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David Sinclair (00:00):
Welcome to the Lifespan Podcast, where we discuss the science of aging and how to be healthier at any stage of life. I’m David Sinclair. I’m a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, and I’m also co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research. In this podcast series, we’re talking about why we age and how to slow, stop, and even reverse that process to give us longer and healthier lives.
In this episode, this final episode of the eight-part series, we’re talking about the very near future, what’s coming down the line that will potentially greatly extend our lifespans. I’m joined here by my lovely co-host and my co-author of Lifespan, Matthew Laplante. Welcome.
Matthew LaPlante (00:46):
Hey, thank you.
David Sinclair (00:48):
So yeah, we’ve been talking over the last few minutes about what the future really looks like and how much it’s gonna change our lives, but even how hard it is to predict the future just a few years out, because things are changing so quickly.
Matthew LaPlante (01:01):
Well, in fact, we set off to give some predictions when we worked on Lifespan together, and a lot of the things that you had said, you envisioned coming down the line maybe five years out, maybe 10 years out. By the time the book had published, and certainly now two years after the book had published, they’re already here.
David Sinclair (01:22):
We even have this illustration in the book of a person going online, doing a telemedicine interview with a doctor and having medicines delivered to their home, in that case by drones, but we’re pretty much already there thanks to the pandemic.
Matthew LaPlante (01:35):
Yeah, we are. And I think there’s a lot of other things that are just coming a lot faster than we could have even envisioned, and also in part because of the pandemic, because the pandemic has really brought so many of us face to face with some of the constraints of how our world was organized in the before times, and how that, it’s not very flexible. It’s not very responsive to the needs that we are experiencing, not just in the pandemic, but also as we reorchestrate our lives in the 21st century.
David Sinclair (02:10):
Yeah, and even when we wrote the book, there was pushback even within our conversations. How realistic is it that people will take their own healthcare, medical care into their own hands? And would they be allowed to? And we’ve been rapidly pushed into that world where you can take home tests for pretty much anything. You can have blood tests for pretty much anything. Of course, doctors have to be involved, but you don’t have to go to a doctor’s office, right? And in the future, it’s gonna be rare to go to see your doctor. Most of it’s gonna be done remotely, and you won’t even know the doctor that’s involved in prescribing something.
Matthew LaPlante (02:42):
And thank God, really, because there’s really no experience, people like less than going to the doctor. If you can do that in the comfort of your home, it’s gonna be a better experience.
David Sinclair (02:51):
Well, yeah, I was pretty sure I would get sicker when I went to that waiting room with people coughing and sneezing everywhere. Hospitals are just as bad. It’s pretty risky, particularly as an older person going to the hospital. And if you don’t need to, if you can be monitored at home, which is increasingly possible, then a lot of people won’t die from an infection that they would typically get at the hospital.
Matthew LaPlante (03:12):
You said monitoring, and I think this is a overarching theme of this podcast series so far. One of the things we’ve said again and again is that you can’t impact what you don’t measure. And so today we’re gonna talk a lot about wearables and implantables, and we’re gonna talk about how these innovations, along with scaled access to biological aging clocks, is gonna change the way we address health.
David Sinclair (03:38):
Yeah, and before we get to that, this podcast is made available freely. And the reason is we have sponsors that help us monitor our bodies and keep the nutrition at the right levels based on that feedback. Our first sponsor is Levels. Levels is an app that syncs with a continuous glucose monitor, which they provide, and interprets your glucose data for you. I’ve been so impressed using Levels that I recently joined the company as a scientific advisor. By monitoring your blood glucose, Levels allows you to see how different foods affect you. I’ve had fun running tests of my own, seeing how different foods impact my blood sugar levels. For example, I’ve learned that white rice really spikes my blood sugar, whereas potatoes don’t.
As we’ve discussed on this podcast, having stable blood glucose is very important, not only for daily mental and physical energy, but also for long-term health. So if you’d like to try Levels, you can skip the 150,000-person wait list and go there straight to the top of the line and join today by going to levels.link slash Sinclair. That’s levels.link slash Sinclair. Today’s episode is also brought to us by Athletic Greens.
Athletic Greens is an all-in-one daily greens drink that supports better health and peak performance. It’s developed from a complex blend of 75 vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced ingredients. It’s filled with adaptogens for recovery, probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes for gut health, along with vitamin C and zinc citrate for immune support. I’ve been drinking Athletic Greens each morning for a number of years now as a way to cover all my nutritional bases.
I’m often traveling, sometimes my diet isn’t the best, and as what happened today, we ran out and it was really painful not having a start of the day with Athletic Greens. So if you’d like to try Athletic Greens, you can go to athleticgreens.com slash Sinclair and claim a special offer. They’re giving five free travel packs plus a year’s supply of vitamin D3 for immune support and vitamin K2, which keeps the calcium out of your arteries and keeps it in your bones where it belongs.
Again, go to athleticgreens.com slash Sinclair, my last name, to claim this special offer. Today’s podcast is also brought to us by Inside Tracker. Inside Tracker is a personalized nutrition platform that analyzes data from your blood and your DNA to help you better understand your body and reach your health goals. I’ve been using Inside Tracker for over a decade and I’m the chair of their scientific advisory board. The reason I’ve long used Inside Tracker is because they provide the best blood and DNA analysis that I’m aware of.
They make it easy to get your blood drawn. You can either go to a nearby clinic or like I do, have someone come to your home. It’s really convenient. From there, Inside Tracker analyzes your data and presents that data in an easy to understand way. Another feature that Inside Tracker offers is their inner age test, which I helped develop. This test shows you what your biological age is, how it compares to your chronological age and what you can do to improve that number. So if you’d like to try Inside Tracker, you can visit them at insidetracker.com slash Sinclair and then you’ll get a 25% discount off any of their plans. Use the code Sinclair, my last name, at the checkout.
Matthew LaPlante (06:49):
Okay, so David, let’s get into this. And to do this, to talk about the future, we have to talk a little bit about the past. We have to talk about the world we’re in right now when it comes to healthcare. Right now, our healthcare system is based on a model that has developed over the last few hundred years. And that model basically amounts to, wait till you get sick, then go see your doctor. And when you and I have talked about this before, you said that that actually makes plenty of sense in the context of the 19th and 20th centuries.
David Sinclair (07:21):
Well, it does because doctors had no way of knowing if you’re sick other than asking you how you feel. And they couldn’t do that remotely, certainly not through video, but they also needed to feel you and to take samples in the office. Right now, you can wear a biosensor or a monitor or do a blood test from home or a local clinic that will give the doctor way more information than they could ever get by seeing you in person. So a case in point, I saw my doctor maybe six months ago and I hadn’t seen him for a year and it was a video conference. And it was supposed to be very quick, 10 minutes.
He said, David, how do you feel? Feeling good. How are you sleeping? Not so good. Well, you should get more sleep, try to not do your emails too late. Anything else you wanna talk about? And I said, yeah, there’s a lot. I’m 52, I could have colon cancer, I could have all these other issues. Let’s do some tests. And he says, well, okay, what kind of tests do you want? So I said, what about a prostate cancer test?
From my age, I could have prostate cancer. My neighbor just died from prostate cancer. And he said, well, do you have a family history? Not that I know of. Do you feel sick? No. He goes, well, then there’s no need to do the test. I said, hold it right there. Hold it right there. Are you telling me that I need to have a large tumor in my prostate that’s causing me to be sick before I come and see you? He said, yeah.
Matthew LaPlante (08:40):
Yes. Right. And that’s the model of medicine in the 20th century.
David Sinclair (08:45):
And then it’s often too late. Then I’m on my way to death. So these days there are tests that you can do that your doctor can order. There’s a new one that’s just about to be released by a company called Grail. And there are many others that can, with a finger prick or a little blood test from a local clinic, you can detect 50 different types of cancers before they even become tumors and kill them years before they would show up and have you go to a doctor, which is often too late.
