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How and why do we age? Is aging reversible? These are some of the most critical questions in biology. Fortunately for us, researchers and scientists across the world strive to get some revolutionary answers. Our guest is one of them.
In this episode of the Longevity by Design podcast, our co-hosts, Dr. Gil Blander and Ashley Reaver, are joined by Dr. Danica Chen, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. In this episode, Dr. Danica Chen discusses the relationship between aging and inflammation and its impact on severe COVID, STEM cells' role in aging, and where the science stands on translating these findings to human health, and her best advice for longevity today. Tune in to the latest episode to find out more. And, if you're interested in aging on a cellular level, you definitely will not want to miss this one.
Meet Longevity by Design’s podcast guest, Dr. Danica Chen
Dr. Danica Chen is a Professor of Metabolic Biology, Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology at the University of California at Berkeley. Even though she originally intended to study international accounting, life had other plans. In the episode, she explains why she switched her major and went in another direction, and we’re glad she did! Now, Dr. Danica Chen is a member of Berkeley Stem Cell Center and a member of QB3 Consortium in Lifespan Extension, conducting research studies that aim to understand aging-associated conditions.
Dr. Danica Chen is optimistic about the future of longevity research: “If aging-associated conditions are reversible, we're more confident that we can improve the health of the elderly. Now, it's important to know to what degree or to what extent we can reverse aging. One of the major efforts in my lab is to address this question, and so far, we have pretty good news." Read on to learn more about Dr. Danica Chen’s aging research, and be sure to check out her full podcast episode.
Why do older people have a stronger reaction to COVID-19?
Dr. Danica Chen discusses the relationship between inflammation and aging and how this impacts the severity of COVID in the elderly. Aging individuals may have been hit particularly hard by COVID because of their low grade of inflammation. Inflammation is characteristic of common diseases of aging such as Type II Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more, shown to predict severe COVID.
Research shows that the aging process may be reversible
Dr. Danica Chen says one of the significant efforts in her lab is to figure out whether STEM cell aging is reversible and, if so, to what extent. "What we learned from the studies is that older STEM cells have reduced regenerative capacity, not because of accumulation of damage, but because of a loss of protection. And I think this is good news because it means aging is more likely to be reversible." As a result of these findings, Dr. Danica Chen discusses how we may be able to reverse aging.
Reversing tissue degeneration and dysfunction by targeting mitochondrial damage
Dr. Danica Chen is particularly fascinated by mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. In understanding why STEM cells decay during aging, Dr. Danica Chen and her lab discovered that the mitochondria might be responsible for STEM cell deterioration. She explains how their research proves that targeting the mitochondria can target tissue degeneration and reverse dysfunction. Dr. Danica Chen is optimistic that scientists will translate knowledge on STEM cells into humans in the future.
Dr. Danica Chen believes the future of aging research is bright. "To look into the future, I think we can look back first. The aging field has made tremendous progress in the past two decades. The hallmarks of aging have been identified. It's a very exciting time for rejuvenation. Using the knowledge we have learned from aging research and applying it to improve human health is what the aging field is trying to accomplish."
What can we do to promote longevity?
The current key to longevity is actually quite simple: focusing on diet quality and mindful eating. "There's a Chinese saying — you eat until you're 70% full. There's so much wisdom in this simple phrase. Calorie restriction has been studied in the aging field for nearly a century. So much has been learned about aging through a simple diet."
Longevity by Design is a podcast for individuals looking to experience longer, healthier lives. In each episode, Dr. Gil Blander and Ashley Reaver join an industry expert to explore a personalized health journey. The show helps you access science-backed information, unpack complicated concepts, learn what’s on the cutting edge of longevity research and the scientists behind them. Tune into Longevity by Design and see how to add years to your life, and life to your years.