Curing Aging With Gene Therapy by Liz Parrish - Essay

Updated: Apr 28



BioViva Sciences aims to address the diseases of aging with gene therapy. Incorporated in 2015, it is the first company to tackle biological aging at the genetic level. Current research points to the process of cellular degeneration from biological aging as the root cause of most of the chronic diseases in the developed world.


Treating aging itself, rather than one disease at a time, would allow us to radically extend healthy lifespan (see graph 1; Source: R. A. Miller/University of Michigan). Prof. Miller’s research shows that if we cured cancer today, we would only increase lifespan by a few years since people would still die from other age-related diseases. However, if we could slow down aging itself, we would conservatively add 30 to 40 healthy years to the average lifespan.


Graph 1 - This table above, shows, how big of a difference, slowing down aging, can have on all of our lives. Clearly, slowing down aging, will make a much bigger difference, than curing any number of chronic diseases.


Right now, there are more people on the planet over the age of 65 than children under 5 years of age. As the population ages and more people live longer than 80 years, the cost of medical care for the elderly is becoming unsustainable. According to the Whitehouse’s Council of Economic Advisers, healthcare spending will skyrocket from more than 15% of the national budget today to over 40% by 2040 (see graph 2). These are catastrophic projections for our economy. It is predicted that aging will be the biggest killer in every nation by 2050. We cannot continue to treat symptoms like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease any longer. They are all the results of decrepit cells. We have thrown enough money at the old approach. It hasn’t worked.


It is time to get to the bottom of these problems.



Graph 2 -As seen in the figure above, our health expenditures are amplifying, if we don't do anything, radical, to stop them.


I began my journey looking for cures for acquired and congenital diseases of childhood. While attending conferences about genetics I learned about the biggest unmet medical need on the planet, biological aging. Looking at these diseases spiked the eureka moment that led to the creation of BioViva. Over 100,000 people die of aging every day. It would be unethical not to use new technology to help them.


Progeria is a childhood disease that has many of the characteristics of accelerated aging. Accelerating aging is associated with many other childhood diseases. Approximately 36 million people die every year from aging; many would be enthusiastic to try therapeutics that are new and explorative rather than face certain death. BioViva decided to fight the first “old person’s war” on aging diseases to bring cures to kids. The information we are gathering from treating aging as a disease impacts childhood diseases directly.


There is a difference between chronological aging (getting older by years) and biological aging (cellular deterioration). The people behind BioViva are not against chronological aging; we want you to have many birthday parties! It is good for humans to accumulate wisdom and experience. We want you to get really old, without looking and feeling old.


BioViva’s gene therapies are targeting the underlying processes of aging cells. Older people have the same cells as young people, but the cells perform differently. BioViva is upregulating the production of key proteins to make cells function like they are young again. Aging is the most visible disease on the planet. Common signs include wrinkles, muscle wasting, obesity, loss of vision, stamina, and grey hair. Inside our bodies, however, it goes even further: arterial plaque, frail bones, and failing organs. Reversing the visible signs of aging will be an excellent biological marker of success.


What is Normal?


For most of human history, the average life expectancy rarely exceeded 35. Up until about 300 years ago, this was considered normal. According to the first death records in London in 1665 up to 80% of deaths were from infectious diseases, while only 1% died of aging. In fact, death from aging was so rare that the 16th-century philosopher Montaigne wrote: “To die of old age is a death rare, extraordinary, and singular, and, therefore, so much less natural than the others.”


Fast forward to the present time - the advent of antibiotics and immunizations changed the way we live and die. Approximately 3% of deaths in the U.S. were due to infectious diseases in 2010; it is now an unusual way to die. Today, it makes headlines when influenza kills. Currently, most people in industrialized nations die from diseases related to or directly caused by cellular aging.


The public at large considers dying from aging normal, but the people behind BioViva say the normal thing for science to do is to strive for cures for what ails us. BioViva mainly works as a catalyst to help bring therapies developed by many different companies and research institutes to the patients who need them the most. "We bring therapies to patients with no other alternative,” states Dr. Williams, BioViva’s CMO.


What does BioViva Offer?


The entire human genome was decoded in 2003, and this data has been the catalyst for a revolution in precision and personalized medicine. We are getting a better understanding of which proteins are responsible for which processes. We understand the difference between a cancer cell and a healthy cell. We know more about what youthful cells have and what old cells lack. Thousands of people are dying every day, thousands of people that could benefit from our increasing understanding of the genome. BioViva aims to help fix this problem.


Enhancement or Preventative Medicine?


The company’s long-term vision is to deliver a protective and regenerative set of therapeutics to the world. There will be a big debate if this is, in fact, enhancement or preventative medicine. Antibiotics were the first regenerative medicine, meaning you returned to a state of health; immunizations were our first preventative medicine meaning you would not get an illness if inoculated against it. Gene therapy will do both. It can restore healthy function and keep you from getting sick. A little over a century ago, both antibiotics and immunizations would have looked like enhancements, but today they are commonplace. Public education is crucial. Hollywood hype has been misleading, to the detriment of science.


BioViva is working with Rutgers University to develop a new gene therapy delivery method and create a therapeutic that could stop aging in its tracks. The research started in 2018 and looks very promising, giving clinicians the ability to deliver multiple genes to cells safely. In the future, this therapy will be given to people in their early 30’s to reverse the degeneration of the cells by keeping them robust and healthy. People today spend approximately one-third of their life in poor health. BioViva wants to change that.


BioViva has also developed a BioVault, a platform where people can safely store an assortment of health data: their genome, proteome, microbiome, etc. using kits we are offering. These will allow customers, who include patients from IHS gene therapy clinics as well as anyone who has bought one or more of the kits, to store and monitor their biomarkers over time to see how they age and, hopefully, how they will de-age as medicine moves forward.


The people behind BioViva believe you should have a right to change and repair your genome. People in the near future will harness this technology to improve their lives. At BioViva, we want to make you smarter, stronger, faster, and more visually acute. I think this is a good thing.


 

Question for IM readers:


What would it mean to you to be smarter, stronger, faster, and more visually acute?


Let us know in the comments!


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Elizabeth Parrish, the Founder, and CEO of BioViva Sciences USA Inc, is a humanitarian, innovator, author, and leading voice for genetic cures. She’s a strong proponent of progress and education for the advancement of regenerative medicine modalities and is dedicated to the cause of improving and safeguarding more and more lives. Elizabeth asserts, “We are focused on saving as many lives as possible by making tomorrow’s therapies available.” www.BioViva-Science.com

 

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