Matthew LaPlante (09:11):
Let’s talk about why that is, because when a cancer cell starts to form, when a tumor starts to form, it begins releasing into the bloodstream these signalers, blood analytes. And if we can detect those, we can detect cancer at the very, very earliest stages.
David Sinclair (09:33):
Well, that’s right. And they give off a lot of different signals out of the breath. And in the bloodstream, they leach proteins, they leach DNA, RNA, and even the types of DNA that come out, these little fragments, they have little ends. It’s not the whole chromosome that comes out. They get chopped up, the cancer cells die, and out come these little pieces. Those pieces have chemicals on them, the DNA methylation, the clock that can be read. And even at the ends, how they were cut up by enzymes in the cell can tell you indeed that is a stage one liver cancer, even though we picked it up in the bloodstream.
Matthew LaPlante (10:09):
Which means we don’t now need to wait for a tumor to grow, to metastasize, for it to spread into other systems in the body. There is increasingly a chance of catching these kinds of problems earlier. And it’s not just cancer. It’s a lot of diseases, heart disease, which is not a cancer, right? Also, there are signs of heart disease that you can pick up through these early warning signals.
David Sinclair (10:35):
Exactly. So with the cancer, we’ve been slowly reducing the incidence of cancer, and particularly the ability to survive cancer. And it’s been, we haven’t cured cancer, but it’s gotten a lot better, particularly for diseases like breast cancer, lung cancer too. What I’m excited about is that this new development that’s not come from oncologists, but from people who develop these tests, the geneticists that can find blood, what’s called circulating DNA.
This is going to dramatically reduce the incidence of cancer, and certainly the death rate. Why? Because if you catch a tumor when it’s small, you take some chemotherapy and you kill it off before it spreads and it’s too late. So that’s cancer. Heart disease, heart disease you can measure through blood tests. So we do inside tracker. You can see that there are inflammatory markers that predict cardiovascular disease, but also what’s coming along that’ll be added to those blood tests is the ability to measure your heart’s function. So I wear a device that’s right here. This one’s called a bio button. You can see it’s about an inch.
Matthew LaPlante (11:37):
You know you want to take off your shirt. Do you want me to take off my shirt? I mean, I don’t personally need you to take off your shirt. I just know that you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to take off your shirt on camera. That is not true, but I can show you. He’s been waiting for the opportunity. He’s shy now, but he wants to do it.
David Sinclair (11:54):
It’s like Iron Man. We don’t need to talk about it. You have like a little device
Matthew LaPlante (11:57):
right in the middle of your chest. What is this thing? Okay, tell me, what is this thing monitoring right now?
David Sinclair (12:02):
Well, so instead of going to your doctor once a year for an annual checkup, this thing’s monitoring my body 1,000 times a second. For vibration, it can hear me, how I speak, how I cough. It’s looking at my movements, how I sleep during the day, how I move. But most importantly for this device, it’s measuring my heart in many different ways. It’s actually an FDA approved EKG. This is something that you have to put stickers all over your body. That doctor used to measure it. Sine waves and whatever, you can now do it with your wristwatch. Though that’s not FDA approved, this one is the real deal. Doctors use this information to diagnose patients. And what it’s being used for mainly now is to send patients home early who’ve experienced a heart attack or have had heart surgery just to see if they’re doing all right at home. And hospitals save tens of thousands of dollars that way for something that only costs about $20.
Matthew LaPlante (12:47):
But why wait for somebody to have a heart attack and then send them home with one if you can put them on people who are on the same page and send them on people who are at risk of heart attack, or even before then, they become at acute risk of heart attack, right? I mean, like if we can start monitoring people early on, figure out what their normal rhythm is, be attentive when that rhythm starts to falter, we can catch things really, really early.
David Sinclair (13:09):
We will. There’s a future already that’s here that this device will send a note to my doctor or a nurse that’s scanning hundreds and eventually millions of people. And there’ll be a red alert, be like minority report. I’ve seen this actually in development. You call it up, here’s David’s heart. And the kidneys are also having an issue. The doctor then looks at it. It’s probably, or she is playing a golf game or doing something else, but they can see it. They go, okay, this person’s about to have a heart attack. Send in the robot. This might be a molecular dynamics, like Lex Friedman’s robot.
Matthew LaPlante (13:43):
Okay, yeah. And I want to talk about that future, but I think we need to first sort of like set the stage for what’s actually going on right now, because it’s not just heart monitors. That thing is not monitoring your blood, but you do, you’re also wearing, and I’m wearing also, something that is actually actively monitoring our blood.
David Sinclair (14:03):
Yeah, this is the levels continuous glucose monitor that’s on our arms here. And we’ve been playing with this the last week. Together, we’ve been competing to see who’s got the lower blood sugar levels. And we just measured it before you went on air and were identical.
Matthew LaPlante (14:18):
You’re winning like by a percentage point right now.
David Sinclair (14:22):
Right, but we’re both healthy. And what we’ve learned by eating meals together over this past episode is that what we eat really makes a big difference. So things like rice and grapes for me really spike it, potatoes, not so much. Have you learned anything with this device?
Matthew LaPlante (14:38):
I feel like I’ve learned more about blood sugar in a week of wearing this device than I knew about my entire life before then. Now I should say I’m not diabetic, I’m not pre-diabetic. So there was really like under this sort of the traditional paradigm of how we diagnose and treat diseases, there was no reason for me to know what my blood sugar is. But I’m realizing now, like honestly, like realizing now that like there is a reason. And the reason why is it fundamentally changes the way that I think about the foods that I’m putting into my body because I’m now thinking about it in context of will this do something to me that I know is not very good for me, which is spike my blood sugar.
David Sinclair (15:22):
Exactly, and it’s similar to scales in your bathroom. It’s known that if you’re told to weigh yourself every morning, you will lose weight more often than not. And I liken these to scales. We can measure our bodies. I mean, who’s to say we’re not allowed to look inside our bodies? There are doctors who don’t believe that these should be allowed to be.
Matthew LaPlante (15:41):
Well, in fact, you have to have a prescription for this right now.
David Sinclair (15:44):
You do, you do. And, you know, until further studies are showing that they’re safe, you know, that’s a reasonable thing. But I do believe that people have the right to look inside their bodies, and we can interpret the data.
Matthew LaPlante (15:57):
And you shouldn’t wait until they’re diseased to do so.
David Sinclair (15:60):
Exactly, so right now, there are those, there are some in the medical establishment that think that these should only be used for diabetics. My argument is a bathroom scales only for those who are morbidly obese, no. Anybody can use them to tell more about their bodies and how they can improve.
Matthew LaPlante (16:15):
Wearables have come a really long way. So this is a blood glucose monitor. They, this is all sort of like in a, there’s a long and rich history of blood glucose monitors. These were sort of the first wearables to come along. And the first at-home test that people could use.
David Sinclair (16:35):
Right. The history is pretty interesting. The first ability to measure glucose in blood was way back, 1962. It wasn’t until 1973 that there was a desktop or more like a benchtop analyzer. It was more like a fridge. This thing was huge. It was massive. But so 1973, you could finally send in a sample of blood and have your glucose measured. And that’s how it’s been done for, really up until these devices came along. So it’s been a long time since we’ve seen these watches come along. Increasingly, we’re now seeing wearables being able to do it. Watches, these semi-invasive needles. Eventually what we’re gonna have is the ability to incorporate it into one of these stickers. And not just one measurement, but hundreds.
Matthew LaPlante (17:14):
And that’s really where things start to get very informative and very interesting. Because what you can do is now you can decide based on your genetic profile, your propensity for disease, perhaps even the way that your genes have been methylated over time, you can decide what the biomarkers are that you need to know. And you can do this in consultation with your doctor or another advisor who understands these things best. You can say, okay, what I wanna watch is for this and this and this. Right now you can look at pretty much, lots of people have access now to blood glucose, but we’re gonna be able to look at all sorts of other blood biomarkers.
