Rapamycin Will Be Tested to Extend Lifespan of Dogs

(p. 1A) SEATTLE (AP) — Can old dogs teach us new tricks? Scientists are looking for 10,000 pets for the largest-ever study of aging in canines. They hope to shed light on human longevity too.

The project will collect a pile of pooch data: vet records, DNA samples, gut microbes and information on food and walks. Five hundred dogs will test a pill that could slow the aging process.

“What we learn will potentially be good for dogs and has great potential to translate to human health,” said project co-director Daniel Promislow of the University of Washington School of Medicine.

. . .

(p. 2A) Dogs weighing at least 40 pounds will be eligible for an experiment with rapamycin, now taken by humans to prevent rejection of transplanted kidneys. The drug has extended lifespan in mice. A small safety study in dogs found no dangerous side effects, said project co-director Matt Kaeberlein of the University of Washington.

For the full story, see:

Carla K. Johnson of The Associated Press. “Needed: 10,000 Dogs for Project That Could Also Benefit Humans.” Omaha World-Herald (Thursday, Nov. 15, 2019): 1A-2A.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov 17 [sic], 2019, and has the title “Old dogs, new tricks: 10,000 pets needed for science.”)

“Misguided Regulations” Kill Ride-Hailing App

(p. B3) New York ride-hailing business Juno USA LP filed for bankruptcy protection, blaming its demise on minimum wage regulations and mounting lawsuits from drivers, riders and competitors.

. . .

Ride-hailing companies are grappling with efforts by several states to extend employment protections to gig workers. In the face of additional regulation, the ride-hailing industry has been consolidating and pushing back against government measures that could upend their business models.

Gett, which bought Juno in a $200 million equity-based deal, said the company’s demise stemmed from “misguided regulations” in New York City.

. . .

Juno generated $269 million of revenue last year, a 23% annual increase, according to court papers. But this year its costs escalated after the city put in place a pay floor for ride-hail drivers.

The wage regulation pushed customer prices up by nearly 20%, bringing Juno’s rides per day down to 25,000 immediately before the chapter 11 petition from 47,000 per day in 2017.

. . .

Juno also said it spent substantial money on legal fees to defend itself against lawsuits from drivers, riders and competitors alike that the company described as “opportunistic.”

Drivers have sued over unemployment insurance, saying they were employees rather than independent contractors, and over stock incentives.

For the full story, see:

Alexander Gladstone. “Ride-Hailing App Enters Bankruptcy, Blaming Wage Law.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019): B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 20, 2019, and has the title “Ride-Hailing App Juno Enters Bankruptcy, Blaming Wage Law.”)

“Rejuvenate Bio” Startup Succeeds in Using Gene Therapy to Fight Age-Related Diseases in Mice

The online PNAS article mentioned below includes the information that one of the article’s referees was Aubrey de Grey, Cambridge scientist, and co-author of The End of Aging. Aubrey de Grey has been arguing for many years that anti-aging research will only take-off when proof-of-concept is achieved with mice. The PNAS article summarized below, appears to provide that proof-of-concept.

(p. A13) North Grafton, Mass.

A Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Shadow was at the front lines of a new approach to gene therapy.

Earlier this month, 7-year-old Shadow was the first dog to be screened at Tufts University for a pilot study attempting to use gene therapy to treat a type of heart disease that often afflicts aging cavaliers.

It’s part of a novel approach to gene therapy that has successfully treated age-related ailments in mice. Now it is being studied in dogs, with eventual hopes to test it in humans.

Researchers reported their success in mice in a study published Monday [Nov. 4, 2019] in the journal PNAS. They treated four age-related diseases in mice using genetic therapy: heart and kidney failure, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. On average, the mice experienced a 58% increase in heart function, a 75% reduction in kidney degradation, and normalized weight and blood-sugar levels in mice fed a high-fat diet, the study found.

. . .

What’s interesting about the new research in mice is that it is broader—targeting not a single rare defect, but common age-related ailments. The experiments injected mice with DNA to create an extra copy of a healthy gene, expressing more healthy material in cells linked to common diseases of aging.

The goal of the biotech company behind the mice study, Rejuvenate Bio —which sprang from research out of the lab of Harvard geneticist George Church, who is a co-founder—is to treat multiple aging-related diseases in dogs. It recently started working with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine on the dog pilot. If successful in dogs, the company hopes to treat similar human diseases but says that will take a lot more resources and time.

The firm says it expects the cost of dog genetic therapies would be similar to dog cancer treatments, including surgery, which range from about $500 to $8,000.

. . .

Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, praised the PNAS study as a proof of concept . . .

For the full story, see:

Sumathi Reddy. “YOUR HEALTH; Gene Therapy Targets Aging.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2019): A13.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 4, 2019, and has the title “YOUR HEALTH; A New Approach to Gene Therapy—Now In Dogs, Maybe Later In Humans.”)

The PNAS article, summarized in the passages quoted above, is:

Davidsohn, Noah, Matthew Pezzone, Andyna Vernet, Amanda Graveline, Daniel Oliver, Shimyn Slomovic, Sukanya Punthambaker, Xiaoming Sun, Ronglih Liao, Joseph V. Bonventre, and George M. Church. “A Single Combination Gene Therapy Treats Multiple Age-Related Diseases.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (Nov. 4, 2019): https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1910073116.

