. They are also the most exciting ones, the idea of reversing aging is just amazing! I’m not old, I’m 27, but even at my age I think the only possibility of having a very long lifespan is if there is some sort of rejuvenation therapy like this one. Otherwise, I believe it’s too late haha I’m looking forward to your post on the Yamanaka factors.

  • Profile picture of Michael Pietroforte

    I think what he says about stress is consistent. Stress causes damage which causes aging. Moderate stress makes cells hunker down and focus on repairing damage. Thus, moderate stress slows aging, too much stress accelerates aging. Where I can’t follow is his claim that energy costs prevent cells from repairing damage.

    Of course I know Aubrey de Grey. I guess everyone who is interested in the biology of aging does. I have even more problems with his theory that damage caused by metabolism (in particular in the mitochondria) is the main cause of aging which is the old view that more and more gerontologists seem to abandon now. I feel that Sinclair is with his focus on the epigenome more on the pulse of cutting edge anti aging research.

    I don’t think that Sinclair’s research is less practical. In my next post I will blog about his attempt of using some of the Yamanaka factors to reset the clock of aging which is currently the most promising approach in this field.

  • Yeah, I’m reading the book and I didn’t understand his argument in the beginning. This is why I looked for an explanation and found your website. It seems a little contradictory indeed because it is not the damage itself that causes aging but the lack of sirtuins in the epigenome. So I found it really weird when he said that putting more stress in the body would have the effect of increasing aging. It seemed counterintuitive, but so many things in science are. After I finish the book and review his theory I will be able to make a better judgment of his theory, I guess. What do you think about Aubrey de Grey? Do you know him? His causes of aging are different from the hallmark causes that Sinclair says that the scientific community agrees on. de Grey has a more practical approach, focused on solving the problem of aging with biotech, whereas Sinclair (and I suspect the rest of the field) is more into biochemistry.

  • Profile picture of Michael Pietroforte

    I don’t understand where you see a contradiction in my argument. It goes like this:

    1. If Sir2 doesn’t find its way back, the cell can no longer replicate.
    2. Building an extra Sir2 that replaces the missing one would allow the cell to replicate again.
    3. But Sinclair claims that building an extra Sir2 would cost too much energy which is why we don’t see yeast cells with this ability in nature.

    My question is if Neo-Darwinism is correct and evolution is all about replication, how can it be too expensive to create just one extra protein if this this keeps the so important replication process going?

    You are right, the fact nobody did the math does not make Sinclair’s claim wrong. However, because this theory seems so implausible, I wish someone tested this claim empirically. All you have to do is engineer yeast cells that build more Sir2 and see if those cells replicate more efficiently than normal yeast cells. Provided that both cell colonies receive the same amount food, if the engineered cells replicate faster, claim 3 would be falsified and Sinclair’s theory would be in trouble.

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