Author: Chris Wiley

SAGE goes to the Movies: A scientific review of “Deadpool“ (2016)

We’re going to look at the science behind the movie “Deadpool”, and ask whether –and to what degree — there is any scientific basis for Deadpool’s superhuman abilities. Deadpool’s primary ability is hyper-regeneration. He is able to shrug off potentially lethal bodily injuries, to the point where he severs his own hand, and within a few days has regrown a new one. But how did he gain these abilities, and how realistic might they be?

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Aging Fundamentals: Cellular Senescence

Half a century ago, a scientist named Leonard Hayflick discovered that the number of times a normal, non-cancerous human cell can divide is limited. Beyond this point, Hayflick noted that cells would stop dividing and that there is a maximum number of times a cell can divide. This hypothetical maximum number of cell divisions came to be known as the “Hayflick Limit”, and the phenomenon itself is now known as cellular senescence.

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Breaking NAD: How one metabolite became the biggest story in anti-aging therapy in less than a year.

Google’s venture biotech company, Calico, has largely been stealthy about its moves since the initial announcement of its founding a year ago. Last week, Calico broke this relative silence with an announcement that it has acquired the rights to a class of drugs labeled “P7C3”, and in the process offered the first strong indications of where the venture might be headed in the near future. It is now clear that Calico, in collaboration with pharmaceutical partner AbbVie, will move forward to develop P7C3 as one of its first anti-aging interventions. But what are P7C3 drugs, and why do we care about them? P7C3 was first discovered in 2010 when scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center were looking for compounds that enhance the formation of new neurons in the brains of mice. In the process, the researchers found that P7C3 had both protective and regenerative functions in the brain. This observation had strong potential implications for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s diseases. Despite the importance of this finding, the mechanism behind the drugs’ activity remained unknown until last week, when researchers published a report in the journal Cell indicating that P7C3 binds and activates nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT), the key enzyme in the synthesis of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+ is an essential metabolite for many cellular functions including energy production, protein deacetylation, calcium...

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