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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.


The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Curing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's and AIDS… or A Further Bit of Wild Speculation

                Light and sound, by augmenting existing therapies or eradicating infections or conditions outright, may also prove critical in defeating Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, AIDS and every other infectious disease on Earth besides AIDS. These effects may not exactly be a #CancerMoonshot, but given the opportunity to bring them up – and potentially to wipe out over half the major diseases on Earth – we might as well cover all bases. The methods would not be exactly the same in each case, but there is sufficient overlap between them to warrant further consideration, especially given the advantages noted in our initial #CancerMoonshot.
                To begin, there are frequencies of blue and red light which can kill bacteria, extremely brief pulses of laser light can destroy viruses, ultrasound can be tuned to destroy specific pathogens whether viral or bacterial, infrared light and ultrasound can destroy protein tangles (and ultrasound can ease open the blood-brain barrier to help sweep them away), near-infrared light can already help treat Parkinson’s and visible and infrared light (not to mention DCA, quercetin and PQQ) can reactivate mitochondria. How does all of this help us?
                Because, as with cancer, we may be able to combine these non-traditional and mostly non-toxic interventions in ways that enhance their potency and compensate for each other’s limitations. We will get to those enhancements shortly. But first, let’s review the above techniques.
                So, red and blue LEDs have both been used to kill bacteria. For example, this study on the impact of blue light on bacterial infection or this one on red light destroying bacteria through photodynamic action.
“In a proof-of-concept study, led by Dr. Michael R. Hamblin of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, an array of blue LEDs was used to treat infected burns on lab mice. More specifically, the blue light was used to selectively eradicate potentially-lethal Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria in the animals’ skin and soft tissues.
“The results of the study were promising. All of the light-treated mice survived, while 82 percent of the untreated control group died. Additionally, unlike bacteria-killing ultraviolet light, the blue light wasn’t harmful to the animals’ own cells.”
This technology is probably the least dramatic option available to us, but is an important place to start. As noted previously, not only can these lights shine with some limited penetration through human skin, every endoscopic probe contains a fiber-optic cable, allowing access into the body’s depths though the respiratory, digestive and circulatory systems.  
Further, if red and blue LED lights can be used to kill bacteria, why not use genetic engineering to create blood cells with similar properties for temporary transfusion into the body (using optogenetics as an optional trigger)? Modifying organisms to give them bioluminescence is, for better or worse, one of the most common demonstrations of genetic modification and red blood cells do not reproduce themselves. Such a transfusion could be run through the body temporarily until replaced by a second transfusion or simply left in place until the cells were replaced naturally. Either way, modified cells would represent a relatively non-invasive way to wipe out a rampant bacterial infection.
                But while eliminating bacteria is useful, it is only the beginning.

