News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Alcor Conference – Chris Heward


Read Richard’s current thoughts about transhumanism and related fringe topics here.

[Alcor Conference – Table of Contents]


Chris Heward discussed his work on the “Kronos Longitudinal Aging Study (KLAS)” as a measurement of human aging. KRONOS Science Laboratory [defunct link] is a research institution in Phoenix, AZ, USA.

Heward showed a graph of progress in life expectancy at birth and at 65. Life expectancy at birth has experienced obvious improvement, but not so for life expectancy at age 65. Looking at particular biomarkers of again, we follow a peak around age 20 with a downhill degeneration to death. Once measures of life expectancy can be developed, than potential interventions can be tested against these biomarkers for effectiveness.

Data is collect in a database based on a variety of tests. For most Kronos participants, this includes one or two data collection events. Longitudinal studies require repeat testing over many years.

One of the best known biochemical biomarkers Kronos has found for aging is DHEA-SO4. The lower the level, the older the patient. However, although a line has been drawn on a graph to show this, the individual results actually do not cluster very well. Kronos next compared biomarkers with each other, but found little correlation, suggesting aging is not just one underlying problem, but multiple.

Kronos’ approach to aging is to assess and prevent issues earlier than people are usually treated. They focus on the top killers, like cardiovascular disease. They look for oxidative stress, with the goal of providing high levels of protection and reducing damage.

Their latest findings suggest it is difficult to assess a person’s oxidative stress using only one biomarker. Damage is variable over different testing periods.

Kronos has conducted a study related to Alzheimer’s Disease, in an attempt to detect the disease early. Called the KRONOS-TGen AD Project, the experiment included 1000 participants with Alzheimer’s and 1000 participants as controls. They were able to find involved genes, but they believe there are more that remain to be found. This is expected to lead to a genetic test to look for Alzheimer’s susceptibility.

In another experiment, the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) was meant to follow up on findings that hormonal replacement therapy might provide no cardiovascular protection in women over time as previous studies had indicated and could instead increase the risk of other problems like breast cancer. However, Heward said the study was “botched” because the wrong demographic of women was chosen. Kronos’ new study should correct this problem and seek better information on what is going on.

Finally, Heward provided nutrition and health advice. He suggested being fit, but not too lean. He also suggested fish oil, especially for Americans, as an important supplement for decreasing cardiovascular risk. Exercise is also important, but there appears to be a wall around 80 years of age, in which exercise appears to have no further benefit.