David Sinclair (17:54):
Yeah, there’s an interesting point that it’s kind of the end of the story about my doctor. Even though my doctor was reticent and eventually capitulated and gave giving me that prostate cancer test. Thank you, Dr. Peter. And you’re all good? I’m good, yeah, right. And it’s a very simple test called the PSA test, if you’re wondering. But what’s happening is it’s not that he’s a bad doctor, it’s that the medical system is not set up to give tests willy-nilly to people that aren’t yet sick. And that has to change.
Matthew LaPlante (18:17):
Well, they’re not covered by most people’s insurance unless you reach that threshold. Again, like this whole system, right? Like the insurance system says, yes, we will pay for it, but only once you’re diseased, which is ass backward.
David Sinclair (18:29):
It is. And there are countries that have realized this. So Australia provides sunblock on beaches. They also provide free colon cancer tests. You just poop and send it off. Everyone in Australia gets a free colon cancer test. That saves billions of dollars down the line. Today in the US, pretty much you have to pay for a lot of this yourself, but a lot of people realize that it’s worth it. And getting back to my doctor, what he said was, oh, you have all this data from InsideTracker. Let’s look at it. So I call up on the screen all the data and he’s loving it. So doctors are not, at least in the case of my doctor, he’s not upset that I’m measuring myself. In fact, he would do it for everybody if the insurance would pay for it.
Matthew LaPlante (19:07):
Yeah, so I also have a very old school doctor and I love him to death. I’m gonna actually go see him next week. I’m really looking forward to bringing my chart to see him because- From the levels data. From the levels data, yeah. Because I think that this is going to inform our conversation in a way that we’ve never had before. Well, exactly. And it’s just the beginning of the conversation.
David Sinclair (19:29):
Well, exactly, and it’s just the beginning of being cognizant of that your body matters and is changing all the time. And there are days and months where it’s gonna be way out of whack. And you wouldn’t know unless you were measuring it. And it’s all about, as we wrote in Lifespan, the book, you need a dashboard for your body in the same way you need a dashboard for your car. You wouldn’t drive your car without a dashboard. Well, you could, but you wouldn’t get very far. You’d run out of gas. We need that for our bodies. And it’s really time that we do that.
And what we’ll have is a massive reduction in diseases like all cancers, but colon cancer already. We’re gonna have heart attacks be a thing of the past pretty much because your doctor will know days in advance before you actually have a cardiac event. And other things, including depression, anxiety, these can also be measured by the devices that we have on our bodies or even in our hands or the ones we type on. These indicate diseases. Speaking of typing, you can tell if someone’s getting Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s just by how they type.
Matthew LaPlante (20:27):
Also by their movements around the house. There are systems that are doing that now. Again, before we get too futuristic, I know this is one of the things I really like about our conversations. You’re always like, let’s talk about the future. But I really wanna talk about what’s available right now because right now, if someone wants it, there are a variety of products that take a variety of measurements. There are glucose monitors like we’re wearing. There are lactate monitors. There are body fat, muscle mass, body fat percentage monitors, ECGs, caloric intake, temperature, UV exposure, sleep quality, blood oxygen. Those are the things that are just on the market right now that you just type into Google, I want this kind of monitor, you can get it. What are the five biomarkers that you would want to have? If I just said, you can only have five this week, what are the five that you would want?
David Sinclair (21:22):
Well, I’m already measuring a lot of those. So-
Matthew LaPlante (21:25):
What you’re doing with the Insight Tracker, which is a regular, like what, monthly or bi-monthly? It’s not constant, that’s true. Yeah, so what would you wanna be able to monitor constantly, right?
David Sinclair (21:33):
So I would want one of these devices to not just tell me glucose. I want it to include heart function, which I’m doing as well, but I also would include inflammation, so there’s a molecule called CRP, which I always wanna keep low because that’s a really good predictor of cardiovascular disease. CRP is? C-reactive protein. Yeah. And so we’ve got glucose, C-reactive protein, inflammation, so this would be TNF alpha or IL-1,6. These are also predictive of longevity. I want cortisol, keep my stress levels down, or also telling me if I over-exercise.
Matthew LaPlante (22:08):
I would love to see your cortisol chart.
David Sinclair (22:10):
I have it all, I’ve got 10 years of data, dude.
Matthew LaPlante (22:13):
Like, no, I would love to see your like minute-by-minute cortisol chart.
David Sinclair (22:19):
Hanging out with you raises it for sure. And then I think that’s for the fifth one. Let’s see, I would like to know, lactate would be great because that would tell me if my body is able to deal with exercise adequately, and maybe blood oxygen too, so when I’m exercising, making sure that I get hypoxic, which as we’ve talked about is one of those adversity mimetics that turns on your body. Well, it is an adversity, but it’s a hormesis that doesn’t kill you, but makes your body stronger in the long run.
Matthew LaPlante (22:53):
In the very near future, we’re going to have wearables and semi-implantables, by which I mean like things that maybe stick a small needle into your arm very painlessly, like the level sensor does. In the sort of still fairly near-term future, but a little further out, nanobiosensors.
David Sinclair (23:13):
Right, and they’re being developed. I can already get those from companies. They’re not yet commercially available, and I’ve tried these out. This one will measure a variety of things through the skin, including analytes, glucose eventually. There are companies that are, including levels, that are going to be measuring hundreds of things that include the things that I mentioned. These nanosensors, they don’t just use these chemical reactions. They’ll have antibodies that can detect proteins, that can detect DNA, methylated DNA, and they will be implanted eventually under the skin. So they may last for months. You just recharge them, put one of those coils on the hand, maybe for an hour, you know, it’s five minutes. You’ve recharged this thing, and you’re good to go, and they could stay in you for life.
And we were discussing this earlier. We had got into a bit of an argument before we went on air, and maybe you want to hold me back because this is a longer discussion, but I think that everybody should have a biosensor in their body at every age so that parents, doctors can monitor how people are doing and make better decisions about food and lifestyle.
Matthew LaPlante (24:21):
Well, and the thing is is that we are very quickly going to be entering a world in which there is so much data that we’re gathering by ourselves that it’s just going to become incomprehensible to process by itself. And a lot of the signals, there’s going to be a lot of noise, the signals are going to be hidden. We’re going to need AI to help us understand this, which means that it’s not just about wearing the monitor 24 seven, it’s also about where the data goes. This is the real concern that we were having this conversation about. And what that means is that it’s going to have to be uploaded to a cloud somewhere, to presumably a company. I don’t think most people want a government doing this for them. Although in some countries, we know that’s probably going to be the case. We’re starting to tread into a future that I think a lot of people are rightfully a little bit nervous about, or a lot nervous about.
David Sinclair (25:14):
Well, it’s going to be a company. The government is not developing these things. And there are many companies doing this, small and large. We know Amazon, Google, Apple, they have their health divisions, but there are a lot of little startups developing devices that may be acquired or may become the next healthcare giant. It is a problem though, that this data is massive.
There’s terabytes of data that I’m collecting on my body and multiply that by a billion or so people. That’s going to be a lot of data. First of all, where do you store it? Who owns it? What will be done with it? Is it anonymized? Is it under the HIPAA act? Hopefully in America, that will protect it from being used against you. I was on a podcast with Lex Friedman and he brought up a really important point, which was, we have to have these rules of law.
We have to have these rules in place before we start giving all of this data away. And he would want, one of the main things is that you have the right to delete your data if you choose to. And I don’t think we’re there yet. A lot of these agreements don’t include that, but that would be something that we should definitely start a conversation about. I’m in touch with some senators and Congress people about that. This is a world that’s coming. It’s not a question of if it’s just when, and it’s only the next few years that these rules should be put in place.
Matthew LaPlante (26:24):
Yeah, I mean, nobody should be waiting to talk about this. This is an important thing that we need to get right, and we need to get it right really quickly because the technology’s not waiting for the laws to catch up. One of the other things that we should mention is, particularly when we’re talking about genetic data, when you consent as an individual to release your genetic data, you’re not just making a personal choice. You’re actually making a choice for your family who share genetic data with you, your parents, your children. This is not just a personal decision.