                Further, certain frequencies of light have been observed to break up the protein tangles associated with Alzheimer’s. To the extent that countering this symptom helps in the disease’s overall treatment, it is worth noting. Indeed, any symptoms which can be countered in a safe, non-invasive way may be worth eliminating, particularly if these interventions prove effective in slowing the pace of the condition. Johns Hopkins came up with a means of killing viruses via laser, albeit one which is of greater value, at present, for purging blood and other fluids removed from the body.
“A study by Kong-Thon Tsen of Arizona State University along with researchers at Johns Hopkins University shows how strong blasts of visible light from a low-power laser can kill viruses.”
“The researchers aimed a low-power laser with a pulse lasting 100 femtoseconds (10-13 second) into glass tubes containing saline-diluted viruses that infect bacteria, also known as bacteriophages.  The amount of infectious virus within each cube plummeted 100- to 1000-fold after the laser treatment.”
                Granted, this particular technology would be of greater use at present in purging a patient’s blood, lymph and/or other bodily fluids, particularly if it were impractical to simply transfuse uninfected fluids to replace them. However, as micro-technology improves, including a temporary or permanent stint in a large blood vessel to deliver these pulses and steadily purge the circulatory system of viruses might have its own advantages. Unfortunately, even given a non-chemical form of high-density power storage, there limits to how much concentrated energy we will want to implant in the sensitive tissues of a human body, and the only means of point-to-point energy transmission likely to emerge in the near future is not available for public consumption for unrelated safety issues. Still, as a means of augmenting other antiviral procedures, this technology is worth noting.
                Which brings us to a more promising method of attacking viral invaders throughout the body, ultrasound. To sum up:
“Healthy cells and tissue have a natural frequency within which they resonate. Maladies such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, other infectious agents, and cancerous cells/tissue generally have different natural resonating frequency ranges compared to healthy cells and tissue. If a carefully selected level of ultrasound energy with a carefully selected frequency is delivered to a subject with a malady, the ultrasound energy has the capability of destroying viruses, bacteria, parasites, other infectious agents, and cancerous cells/tissue at their respective resonating frequencies. An advantage is that due to the differences in the natural resonance ranges, one frequency that disrupts or destroys viruses, bacteria, parasites, other infectious agents, and cancerous cells/tissue can leave healthy cells and tissue unharmed.”
                Determining the ideal resonant frequency for destroying a particular target – viral, bacterial, parasitic, etc – should be a simple matter of testing, and those frequencies can be recorded to create a library for medical practitioners. This testing should ultimately be automated to speed the analysis of every major viral and bacterial infection, though of course still supported with human oversight. Should a particular species change rapidly over time, such as a typical flu virus, simply extract a sample of the targeted pathogen as necessary and test destructive frequencies on it again. Augmented by other resources such as existing medications, light-based therapies and so forth, it should be possible to decimate any normal infection in short order, and potentially to defeat even extraordinarily resilient viruses such as AIDS.
                Which brings us to another application of ultrasound, breaking up beta-amyloid tangles and removing them from the brain. Granted, the degree to which beta-amyloids and tau proteins are the primary or sole culprit in the deterioration due to Alzheimer’s is an open question, but obviously the team investigating this method enjoyed positive results from it.
“Publishing in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to activate. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
“The team reports fully restoring the memory function of 75 percent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue. They found that the treated mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks - a maze, a test to get them to recognise new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid.”
                Clearly, if damage has already been done, then eliminating the proximate cause may not lead to ultimate repair of that injury, though it can help prevent matters from getting worse. Still, we want to examine multiple methods of treatment for both halting the decline and reversing existing loss of function, memory, etc.
                With Parkinson’s, there is a question of whether the accumulated Lewy bodies found in deteriorating parts of the brain are a cause of the damage or protective. In the former case, however, the ability to break down and remove these structures may prove useful, using the same methods described above for Alzheimer’s. However, there is another proposal suggesting that red and infrared light - especially near-infrared light - could have neuroprotective effects on those suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s by restoring mitochondrial functions in ailing brain cells.
The linked article is worth reading in its entirety. But to include some excerpts: “Previous studies have used NIr to treat tissue stressed by hypoxia, toxic insult, genetic mutation and mitochondrial dysfunction with much success. Here we propose NIr therapy as a neuroprotective or disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients.”
                “In the context of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, although they have distinct initiating causes, both diseases converge on common pathways of inflammation and oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and neuronal death, indicating that NIr may be beneficial to both through the same protective mechanisms.”
                “To the best of our knowledge, there have been no major publications—at least in peer-reviewed journals—on the efficacy of NIr in Alzheimer's patients. There are some web pages referring to either an Alzheimer extracranial “helmet,” housing many LEDs of wavelengths ranging from 660 to 1070 nm (e.g., http://www.emersonww.com/InfraredHelmet.htm; http://www.science20.com/news_releases/can_this_infra_red_helmet_cure_alzheimers_in_10_minutes_a_day; http://www.instructables.com/id/LED-helmet-for-dementia-alzheimers-parkinsons), or an intranasal device delivering NIr to the brain (http://www.mediclights.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Alzheimer-with-intranasal-light-08-22-13-1.pdf). However, there are no reports, either published, or in progress, of clinical trials on Alzheimer's patients. Two clinical studies by Naeser et al. (2011, 2014) have reported improvements in executive function, learning and memory after NIr treatment—delivered via an extracranial helmet-like device using two LEDs—in a small number of patients suffering chronic traumatic brain injury. Further, there are two human studies in healthy individuals reporting that NIr therapy improves attention and short-term memory (Barrett and Gonzalez-Lima, 2013) and executive functions (Blanco et al., 2015). Although these studies are promising in the sense that NIr therapy resulted in cognitive improvements, the subjects were not Alzheimer's patients.”
                “In summary, a number of experimental studies have demonstrated that NIr therapy improves motor behavior and provides neuroprotection in various rodent models of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease; for Parkinson's disease, these benefits have been reported in a non-human primate model as well. However, the evidence for therapeutic benefit at the clinical level is far sparser, prompting the need for systematic, large-scale clinical trials of NIr therapy in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients.”
                The putative NIr protective mechanisms in the brain. (A) Direct NIr stimulation of the mitochondria of the damaged neurons or endothelial cells. This stimulation would repair the damage leading to neuronal protection. NIr may also stimulate neurogenesis in the hippocampus and/or synaptogenesis in the damaged neurons (B) indirect (remote) stimulation via circulating immune cells and/or bone marrow stem cells leading to neuronal protection. The latter is similar to the so-called “abscopal” effect in the treatment of cancer metastasis. We suggest that the primary mechanism is the direct effect, of neurons and/or of endothelial cells, while the systemic indirect effect forms a secondary supportive mechanism.”
“The phenomenon of indirect NIr-induced neuroprotection is likely to involve the same mechanisms, at a cellular level, as those that provide neuroprotection to damaged cells with direct NIr stimulation (i.e., stimulation of mitochondrial function; Figure ​Figure2A).2A). Although the concept of indirect, remote NIr therapy holds promise for future applications, it is not yet as fully understood and developed as direct NIr therapy, thus our subsequent discussion will focus primarily on direct NIr stimulation. Further, some early results in an animal model of Parkinson's disease suggest that, although remote NIr provides neuroprotection, this protection was not as robust as when NIr was applied directly to the head (Stone et al., 2013; Johnstone et al., 2014b; presumably stimulating local neurons and/or endothelial cells). In other words, neuroprotection was achieved with both local and remote NIr treatment, but the local treatment was the more effective. As a working hypothesis, we suggest that direct stimulation of the mitochondria and reparative mechanisms, either in the neurons themselves or in the local endothelial cells (and/or stimulation of neurogenesis), forms the primary mechanism of NIr-induced neuroprotection. A more systemic (indirect) stimulation of immune and/or stem cells may form a secondary and complementary mechanism. We suggest that stimulation of both direct and indirect mechanisms would generate maximum NIr-induced neuroprotection.”
“To date, there are no reports of major safety issues nor side-effects after NIr treatment. The commercial LED panels for NIr therapy have already received non-significant risk status by the Food and Drug Administration and previous studies have indicated no adverse impact on brain tissue structure and function after NIr treatment (power range from ~1 to 700 mW/cm2; Desmet et al., 2006; Hamblin and Demidova, 2006; Ilic et al., 2006; Zivin et al., 2009; McCarthy et al., 2010; Naeser et al., 2011, 2014; Rojas and Gonzalez-Lima, 2011; Chung et al., 2012; Tata and Waynant, 2012; Quirk et al., 2012a,b; Moro et al., 2014). There is one sole account of some neuronal damage and negative behavioral outcomes in mice, but this was evident after an exceptionally high power intensity (750 mW/cm2; Ilic et al., 2006), approximately one hundred times higher than the dose required to elicit a therapeutic response (e.g., < 10 mW/cm2). Hence, when taken together, these data indicate that when NIr was applied at therapeutic doses (and even well above these doses), its impact on body tissue was overwhelmingly positive, and had a very large safety margin of application...” “Further, there appears to be no longer-term side effects associated with NIr application; in a long-term study in rats, no adverse effects were noted after daily treatment for 12 months (McCarthy et al., 2010).”