The book co-authored by Aubrey de Grey, and mentioned way above, is:

de Grey, Aubrey, and Michael Rae. Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2007.

Napa Vineyards Adapting to Global Warming

(p. D8) Few in Napa Valley feel the urgency to address climate change more than Beth Novak Milliken, president and chief executive of Spottswoode, a family estate that makes superb cabernet sauvignons here on the western edge of St. Helena.

. . .

Ms. Milliken and Aron Weinkauf, the winemaker and vineyard manager, are experimenting with rootstocks that might do better in drought conditions, and grapes like alicante bouschet, mourvèdre and touriga nacional that, as Napa warms, might be blended with cabernet sauvignon to maintain freshness, structure and acidity.

. . .

Like Ms. Milliken, Larkmead is experimenting with different grapes. Mr. Petroski has already initiated a study, planting three acres with a variety of grapes like touriga nacional, tempranillo and aglianico to determine over the next 30 years what might be better able to withstand a hotter environment than cabernet sauvignon.

“I just want people to think that Napa Valley makes great, delicious California-style wines,” he said. “If this is a great vineyard site, it will grow great grapes. It doesn’t have to be only cabernet or merlot.”

For the full story, see:

Eric Asimov. “The Pour; Napa Valley Confronts Climate Change.” The New York Times (Wednesday, November 6, 2019): D8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Nov. 7 [sic], 2019, and has the title “The Pour; In Napa Valley, Winemakers Fight Climate Change on All Fronts.”)

“Climate Change Has Been Good for Us”

(p. A1) SLINDE, Norway—Perched on a steep slope overlooking the country’s largest fiord, tidy rows of vines spread on the frosted ground underneath towering pine trees.

On the 61st parallel—the latitude of Anchorage, Alaska— Bjorn Bergum’s vineyard is set to become the world’s northernmost commercial wine estate, a testimony to how global warming is disrupting century-old landscapes, traditions and oenological preconceptions.

“There is no doubt,” Mr. Bergum says. “Climate change has been good for us.”

. . .

(p. A9) “First we take Scandinavia, then the world,” says Erik Lindås, head of Norway’s nascent winegrowers association. “It’s motivating to work when people think you can’t make it. People laughed at English wine 15 years ago but they are not laughing anymore.”

Denmark and Sweden are commercially producing wines that have won international awards, while Britain and Belgium are experiencing a viticultural renaissance. Vintners in Germany, which has a proud winemaking tradition in the south, are exploring new terroirs farther north.

. . .

The northerners have a replique to southern arguments about boreal vineyards’ lack of tradition: During the so-called Medieval Climate Optimum, a warm spell from the ninth century to the 13th, winemaking thrived as far up as northern England and the Baltics.

Professor Hans R. Schultz, who studies climate change’s effects on viticulture at Germany’s Geisenheim University, says global warming is pulling the winemaking economy northward. In Germany’s terroirs, which used to lose entire harvests to cold spells, every vintage since 1987 was better than the previous, he says.

For the full story, see:

Bojan Pancevski. “New Wines Invade From Viking Terroir.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, October 30, 2019): A1 & A9.

(Note: ellipses added; italics in original.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 29, 2019, and has the title “Chateau Viking: Climate Change Makes Northern Wine a Reality.”)

Theil Venture Capital Firm Will Invest More in Later Stage Startups

(p. B1) Peter Thiel’s venture-capital firm is raising nearly $3 billion—and in a switch from the company’s usual script, much of the war chest will be poured into the swelling ranks of technology startups that have stayed private for years.

. . .

The venture firm, co-founded by Mr. Thiel, typically backs early-stage companies. But with its biggest winners, like Airbnb Inc., staying private longer than startups of an earlier generation, Founders needs to be able to make larger investments at later stages of a company’s lifetime to maintain comparable stakes and a say in company operations, some of the people said.

. . .

Founders Fund has told potential investors that older companies that stay private longer can prove to be more stable, if less lucrative, investments than moonshot startup bets, according to the people familiar with the matter.

. . .

Founders has produced investment returns well-above the industry average, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year. Its earliest funds, from 2005 and 2007, grew sixfold and more than eightfold, respectively, by the third quarter of last year.

For the full story, see:

Rob Copeland and Katie Roof. “Thiel Fund Builds War Chest in Strategy Shift.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, October 22, 2019): B1.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 21, 2019, and has the title “Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund Builds New War Chest in Strategy Shift.” In the third passage quoted above, the quote follows the print version instead of the slightly different online version.)

Stories of Heroic Entrepreneurs

The great idealists of our economy are not the socialists, but the heroic entrepreneurs of innovative dynamism. One of the goals of my book Openness to Creative Destruction, and some of my other writings, is to tell their stories to a wider audience. Gonzalo Schwarz has let me know that his Archbridge Institute is also telling some of these stories under the heading American Originals at:

https://www.archbridgeinstitute.org/american-originals/