David Sinclair (27:03):
Yeah, so every time one of your relatives puts their DNA and their genetic data into a database, it affects you.
Matthew LaPlante (27:10):
Yeah, it’s not just their information, it’s your information too.
David Sinclair (27:13):
Yeah, I think that’s a good point. And so one of the uses of this obviously is that your family learns about their health, but another aspect is that you can use it to solve cold cases. In the case of the Golden State Killer, a case where there was a man for decades going around murdering people, 13 murders, 50 rapes, 150 burglaries, they finally found a hair from this individual. It didn’t have the roots, but there wasn’t much DNA, but Ed Green and his team at a company, Astraya, that I work with, they were able to get enough DNA out of that hair to track him and find a relative of him in one of these databases.
Matthew LaPlante (27:47):
Using one of these public databases where the relative freely voluntarily given their information.
David Sinclair (27:52):
Right, and triangulating other aspects that they knew about this individual. They said, oh, this is the guy, and they arrested him.
Matthew LaPlante (27:58):
And there’s been lots of police work like this in recent years, and I think a lot of people look at that and they go, oh, man, that’s really great. What a great application. The same technology used by a government that wasn’t looking for a murderer, but a dissident, or, you know, like a journalist, could be really, really dangerous.
David Sinclair (28:18):
Right, so that’s why these laws need to be looked at and made sure that they are totally tight so that there cannot be a dictator or some sort of change in government law that can use this data for nefarious purposes.
Matthew LaPlante (28:32):
The other way that our health data affects other people is in infectious diseases. And so there’s another question here about, okay, so let’s say like a well-meaning government, right, identifies a contagious virus, right, and we can track these things now with, you know, millions of people wearing bio monitors everywhere. You get a spike in one of these analytes, and all of a sudden, whoever is tracking this, wherever they are, knows, ah, there’s a virus here.
It’s spreading. And I think we’re all a lot more cognizant of like what this kind of looks like and feels like in the era of COVID. But, you know, what if it was a disease like Ebola, not COVID, which is by itself very, very dangerous and very deadly for a lot of people. But what if it’s a virus that’s deadly for almost everyone?
David Sinclair (29:22):
Right, there will be big decisions to be made by governments as to what is privacy and what is collectively good. And we’ve seen that over this relatively minor pandemic, the big one is gonna come in our lifetimes probably, as we wrote about in Lifespan. I’m on the front lines of this as well. I was building a company, have a company called ArcBio that is able to detect viruses and fungi and bacteria in human blood and any sample from a spit sample.
In the effort to get ahead of COVID-19, now it came a little too early, we weren’t ready, but there are patients now that are being monitored by ArcBio’s technology with a blood test that sees everything in the body. And instead of pulling out the human DNA from a hair, what we do is we pull out the human DNA and see what’s left behind. And those are the pathogens. And we can actually diagnose an infectious disease without even knowing what to look for.
Matthew LaPlante (30:16):
There’s a lot of implications here that once again, like, you know, we should be talking about now rather than waiting. If people are going to be engaged in anything about the internet of things or what some people are calling the internet of body, this is the thing that we should really be focused on and talking about, because it’s not just voluntary patches that we’re wearing. We’re figuring out lots of different ways to collect this information. It’s going to get easier and easier. And a lot of people are going to do this because it looks convenient.
David Sinclair (30:47):
Yeah, well, let’s go through some of the senses that are here now and ones that are just about to come on the market. Look at me, I’m wearing the blood glucose monitor, which we’ve talked about, we love. I’ve got a ring that measures my sleep and my heart rate and my movement. Really need to focus on sleep. This helps me, it makes me cognizant of my sleep. I’ve got one of these watches that does heart, it does movement, walking, exercise. So I’m already a bit of a cyber- Well, don’t forget that, yeah, this one’s not commercially available, but will be soon.
Matthew LaPlante (31:18):
And you’re doing the inside tracker blood draws.
David Sinclair (31:20):
Right, so I know a lot about my body and I’ve actually been getting healthier and fitter over the years because of it. It’s no accident. And I love what I am able to do. I’m a scientist and I can correct things when they’re out of whack and not optimal. And I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t monitor it. But I’m excited about the other things I’ll be able to monitor. Right now I’m blind to, speaking of which, contact lenses.
Contact lenses are one area you can measure your blood glucose levels. There are two sensors, you can measure bacteria in your mouth. You can also currently, through Viome and other companies, I was talking to the CEO of Viome the other day, Naveen Jain, he’s got a colon cancer test that works better than anything on the market, but he also can see health and give you supplements that will improve your health based on what’s in your gut. And that’s gonna be monitored as well. I’m not sure how many-
Matthew LaPlante (32:10):
That’s a micro, is that a poop test?
David Sinclair (32:13):
Right now you send off your poop, but eventually there’ll be a device in your-
Matthew LaPlante (32:17):
Which is literally something people are doing right now, is they’re sending their poop by mail to- Yeah.
David Sinclair (32:21):
Yeah, it felt weird going to the store with a box full of my poop. But I did it in the case of a colon cancer test, which a lot of Australians are doing just normally, but- It is weird.
Matthew LaPlante (32:32):
We should probably say it’s not a whole poop. Wait, did you send a whole poop? Well, what do you think it is? It’s just a swab.
David Sinclair (32:40):
I think it’s a fairly large piece of poop in a jar.
Matthew LaPlante (32:47):
Wow. Okay, so this is- The reality that we live in now.
David Sinclair (32:49):
It was a big bottle. And then you put it in liquid and you shake it, it’s gross. But I learned that I didn’t have colon cancer, so that was worth it. It’s probably worth it. Right.
Matthew LaPlante (32:57):
And I think a lot of these, I mean, this is sort of like the opening of a bottle, and I think a lot of these, I mean, this is sort of like the overarching theme here, is that a lot of these things come with trade-offs. They come with the trade-off for the potential for embarrassment. There are privacy implications. We have to measure those trade-offs against what we potentially can gain. Some of these other biosensors are put into mouthguards. Felectate? Is it uric acid? The mouthguard biosensors, I’m not sure what they’re using, although I have heard them implicated in like youth athletics, because when you have a concussion, you immediately start to see markers in the blood. And so those can, presumably in the saliva too, those can test those. There’s temporary tattoo biosensors, and there’s also sweat microfluidic biosensors that can detect all kinds of hormones.
David Sinclair (33:47):
Right. And then eventually we’ll have these optimized athletes as well. Already they’re wearing a lot of devices, but eventually they’ll be monitored for all sorts of things. They’re like a Formula 1 racing car.
Matthew LaPlante (33:59):
Well, but what you’re suggesting though is that eventually everyone will, from pretty much every age, be being monitored, you said thousands of times each second.
David Sinclair (34:09):
Doesn’t that make sense? It makes sense to me. I wouldn’t want to walk around potentially going to have a heart attack tomorrow or having cancer growing me and not know about it. I want to know this stuff. And that’s what I think will lengthen our lives by another decade beyond what we’re able to do with changes to lifestyle.
Matthew LaPlante (34:25):
Let’s bring this together with aging though, because so far what we’ve really been talking about is the transitions that we can see in our biochemistry that take us from states of wellness to states of disease. That’s really important. How aging fits into this is also important.
David Sinclair (34:45):
Well, there are a number of ways to measure your biological age. I’ve used Inside Tracker for over a decade now to steadily get ostensibly younger biochemically over that decade. I was 48 and it spiked. My age went up based on their inner age test. And then I changed my lifestyle. I started taking NMN, metformin, and got that number inner age down to 31.4 in a matter of months. That doesn’t mean I was literally that age, just means that my blood biochemistry markers matched somebody that was more like 34.
Matthew LaPlante (35:16):
Right now, in order to have your biological aging assessed through one of these methylation clocks, it’s pretty expensive. It’s really time consuming. It can take weeks, if not months, to get results back. You’re involved in an effort to try to bring down both the price point and the time period that people have to wait to learn their biological age.