So now we come full circle, discussing how all the methods cited above could be even more effective when applied, as appropriate, in concert.
For example, as we have just cited, one possible factor in cellular deterioration in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is a shutdown in their mitochondria. The suggestions previously offered for reactivating mitochondria for the purpose of causing apoptosis in cancerous cells also apply when attempting to restore mitochondrial activity in failing brain cells in Parkinson’s. To sum up, DCA has been reactivating mitochondria in these cells so they could trigger the signal causing these otherwise “immortal” cells to die, as has quercetin. PQQ has a similar effect on mitochondria, especially in conjunction with COQ10 and NAC, as does NIR and the Q1000 with its mix of FIR and visible light.
So once again, why not combine these factors when restoring mitochondrial function, along with any other non-toxic means of doing the same thing? And at the same time, use the ultrasound method for removing disruptive beta-amyloids and tau proteins in Alzheimer’s or Levy structures in Parkinson’s. You can continue to use other existing therapies, but also consider other known, non-invasive methods for accomplishing the same ends, such as using sensory-deprivation tanks to boost natural dopamine levels in early-onset Parkinson’s patients.
And the synergies do not end there. As discussed previously, every endoscope contains a fiber-optic line which can transmit visible and infrared light, simplifying the localized concentration of, say NIr therapy on specific cells. But if we can genetically modify an infusion of blood to generate blue or red bio-luminescence, why not to generate far or near infrared light? Of course, we would want to study the long-term effects of using such infusions, but the blood circulating around the brain might prove a relatively non-invasive means to shine the necessary frequencies on otherwise deteriorating cells. Other alternatives might include the permanent alteration of supportive tissues within the brain itself, though this would require careful risk assessment as well.
                Similarly, purging the blood of pathogens on the one hand while working ones way down the body with an ultrasound application pitched to destroy the diagnosed viral infection could prove a useful one-two approach to avoid too many viruses slipping past that methodical approach through our rapidly pulsing circulatory system. Light and ultrasound could also be combined against bacterial intruders.
                And so uniting these disparate elements forms a whole greater than its constituent parts, a demonstration of the power of unity in diversity.

                We originally forwarded this suggestion that visible and infrared light could combine with DCA anything else restoring mitochondrial activity as a cure to cancer to the U.S. Federal government sometime around 10/20/16. These more recent articles merely expand on that in light of the Vice-President’s #CancerMoonshot, in the hope that someone may take note of any useful ideas herein. All these suggestions are hereby placed into public domain.