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Microbes and Metabolites Fuel an Ambitious Aging Project

RATE THIS! +37
Posted in Science on 15th Mar, 2014 01:45 AM by AlexMuller

Last week, genomics entrepreneur Craig Venter announced his latest venture: a company that will create what it calls the most comprehensive and complete data set on human health to tackle diseases of aging.Human Longevity, based in San Diego, says it will sequence some 40,000 human genomes per year to start.

 

They will useIllumina’s new high-throughput sequencing machines (see “Does Illumina Have the First $1,000 Genome?”). Eventually, it plans to work its way up to 100,000 genomes per year.

 
The company will also sequence the genomes of the body’s multitudes of microbial inhabitants, called the microbiome, and analyze the thousands of metabolites that can be found in blood and other patient samples.
 
By combining these disparate types of data, the new company hopes to make inroads into the enigmatic process of aging and the many diseases, including cancer and heart disease, that are strongly associated with it.
 
“Aging is exerting a force on humans that is exposing us to diseases, and the diseases are idiosyncratic, partly based on genetics, partly on environment,” says Leonard Guarente, who researches aging at MIT and is not involved in the company. “The hope for many of us who study aging is that by having interventions that hit key pathways in aging, we can affect disease.”
 
But despite decades of research on aging and age-related diseases, there are no treatments to slow aging, and diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s continue to plague patients.
 
A more comprehensive approach to studying human aging could help, says Guarente. The key is to go beyond genome sequencing by looking at gene activity and changes in the array of proteins and other molecules found in patient samples.
 
To that end, Human Longevity will collaborate with Metabolon, a company based in Durham, North Carolina, to profile the metabolites circulating in the bloodstreams of study participants. Metabolon was an early pioneer in the field of metabolomics, which catalogues the amino acids, fats, and other small molecules in a blood or other sample to develop more accurate diagnostic tests for diseases 

Tags: agingVentergeneticsgenomicsstem cellsHuman Longevity

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-15
+2
Having more data, in fact, vast amount of data that cover information not just on human genes but on microbial content and also metabolism , will provide an opportunity for further analysis that is not so straight forward - hopefully methods to convert the data into information will keep improving
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-15
+3
it would be interesting to see how this develops and "whether or not they produce meaningful results on an accelerated time scale versus academic or open efforts. And failing that, I hope the data they produce is made public so that the effort is not lost. " Very good point! Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-15
+0
Indeed, some experts are pointing out that combining all these data won't be easy. "Any one of these would entail vast resources (and luck) to stay competitive — and to do so in a multi-front battle would be even more remarkable" Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-15
+1
Very big claims from Venter! Considering that ageing is studied in depth by established academics all over the world and that research is usually linked to application, I am not sure that this project is offering anything that is so radical
4 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-15
+1
We should be optimistic about such studies and their benefit. But genetic and other data need a big effort to unravel the clues. It’s a complex interplay of genes, expression, and environment. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-15
+1
This approach is the key to understand genetic underpinnings of diseases and requires powerful computers. Many genome-wide studies conducted so far helped to associate specific genes with numerous diseases that have been investigated in this way

Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-15
+0
One of lines of reasoning here is that "as we identify the types of defects that occur, we'll be better equipped to design therapeutic tools to serve those defects." I agree with this, but this is a long way away Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-15
+2
It seems that ageing is becoming an attractive business space! Google last September launched California Life Co., or Calico, to study the genetic causes of aging and address related diseases. Reply


 

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