Do psychedelics like mushrooms and LSD have anti-aging effects?
Dr. Andrew Steele, a physics professor who has ventured into the field of biology, presents a fascinating perspective on longevity in his new book. He emphasizes that it’s not cancer or heart disease but aging that is the root cause of the most significant suffering and deaths worldwide. Dr. Steele proposes that by finding pharmacological remedies that target the cells responsible for degrading tissue function, we could unlock the potential for humans to live up to 200 years old.
A group of Harvard Medical School researchers has uncovered a groundbreaking finding that sheds new light on aging. In an unprecedented international study, the team discovered that alterations to the organization and regulation of DNA, known as epigenetics, can trigger aging in an organism, regardless of any genetic code changes. Their research revealed that a disruption in epigenetic information leads to aging in mice, and when the integrity of the epigenome is restored, the signs of aging are reversed.
According to David Sinclair, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research, the recent discovery reinforces the notion that mammalian cells possess a backup copy of epigenetic software. By accessing this backup, it may be possible to rejuvenate aging cells and restore them to a more youthful and healthy state.
As reported in the Genetics Literacy Project, pursuing molecules capable of reversing the aging process is expected to attract tens of billions of dollars in research funding. Sinclair, who also heads Life Biosciences, a biotech firm that focuses on developing therapeutics to prevent, treat, and potentially reverse age-related diseases, is leading this effort to extend the human lifespan.
The Longevity Science Foundation (LSF) made an exciting announcement at the Wonderland 2022 conference in November. The nonprofit organization, committed to funding research to promote a prolonged and healthier human lifespan, revealed a new funding initiative for psychedelics research. This new project is a collaboration between the LSF and PsyMed Ventures, a company focused on investments in the psychedelics sector.
The Longevity Science Foundation (LSF) reports that the use of psychedelics for mental health treatments is gaining momentum at an unprecedented pace. Compounds such as MDMA, ketamine, and psilocybin have demonstrated encouraging outcomes in treating PTSD, depression, and addiction. In addition, researchers have shown that ketamine and psilocybin may assist in regenerating neural connections, which could have far-reaching implications in the development of treatments for neurodegenerative disorders associated with aging, as per the LSF.
The LSF has pledged $1 billion in research funding, institutional support, and project financing over the next decade to support its mission to promote healthy human longevity. As part of this initiative, the foundation is looking to back psychedelics companies that are engaged in research aimed at managing, delaying, or even reversing age-related mental and brain diseases, investigating the mechanisms underlying the effects of psychedelic compounds, or other pioneering studies that have relevance to both the longevity and psychedelics fields.
The Healthy Longevity Medicine Society (HLMS), a partner of LSF, has set itself the goal of creating, coordinating, and promoting a comprehensive clinical research program that covers all facets of longevity medicine. The society intends to initiate various programs, such as the standardization of diagnostics and the creation of a clinical trial network.
Researchers have discovered drugs that can prolong the lifespan of animals, and one of LSF’s partners, rapamycin, has demonstrated the ability to prevent aging in mice. The drug has been found to reduce cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the LSF.
Scientists have discovered that a drug utilized to fight leukemia, when combined with a natural chemical substance derived from plants, exhibits the potential to lengthen human life. In addition, metformin, a drug that has been prescribed for diabetes for decades, is also demonstrating promise in the field of lifespan extension research.
The executive coordinator of the LSF, Garri Zmudze, emphasizes the importance of mental health in longevity, stating that a healthy mind is just as crucial as a healthy body. The LSF’s funding of psychedelic research contributes to a growing body of knowledge transforming brain health and longevity.
Psychedelics researchers are exploring the potential role of psychedelics in extending life by examining their effects on neurons. The brain’s ability to change throughout life, known as neuroplasticity, is thought to be a critical component of life extension. Neuroplasticity involves changes in cell structure, structural plasticity, and alterations in the efficacy of synaptic transmission, also known as functional plasticity.
The ability of psychedelics to repair atrophied neurons, which occurs in depressed patients, results in improved synaptic connections or cell-to-cell communication. Experimental studies with LSD, ayahuasca, and psilocybin in placebo-controlled settings have shown positive results in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and addiction after just one or two doses, with measurable effects lasting between three weeks and six months. Researchers believe that the persistence of psychological effects beyond the presence of the substance in the blood suggests a biological adaptation.
Researchers have suggested that psychedelics may have an anti-aging effect, albeit more related to personality changes. With up to 20% of the world’s population projected to be over 60 years old by 2050, research into aging is a critical scientific pursuit. However, the ultimate goal remains unclear: will the research lead to therapies to prevent diseases or directly target extending lifespan?
Sinclair has predicted that reversing human aging may happen as soon as 2025. Reportedly, psychedelic businesses are showing interest in the work of Sinclair, who has secured a remarkable $158 million in funding for Life Biosciences.
The psychedelics field has long been dedicated to discovering new therapies for medical issues that have yet to be addressed. Eleusis, a company in this industry, is focusing on the impact of aging and has discovered that LSD may help treat cognitive decline related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Their research indicates that aging is linked to decreased neuroplasticity and that age is a crucial risk factor for dementia. “The decline in neuroplasticity that comes with aging may play a significant role in the loss of synapses and neurons in Alzheimer’s disease,” Eleusis explains. (Full Story)