David Sinclair (35:40):
Yeah, these tests aren’t perfect right now. They’re fairly expensive. They take weeks to get results, but that’s gonna change. The student in my lab, you know Patrick Griffin. He’s been in his PhD, trying to figure out how to make it cheap. And he figured it out. We’ve just put a paper online. Viewers can go and download that. It’s at a site called Bioarchive, Sinclair Griffin, keyword TimeSeq, S-E-Q. That paper is describing a way to do this methylation clock for 1,000 times less.
We’re spinning out a company. We’re in the process of hopefully in the next few months having a product available so people can at home do a cheek swab and routinely measure their biological age, which is important because there are ways to slow down and stop aging, soon reverse aging. And without that test, you won’t know what’s working for you. People can sign up. We haven’t got the product yet, but there is a website. It’s drsinclair.com. Spell out the word doctor, drsinclair.com. And you can get on a wait list. Do that because the more people we have, the more experiments we can do together to figure out what slows aging and even reverses it.
Matthew LaPlante (36:40):
Once you have that number and bringing that together with all of these other metrics that we’ve been talking about, the measurements of the microbiome, the measurements of the blood analytes, all of the stuff that you’re getting from your smartwatch or whatever sensors you’re wearing, you can start making decisions in your day-to-day life. Let’s talk about some of those. What does this look like in terms of the way that we eat in the future? Because what we’ve already said is you’ve got to eat better, but this is eating better and eating more informed as well.
David Sinclair (37:13):
Yeah, well, there are a couple of companies that we’re involved with and they support this show that tell us what we can eat. So Levels is telling us what’s bad to eat for raising blood sugar and what we should avoid. The app, actually, we were looking at this together. You can compare foods with this app, which is fun. Inside Tracker also provides nutritional recommendations. You might want to, if you’re deficient in vitamin D, they send you off and you should eat more salmon. They even have recipes. Suffice to say that we’re entering a world where you’ll be able to look at your phone. It’ll tell you what things to buy at the shop, at the supermarket, and even what local restaurants you can go to and which meals you should have to optimize your health.
Matthew LaPlante (37:51):
Once we have all these measurements, you can watch a biological clock from week to week. You can watch your blood analytes go up and down within the course of a single day. You can watch your heart rate. You can watch all of these things. Once you have those things, you can start making decisions about the way that you eat, which is really one of the biggest ways that we can impact these. Well, that’s what I do.
David Sinclair (38:14):
It’s not just that you can, you should. And sort of decisions that you can make are, okay, if you’re deficient in vitamin D, you can be directed towards eating certain foods, like fish that have vitamin D. Or if you have certain high levels of cortisol, reduce your stress, do meditation, don’t exercise so hard. These are tweaks to your life that otherwise you wouldn’t know that you needed to do.
Matthew LaPlante (38:37):
And the apps that will sort of like help you along in this regimen, you’re not gonna be expected to know all of this stuff yourself. They’re gonna lead you through the process.
David Sinclair (38:48):
Well, they do. Most of these apps are taking a lot of data, it’s often terabytes of data, and distilling it down into a few simple steps for you to do each day.
Matthew LaPlante (38:58):
Even if you’re doing everything right, you’re eating the right way, there’s still times that these measurements are gonna tell you, hey, you’re actually, you’re missing out on this. And so now we’re getting into this conversation about like perhaps supplementation as well.
David Sinclair (39:14):
Yeah, that’s a key component. It’s particularly important for people who are on specialized diets. Say if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’re gonna be lacking in vitamin B12 probably. You may have low NAD levels because you’re getting older. You measure those and then you’ll have recommendations to supplement and bring those levels back to an optimal level. They’ll probably recommend go get that brand or go get that. Right now, it’s very difficult. You don’t know what brands to choose. I’m working on a way to solve that as well. But ultimately, I think what’s gonna happen is in our homes, we’re gonna have a machine that can give us a polypill with the minerals, the vitamins, maybe even the medicines that we need right on the spot.
Matthew LaPlante (39:53):
It feels like a little compounding pharmacy right on your kitchen counter.
David Sinclair (39:57):
And this isn’t crazy stuff. Daniel Crafton, MD, a good friend of mine from Stanford University has a company that’s built a machine that’s not yet available that does mix those minerals, vitamins, and even medicines right there on your kitchen countertop every morning.
Matthew LaPlante (40:11):
And the thing about this is that what we’re talking about then are pills that are created specifically for a specific person as opposed to what we get right now when we go to the store, which is a capsule that is the size that some average person needs, whatever that means.
David Sinclair (40:30):
Right, it’s not even male and female half the time, but even if it is, it’s oh, men take this, women take that, not even asking how much volume or how much does that person weigh. We can be, you know, some people, three times heavier than others.
Matthew LaPlante (40:42):
Right, on the side of the Tylenol bottle, it says like adults and children.
David Sinclair (40:48):
Like there’s no other, there’s nothing else to consider, right? Right, but these pills that are made in the home, they’re going to be made specially for you for that day, for that time of day, and for what you’ve been eating.
Matthew LaPlante (40:59):
And for your genome too. Exactly. Right, because people who have different DNA process and metabolize different chemicals in different ways. Once that’s worked into this, we can really, really start to pinpoint what people actually need, as opposed to what most people need most of the time.
David Sinclair (41:17):
Right, and actually medicine as it’s currently called is based on an average person. And so those ranges that doctors look at to say, oh, you’re sick or you’re not, are based on an average human. And doesn’t take into account your, often your history, your genetics, what you’ve been eating, how biologically old you are. And these things should be brought to bear as well. And eventually doctors will have this information and all be assisted by AI. But right now we’re in that transition zone. And interestingly, the AI is being used by customers, not by doctors so much.
Matthew LaPlante (41:49):
These tracking devices and the measurements that they give us are also going to help us understand how to exercise more effectively in a way that will help us not just bring down these individual letterables, but also presumably bring down our biological age over time.
David Sinclair (42:04):
Already we can do that. The ring that I’m wearing, the wristband, this patch, they’re measuring my heart rate constantly. They’re looking at heart rate variability, which you want to be high. They’re also looking at resting heart rate, which you want to be low in general.
There are certain ways to improve that. There’s running, there’s weights, there’s yoga, even meditation. The apps will soon be so sophisticated. They’ll say, okay, today you should go on this run here. I’ll send you on a map. This will be nice. It’s good weather. Versus, oh, maybe today you need a rest. You’ve got a bit of cortisol. You ran yesterday, do some weights today. And that is going to be optimized in addition with the supplements. They’re going to say, okay, don’t take this supplement today because I’m going to tell you to go lift weights.
Matthew LaPlante (42:46):
I imagine this world where, like, Siri becomes your personal trainer.
David Sinclair (42:50):
Pretty much, you’re going to have a guardian angel for health. And when that happens, you’re going to look at the days when we went for an annual physical as though those days are medieval.
Matthew LaPlante (42:60):
There’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody when it comes to exercise, just like diet and supplementation, right? Everybody’s going to be different.
David Sinclair (43:07):
Well, clearly, and I say this all the time, when I give talks, people ask me, well, what should I do? Tell me what you do, David, and I’ll do that. Well, that’s not what people should do because everybody’s different genetically, physically, even mentally, what I can do, skip meals, some people cannot do. So even though, as I often say, page 304, I listed what I do in the book, that’s not the perfect prescription for everybody, of course, because everyone’s different. So you’ve got to measure yourself like I do and see what works for you and what doesn’t.
Matthew LaPlante (43:37):
Before we get off the subject of exercise, I wanted to talk a little bit about this idea of exercise memetics. Right now, we know, particularly in animal studies, the mice in your lab are getting an exercise benefit out of consumption of NMN, but NMN is a pretty rudimentary molecule. It’s not a designer. It’s pretty simple. There are new drugs coming down the line. As we’re talking about the future, is there a point in time in which these supplements, these drugs are going to allow us to be our slovenly selves without consequence?
