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Friday, March 30, 2018


The Fountain of Youth has historically appeared as the spring to restore youth, going back to Herodotus in the 5th century BC, becoming more prominent when Ponce de Leon, Spanish conquistador, and then Governor of Puerto Rico, in 1513 made his first voyage to La Florida to search for this flowing elixir.  The story has no basis in fact, but remains in the mind of many.  I rarely actually get excited at this stage of writing a blog posting, but today seems different.

Well, Leonard Guarente, who heads MIT's Paul F. Glenn Center for the Science of Aging Research, co-founded Elixir Pharmaceuticals nearly two decades ago.  The path to a Fountain of Youth pill has been full of potholes, for Guarente recently left the company to join a competing firm, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, co-founded by David Sinclair of Harvard.  The field is dominated by colleagues from those two universities.  In 2014, Guarente co-founded Elysium Health.

But let me step back a bit to those fabled billionaires I seek for the Blue Revolution:
  • Paul F. Glenn, an 85-year old venture capitalist, launched an aging-science foundation half a century ago, funding a dozen aging-research centers
  • Peter Thiel, who helped start the Seasteading Institute, gave $3 million to Aubrey de Grey of the Methuselah Foundation
  • Larry Ellison of Oracle has spent $400 million on aging research
  • Larry Page of Alphabet is working on a life-extension project called Calico
  • Peter Diamandis, who founded the XPrize, partnerned with J. Craig Venter to create a company called Human Longevity Inc.
You must now get the point that billionaires want to live forever.

Now, about Harvard, which also has a Glenn anti-aging center, and MIT, sometimes they work together, as for example in finding a cure for aging skin, and the Fountain of Youth pill, where they have taken opposite paths:
  • Guarente (of MIT) called his pill a supplement and began selling Basis through Elysium Health in 2015.  He got seven Nobel Laureates to sign up as cheerleaders, and they seem to come and go.  Basis is said to optimize your health, nothing much more.  It contains nicotinamide riboside and pterostilbene, both naturally found in common foods you consume, like blueberries and milk.  The former is converted by your body to NAD, while the latter is a more powerful form of resveratrol, found in red wine.  Early findings show the pill is "safe."  Note that the company does not need to confirm their product's safety or validity, this is a departure from companies selling all the supplements that people take.  Guarente indeed has an interesting personality, for, in his mid-sixties, he is on his second wife now with young children, and a son from his first marriage who can't be traced, for he is into encryption.
The public has long been duped about super-pills, but does Basis work?  Those associated with Elysium Health have indicated smoothing of elbow skin, feeling younger, ability to do more push-ups and such.  

However, what convinced me that there might be something to Basis is that I earlier this week had completed walking 18 holes of golf at the Ala Wai Golf Course, when a long time colleague at the University of Hawaii, who is several years older than me, and was chair of my original department, Civil Engineering, and further has three sons who are all doctors, was excited to inform me that I should consider that pill.  He said he and his wife have been taking two Basis tablets for two months and they both feel fabulous.  He does not hurt anymore after walking on a golf course, and I do terribly.  Honestly, he today looks much younger than the last time I saw him earlier this year.

So, what does Basis cost?  From Elysium Health through Amazon, $40 for 60 capsules if you subscribe for a year.  That's only a little more than a buck/day.  I think I'll wait until I get some input from my neighbor doctor and my personal physian, who I'll see when I return from my upcoming Cherry Blossom Adventure.

By the way, one of the primary articles I read to substantiate this posting also mentioned something called Dylar, the black-market pill in Don Delillo's White Noise, which cures the fear of death.  Looks like a future article in the making.  

Then again, maybe not, because this is a fictional drug.  I wonder if there can be such a pill.

Well, regarding my next trip to the Orient, which begins with a stopover in Guam, Typhoon Jelawat has suddenly strengthened into a Category 4 at 150 MPH and is heading in the general direction of Guam:


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