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Six patients with dementia traveled to Mexico last year to be injected with a gene therapy not authorized for use in the U.S., according to the CEO of a Seattle-area startup that wants to accelerate testing of unproven anti-aging medicines and views U.S. drug safety regulations as a hindrance.

At the heart of the project is a controversial biotech called BioViva, whose CEO had herself injected with an experimental gene therapy in Colombia and whose advisory board includes renowned Harvard geneticist George Church. It is part of a growing ecosystem of entrepreneurs and scientists, dreamers and schemers, who believe aging is not inevitable and aim to develop treatments to extend the human life span.


Last month, during a talk hosted by the National University of Singapore, the CEO, Elizabeth Parrish, divulged that she was eagerly awaiting data from a human study involving six patients who received an experimental gene therapy. On Friday, she told STAT the procedures were done last year in Mexico. If true, it would be the first known attempt to use the technique to treat age-related dementia, which is most often caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

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  • These people are free to put whatever they want into their bodies. It’s inconsistent to think so with one thing versus another, so long as no one isn’t consenting.

    I hope it works out for them. They should be allowed to do so. If it doesn’t, it was still their choice and not something forced upon them by someone else, either mandating or prohibiting their freedom of choice.

    • Bruh they’re people suffering from dementia. Even if they did consent the fact that their mental health is deteriorating makes this super sketchy and unethical

  • ¿Qué aporta la gerontología intervencionista a tanta longevidad acumulada?

    Como gerontólogo intervencionista liderando el cambio y transformación de los cuidados de larga duración que no existen. Motivo por el cual considero que este escenario co-creado por la longevidad, el envejecimiento, la vejez, la enfermedad y la dependencia, se caracteriza por la complejidad acumulada, la cual es atizada por los vientos de vida cargados con más enfermedades crónicas, que por años de vida más saludables en tiempos de vejez sin fronteras. Lo cual requiere un cambio de paradigma conceptual, descriptivo y de intervención gerontológica, para que todas las edades participen activamente en el diseño y desarrollo del

    modelo actual y futuro de longevidad libre de enfermedades, a través de la co-responsabilidad social personal de todas las generaciones, a través de la cual logremos diseñar un nuevo paradigma de envejecer en casa y en la comunidad de forma digna y más saludable, con el apoyo solidario de todas las generaciones y la participación activa de todas las viejas y nuevas organizaciones sociales en tiempos de vejez con pobreza sin fronteras.

  • There are many others who sucessfully experimented with their own bodies for the science they believed in. Daniel Carrion initiated research in what later (when disease-causing bacteria were identified) was called Carrion’s disease (Peru); Barry Marshall (Perth, internal medicine specialist to this date) drank H. pylori and proved bacteria could cause gastric disease (this lead to antibiotics for peptic ulcers – for which he won a Nobel Prize in medicine); David Pritchard taped 50 parasitic hookworms to his arm to prove they reduced allergy symptoms (a notion he picked up while in Papua New Guinea); and then there is the Swiss Albert Hofman whose legacy (one of them) is the first true LSD trip (on his bike, now known as Bicycle Day – April 19, 1943). So I have no problem with a CEO of a Seattle medical research company injecting herself in Colombia on her quest to find a cure for Alzheimers ….. But experimenting on others / “volunteers” is an entirely different matter. Only in Mexico ?

  • Totally disappointing that this was written with such a negative slant. I think it’s really lame to sit on the sidelines and cast stones at those who are spending their life energy and time to further the development of cutting edge medical procedures / science that can help to ease the suffering of humanity and cure disease. At least they are out there trying. Humanity needs innovation and we should be grateful that brave people are out there taking action and making it happen. I hope this article does get some serious circulation though because a vast majority of people aren’t even aware of groups like BioViva and the work they are doing. I think this could really get some much needed attention on this frontier. Kudos for that.

    • these “brave people” are suffering from dementia. whatever consent they’ve given must immediately be called into question because their thinking capacity is literally deteriorating. sounds like a good reason to get this experimental procedure done, you might say, but we can’t even know if they’ve properly consented when they may literally think they’re living in another time. bioviva is sketchy.

  • I personally want a cure for aging. This supposed science article — is filled with emotional writing—– and trying to persuade me. It’s a person’s right to choose their own treatment or refuse a treatment.

    With respect to the medical ethics comment, there are plenty of unethical aspects of US medical care and perhaps they should address and correct those issues before criticizing people trying to make a difference. These include denying care to patients in need because of a lack of ability to pay for instance. Greedy doctors delivering unneeded procedures and surgeries, overcharging hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. Congress allowing pharmaceutical price gouging. Letting people die of dementia is unethical!

    So the worst thing they are doing is giving informed patients a chance to participate in an experimental treatment for a disease with no available effective treatments. I don’t see that ad a bad thing. Isn’t everything an experiment, and yes, so far everyone dies.

    Interesting story, terribly written.

    • Human experimentation, especially on such small numbers and without any controls
      whatsover, is absolutely useless. This technique is also the longstanding hallmark
      of quackery or self-deluded “scientists” who have no real grasp of the scientific
      method.” Compassionate” usage of experimentable drugs is only ethical where at least rigorous animal studies have proven its value. Here, none of this applies.
      Just some nut in Mexico shooting up people with laetrile.

  • This writer should be writing for the Daily Mail not STAT. I see no evidence, no data, just a company making regenerative treatments. A new low for STAT and 10 minutes of my life I can’t get back. REGENERATE ME CHURCH.

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