David Sinclair (44:18):
Well, we’re not there yet. And in fact, what the data says from my lab is that when you give NMN and you exercise, you get the best benefit. So it’s not an excuse to sit around and just pop a pill. But there is a need for better medicines. The reason that I’m developing at one of my companies a better NMN version is that the elderly and people who just came in with a heart attack or have kidney failure, they cannot be on a fasting regimen easily or asked to go for a run. So you do need to be able to deliver these with a pill or with IV. But for those of us who are still fit, the best bang for the buck is, at least with today’s technology, is to eat right, move right, and supplement in a way that you can see by monitoring what’s optimizing your body for longevity.
Matthew LaPlante (45:03):
Ultimately, one of the places that you think we may wind up is a world in which we can reset the clock through a course of treatments. And you’ve done experiments about this in your lab. You’ve had quite a bit of success with mice and doing this. And this is what the Fahey trials seem to be showing in Southern California. Let’s dive into that because this is not immediate, but it is likely down the road, somewhere in the fairly near future. But it is likely down the road, somewhere in the fairly near future.
David Sinclair (45:41):
Well, so Greg Fahey, the professor out in California who’s doing this with patients, and published with Steve Horvath, they’re seeing a couple of years retreat in age in 12 months of treatment with a combination of three factors that we discussed in an earlier episode. But this is just the beginning. This is the early days of flight.
We’re just learning how this works, but very rapidly over the next few years, we’re gonna learn what else can reverse the age of the body. Certainly the blood clock, which is what’s being used right now. And there are reports of people going back 10, even 20 years with certain treatments. So this is a golden age for aging research. I didn’t realize when I started out in my career, I didn’t expect to be talking about age reversal. I thought, oh yeah, we’ll slow down aging and that’ll be the best if we’re lucky. We’re in a world that for me is science fiction already. We’re way beyond my expectations, which is super exciting.
Matthew LaPlante (46:31):
The other thing that you’re working on, I think a lot of people are really excited about, is this idea of an epigenetic reset of biological age. This is stuff that you’re doing in your lab right now. Let’s talk about taking mice and reversing their biological age.
David Sinclair (46:50):
Right, so we’re talking about a gene therapy. We discovered that there are, found that there are three genes that are normally turned on in embryos that keep them young, that we could turn on again in the adult animal and in human cells. So it works in both species. But in the mice, we could manipulate them to see what happens when you rejuvenate the tissues using these three genes.
Matthew LaPlante (47:10):
And the genes are?
David Sinclair (47:12):
Well, they’re called OCT4, SOX2, and KLF4. These are what are called transcription factors, proteins that bind to DNA and turn on genetic programs.
Matthew LaPlante (47:21):
And they’re part of this series of genes that people call the Yamanaka factors?
David Sinclair (47:25):
Yes, so Yamanaka, Shinya Yamanaka from Japan won the Nobel Prize in 2016 for the discovery of five genes, three of which I’ve just mentioned.
There are two others. The first gene is the Yamanaka gene, there are two others that were able to take cells, an adult cell back to a pluripotent stem cell stage, very like basically age zero. And then you could, we do use these cells to build other tissues. They can be turned into nerve cells and muscle, but you don’t wanna do that in the body. You’ll become the world’s largest tumor. So we found that a combination of three of these genes and leaving out the other two dangerous ones was a perfect way to reset the age of the body without causing cancer. And it worked better than we could even predict it. We put these genes using a virus into the eye, for example. We could do the whole body as well, but let’s focus on the eye.
Matthew LaPlante (48:11):
You did it into the eye of a mouse? It’s a mouse. Yeah.
David Sinclair (48:13):
We hope in a couple of years we’ll be testing our first human. And we’re right now, we’ve done mice, we’re now doing non-human primates. So we’re getting closer, but in the mice, it was just a stunning result, which is a mouse that’s had its optic nerve damaged or a mouse that has glaucoma, which is pressure in the eye that causes blindness, affects millions of people around the world, or just old age. These mice were essentially blind. We then put the virus in with these three genes, could turn on these three genes, OSNK for short. And four weeks later, those cells, the retinal cells, the nerve cells that go to the brain went back in time. They became young again, reset their age according to the Hovath clock.
The gene expression patterns, which means the genes that were dysregulated went back to being regulated perfectly for a nerve cell, and the mice got their vision back. We actually cured blindness in those mice, which was a stunning result. We also showed that the systems that reset the clock, there are enzymes that control DNA methylation called TETs. Without those, we didn’t get vision restoration and the clock didn’t go back. So what that tells us is that the clock going backwards is doable, there is a reset switch in the body, and that the clock is part of that system.
Matthew LaPlante (49:25):
And this all sounds, I know to people who haven’t heard about it at first, it sounds sort of futuristic and crazy. This was the cover story on the journal Nature.
David Sinclair (49:35):
Yeah, December, 2020, we were fortunate enough to get the covers issue. It’s a dream for any scientist. And the title that they had on the cover was turning back time and a picture of an eyeball with a clock hand going. Yeah, that was one of the highlights of my career. And what’s happened since is there’s been a whirlwind of interest in this from scientists around the world, investors, there’s more than 20 billion with a B, $20 billion being raised to look at this actual phenomenon of aging reset. And a lot of scientists are turning their attention towards understanding how this works and even mimicking this gene therapy with little molecules, perhaps plant molecules or drugs that are on the market already. So that one day, hopefully in the next five to 10 years, we could take a pill or rub a cream on our skin, not just to slow aging, but to truly reset the age of the body.
Matthew LaPlante (50:23):
Between then and now, there’s obviously a lot of work to do. We’ve seen this effect in the eyes of mice. You’re working on other systems within a mouse as well.
David Sinclair (50:37):
Well, we are, and in humans, I should say, we’re trying to go as quickly as we can. We’ve found that the reset works in other parts of the eye. We can restore vision in mice that have what’s called retinal degeneration, macular degeneration. We also have skin reversal for humans and mice. And we’ve even built little mini brains.
We grow these little organoids out of human skin. We give them Alzheimer’s disease, these little tiny little tiny little little tiny little these little brains get dementia, and we can reset the age of those mini brains and they get their electrical activity back. So this is the beginnings of work that I hope will mean that we can reverse the age of the brain and other tissues and diseases of old age, like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, even cancer will go away.
Matthew LaPlante (51:20):
What this would look like in practice presumably at some time in the future would be a course of treatment. Like you have experienced some degree of aging. You decide, hey, it’s time for me to take care of this. You go in, you have this gene therapy, and then these genes are basically turned on inside of your body to do their work.
David Sinclair (51:40):
That’s right. We built the system in the virus so we could turn it on with an antibiotic, doxycycline. And the patients that we treat, if we treat them, will take a course of antibiotics to turn on the reprogramming. So we can turn it on for say four to eight weeks. We can measure their vision. When they get their vision back again, they stop the antibiotics. Then they age out again, maybe another decade. And then all they get in the mail is another course of antibiotics to restore their vision again.
Matthew LaPlante (52:07):
A lot of people are gonna be really concerned by this idea of like gene therapy, but there are, as you noted, like some other avenues that we might get a very similar result. Greg Fahey’s work is aimed at this same idea of an epigenetic reprogramming without the genetic therapy. He’s doing this through some pretty simple chemicals.
David Sinclair (52:29):
Yeah, so he’s in California and he used three treatments. It’s called the TRIMTOP trial, and it included metformin, growth hormone, and DHEA, another hormone. And so growth hormone will rebuild tissues, and that gives a response in the body that the times are good, but he also counteracted that with adversity in memetics. The metformin and the DHEA prevented glucose spikes and type 2 diabetes. And what he showed after a year of this treatment was that the epigenetic clock measured by Horvath, remember this is the DNA methylation patterns, reset in a way that was calculated to take their blood biomarkers back, the blood clock back two and a half years on average. Now, that doesn’t seem like a lot.
