From nutrigenomics to telomeres, RAADFest speaker Dr Elena Rusyn is on a mission to influence the rate of aging.
RAADFest 2022 kicks off on 6 October and features four days of all-new content that promises to “fuel your future”.
Longevity.Technology: RAADFest was born from Coalition for Radical Life Extension, a non-profit organisation for radical life extension and physical immortality, with the first RAADFest held in San Diego in 2016. The conference goes from strength-to-strength each year, and the 2022 line-up includes Bill Andrews, Ben Goertzel, Steve Perry, Greg Fahy, Bill Faloon, Jean Hébert, Robert Lufkin, Naveen Jain, Ian White and Stephen Sideroff.
Also presenting, on stem cell best practices, is Elena Rusyn, PhD, the CSO of American Cell Technology. Ahead of RAADFest, we sat down with Dr Rusyn to find out more about her work and some of the longevity areas which are growing fast.
Use the code ‘longevity’ at checkout for 10% off on any registration. Click here to register.
LA-based Rusyn has a particular interest in hormones, chemical messengers that work as signalling hormones in our bodies. Although their link with living a long and healthy life might not seem as obvious initially as diet or exercise, Rusyn says the importance of hormones should not be underestimated.
Hormones are important to longevity because they play a role in maintaining our health as we age, but hormones decline as we age – and some hormones decline more than others.
Rusyn explains that this decline can leave us in a state of hormonal imbalance. “When the balance is lost, we become more susceptible to age related diseases.
“Most age-related diseases (diabetes, macular degeneration, high blood pressure) are commonly associated with hormone imbalance. In addition, hormones play an important role in regulating metabolism. As we age, our metabolism slows down, and this can lead to weight gain. Hormones can help to regulate metabolism and prevent weight gain and prevent age-related diseases.”
Nutrition and beyond
One up-and-coming area of longevity is nutrigenomics, the study of how nutrition affects our genes, and how our genes affect our response to nutrients and how you can change your environment to alter gene expression; interest is growing in the role that nutrigenomic intervention play in extending healthspan.
Rusyn says that nutrigenomics is still in its early stages, but it has the potential to revolutionise the way we think about nutrition and health.
“Nutrigenomics is a field that is providing insights into how we can use diet and unique bioactive compounds to exert biochemical and clinical effects on the genome and epigenome that can be used to prevent or treat diseases,” she explains. “Food chemicals ‘talking to’ your DNA. Bioactive Compounds ‘Switch On’ genes coding for key biomolecules.”
Even though is a relatively new field, Dr Rusyn says it is clear that nutrigenomics can play a role in extending healthspan.
“For example, one area of research is looking at how certain nutrients can influence the expression of genes that are linked to aging and age-related diseases,” she says, explaining that this research is still in its early stages.
Another area of research that is relevant to healthspan is nutrigenomics of obesity.
“Obesity is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer,” she says. “By understanding how genes affect our response to nutrients, we may be able to develop nutritional interventions that can help to prevent or treat obesity.”
Rusyn says that overall, nutrigenomics is a promising area of research that has the potential to play a role in extending human healthspan.
“It is possible that in the future, nutrigenomic interventions could be used to help slow down the aging process and reduce the risk of age-related diseases,” she says.
Lobsters… and longevity
One word that is synonymous with longevity is telomere; telomeres are complex protein structures located at the end of each DNA strand, protecting chromosomes from becoming damaged. Shortened telomeres impact on lifespan and are associated with many chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, but Dr Rusyn feels our understanding of the role of telomeres in longevity is constantly evolving, with some exciting new therapies involving telomere activators showing great promise.
“Telomere length is known to affect almost every cell in the body,” Rusyn explains. “The shortest telomere, not average telomere length, is critical for cell viability and chromosome stability. Most studies measure average telomere length, but it is the percentage of shortest telomeres that constitute telomere dysfunction and limit cellular survival in the absence of telomerase.
“In lobsters, longevity is linked to ubiquitous telomerase expression. Telomerase-deficient mice experience severe tissue degeneration. However, if telomere function is restored throughout the organism, this age-related degenerative phenotype can be reversed in adult mammals.
The speed of longevity advancement
The science of longevity is advancing rapidly, according to Rusyn, but one of the major difficulties in studying human aging is its duration, meaning that animal models have been used to evaluate the biology of aging and study methods to alter its progression. The major model systems to study human aging, she says, are human cells
“New discoveries being made all the time,” says Rusyn. “One of the key areas of research is the prevention of age-related diseases, which can have a massive impact on the quality of life for older people. Another area of focus is healthy aging, which looks at ways to keep people healthy and active for longer.”
Longevity of the future… and RAADfest
Rusyn feels that the the most promising areas in the science of longevity are those that are focused on the prevention of age-related diseases and the promotion of healthy aging.
“Cell based therapies, gene therapies, telomere science… these, I think, are the most promising areas,” she says, and this reflects on her RAADFest presentation in which she will be focusing on best practices for stem cell banking and clinical applications.
“I’ll be discussing the latest techniques and research in the field, and sharing my own insights and experiences with the attendees,” she explains. “I’m also interested in connecting with other like-minded individuals who are passionate about stem cell research and its potential to change the world as we know it. It should be a really great event!”
Longevity.Technology readers can get 10% off on any registration with the code ‘longevity’ at checkout. Click here to register.
Stay tuned for more RAADFest interviews coming soon!