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Month: February 2020

Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have to

This is one of the books I recently read and found most interesting. The title is Lifespan: Why We Age-and Why We Don’t Have to. Unfortunately, the Japanese translation has not been published yet, so I listened to it in the English version of Audible.

Why do people age? What is aging?

Even in 2020, the reasons and mechanisms of aging are not fully understood. Aging is an unavoidable event for most people on the planet, and it is natural for them to age and eventually, die.

On the other hand, this book states that “aging is a disease and is a disease that can be dealt with.” If you look at this particular sentence, it sounds like a commercial of a suspicious health product, but the author David Sinclair is a genuine biologist and co-founder of a bio-venture. By the way, I became aware of the existence of Sinclair’s books because of his guest appearance on the podcast that I always listen to.

The points mentioned in this book, along with the scientific evidence, are:

  • Yeast and human cells behave similarly (this is why many Nobel prize winners come from yeast researchers).
  • Sir2 (sirtuin gene) is found to be significantly involved in longevity in yeast.
  • Deletion of Sir2 shortens lifespan, and activation increases lifespan of yeast. (However, some observations deny this fact.)
  • Sir2 is activated by hunger and calorie restriction.
  • The easiest ways to extend human life are proper diet, moderate exercise, and sauna.
  • Sir2, a longevity gene, is activated by dietary restriction and exercise.
  • Sauna generates stress that promotes Sir2 activation when combined with a water bath.

Until now, medical treatment in which humans have spent a great deal of time on research is merely responding to individual diseases, and we have not invested time in research of aging which causes all diseases, according to this book.

As is often said, the probability that a child will get cancer is almost zero. However, due to foods containing additives, radiation falling on the earth, and the effects of stress, the epigenome that determines the function of genes changes with age, and as a result, normal cells become cells that can cause various diseases.

Every day, the human body undergoes an enormous amount of DNA damage, and the body has the ability to repair it. However, as DNA damage increases and repairs cannot keep up, mistakes in DNA replication begin to occur. The substance produced by this replication error is called ERC, and it is thought that the accumulation of ERC leads to aging. Sir2 prevents the formation of this ERC.

Research on ERC and Sir2 seems to be in a state of inactivity as far as this book is concerned. This is because conducting research on diseases that are already prominent is likely to yield short-term returns both academically and business-wise. Because longevity is difficult to set as an indicator of what is to be achieved, it is understandable that research does not progress easily.

As this book repeatedly states, almost all diseases are caused by aging. If you can keep your body condition, the state of the epigenome to be precise, as it was when you were born, you should not be sick except for congenital ones. And if aging itself is regarded as one of the diseases, it should be possible to slow down or stop the progress.

Whether you consider delaying and stopping aging as the world of science fiction or something that can be realized by making use of the knowledge and technologies largely depends on the values ​​of each person. I always want to be the latter.


最近読んだ書籍の中で特に興味深かったものを紹介します。タイトルは Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have to 。残念ながら日本語訳はまだ出版されてないようですが、自分は英語版のAudibleで聴きました。



一方で、本書では「老化とは病気である。そして対処可能な病気である。」と明言しています。ここだけ見れば、なんだか怪しい健康商品の宣伝っぽいですが、著者のDavid Sinclair氏は正真正銘の生物学者で、バイオ・ベンチャーの共同設立者でもあります。ちなみに、自分がSinclair氏の書籍の存在を知ったのは、いつも聴いているポッドキャストに同氏がゲスト出演したことがきっかけでした。


  • イースト菌と人間の細胞は振る舞いが似ている(多くのノーベル賞受賞者がイースト菌の研究者から出ているのはこのため)
  • イースト菌でSir2(サーチュイン遺伝子)が寿命に大きく関与していることが発見される
  • Sir2を欠損させると寿命が短縮し、活性化すると寿命が伸びることがイースト菌で観測される(ただし、この事実を否定する観測結果もある)
  • Sir2は飢餓やカロリー制限によって活性化される
  • 人で実践できる最も簡単な長寿化は適切な食事制限、適度な運動、サウナである
  • 食事制限や運動によって長寿遺伝子であるSir2が活性化される
  • サウナは水風呂と組み合わせることでSir2活性化を促すストレスを発生させる







CEO Blog: February 7, 2020

Induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells were discovered in 2012 by the Nobel prize winner Shinya Yamanaka, who is a professor at Kyoto University. Despite the option of building wealth by keeping this world-changing invention private, Dr. Yamanaka has decided to open source iPS cell-related technology to encourage researchers and pharmaceutical companies to adopt iPS cells. He thought this was the best option for patients with illnesses that could not be cured with existing treatments.

Almost ten years have passed since, and a number of clinical trials using iPS cells and transplantation into actual patients have been performed. Japan has always been a frontrunner in this field, and thanks to Dr. Yamanaka, the Japanese government has decided to invest $1B in regenerative medicine research in 10 years. While other countries have focused on research on ES cells rather than iPS cells, it was difficult to perform clinical trials and transplantation on humans given the ethical challenge that ES cells can only be produced from human embryos.

Japan was indeed leading the regenerative medicine field. Until recently.

Now, there is a bio-startup that Dr. Yamanaka calls “a threat.” That is BlueRock Therapeutics in the United States. The company has begun a clinical trial to transplant nerve cells made from iPS cells into patients with Parkinson’s disease and is working on treating heart failure with cardiomyocytes made from iPS cells and severe intestinal disease with gut nerve cells. These are completely competing with the efforts of Kyoto University’s CiRA to which Dr. Yamanaka belongs.

BlueRock Therapeutics is a bio-startup that was originally funded by Bayer and other companies and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bayer in August 2019. The amount raised by the company at the time of its establishment was about $225M, far exceeding the sum of all the funds collected by CiRA in the past. In addition, Fate Therapeutics in the United States has started making immune cells that attack cancer using iPS cells and administering them to actual patients.

Japan wins in technology and loses in business. This composition, which has been often said in the industrial world, has just begun to appear in the field of regenerative medicine. Japan is beginning to lag behind the United States in funding and commercialization. Moreover, the Japanese government announced a $10M annual budget cutoff for the iPS stockpile business, which was withdrawn at a later date, but the fact that the Japanese government once capped iPS cells remains unchanged.

So what should we do in Japan? Moving to the United States and continuing research is one way to do that. Although one may argue about national interests from a short-term perspective, there are patients all over the world who want treatment using iPS cells. For such patients, it doesn’t matter in which country they were made. If human life is paramount, crossing national borders should be a valid option.

Another way is to enter from different industries. A prejudice, which iPS cells and regenerative medicine should be handled only by researchers and companies involved in biotechnology, should be eliminated first. There are many areas where Japan has strengths, such as robotics, FA, and IoT. By having the companies from these fields enter in biotechnology and having them invest in research, at least the funding problem can be solved.

Also, there is “integration” that Japanese people are good at. By combining things originally made for different purposes, Japanese people kept creating a completely new added value. This is the way Japan has come a long way in industry and fought the world. I think this analog tactic is what is needed in the field of biotechnology and regenerative medicine in Japan.