Matthew LaPlante (53:12):
That was after one year of treatment, one year of treatment on this course of these three drugs bought two and a half years in equivalent biological aid.
David Sinclair (53:21):
Yeah, and at first I said, two and a half years, come on, that’s not much. But then I realized if you do that every year or even every two years, you’re immortal. And that’s when things get really interesting. But what we don’t know is are these treatments just changing the blood clock or are they changing the whole body? So we need to measure other things, including skin clocks and blood biomarkers to really know if this is a true aging reset.
Matthew LaPlante (53:46):
There’s a bunch of ways that we’re trying to approach the same goal, which is this like repeatable resetting of age. As of right now, we don’t know how many times it’s repeatable, whether you can do it once or twice or 10 times or however many times.
David Sinclair (54:02):
We don’t know, but I was speaking with Greg. He’s a friend of mine. He said that he’s been repeating this treatment. And often when these publications come out, we scientists know a lot more than we’re telling people. And what he told me, which I’ll share with all the audience today is it works multiple times. So he’s now getting people to go back five. And there were some reports of people going back 10 years in their blood’s biological age.
Matthew LaPlante (54:28):
What do we need to know to know whether that’s safe in the long-term and what do we need to know to know whether or not that can be continued in the long-term? There’s not some drop off at some point where it says like this just is not gonna work anymore.
David Sinclair (54:43):
Yeah, we don’t know this is new territory. And I think that’s a really important point is we don’t know the dangers of resetting the age. We believe that it’s safe. So far, there’s been no indication of any downside. But one of the big worries is if you go back too far in age, you can stimulate cancer cells. So that’s another thing to watch out for. But I’m an optimist. I’m optimistic that if the body becomes younger, it’ll surveil the body and kill the cancer cells, which is one of the problems as we get older and why tumors develop is that our body’s immune system doesn’t kill those cancer cells.
But obviously, we have a lot of work to do. We’re not saying go out and try gene therapy today. We could do that theoretically, but definitely don’t. We don’t know all the risks. And particularly with gene therapy, it can be irreversible.
So this is something you need to do. Once you do it, you’re committed. Right, and there can be other side effects as well from gene therapy, including immune responses to those viruses. One word about those viruses is that it’s still early days on gene delivery. One of the reasons we haven’t immediately had success with extending the lifespan of mice is that those viruses are very hard to distribute evenly through the body. Even in humans, it’s a struggle for diseases that want to be treated holistically. But there are advances. There are a number of new companies that have sprung up that allow these viruses to infect the body more evenly. And when that happens, I think we will be able to make mice that can live a decade or two.
Matthew LaPlante (56:11):
So if we can take a mouse that right now has a lifespan of about two years, and we can make it live a decade or two, and just playing with this idea of optimism for a moment here and sort of like setting aside all of the things that like we don’t know yet, those kinds of impacts on a human life puts us out well past the 100-year marker, well past the 120-year marker. We start getting into territory that a lot of people just have a really hard time even fathoming.
But again, just playing with that for a moment here, what we’re talking about in the long term is a world where people are living these incredibly longer lives, presumably, hopefully healthier as well. A lot of people, the first thing that they hear when they hear that is more people on an already really crowded planet. You hear this a lot from people.
David Sinclair (57:05):
Well, I do. Even when we talk about extending lifespan by five years, people wonder, what are we gonna do with all these people? And the good news is if you do the calculations, first of all, most advanced countries, economically advanced, the rates of population growth are starting to decline, even here in the US.
Matthew LaPlante (57:21):
Because people are having fewer children over the last few generations as these countries get richer.
David Sinclair (57:26):
Yeah, richer leads to fewer offspring, wealth, health. These all lead to people making decisions that I don’t, I don’t need to have three, five, 10 kids. And this is increasingly happening in South America and in Africa as well. And the prediction is that humanity will peak at about 10 billion, maybe 11, and start to come down again. And that’s gonna be when these changes actually happen to humanity, that people will live longer and there will not be an excess of people. It’s not that we’ll be overcrowded. That’s clear from the math. The other concern people have is, what about all the resources? And clearly we need to figure out ways to preserve the planet, preserve the environment, not destroy it with our overconsumption. And one of the solutions that often people don’t think about is that these changes to human biology will allow people to be much more productive and less costly for the economy.
Right now we throw away 17% of our GDP in the U.S. on healthcare. Well, we don’t throw it away, but a lot of that is used in the last few years of life, which we can probably fix with this technology. We’ve calculated that if we could extend lifespan by just one year using Metformin as an example, which probably could work better than that, the value to the U.S. economy in the long run is $86 trillion. And if you do it for 10 years, it’s 365 trillion. We just published this in the journal Nature Aging.
That is money that can be put towards other problems, improving education, helping to combat climate change, among other things, making the world much more efficient and less wasteful.
Matthew LaPlante (59:04):
We gotta use that money wisely though. I mean, like there was this sense at the end of the Cold War that we were gonna have this peace dividend, all this money that we were spending on war, we are now gonna be able to spend on all these social programs and making people’s lives better, and we just threw it back into the military. There’s also a possibility that we misuse this. So this is another instance where we really need to start having these conversations now and really working them into the conversations and making sure that policymakers understand the world that we’re potentially entering into.
David Sinclair (59:37):
Sure, but the sums are astronomical. Already, we’ve got more money being put into reprogramming and age correction, epigenetic reprogramming than ever in any other time in medical history. This is a true historical event that we’re experiencing here. It’s one of the reasons we wanted to do this podcast is to bring people along as these amazing changes happen.
But also the sums of money that we’ll be saving are also unprecedented. $360 trillion just in the US, that’s money that even if some is wasted, there’s gonna be a lot to use for good purposes. But I think what we’d wanna do is educate Congress people that when this money comes, it’s used for the right purposes.
Matthew LaPlante (01:00:18):
And that’s on the healthcare saving side of things, which tends to be the later in life side of things. There’s another advantage to this too, is that if we can lengthen lifespans, right? The portion of a human life that we spend educating someone right now is about a quarter of their life, right? It’s the first 20 years of their life, give or take. And then you get two decades or two equivalent time periods where they work, right? So you get about a 40 year career and then you get a 20 year period at the end of their life where they’re sick. But if you can extend out that time in which they are being productive, all of a sudden, all of those educational costs become even better investments.
And they already are, and as you and I both agree, I know education is the best investment we can make in our society.
David Sinclair (01:01:03):
Right, and not everybody starts out life with a career that they want or they don’t have the opportunity. And so with a longer life, there should be multiple opportunities to change careers and do things that people have always wanted to do. But to make that possible, we advocate a skill radical, a term that we coined. This would be two or three years paid time off to change careers, to do something you always wanted. Everyone should have that opportunity.
Matthew LaPlante (01:01:25):
Throughout the course of people’s lives.
David Sinclair (01:01:28):
Yeah, as lives get longer and more productive and healthy, there should be multiple opportunities to change and do ultimately what people have always wanted to do. My father is a good example. He’s now 82. He left work, his main career in his late 60s, 67, and he thought he was gonna die in 10 years from then. It wasn’t gonna be very pretty. He’s now 82, he’s as healthy as he ever was. He’s stronger than me. He started a new career in his 70s. This is the kind of life that I want for everybody, that we don’t have to worry about getting cancer in our 50s and 60s or having a heart attack in our 70s.
We should be able to live in our 80s, 90s and beyond in a healthy way, contributing to society, educating the community, educating our kids, our grandkids, even our great grandkids with all the wisdom that we accumulate over our lifetimes. It’s a huge waste when somebody 80, 90, or 100 dies.
Matthew LaPlante (01:02:17):
Well, it’s such a waste that you’ve suggested, we’ve argued about this before, you’ve suggested that people don’t just have a right to live that long, they really have a responsibility and an obligation to live that long.
David Sinclair (01:02:27):
Well, they do. And healthy. Well, it’s important. Most people who are over the age of 40 or 50 have taken care of a grandparent or a parent who’s gotten sick. It’s a huge burden on everybody. And it’s not just bad for the person who’s dying. It’s bad for the family. It’s costly, time-consuming and emotionally draining, to say the least. What we’re talking about is take responsibility for yourself, but also do it for your kids and your grandkids’ sake. Because if you live a long time and are not a burden on your family and you live a long time, you’ll probably die much quicker. That’s the statistic. Your kids will thank you for it. And I think we have a right and an obligation to do that.
Matthew LaPlante (01:03:07):
Most people, I think, when you present to them the opportunity to live longer and healthier, they say, oh yeah, I would like that future. Right now, the things that we have talked about that make that kind of a future easier, reprogramming really, really effective drugs and supplements, they’re getting there, but they’re not there. Which means if somebody wants to partake in this future and they’re of any age right now, they actually have to put in the work. It’s not just gonna be handed to them in the next few years.
David Sinclair (01:03:42):
No, it’s not just simple as take two pills and call me in the morning kind of stuff, call me in the next decade. It is hard work. You don’t get anything for free. You can’t just yet pop a pill and go back 20, 30 years. Though maybe in the future we will. But for now, the best recipe for long life, greater health, and ensure that you make it past 80, 90, maybe even into your hundreds, is to do the right things. There’s eat the right way, okay? Eat the right kind of diets, don’t eat as often, have some period of fasting, get some type of exercise, even better, do multiple different types of exercise, stress your body out a little bit, give it some hormesis. These are adversity mimetics, so a bit of cold, a bit of heat, those kind of things.
The other thing we talked about is some supplements, and these new technologies we’ve talked about today, the monitoring and other things, that will actually allow us to live longer. And you might say, well, do I care about living longer? Well, absolutely you should. Why? Because the longer you live, the longer you will live. Right now, if we live an extra year, we get another three months of life because these technologies are going so fast. And soon, we’ll have another six months of life every year we live. And eventually, another year for every year we live. And that’s when things get super interesting.
Matthew LaPlante (01:04:57):
David, in this series, so far, we’ve covered a lot. I know a lot of it was dense. Some of it, we probably moved too fast for people on. Some of it, we didn’t move fast enough on. Some of it, people might wanna review again if they do want that. The good news is the show notes are gonna be available. They’re gonna be timestamped, so you can go right to the topics that you wanna learn more about. Those are thanks to our really amazing team of researchers.
David Sinclair (01:05:26):
Yeah, we’ve been really lucky. We’ve got a great team here that we wanna thank, you and I. One is the researchers. So a lot of the facts here that have come out of the scientific literature were brought to us by Sarah Ryan and Adeeb Johnson. They’ve been awesome. Thanks, guys. Also wanna thank our producer. We’ve got Rob Moore and his assistant producer, Jack Jamison.
Matthew LaPlante (01:05:47):
Yeah, if there’s anything that people want us to dive deeper on in the future, presuming a future of another season of this, they can leave notes wherever they’re watching their podcast.
David Sinclair (01:06:01):
Yeah, hopefully we’ll have a great reception. People can leave five stars on Apple Podcasts, and tell us if they like it.
Matthew LaPlante (01:06:07):
You know, just as a suggestion, five stars.
David Sinclair (01:06:10):
Yeah, that would be fine. But seriously, we’re paying attention whether we should do another series or not. We’ll decide based on the reaction. Hopefully people love what we do. They wanna deeper dive. They wanna know more about fertility, even sexual performance we could jump into.
Matthew LaPlante (01:06:25):
You really wanna do that episode? We could do it. Like, I’m excited about that episode too. I think there’s a lot to be said. There is a ton to be said about aging and sex. There’s a ton to be said about aging and society. There’s so many more topics that we can hit.
David Sinclair (01:06:39):
And there are a lot that we haven’t thought of, I’m sure. And our viewers can tell us what they wanna hear about. So we’ll pay attention to the suggestions. And if there are enough people interested in a topic, we’ll dive into the scientific literature that’s inaccessible to most people, and bring those in a factual way and hopefully in a way that is digestible and easy to understand, but also entertaining.
Most importantly, what we wanna do here, and hopefully we’ve done this in the last eight episodes here, is to give people an idea of what’s possible. That their longevity, long-term longevity, and their daily wellness and performance is truly in their own hands, even with today’s knowledge and technology. And just around the corner, we’re gonna have things that we can barely dream of.
Matthew LaPlante (01:07:20):
And wherever we go next now, people who’ve listened to this hopefully have a really baseline understanding of the fundamental nature of where the research is, where it’s coming from, where aging comes from, and what we can do about it, which means that whatever we cover in the future, we can start from that place and build from there.
David Sinclair (01:07:41):
Exactly, we can do some deep dives into various topics. It can be about blood glucose and blood glucose, glucose and monitoring. It could be about fertility in women. We’ve got lots to cover if we do another set of eight episodes, which we hope we’ll do. And depending on the feedback from people, if it’s really positive, we hope that it will be, we’ll do another eight, I think. You wanna come back and do one?
Matthew LaPlante (01:08:03):
Yeah, I do, although I think there’s some debate about where the location is going to be. We’re filming in Boston right now.
David Sinclair (01:08:11):
And you wanna go to your place, probably?
Matthew LaPlante (01:08:12):
I think a combinatory podcast series recording slash ski vacation sounds really good.
David Sinclair (01:08:20):
Yeah, Mr. Park City, Utah. Okay, sounds good to me. We’ll have to ask our boy Wanda Rob, the producer, but I would love to do that. Thanks so much for joining us in this first season of the Lifespan Podcast. Again, please let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments section on YouTube and on social media. And let us know if we should do a season two. If you’d like to support us, please share this episode and others with those you think might benefit from the information. To stay informed of future episodes, subscribe on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify. And on Apple, you have the opportunity to leave up to a five-star review. Also, please check out the sponsors that we mentioned at the start of the episode. That’s probably the best way to support the show. We also have a Patreon account. It’s at patreon.com slash David Sinclair. There you can support us at any level you like. Thanks again for joining us. It’s been a lot of fun. And our hope is through this series, we’ve shown that aging is not just something to focus on late in life, but something you should focus on daily to feel better each day and be healthier for longer. Maybe we’ll see you next time.
In the final episode of this season, Dr. David Sinclair and Matthew LaPlante focus on current and near-future technologies relevant to health and aging. In addition to discussing the utility of wearable sensors and biological age measurements, they highlight innovative research aimed at reversing biological age. The societal effects of therapies that successfully extend healthspan and/or lifespan are also considered.
Thank you to our sponsors:
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To stay up to date with David's work to democratize biological age testing and insights, visit tallyhealth.com.
(00:00:00) Introducing Episode Eight: The Future of Anti-aging Medicine
(00:03:49) Thanking the Sponsors
(00:06:48) Modern Healthcare, Disease Detection, and Circulating DNA
(00:11:30) Wearable Monitors: A Dashboard for your Body
(00:20:31) Types of Health Sensors
(00:24:20) Big Data, Privacy, and Criminal Investigation
(00:30:16) Cutting-edge Testing and Biological Age
(00:36:40) Using Personalized Data to Inform your Diet
(00:41:48) Optimizing Exercise and Activity-mimetics
(00:45:02) Resetting the Aging Clock
(00:53:45) Repeatable Age Reversal and Safety
(00:56:11) Longer Life, Population Size, and Economics
(01:03:06) Putting in the Work for Longevity
(01:04:56) Thanking the Podcast Team and Wrapping Up Season One
(01:08:27) Options for Subscription and Support
For the full show notes, including the peer-reviewed studies, visit the Lifespan podcast website.
Please note that Lifespan with Dr. David Sinclair is distinct from Dr. Sinclair's teaching and research roles at Harvard Medical School. The information provided in this show is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. The Lifespan with Dr. David Sinclair podcast, its employees, guests and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.
Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac
Special thanks to our research assistants, Adiv Johnson & Sarah Ryan.